Summary: The World wants a religion that does not INSIST, does not INVOLVE, does not INTERFERE, and does not INCLUDE [certain things.] Link included to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
The World’s Most Popular Religion
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I heard a story about a pastor who called two boys to his office. One boy was asked to wait outside the door while the other was escorted into the office and seated. The pastor said, "Son, I have a question for you, and I want you to think hard before you give me your answer."
"Okay," the boy replied.
"Tell me," the pastor asked, "where is God?"
The boy gulped and thought for a while. Again, the pastor asked the boy, "Where is God?”
The boy hesitated. He wanted very much to give the right answer, but he wasn’t sure what he should say. Then, for the third time, the pastor inquired, "Where is God?"
By this time, the boy was very nervous and frustrated. Suddenly, he jumped out of his chair, bolted out of the office, grabbed his friend by the arm, and said, "Let’s get out of here! They’ve lost God, and they’re trying to blame us!"
Today, there are many places of worship that have lost God. They are “religious”, but not truly spiritual. Without the Spirit, you are just religious at best!
Before his salvation experience on the road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul was one of the most religious men of his time. In Acts 26:5 he states, “…after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” All of us know, of course, that he was not a Christian at that time. In fact, he was anti-Christian and anti-Christ, committing to prison and even murdering those who followed after the Lord Jesus. His testimony, as recorded through the Scriptures, tells us that he was very, very religious.
Well, the world is plagued with religion. Religion is a bigger tool to prevent people from going to Heaven than it is for getting them there. Man is basically a religious creature. He is going to worship something or somebody.
The Persian has his Zend-Avesta. The Hebrew has his Talmud. The Chinese has his Confucius or his Mao Tse-Tung. The Japanese has his Shinto shrine or Buddha god-shelf. The Roman has his Sibylline. The Mohammedan has his Koran. And the Muslim bows toward Mecca. The Hindu has his Shasta. He worships cows, rivers and creatures. [the less dedicated probably keep ‘diet Shasta’ around!]
The Mormons are everywhere. Jehovah’s Witnesses always beat us to the mission fields of the world. The Christian Scientists and all the others mingle like leaven through bread in our society.
Religion is broken down into hundreds of different denominations. There are Jews, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Church of God, Church of Christ, Church of God IN Christ, Nazarene, Unity, Apostolic, Reform, Anglican, the Gay Church, Church of Satan …there are some very good non denominational churches, and dozens of different kinds of Baptists. There are the American Baptists, German Baptists, Swedish Baptists, Southern Baptists, Conservative Baptists, General Baptists, General Association of Regular Baptists, Old Regular Baptists, Hard-shell Baptists, [soft shell, …on the half shell!] Primitive Baptists, Missionary Baptists, Independent Baptists and even some called Lily Baptists.
Now, which is the right religion? None of the above!
Paul wasn’t fond of religion, but of “relationship!”
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion…and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Religion is not a “heart” thing!
Ezekiel said, …for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after covetousness…they hear thy words, but they do not do them” (33:31,32). Paul tells us in Titus 1:16, “They profess that they know God, but in words they deny him.” Again in II Timothy 3:5 he says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Jesus told of those who “love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corner of the streets, that they may be seen of men” (Matt. 6:5).
The world seems to want a religion that will accept them as they are, permanently and without challenge; a religion that goes along with what they already believe; a religion that will not object to what they now do; or a religion that will let all men be brothers and still believe whatever they want to believe. The most popular religion in the world today transcends many denominations…it circles the globe, it’s in hearts of many who don’t go to church at all, many lost people, but also many who would be considered to be “saved”…and it’s likely located in the hearts of some here at GBC today!