Sermons

Summary: If your religion does not transform you, convince you of it’s rightness, and is something you share, it’s not worth very much.

January 6, 2002

Parkview Church of the Nazarene

J. Richard Lord, Jr.

What Is Your Religion Worth?

I Peter 1:3-9

Is your faith genuine? It is worth more than gold?

Your religion is not worth very much:

I. IF IT DOES NOT MAKE A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN YOUR ATTITUDE AND ACTIONS.

Some people wear their religion as if it were a coat, to be put on only when you need to feel warm, to make you feel good.

True religion not only changes you, it transforms you.

Some years ago, the science fiction show, “The Incredible Hulk,” was on TV. It was based on a comic book character by the name of David Banner, a scientist who was trying to develop a medicine that could help people control their anger. He was highly motivated to do so, because he had what is known as today as an, “anger management” problem.

But something goes awry and he is injected with this medicine that has an opposite effect. Whenever he got angry, he was transformed into the “Incredible” monster that wreaked havoc once a week. He was superhuman in strength and could easily defeat his foes.

This is a silly illustration of what happens when we accept Jesus as our Savior. We are “injected” by the Holy Spirit. The love of Jesus transforms us into the “Incredible Christian” making us spiritually stronger than our enemy Satan and are able to defeat him.

It changes the way we think and act and even changes our appearance. We see the world and ourselves differently. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. “ (II Corinthians 5:17 KJV)

If your religion has not transformed you, it is not worth very much.

II. IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN.

One of biggest mistakes that religious zealots make is trying force people to believe as they do.

We have just seen in Afghanistan the result of religion at the point of a gun. But before we condemn those leaders in their guilt, we must look to our own history.

Many abuses in the name of Christianity have been committed. Constantine, in 333 AD, converted the Roman Empire practically overnight to Christianity, mostly at the point of a sword.

Many abuses occurred during the Middle Ages in the name of the church. Heretics, who were anybody who believed differently than the established religion, were burned at the stake.

Even in our own America, our hands are not clean. The pilgrims, who escaped religious persecution, turned around and punished anyone who did not follow their strict religious regimen.

This is not real Christianity. It is not even true religion of any sort. It is tyranny.

The rally cry today, however, is acceptance. We must accept everyone’s faith as legitimate. It doesn’t matter what you believe, we must accept everyone’s religion.

That’s wrong as well. It is completely at odds with scripture. Paul writes, “ When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Corinthians 1:1-2)

What we must understand is that there is a difference between religious intolerance and True Faith.

Religious intolerance is hate. Belief that you have the love of God and you must share it is True Faith. The writer to the Hebrews says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.“ (Hebrews 11:1) It’s being sure of what you know to be true. Religious intolerance demands allegiance. True Faith beckons to relationship.

Religious intolerance says, “you must believe as I believe or you are my enemy.”

True Faith says, “I love you no matter what you believe.”

But we also must understand that there is a difference between True Faith and pluralism.

Pluralism states that everybody’s religion is of equal value. It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are “sincere” and “peaceful.”

At a January 4, 2000 interfaith dialogue in the Chicago suburbs, Nobel Peace Prize nominee M. Cherif Bassiouni, a law professor at DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, said all religions lead to God using different paths. "The judgment is not by the choice we make, but by how we pursue the path of the choice we make," he said.

"Different religions and cultures are equal in the eyes of God and should be seen as equal in the eyes of man," he said.

But True Faith states, “I know what I know because of the Spirit of Christ living in me. I have seen His transforming power in my life. I am convinced that, as Jesus says, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)

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