Albert E. Farley
When James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, wrote his epistle to Christians among the Jewish tribes that were scattered throughout the Gentile world, he spoke of pure religion and defined it by its actions. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:26, 27
Today, many people of different nationalities are rejecting what is referred to as organized religion. Membership numbers and attendance at worship services in the Roman Catholic Church and in Protestant denominations have fallen. Many Cathedrals and Churches in Europe and other places have closed or have been turned into theaters and museums. We have read that a recent movement in Britain has resulted in over 100,000 members of the Church of England purchasing “De-Baptism” Certificates to renounce the sprinkling they received as infants.
In addition, there is a trend among some to de-emphasize the name of Christ. According to Newsweek magazine (March 16, 2009, p. 18.), over 900 groups who previously considered themselves to be Christians now prefer to be known as “followers of Jesus.” (Read Carolina Messenger, April 2009, p. 8.) The name Christian, they say, carries too much baggage with it. In addition, we have noted the late development among some to abandon the name of Christ in reference to the church and to adopt the term “Community Church,” instead. Today, formal worship services are avoided and informal gatherings are preferred. Many prefer being called spiritual rather than religious.
The English word religion is a scriptural word; it is a good word. It, in its two forms (religion, religious), is found seven times in the Bible (KJV). However, in the Bible, the word religion is used to refer to true religion, superstition, and to vain religion. There are four words in the original language from which our English words religion and religious come. The first word (transliterated) is threskeia and means, “ceremonial observance.” It is translated religion in Acts 26:5, James 1:26b, and 1:27. This same word is translated worshipping in Colossians 2:18. The second is threskos, and means, “ceremonious in worship (as demonstrative), that is, pious.” It is translated religious in James 1:26a. The third is Ioudaismos and means “Judaism, that is, the Jewish faith and usages.” It is translated Jews’ religion in Galatians 1:13, 14. The fourth word is sebomai and is defined, “to revere, that is, adore.” It is translated devout in Acts 13:50, 17:4, and 17:17. It is translated religious in Acts 13:43. It is translated worship in Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7, and Acts 18:13. It is translated worshipped in Acts 16:14 and Acts 18:7. (All definitions are from Strong’s Greek dictionary.)
Friends, do not reject good, scriptural words simply because they may be falsely used by false teachers or used to describe false ways. There are false “Christs,” but the name of the true Christ is above every name in heaven and in earth! Let us believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. There are false churches, but the church of Christ was built by Christ and is God’s called-out people in this sinful world! Let us obey the true and pure gospel of Christ and let Him add us to His church. Acts 2:37-47 There are false Christians, but if any suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in this behalf – in this name! Let us wear the name Christian faithfully and humbly. Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16 There are false worships, but God seeks worship that is in spirit and in truth! John 4:21-24. Let us worship God from the heart and according to His holy Word. There are false religions, but pure and undefiled religion is to remember the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep ourselves unspotted from this world! Let us practice pure religion in the midst of a lost and dying world – that the true light of Christ may be seen in His faithful disciples in order that lost souls will be saved before it is too late. Pure religion is organized – not by the doctrines and commandments of men – but by the Holy Scriptures. Matthew 15:9; 2 Timothy 3:15-17. God’s divine pattern for all things that pertain unto life and godliness is found in the Bible. 2 Peter 1:2-4
We rejoice when all religious denominations and vain worships fail and cease to exist. In the end, all of these shall be rooted up. Matthew 15:13. To all who have been disillusioned by humanly organized false ways of Satan, we commend you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to built you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified – to the great glory and honor of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Acts 20:32
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