Relationship vs. religion
Do you have a religion? Or do you have a relationship? God created mankind to have a personal relationship with Him. God wants to lead you, guide you, help you, and most importantly save you from your sin! God loves you and cares about you more than you could ever know. GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU! BUT DO YOU KNOW GOD? HAVE YOU EVER STARTED A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST?
Do you have a Relationship with God?
Religion about God Vs. Relationship with God
God created Mankind to have a relationship with God and to bring honor, praise, and glory to God. In the beginning, man had a direct connection with God. But something broke and ruined that connection- that something is called Sin. Man, disobeyed God, Man sinned against God- therefore, mankind’s connection/relationship with God became disconnected and broken.
Mankind wants this broken connection with God, re-established. Because of this, there are many religions that all tell us how to re-establish this broken connection. All of these various religions teach their view of how we can establish a relationship with God. However, since it is our sin that has broken the connection – then, it is our sin that needs to be removed to restore this connection. We have sinned against God, we have offended Him; therefore, we must meet His conditions of peace and re-establish connection His Way! Unfortunately, religion often tells us what men think is needed to re-establish this connection and remove sin. THE REAL QUESTION WE SHOULD BE LOOKING TO ANSWER IS THIS- WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT HOW WE REMOVE OUR SIN AND RE-ESTABLISH A CONNECTION WITH HIM?
Mankind desires a Relationship with God- But the connection is broken by our sin!
God loves us – but He hates our sin. Our sin separates us from God. Our sin is what divides us. Our sin is the issue that must be resolved.
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. Isaiah 59:2-3
God says that because of our sin we are the enemy of God, and we deserve to be eternally separated from God in Hell.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8
Every sin that we commit is added to our account. Our grievances and offences against God are great. He has every right to be angry against us because of our sin.
We must understand that He is our Creator- and therefore, He is our Authority.
He has the sole right to tell us how and how not to live our lives.
He also has the sole right to punish our sin as He sees appropriate.
Mankind tries to re-establish this connection through “Religion”.
Man has tried to re-establish this connection their own way. Man has been trying to reach God through many “religions” and many “ways”. The problem is our sin. Our sin issue must be resolved. Religion teaches that by doing many good things we can earn God’s favor and relationship- this is absolutely false.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16
Doing good never erases the bad that we have already done. Mankind has tried to connect with God through their religious and good actions.
We have a sin debt that grows every day. Our list of sin against God is increasing.
Imagine if you owed a car loan, student loan, or some other debt. Instead of paying that debt- you took the money and gave it to the poor, you bought clothes and food for the homeless, and you did other charitable things. What would the companies that you owe money to say? That is good that you did all of this charity- but that does not pay your debt to us!
God says the same thing. We can do all kinds of good and religious actions- but that does not remove the sin debt we owe to God.
God wants to re-establish this connection/relationship- but we must do it God’s way.
God says that mankind has ruined their relationship with Him because of Sin. They deserve to go to Hell.
Someone has to die for the sin you and I commit. That is justice. No mercy and peace can come until Justice is served. I can’t die for you and you can’t die for me-because we are both sinners.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18a, 19a, 21
Jesus Christ is the only person who is without sin. Jesus Christ is the only one who has the qualifications to be our substitute. Jesus Christ died on the cross and suffered for our sin. Our sin was placed on Him, and He suffered our Hell while on the cross.
He is innocent but was punished for the guilty.
Belief on Jesus Christ and what He did for us is the only way to have our sins forgiven and have the ability to re-establish the broken relationship with God.
Man’s Way of Religion and trusting their Good Life to earn God’s favor
Man has always attempted to return to God their own way. Really this finds its origin in our own pride.
Adam and Eve- An example that we can try to cover our sin- in our own way- but that is not good enough with God
- Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were given only one rule by God.
Genesis 2:15-17 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
- They could not obey that one rule. They ate the fruit of the tree that God told them not to eat. At that moment, they felt shame, guilt, and fear because of their sin. They knew they were guilty before God and so they feared God and what He would do. They were shamed and so they tried to correct the situation. They took the leaves of a tree and began to cover their naked bodies.
Genesis 3:6-8 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
- When God came, He found them hiding from God – even though they tried their best to cover their nakedness their own way.
- Man’s Way was to use “the leaves of a Fig tree” to cover their guilt, shame, and fear. Man uses religion to try to cover their sinful actions, their guilt, fear, and shame- God’s answer is still the same. You are still guilty, shameful, and in a state of fear. What are the “leaves” that you are using: religious actions, being a good person, being kind, or something else?
- God then killed an innocent animal-shed the blood of an innocent animal to cover the guilty naked bodies of Adam and Eve.
Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
- God’s way to forgive the guilty is that an innocent party has to die- This was a picture of what Jesus Christ (the Innocent) would do for you and me (the Guilty)
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Cain and Abel- An example that our best is not Good enough for God
- The command was given that an animal must be sacrificed and its blood shed to provide a temporary covering of the man’s sin. Sin committed required the shedding of something innocent to pardon the guilty. This was a picture of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ would do one day. Faith was not placed in these animals- rather in the fact that God would send the Perfect Sacrifice-Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.
- Cain and Abel- the first two children born in this world were fully aware of this command.
- Abel brought an young animal out of the flock and sacrificed it and God was pleased.
- Cain brought the best of the fruit and vegetables that he had worked hard to plant and harvest. He brought God his best in an attempt to gain forgiveness by his own efforts of hard work. God was not pleased with this and did not accept this offering from Cain.
- This is a representation of all of the best efforts that we offer to God in hopes that He will be pleased with us. We say. “Well just do your best and see what God thinks.” Or we say, “I am doing so many things for God- He will certainly give me a place in Heaven.”
Genesis 4:3-5 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
- It was the faith of Abel that caused him to offer the sacrifice that God required. Abel’s faith in God and the promised Messiah who would die for the sins of mankind was what pleased God. The way to God is through faith–Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind. Complete trust and faith on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as our only way to be saved.
Tower of Babel- An example that Man can’t reach God in his own ability
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. Genesis 9:1 and 7
- Noah and his descendants were commanded by God to fill the earth- to populate the entire world. They were commanded to spread out throughout the entire earth.
- The generations that followed Noah failed to obey God’s command – that is sin. They feared that would be scattered throughout the entire earth – They tried to build a tower that would reach heaven – They possibly wanted to show God that they could achieve greatness themselves and that they didn’t need God. They possibly wanted to show God that they had the ability to do whatever they set their minds to do. They felt that God’s word and commands were optional.
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. Genesis 11:1-9
- They thought that they would reach God through their own ability and efforts. They decided to not follow God’s laws and commands and thought that making a “name for themselves” would keep them from being spread throughout the earth.
- Humanity throughout history has tried to reach God their own way–but God will not allow man to establish a relationship on man’s terms and in man’s own way–WE MUST GO GOD’S WAY!
Nicodemus- An example that religious actions fail in getting us to Heaven
- Nicodemus was a religious ruler of the Jews. He was probably more religious than you and I. He had much scripture committed to memory, would pray often throughout the day, gave of his money to the temple, gave money to the poor, and the list goes on. If anyone was going to “earn Heaven” because of his religious works- it would have been Nicodemus.
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
- This man comes to Jesus Christ and seeks more information about Christ. Nicodemus with all of his religious works does not impress Jesus Christ. Instead, Jesus Christ looks directly into the heart of Nicodemus and says that he needs to be “born again”.
John 3:2-3 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
- Nicodemus does not understand what Jesus is talking about. Christ goes on to explain that to see the Kingdom of God- To live with God forever in Heaven- one needs to have both a physically birth and a spiritual birth. Our physical birth is the being born of water causing us to be born into our earthly families. Our spiritual birth is when we are born into the family of God.
John 3:4-7 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
- Just being born physically is not good enough to get into heaven-because we are sinners. We are sinners because sin was passed down from every generation before us. Our nature is to sin. We are also sinners, because we choose to sin. Therefore, we need a new nature- we need a spiritual nature from God.
- Jesus Christ goes on to share how to obtain this new spiritual birth. It does not come man’s way of being good and religious. It comes by believing and putting all of our trust, confidence, and reliance upon Jesus Christ. Believing that He is God, that He came to die for our sin, and that He rose again from the dead. Believing that Jesus Christ is our only way of Salvation.
John 3:9-16 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
John 3:15-16 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God’s Way of a Restored Relationship provided by Jesus Christ
Paul- A previous persecutor of Christians named Saul- is forgiven by Christ and Saved and his name is changed to Paul!
- Saul (later named Paul) was a very religious man. He thought that by destroying the followers of Jesus that he was doing the work of God.
- Consider Acts 8:1-3 and Acts 9:1-18
- His own testimony was that if being religious was the way to God- then he would be on that road to God. Yet, Jesus met him and told him that the only way be forgiven is to trust Jesus Christ.
- Notice Paul’s religious qualifications and resume
- If religious works and deeds forgives sin, earns heaven, and earns God’s favor–then Paul says I have accomplished all of this. But he is going to explain that he is not relying on these religious works to earn heaven or God’s favor. He is going to share that it is his faith in Christ that gains forgiveness of sin.
Philippians 3:4-6 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
- Paul-then says that all of these religious deeds are worthless in trying to reach God. Paul said, I want to know Christ, I want to be found in Him. He said in verse 9 that it is not his own righteousness, but his faith on Christ.
Philippians 3:7-9 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the :faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Ethiopian Eunuch – A government official who is also a religious man- sees that He needs Christ and He believes on Christ alone- is forgiven and Saved!
*A religious official is reading from the Bible book of Isaiah 53. He does not understand what or who he is reading about. God knows this and He sends Evangelist Philip to meet him and explain this passage of scripture.
Acts 8:26-29 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
Acts 8:30-33 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
*The man asks Philip who this passage is speaking about. Philip begins to preach Jesus Christ. The man inquiries about baptism. Philip explains that one must profess faith and total reliance on Jesus Christ. We must believe that Jesus Christ is God. We must believe that He died and rose again for our sin – and that He is our only way of salvation.
Act 8:34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Thief on the Cross- A wicked man, sees that he is a sinner, but sees that Jesus Christ is not- confesses that Christ is Lord and is forgiven and goes to Heaven!
*Two wicked men are dying for their crimes that they have committed. They are hung on the right and left hand of Jesus Christ.
Luke 23:32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
*Jesus Christ, who has done no wrong, and is 100% innocent – asks for God the Father to forgive all of the people who were responsible for putting Him on the cross.
*The two criminals witness this request for forgiveness. They quite possibly already know who Jesus Christ. No doubt they are listening to the mockery, the ridicule, and the bad treatment that Christ has received.
23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
23:35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
23:36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
23:37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
23:38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
*One of the criminals, begins to tempt and taunt Christ.
23:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
*The second criminal responds to his fellow criminal with an admission of his sin, an admission and belief that Jesus Christ is innocent.
23:40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
23:41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
*Then, this criminal recognizes and confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and King. He then asks Jesus Christ to remember him when Christ comes to His kingdom
23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
*Jesus Christ looks at this man. He sees the heart of faith of this man. Christ sees and hears the confession of this man–He then says that this man is going to be with Him in paradise.
*This man was not told to go to church, get baptized, take the Lord’s supper, do good and religious works, clean up his life, or any other religious works–It was the belief and faith of this man that Christ saw.
23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Philippian Jailer- A normal guy working a normal job-sees the difference that Jesus Christ makes and believes On Jesus Christ for His forgiveness and salvation!
Act 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
Act 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
Act 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
Act 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Act 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Act 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
Act 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
Act 16:34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.