Biyernes, Pebrero 13, 2015



THAT “RELIGIONS ARE just like rivers that all end up in the ocean” is a common notion among people nowadays.  This statement is quoted, rephrased, and echoed with the same popular connotation that man can serve God in any way he wants and be saved on the day of Judgment.  Indeed, the assumption that God accepts all services rendered to Him has become astoundingly universal, that to say otherwise would sound rude and unkind.

Such assumption is not at all surprising for even the Bible is replete with stories about people who have had the same fatally wrong notion.

It began in the time of Cain and Abel.  Both of them made offerings to God, yet only Abel’s found favor in the sight of the Almighty (Gen. 4:3-5).  The result was detrimental not to the soul of Abel who was murdered by his brother out of jealousy, but to Cain.  Not only was Cain’s offering rejected by God, but he was also cursed by Him (Gen. 4:8-12).

Then came Moses’ time.  His two nephews, Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, made and presented to God an offering using fire that “was not holy, because the LORD had not commanded them to present it” (Lev. 10:1, Today’s English Version).

Nadab and Abihu had also wanted to serve God and had aspired to achieve what was worthily accomplished by Moses and Aaron whose offerings were accepted.  But, instead of following the commandments of the Lord, they presented their offerings not according to His will (Lev. 9:23-24; 10:1)

This very same mentality has been adopted by the many who have the willingness and desire to serve God but insist on their own ways instead of the way the Lord Himself commanded.

When it comes to religion, it is imperative that the mind looks not only at the motives but also on the right basis in serving God.  This explains the rise of man-made doctrines and rituals and the spread of various religious movements, the followers of which hope that, in the end, these would merit them salvation.  Yet, the Bible is explicit in teaching that “good” motives accompanied by “good” works are not enough for one to attain salvation, even if such works are done with zeal or devotion.  Note that is written in Romans 10:2-3:

“ I can assure you that they are deeply devoted to God; but their devotion is not based on true knowledge.  They have not known the way in which God puts people right with himself, and instead, they have tried to set up their own way; and so they did not submit themselves to God's way of putting people right. (TEV)

We must realize that salvation is not only a matter of serving God wholeheartedly.  Rather, it is a matter of wholeheartedly service done according to God’s will.  This has been His policy since the very beginning:

“Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.(I Sam. 12:24, New King James Version)

Man must serve the Lord in accordance with the truth or the words of God (Jn. 17:17).  The Scriptures gives us an example of devotion which is not based on God’s will:

“As they came to the threshing place of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out and took hold of the Covenant Box.  At once the LORD God became angry with Uzzah and killed him because of his irreverence. Uzzah died there beside the Covenant Box. (II Sam. 6:6-7, TEV)

By human standards, Uzzah’s action—his effort of trying to save the sacred covenant box from falling and from being ruined—would even be considered heroic and worthy of a reward or at least an appreciation.  But the Bible tells us otherwise.  There and then, God punished Uzzah for violating the strict prohibition that “they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die” (Num. 4:15, NKJV).
What happened to Cain, Nadab, Abihu, and Uzzah should serve as a lesson to those who have intentions of serving God.

Those whose minds have been misled by the thought that they can please God in whatever way that suits them devise their own ways of serving Him.

God, however, considers those self-imposed teachings as a grave offense:

“It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach man-made rules as though they were my laws!'(Mt. 15:9, Ibid.)

To follow the doctrines and commandments of men instead of God’s is to commit the same mistake that Nadab and Abihu did.  We do not question the fact that good motives and works are necessary and should never be ignored.  There are many whose intentions are good, as in those who cast out evil spirits and perform miracles and wonderful works all in the name of Christ.  But are such works enough for them to attain salvation?  On Judgment Day, what will Christ tell those who performed such deeds?  Matthew 7:21-23 provides us the answer:

“Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.

“When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!'

“Then I will say to them, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!' (Ibid.)

This pronouncement of the Lord Jesus Christ clearly shows the error of adhering to the belief that all services rendered to God are acceptable to Him.

Christ emphatically stated that only those who follow the will of the Father—and not everyone who calls Him “Lord”—shall enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, there is that will of God that man must follow to make his services acceptable to Him and for him to be saved on Judgment Day.  The will of God is written in Ephesians 1:9-10, thus:

“God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ.  This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head. (Ibid.)

God’s will is for all men to be gathered in Christ or for them to be gathered in the Church headed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Ephesians 1:22-23, it says:

“God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things.  The church is Christ's body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere. (Ibid.)

In keeping with God’s will, one needs to follow the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who said that people should enter in Him by becoming members of His Church.  In John 10:9, He says:

“I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me shall be safe.” (New English Bible)

The fold refers to the flock (Jn. 10:16, Ibid.)—the Church of Christ which was redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  In Acts 20:28, this is written:

“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Lamsa Translation)

Therefore, the members of the Church of Christ who were redeemed through the blood of the Savior have what most people wanted to enjoy ever since:  the right to serve and be accepted by the living God:

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb. 9:14, NKJV)

The right to serve God was given to the Church of Christ alone for it is the one redeemed, cleansed, and purified by the blood of Christ.  Thus, if people earnestly desire to merit God’s attention and recognition, then they must submit themselves to the will of God by joining the Church of Christ.*


Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind.