I have posted less than flattering things about organized Christian religion on my blog. Two of my longest and most respected friends are Pastors. They read my stuff and forgive me for my methods and sometimes they take the opportunitiy to reformulate their beliefs and offer the reasons for their faith yet again. They get it.
I gowd them because they are the true voice of religion and I want them, my friends, to speak up and silence the posers with big money and little hearts who are the shames of Christ.
Today we got lucky. Pastor Jim Olaiz has something to say.
I have made it a habit in my life — at least for the last 48 years- to shut up and listen when Jim Olaiz talks. That always works out good fo me.
Enjoy some real religion.
Jim Olaiz Jr PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE:
While I am not a scholar, a deep and profound thinker or a man of letters who is devoted to literary or scholarly pursuits. I am a man passionate of Jesus Christ and my life in Him.
For anyone who says that “religion” is a disappointment to them- I agree with them!
Religion can be defined as “belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics”. The majority of the world’s population adheres to some form of religion. The problem is that there are so many different religions. What is the right religion? What is true religion? The two most common ingredients in religions are rules and rituals.
Some religions are essentially nothing more than a list of rules or do’s and don’t’s, that a person must observe in order to be considered a faithful and adherent of that religion, and thereby, right with the God of that religion.
Two examples of rules-based religions are Islam and Judaism. Islam has its five pillars that must be observed. Orthodox Judaism has hundreds of commands and traditions that are to be observed. Both religions, to a certain degree, claim that by obeying the rules of the religion, a person will be considered right with God.
However, when anyone who genuinely and throughly reads and examines the Bible (both Old and New Testament), it is evident that the scriptures describe a “relationship” with God. At the risk of sounding cliché, “religion” is mankind’s attempt to reach out to God. However, “relationship” is God reaching out to us- His creation. Or as translated from the Greek- His “poem”. Imagine that?
All the religions of the world fall short of obtaining salvation because they put the burden of salvation on man. They teach that through our adhering to a rigid standard of dos and don’ts, we make ourselves acceptable unto God. But God revealed in James 2:10 that if you keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, you are guilty of all. This is where the religions of the world have missed it. They have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Mankind cannot save him/herself, he/she has to have a savior.
In contrast to biblical Christianity, “religions” focus more on observing rituals instead of obeying a list of rules. By offering this sacrifice, performing this task, participating in this service, consuming this meal, etc., a person is made right with God. The most prominent example of a ritual-based religion is Roman Catholicism.
Roman Catholicism holds that by being water baptized as an infant, by partaking in the Mass, by confessing sin to a priest, by offering prayers to saints in Heaven, by being anointed by a priest before death, etc., etc., God will accept such a person into Heaven after death. Buddhism and Hinduism are also primarily ritual-based religions, but can also to a lesser degree be considered rules-based.
A “true religion” is a relationship with Jesus Christ. A true relationship with Jesus Christ is neither rules-based nor ritual-based.
Two things that all religions hold are that humanity is somehow separated from God and needs to be reconciled to Him. False religion seeks to solve this problem by observing rules and rituals. A genuine relationship with Jesus Christ solves the problem by recognizing that only He can reconcile the separation, and that He has done so by His sacrificial death on the cross.
A genuine relationship with Jesus recognizes the following:
1. We have all sinned and are therefore separated from God (Romans 3:23).
2. If not rectified, the just penalty for sin is death and eternal separation from God after death (Romans 6:23).
3. God came to us in the Person of Jesus Christ and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve, and rose from the dead to demonstrate that His death was a sufficient sacrifice (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
4. If we receive Jesus as the Savior, trusting His death as the full payment for our sins, we are forgiven, saved, redeemed, reconciled, and justified with God (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9).
In all fairness, a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ does have rules and observances, but there is a crucial difference. In genuine relationship with Jesus, the rules and rituals are observed out of gratitude for the salvation He has provided through His sacrificial death on the cross- NOT in an effort to obtain that salvation.
And by further contrast, A genuine relationship with Jesus, which is Biblical Christianity, has rules to follow (do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not lie, etc.) and rituals to observe (water baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper / Communion). However, observance of these rules and rituals is not what makes a person right with God. Rather, these rules and rituals are the RESULT of the relationship with God, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as mankind’s Savior from inherited sin and eternal separation from God.
False religion is doing things (rules and rituals) in order to try to earn God’s favor. A genuine relationship is receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and thereby having a right relationship with God – and then doing things (rules and observations) out of love for God and desire to grow closer to Him.
I realize that even with this comprehensive explanation that there will still be many with rebuttals which they consider valid. However, from a biblical perspective, they are not yet ready to receive what I’ve stated. And, in all fairness, neither was I earlier in my life. And possibly like me, it may take more time or a life changing event to provide them a new revelation to seek a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. But there is a word of caution here. By having read my “Pastor’s Perspective”, you the reader will be held accountable if you reject what you have read. You won’t be able to say- “I didn’t know” or “I never was told”. The Bible states that when we are finally in the presence of God that “every knee will bow and every tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord”.
But for those of you who have been contemplating this whole “religion” thing- have you considered making a decision for Christ because of what you have read here? If so, then pray a simple statement of faith which includes-
1. Acknowledging that you are a sinner.
2. That there is nothing that you can do to absolve or remove your sins apart from God.
3. And, that you are in need of a holy and sinless Savior to forgive you, cleanse you and give you a new heart and a fresh start in Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us-
1 Corinthians 11:21-32
“But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
However, 1 John 1:9 clearly shares with us-
“If we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Your next steps for growth are to; continue praying for guidance, get a hold of a Bible and start reading it (start with the Gospel of John), seek out out other like-minded Christians and a Bible teaching church, and tell others (Christian and non-Christians) about you new life in Jesus!
If you need some guidance on how to find a genuine Bible teaching church, go to my Facebook page- “Ask The Book”- and post your question.
Pastor Jim Olaiz Jr.
Shepherd’s Watch Ministries