JESUS AND POPOULAR RELIGION
By Curtis Pugh
By Curtis Pugh
The four gospels make it clear that Jesus opposed popular religion. In His day and cultural setting popular religion was the religion of the Pharisees. They were big talkers, but little doers. Jesus said about them “...The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not,” (Matthew 23:2,3). Their doctrine was right, but was only head knowledge. Their hearts were untouched by what they knew, their lives unchanged and they were hypocrites. Both John the Baptist and Jesus called them a “generation of vipers,” (Matthew 3:7; 23:33). What? Professed Bible believers that were deadly snakes?
In our day and cultural setting popular religion says that in order to please God all a person has to do is “make a decision,” “call on the name of the Lord” in a one-time “sinner's prayer,” “open your heart's door,” “accept the Lord,” “get baptized,” etc., etc. The idea is that if you will do one or more of these things you will make God happy and He will birth you by His Holy Spirit. You can then be assured that when you die you will go to Heaven. This is salvation by works! Men may deny that it is, but obviously it is!
Consider these things. First of all, there is not a single verse in the Bible that tells us what to do in order to be born again. Jesus said “...Ye must be born again,” (John 3:7), but never said there was anything that could be done to bring this to pass. And His statement was not a command as some seem to want to make it appear. So popular religion has invented lies to tell people: do this or do that and you will be born again as if anything in this world can cause its own birth. “Come down to the front” and the whole invitation system adopted by many religious groups is not something that was done in the days of John the Baptist, Christ, or His apostles. Why, then, does popular religion do things not taught in the Bible? Because popular religion today is like it was in Jesus' day: based on men's ideas.
Another problem with these ideas is this: the Bible says there is nothing that a natural individual, i.e., a lost person, can do that will please God. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” (Romans 8:8). Lost people are shut up to this: because of their sinfulness God must birth them spiritually otherwise they have no hope. And so they must cast themselves upon God and the finished work of Christ on behalf of His sheep. There is nowhere else to turn! You have nothing that God wants or needs! You cannot trade with Him! He will not be bribed! Repent of your self-righteous ideas! “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again,” (John 3:7).
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726