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Religion - Is What I Know Really So?

Consider this ear-grabbing sentence: "It ain't so much what folks don't know. It's that they know so much that just ain't so." Mark Twain said something similar — "We all do no end of feeling and mistake it for thinking." That mistake may be in view in Jesus' sad, sobering and jarring words in Matthew 7:21-23 — "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" This is a troubling text to thoughtful and God-fearing people. The people described obviously had intense religious feelings, even about Jesus. They were not agnostics or atheists or God-haters. They were not adherents of some religious philosophy that. denied Christ as the way to salvation. They repeatedly addressed Him as "Lord." They ministered in profuse, powerful, and popular ways including prophesying, exorcism, and wonder-working. All these were performed, they thought, "in Jesus name." They performed religious practices in full anticipation of Christ's favor and approval. If you could have asked these people, "Are you saved?" the answer would have been a confident, "Yes!" But they were shocked to discover, far too late, that the things they knew for certain just weren't so. In all their religious fervor they neglected to do the most important thing of all — the will of God! There were specific things God commanded them to do they never got done.

My point in here is not to create undue fear or be judgmental. My single aim is to stress that it is possible to be very religious and be convinced we are saved, and yet be lost. Romans 10:1-3 speaks to this issue and describes a very religious group of people who rejected God's way of salvation through His Son — " Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God." The apostle clearly teaches that zeal, while commendable and necessary, is not sufficient to save if not guided by knowledge. And not just knowledge in general, but the saving knowledge God reveals to us in His word. The truth is still what sets us free (John 8:32; 17:17), and God's inspired Word is still the only trustworthy source of saving knowledge (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 10:17). Today's religious world is complex, confused and splintered. Even among believers in Jesus, there are many who mistake feeling for thinking and who know things that just aren't so as it relates to God's plan and will for salvation, worship in spirit and in truth, the church, Christian morals, etc. If Christ can be trusted, there are "many" religious people who will be lost at judgment. In view of all these things, let us be committed to look to God's word and will as the only possible source for spiritual safety and security (1 John 2:3-6; 5:13). Then, and only then can we be assured that spiritually what we know is really so.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ