(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
When it comes to religion and spirituality, there is the Gospel, and then everything else. And everything else cannot hold a candle to the brightness of the Son.
Jesus is life. Jesus gives real forgiveness. Other religions purport to please God, but without Jesus, no one can please the Father. When Christ came to this world, He did not bring "one more good option." He brought the only message that can save man's soul. The other religions make you try to earn it. And even then, none of them can actually deliver eternal salvation. Only Christ can do it, and He gives this free gift to those who believe.
The Gospel is God's message of love and forgiveness for the sake of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He died there for you and for your sin. You can be welcomed into God's family today if you will come to the Father through the Son. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31) Any other approach will fall short. Any other prophet cannot deliver the goods. Only Jesus is worthy. He is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)
So does your religious group have the Gospel? Or does your group instead tell you what you must do in hopes of making yourself righteous in God's eyes? That is the way the other religions of the world operate. Jesus is the author of Christianity, but of no other religion. His way is completely different than everything else out there.
Of course Judaism in the days of the Old Testament was God's religion for man. It was the religion God established and endorsed. But when Jesus arrived on the scene, He expanded God's religion to go beyond the Law. Jesus delivered the Gospel. And through Christ today, any Jew or Gentile can be forgiven. But apart from Jesus, there is no forgiveness.
If your religious group does not have the Gospel, it is impossible for your group to please the Father. The Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost to empower God's people to spread the Gospel, and to promote no other religion but the religion of Christ. Anything else that gets done in the name of religion is only being done in man's strength and man's wisdom.
Why do you think there are so many religions in the world? It's because man is very creative in coming up with ways to be religious. But man's efforts fall pitifully short of the mark. Jesus hit the bullseye when He died and rose again. You can accept what He did for you, or you can reject it. But if you reject it, you will have no one to blame but yourself.
Man is good at pushing rules upon others. And it is amazing to see hundreds of millions of people who are so quick to fall under that spell. Man's natural impulse is to try to cover himself for his misdeeds. What man doesn't know until he hears and believes the Gospel is that only God can cover our sins. Only God can make us acceptable in His eyes. Our efforts will never get it done. That is why Jesus came here to die on the cross.
But do you see it? Do you get it? Do you believe it? Or are you still trying to earn your way into God's eternal family?
If your religious group does not have the Gospel, how in the world will people in your group be forgiven of their sins? It certainly won't happen by them jumping through a bunch of "religious hoops." Your religious leaders would like you to think that is how it works, but they are blind to the Gospel themselves.
If you are in such a group, why do you think they don't preach the Gospel to you? It's because they don't know it and believe it themselves. They have not accepted it. They are not preaching God's truth, but only man's wisdom and man's religion. Those spiritual leaders are trusting in their own "righteousness" rather than in Christ's righteousness and His cross. Man thinks he can be "religious enough" to be forgiven, but he can't do it. He needs God to give it to him as a gift, which is the only way God grants someone the forgiveness of sins.
In fact, there will not be a single person in heaven who earned his way there. Not one. Stop and think about that for a minute. What does that tell you? It should tell you that your current religious leaders are not doing a thing to help you get to heaven if they are not giving you the Gospel. They are actually leading your soul in the other direction by insisting that you must work your way into God's good graces.
Be honest with yourself. Are your spiritual leaders preaching grace, or works-righteousness? That is, are they preaching forgiveness through faith in Christ, or forgiveness for those who strive enough and do enough?
The only religion that delivers the Gospel is New Testament Christianity. And even some churches that are "Christian" in name don't preach the Gospel. They may be involved in charitable work, but without the Gospel, they are not doing anything charitable for your soul. They may be feeding the hungry, but without the "soul food" of the Gospel, it won't help anyone get to heaven.
So does your religious group have the Gospel? If not, will you accept Christ yourself and then become a "missionary" to your religious group? Somebody has to reach them with the good news of God's grace. It might as well be you.
Amy Carmichael said, "We have all eternity to celebrate the victories but only a few hours before sunset to win them." And D.L. Moody said, "The only happy life is to live for the salvation of souls." So how happy are you in Christ today? And what is your plan going forward to reach others for Christ with the Gospel?
Perhaps you didn't have a lot of say in choosing the religious group of your upbringing. But you do now. You get to choose a church that is faithful to Scripture and faithful to the Gospel. Choose wisely. Just as your physical health requires good health care, your soul requires good spiritual care. And unlike your earthly body, your soul is immortal.
So pray about it, and then be sure to choose a church that is flowing in the grace of God through the truth of the Gospel. Otherwise, you could waste your life (and even lose your soul) being religious while missing out on the real deal. Religion without the Gospel is no better for your soul than atheism, and probably even worse. That's because religion without the Gospel provides a false sense of security.
And a false sense of security paves the road to hell, whereas faith in Christ alone paves the road to heaven. Which of those two roads are you on today?