Religion Exposed!

The Tibetan Buddhists’ life consists of constant religious observances to obtain a better reincarnation. The believer is constantly spinning prayers wheels, going on pilgrimages, meditating, prostrating, using prayer beads and going on monastic isolations.  All this to build up merit to improve their karma to gain a better reincarnation, and – if possible – nirvana.

This kind of devotion is not uncommon.

The religious systems of our world are all schemes to obtain merit with God.

Whether you’re Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, a spiritualist, or whatever, you seek – by your own works – to get God to credit your salvation account.

Religion is spelt D.O. You DO things to get God’s approval.

Continue reading Religion Exposed!

How big is your Bible?

How big should a Christian’s Bible be?  Good Christians should have a really big Bible so that other can clearly see it’s a Bible.  Really spiritual Christians should have a leather bound Bible with cross references.  Bible’s that contain only the New Testaments and Psalms are ok for new Christians, but you really should aim to be more godly. Super-spiritual, higher grade Christians have the ESV study Bible, with a leather cover.
This may sound silly, but often in the church we have these petty rules we follow.  If you’re not part of a church I’m sorry to say that this is sad, but true.  We have unspoken rules as to how many devotions a good Christian should have per week, how many beers (if any) a good Christian can drink at a bring ‘n braai, how many times a Sunday a good Christian gathers for corporate worship, and so the list goes on.  Unsaid rules about tattoos, dress, jeans, baseball caps, age-restricted movies and shopping on Sundays, saying grace, and so on. 


Now don’t get me wrong.  Having a Bible , regular devotions and being Christlike are good and godly things!  However, we sometimes tend to think Christianity is about obeying the rules and checking the boxes.  If we keep the rules we feel proud and if we break the rules we scold ourselves and feel guilty.  Jesus condemned the Pharisees for this kind of attitude in Mark 2:8-3:6.  Christianity for Jesus is about submitting to him as King, being forgiven of all sin, and redirecting our life towards Jesus, the only One who can give us highest joy.  We then seek to live godly lives, not to earn God’s favour, but as a result of God’s ongoing favour to us.

Dr. Howard Kelly was a renowned physician and surgeon as well as a devout Christian.  During the summer holidays while in medical school, he sold books to help with expenses.  Becoming thirsty, he stopped one day at a farm house for a glass of water.  A girl came to the door. When he asked for a glass of water, she kindly said, “I will give you a glass of milk, if you wish.”  He drank the cool milk and left refreshed.

Years passed, and Dr. Kelly graduated from medical school and became the chief surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital.  A patient was admitted one day who was from the rural area and was seriously ill.  The skilled chief surgeon spared no efforts to make the patient well.   After undergoing surgery, she recovered quickly.  One day she was told by the nurse, ‘Tomorrow you will go home.’   Though her joy was great, it was somewhat silenced by the thought of the long bill she must owe the hospital and surgeon.  She asked to see it, and the nurse brought it to her.   With a heavy heart, the patient began to read the different items from the top downward.  The further she read, the more depressed she became, wondering how she would ever pay the bill.  But as her eyes lowered, she saw a notation at the bottom of the page.   It read, “Paid in full with one glass of milk.” It was signed, Howard A. Kelley, MD.

We owe God a debt we can never repay.  No amount of good or rule-keeping can even start to pay what we owe God. But Jesus, by his substitutional death, paid what we owe in full to God so we can be forgiven.  What drives you?  Ticking petty boxes to earn God’s favour or enjoying God’s grace, knowing the bill has been paid in FULL.

Too good for God

“Religion is a crutch for weak people”

I’m sure you have friends that say this kind of thing. They may add: “I don’t need God, I’ve got it together!  I lead a good life.  I’m not a rapist or a murderer or corrupt.”

 The error of this kind of thinking is that it holds a very low view of sin.  This person views very serious sins, like murder, as bad, but their own minor indiscretions, like a white lie or selfishness, as “being human”.  They forget that, according to Jesus, hating your brother in your heart is as offensive to God as murder and lusting in your heart as offensive to God as adultery.   Pride is default position of this person’s heart.  They arrogantly belief they do not need God as they are good enough.  They are like the surfer who believes that Great White Shearks are harmless.  What the surfer may or may not believe does not change the truth.

 The reverse position that others hold, which is also the result of pride, is the view that they are too bad for God.  They say things like: “I’ve done such terrible things to others.  God will never forgive me.  I deserve to suffer in my guilt.”

 The error of this kind of thinking is that it holds a very low view of Jesus’ death.  Jesus was executed outside Jerusalem to, according to the Bible, bear the judgement of God for the sin of God’s people.  Jesus death was a substitutional, sacrificial death that paid the price for ALL sin, every one.  That’s why Jesus could triumphantly exclaim, “It is finished!”  To view your sin as too big, or too bad, or too damaging for God to forgive is extreme arrogance and minimizes the death of the Righteous One for you.

 Are you too good for God?  You are not as good as you think!  You’ll never be good enough for God.

 Are you too bad for God?  Jesus’ death is more powerful than you think!  You can never be too bad for God.

A lesson from Haji

Haji, a practising Muslim from Zanzibar, came to stay at my place for a month a few years ago.  We had a super time sightseeing, eating, laughing, biting shopping malls (yes , I know its seems unbelievable!)  and enjoying Cape Town. Yet, often times we had to cut our trip short in order for Haji to get back to the house in time to ceremonially wash and recite the prayers.  Haji is a moral, honest, upright man who is seeking to live the best life possible to please Allah.  Haji’s worldview says, “I perform, in order to be accepted”.

 The gospel according to Jesus found in the Bible is totally opposite.  The gospel says, “I’m accepted, therefore I perform”.  We see this truth clearly in Mark 2:14 when Jesus calls a “sinner” to become a disciple.  The account reads:

As he (Jesus) walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

 Levi was a Jew who worked for the revenue service of the Romans.  We as ostracized hated and excluded.  He was not good, nor religious, nor upright.  Yet Jesus calls him to follow.  Levi followed.  He became known as Matthew and had a profound influence on generations of Christians through the book he authored (The Gospel of Matthew). He was accepted by Jesus, therefore he performed and obeyed and changed. 

 Haji’s religion (and all religion) says “You need to perform to be accepted”.  The Bible tells us to admit we can never perform enough to be accepted by God, but rather to confess our wrongs and sins, and to accept what Jesus has done for us.

 Do you constantly feel guilty that you are never performing quite enough?  Not praying enough? Not witnessing enough? Not working enough? Not preaching enough?  Perhaps you need to remind yourself of the gospel of Jesus.