Is Your Religion Good Enough?
“FOR me? Why, yes, I would say so. It was good enough for my forefathers, so it is good enough for me.”
How frequently this position is taken by adherents of this world’s religions! While acknowledging weaknesses in the religious system of their choice, most feel it is better to have some religion than none at all. Slogans in advertising posters such as ‘attend the church of your choice’ illustrate that the important thing is to belong, not which one you belong to.
Do you feel your religion is good enough for you? While you may unhesitatingly answer Yes to this question, could you just as unswervingly answer in the affirmative the following: Is your religion good enough for God? If someone required you to give sound reasons for believing your religion was good enough for God, what would you say? Could you provide Scriptural arguments for your decision? Perhaps you have been told from childhood that your religion is good enough for you, but ask yourself the thought-provoking question: How do I know it is good enough for God?
Consider the hundreds of other religious systems. Are all of them good enough? Perhaps they are good enough for their members, but are they good enough for God? Some contend that it is not so much the system of religion that matters, but the sincerity and intensity of worship by the individual that counts with God. Is this so? Is this God’s mind on the matter, or is this speculation? Either a particular religion is a way of salvation or it is not. It is similar to being alive or dead. A person is one or the other. There is no middle ground.
It might be argued that all religions must be good enough since God has allowed them to exist for hundreds of years. This is the crux of the matter. It is true that up to our time God has permitted all religions to exist. However, now, in our generation, the situation is altogether different. Why? First Corinthians 10:11 answers: “Now these things went on befalling them as examples and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived.” Yes, we have arrived at the foretold “time of the end,” the day of reckoning for all systems, political, commercial and especially religious. All are on judgment before God. Those not good enough in His sight will not survive this generation, but will be eternally cut off. Only that which is good enough before God will survive the end of this world. Speaking of these critical last days, Jesus warned: “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another.” What of those who meet with his displeasure? Jesus added: “And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matt. 25:32, 46.
NOT ALL ARE GOOD ENOUGH
We should not be deceived into thinking that all religion is automatically good enough for God, merely because it falls into the category of “religion.” When we examine this word and its usage in the Bible, it becomes apparent that a religion is either wrong or right in God’s sight. Speaking of the time when he was a Jewish Pharisee, the apostle Paul says: “According to the most sure sect of our religion I lived, a Pharisee.” (Acts 26:5, Dy) He also warned the Christians at Colossae: “Let no man seduce you, willing in humility and religion of angels.” (Col. 2:18, Dy) In both instances Paul uses the word “religion” in connection with worship that was false and unacceptable to God.
The Bible writer James uses the word in connection both with worship that is vain and with worship that is true and acceptable to God: “If any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world.”—Jas. 1:26, 27, Dy.
According to the way it is used in these verses, the word “religion,” simply defined, means a form or system of worship. In harmony with this the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures uses the phrase “form of worship” instead of “religion” in these scriptures. This agrees with the Hebrew word for it, ‛a·boh·dáh, literally meaning “service,” regardless of its true or false nature or to whom it is rendered.
With this understanding it becomes evident that even communism can be included in the term “religion,” since there is worship and service rendered to the State. Money or materialism can also be considered an object of supreme devotion, therefore one’s religion. Hence, not only the religions of Christendom and heathendom are on judgment at this end of the world, but so are these other objects of worship, whether they are governments, institutions, individuals or things.
SINCERITY ALONE NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Merely sincerely accepting and following a religious organization will not guarantee God’s approval and protection through this world’s end. Sincerity, conviction, or intensity of devotion will not change falsehood into truth.
A few centuries ago the learned men of the world sincerely believed the earth to be flat. Did their sincerity and conviction make it so? No. The earth remained round. Man’s devotion to a theory could not alter the fact. The theory had to change, not the fact.
Consider, too, the storm of opposition astronomer Galileo provoked by openly supporting the belief of Copernicus that the earth was not the center of the universe, but that it, together with the other planets, revolved around the sun as a center. Observations through the newly invented telescope convinced Galileo that this position was correct. In 1616 consulting theologians of the Holy Office classified the proposition that the planets revolved about the sun as heretical, and shortly afterward Galileo was admonished by the pope, Paul V, not to “hold, teach or defend” the condemned doctrine. Later, in custody of the Inquisition, he was forced to recant his views.
The church’s theologians no doubt were sincere in their conviction that the earth did not revolve about the sun, as evidenced by their frantic reaction to Galileo’s views. However, did their sincerity, conviction and intensity of reaction make null and void Galileo’s findings? Has not true science determined that the planets do indeed revolve about the sun? Did the church’s stand somehow cause the earth to cease traveling its God-assigned orbit around the sun? No. The church’s views were at fault, incorrect. Their sincerity could not void actuality.
The same is true concerning religion today. Sincerity and conviction are commendable virtues, but they cannot change falsehood into truth, nor can they convert a false religion into a true one. It is a delusion fraught with terrifying consequences to think it does not matter with God, that all religions are good enough. A brief glance into history shows that the false kind has never been good enough for God. False systems of religion, together with their followers, however sincere, have been recipients of God’s wrath in previous judgment periods.
REJECTED BY GOD
Consider the examples of Assyria and Babylon, the second and third world powers respectively. In both dominions religion was prominent. At the peak of Babylon’s power, during a religious feast, her king was told by God’s spokesman Daniel that, because of false worship, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” That very night Medo-Persian hordes invaded the seemingly impregnable city, killed the king and subjugated Babylon. Where is the Babylonian system of worship today? Were her gods and temples spared because it was a religion and its worshipers were sincere? No. It was a false form of worship, disapproved by the Almighty God, who foretold its destruction.
The same was true of the Assyrian form of worship. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against Jerusalem he taunted the Israelites with these words: “Have the gods of the nations at all delivered each one his own land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are there among all the gods of the lands that have delivered their land out of my hand?” Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem with overthrow, feeling his god would give him victory. Was his religious conviction realized? Note the conclusion of the matter: “And it came about on that night that the angel of Jehovah proceeded to go out and strike down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When people rose up early in the morning, why, there all of them were dead carcasses.” What of Sennacherib? “And it came about that as he was bowing down at the house of Nisroch his god . . . his sons themselves struck him down with the sword.” (2 Ki. 18:33-35; 19:35, 37) The Assyrian religion did not save the nation or Sennacherib from disaster. Their religion was not good enough for God.
Down at this end of the current system of things a similar fate will overtake those religions not good enough for God. Only the one good enough for God will survive as Daniel survived the overthrow of Babylon and as Jerusalem escaped from Sennacherib’s Assyrian hordes.
WHY NOT GOOD ENOUGH?
What is wrong, and has always been, with false worship? Said Jesus: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you at all. Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” These protesting ones thought their religion was good enough for them, but they never bothered to consult God’s Book of requirements to ascertain if it was good enough for Him! They were performing service, but contrary to the way God required. It was their way, not God’s. Therefore, their service was lawlessness, unacceptable worship, rejected.—Matt. 7:21-23.
The world’s religions cannot be doing God’s will today. If they were, we should expect to see the results of it as in the first century with the early Christian organization. One outstanding result of true worship that would set it above all others was mentioned by Jesus at John 17:3: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” Followers of the right religion, the one good enough for God, would KNOW THEIR GOD. They would be familiar with his name, purposes and will.
How many in the world’s religions know these vital points? A typical answer was given by one minister as reported by the Paterson, New Jersey, Evening News of January 2, 1960. He said: “The biggest task the church faces today is converting its own members.” The article added: “Surveys indicate that millions of church members have extremely vague ideas about the central affirmations of the faith . . . One California pastor, for example, was profoundly shocked recently by the discovery that not a single adult member of his congregation could make a passing grade on a test composed of 20 simple questions about the Bible.”
In religions of all denominations the same was observed. One press service in Switzerland related: “Half of the children do not even know what it means to fold their hands and offer prayer. Their parents have never told them.” In a Catholic parish bulletin in France this was stated: “The hundreds of nine-year-olds that we enroll for the catechism know little or nothing about God and Christianity. In temporal, earthly matters, they lack nothing. Religiously, they lack everything, they know nothing.”
Multitudes spend a lifetime in religious organizations, yet are unable to discuss intelligently what they have learned. Ask the average religious person what he believes and, more important, what the basis for his belief is, and he cannot produce the information. What would you think if you provided your child with a college education and found he could not read or write after graduation? If the child was normal, you would be forced to conclude that the educational system was faulty. Likewise, after so much time devoted to religion, when people cannot give a reason for their belief, the conclusion is inescapable that, not only the worshiper, but the system of worship is at fault.
The apostle Peter gave this Christian requirement: “Always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you.” (1 Pet. 3:15) The inability of the adherents of Christendom’s religions to do this proves beyond doubt that God’s spirit is not with these religions, otherwise they would be “aglow with the spirit” and be able to convince others that theirs is the true faith. True Christians in the one right religion can do this. With them knowledge of God, coupled with the ability and willingness to communicate it to others, abounds.
The next time Jehovah’s witnesses call at your door, ask them to give Scriptural reasons for their hope. If they can tell you God’s name, his purposes and his will for our day, then you will know for a certainty they have a religion good enough, not only for Jehovah’s witnesses, but good enough for God to preserve during the world’s end.
How disastrous it would be to complacently follow a religion and find, at divine execution of judgment at Armageddon, that it was good enough for you, but not good enough for God!