Have You Put Your Religion to the Test?
WHEN you were in school, your teachers gave you tests to find out if you were meeting school standards. If you consistently answered questions incorrectly, you failed to pass the test.
What about your religion? When was the last time you put it to the test? Have you tested it in the light of God’s Word, the Bible, to see if it meets God’s standards?
Is that necessary? Yes, because not all religion is good. Said the Christian apostle Paul: “Even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8) Also, Jesus Christ prophesied: “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many.” (Matt. 24:11) So today we find hundreds of religions in the world teaching conflicting doctrines and observing different practices. Because of these many false religions, the inspired Word of God urges: “Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.”—1 John 4:1.
How can you put your religion to the test? By using the Bible as your measuring rod. That is the rule beside which you can put the doctrines and practices of your religion to see if they measure up to God’s standards. Extremely helpful, too, is the discussing of Bible doctrine and religious practice with those who have made a serious study of the Bible—Jehovah’s witnesses. See how their understanding of the Bible squares with the teachings of your religion. Then determine for yourself where the truth lies after hearing both sides of the matter. Do not reject such discussion, for the Bible counsels: “When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.”—Prov. 18:13.
Do not be lulled into a false sense of security and take it for granted that what you hear from a pulpit is automatically the truth because it is uttered in the name of religion. For example, almost all religion teaches that man has an immortal soul and that the soul’s destiny is heaven or a fiery hell for eternity after death. Yet, according to the Catholic Douay Version of the Bible, Acts 3:23 says: “And it shall be, that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” How can the human soul be immortal if it can be destroyed? Obviously, it cannot be immortal.
This is not just an isolated scripture. Throughout the Bible there are hundreds of similar uses of the word “soul.” But not once does the Bible show that the soul is immortal! Instead, God’s Word shows that man was created mortal. He rebelled against God and was sentenced to death; yes, death, not immortal life in heaven or hellfire. God said: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen. 3:19) Man was not promised automatic immortality for his sin, but death.
That is why faith in God is so necessary, for exercising such faith is the only way we can ever be released from the grip of death. How? Jesus promised: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day.” (John 6:40) Note that Jesus spoke of a resurrection, and said that it would be at “the last day,” not at a person’s death.
Think about this, too. If you had an immortal soul that at death went to heaven, hellfire, or purgatory, why would you ever need a resurrection? The simple truth is that a resurrection is necessary for the dead in order to bring them back to life, as they are not in an immortal state, but are in the graves awaiting the resurrection.
No, your soul is not immortal. In fact, you do not have a soul, but you are a soul, as Genesis 2:7 clearly explains: “Man came to be a living soul.” The word “soul” in the Bible is synonymous with the creature himself. (Lev. 11:46) So man’s hope is not based on his immortal soul, but is as Jesus said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”—John 5:28, 29.
The foregoing exposes just one sample of religious error. The list of doctrines and practices not corroborated by the Bible is a long one. Such find their origin in paganism, rooted in the teachings found in ancient Babylon thousands of years ago! As John Henry Newman, whom Pope Leo XIII made a cardinal, said of some of these practices: “The use of temples . . . incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons . . . images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin.”—Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, pages 355, 371, 373, edition of 1881.
What should you do, then, if your religion does not pass the test of God’s Word? You have a heavy responsibility. States the inspired warning: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) This means you must abandon false religion and accept true religion if you are to escape God’s adverse judgments.
The testing you need to do with your religion is far more important than the tests your teachers gave you in school. Failure there might have meant being left back a grade. However, failure to test your religion may mean being left out of God’s purposes altogether. So “keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.”—2 Cor. 13:5.
It may make you feel uncomfortable to think that your religion may not be acceptable to God, but it will work for your everlasting benefit to find out now. If you pursue what is true and reject what is false, God will look on you with favor. You, too, can then have the bright prospect before you of living forever in God’s righteous new system of things after this world’s end, for “the righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Ps. 37:29.