Is Your Religion the True One?
There is a way to tell. Do you know how?
“HOW am I to know for sure that my religion is the true one?” you may ask. “There are hundreds of different religions, and each one claims to be true. I don’t have time to study every religion.”
Is that the way you feel? It is understandable that you may. However, since the many different religions teach conflicting doctrines, it is obvious that not all of them can be true.
The Bible, too, indicates this, for it speaks of “one faith,” and encourages: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.” (Eph. 4:5; 2 Cor. 13:5) The Bible also warns about being misled by false ministers, who “keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.” (2 Cor. 11:14, 15) Jesus Christ himself said that many persons would be misled into taking the broad road to destruction, and so warned: “Be on the watch for the false prophets.”—Matt. 7:13-15.
It is natural that you should desire not to be misled. But how can you avoid it? How can you know for sure that your religion is the true one? It can be done by finding out whether its teachings are supported by God’s Word, which Jesus said is the truth. (John 17:17) Also by determining the kind of fruitage the religion produces. Fine, wholesome fruitage is an indication that the religion is the true one, whereas bad fruitage is an indication that it is false.—Matt. 7:16-23.
So the test is a relatively easy one to make. If a religion is not in accord with what the Bible teaches, then it is not in harmony with truth. It is not the true religion. (Rom. 3:4) You have nothing to fear in examining your beliefs by the standard of God’s Word, for if you have the true religion you can only be reassured. And if what you believe is not in keeping with the Bible, then you should welcome the truth, because it leads to eternal life.—John 17:3.
MAKING THE TEST
Following are a few questions that should help you to see whether your religion adheres to the Bible. Answer the inquiries as you read them. Then ponder what the Bible has to say. If yours is the true religion it will be in harmony with the Bible. Since the King James Version is perhaps the Bible most commonly used in English-speaking countries, all references will be from it in making this doctrinal test, though you will find the same truth in any other Bible translation.
First, does your religion teach the “Trinity” doctrine, which claims that Almighty God and Jesus Christ and the holy spirit are three persons combined to make one God? Does it say that the Son, Jesus Christ, is coeternal and coequal with the Father, Jehovah God?
Now consider what the Bible says on this matter: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5) Thus, God is one person, and Jesus is no part of God but is the mediator between God and man. Jesus, too, said: “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29) And of himself Jesus said: “I am the Son of God.” (John 10:36; see also Luke 1:32.) So rather than Jesus’ being God or a part of God, the Bible speaks of him as the Son of God.
Are Jehovah God and Christ Jesus coeternal, as the “Trinity” doctrine claims? Of Jehovah the Bible says: “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Also, it calls him “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity.” (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 57:15) Hence he was not born, was not created; he had no beginning. But note that the Bible calls Jesus Christ “the firstborn of every creature,” and “the beginning of the creation of God.”—Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14.
And what about their being coequal? Those who teach the “Trinity” believe that they are. But Jesus said: “My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) And the Bible, at Mark 13:32, says that the Father has knowledge of important information of which the angels and the Son are ignorant. Obviously, then, Jesus and the Father are not equal. How does your religion compare with what these scriptures teach? It should agree with them if yours is the true religion.
Make the test on another fundamental teaching. Does your religion teach that the soul is immortal, which means it cannot die? Note what the Bible says: “None can keep alive his own soul.” (Ps. 22:29) “He hath poured out his soul unto death.” (Isa. 53:12) “Every living soul died.” (Rev. 16:3) “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4, 20) The Bible answer is obvious. It teaches that souls are mortal, that they can and do die. Does your religion teach that? It should if it is the true one.
Try another question. Does your religion teach that only the wicked go to hell, that hell is a place of fire and that none are resurrected from hell? The Bible says that Jesus Christ was in hell three days and was resurrected from there. In a prophecy concerning him, it explains: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:31) Also, Jonah was a man that was as in hell and got out alive. When swallowed by a big fish, Jonah said: “Out of the belly of hell [sheol] cried I.” (Jonah 2:2) Where was Jonah? In the fish’s belly, and there was no fire there!
What, then, is hell? Let us see from the Bible. At Genesis 37:35 Jacob, one of Jesus’ forefathers, when mourning for his son Joseph, whom he thought to be dead, lamented: “I will go down into the grave [sheol] unto my son mourning.” Here the American Standard Version leaves the Hebrew word sheol untranslated; the King James Version renders it “grave,” but the Catholic Douay Version renders it “hell.” Obviously sheol, or hell, is mankind’s common grave. And note that the Bible says: “Death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.” (Rev. 20:13) Yes, all those in hell are to be resurrected! Does your religion teach this? Since the Bible does, so will the true religion.
Now for another question. Does your religion teach that the dead are conscious? The inspired Scriptures say: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing.” (Eccl. 9:5) “The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.” (Ps. 115:17) So, according to the Bible, the dead are not conscious. However, they have the grand prospect of being raised from unconsciousness by means of a resurrection from the dead.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
You can also very easily make the test in connection with other teachings. For example, does your religion teach that Christians are still under the Mosaic law, and that the observance of a weekly sabbath day is therefore binding upon them? (Rom. 6:14; Col. 2:16, 17) Does your religion permit any praying or bowing before images in worship? (Lev. 26:1; 1 Cor. 10:14) Does it allow the eating of blood? (Lev. 17:12-14; Acts 15:28, 29) Does it have a clergy class upon which it bestows titles such as “Father” and “Reverend”? (Matt. 23:9; Job 32:21, 22) The scriptures here cited show that the true religion does not teach or practice any of these things.
It is important that you make such a test. If you are not certain what your religion teaches, then, by all means, find out. Then examine its teachings in the light of God’s Word. See if these are supported by the Bible. If they are not, reject that religion. Locate the religion whose teachings are in harmony with the Bible. Yes, heed the Bible admonition: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”—1 Thess. 5:21.
EXAMINING THE FRUITAGE
The true religion can also be identified by the fruitage it bears. Jesus Christ explained that there is one outstanding feature by which it can be recognized, saying: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Does your religion produce this fruitage of love? Does it inspire its people genuinely to love one another, regardless of the race or nationality to which they belong?—1 John 4:20.
Is it not obvious that, instead of bearing the fruitage of love, the major religions of the world have condoned and even encouraged their members to hate and war against persons of another race or nationality? During wartime millions of persons belonging to the same religion have slaughtered one another on the battlefields, with each side supported by their respective clergy who are also of the same religion! Religions that produce such unloving fruitage are not pursuing the way of love and of true religion. By the fruitage they bear you can identify them to be false.—1 John 3:10-12.
Examine further. Whether the religion that you have been taught is the true one can also be determined by its attitude toward the world. Jesus Christ showed the proper position of true worshipers when he said: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) And his disciple James wrote: “Do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?”—Jas. 4:4.
The true religion, therefore, obeys these Scriptural instructions and keeps separate from the world. Does your religion do so? Or is it an integral part of the world and its politics? Does it, for example, encourage participation in political elections? If you really desire God’s blessing, you cannot afford to maintain connections with a religion that disobeys Christ’s instructions on these matters.
Continue to examine. Whether the religion that you have been taught is the true one or not can also be determined by its attitude toward God’s name, Jehovah. (Ps. 83:18; Isa. 12:4, 5) Jesus Christ set the proper example in this connection by publicizing God’s name, explaining in prayer to his Father: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6) Does your religion bear this fruitage? Is it particularly noted for its making known God’s name and purposes? The true religion is.
Examine yet further. The true religion can also be identified by its imitating Jesus’ example of giving an important place to God’s Word. It firmly believes that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Therefore, it is particularly noted for its activity of teaching others God’s Word. Is yours? Does your religion provide free home Bible instruction at the convenience of interested persons? The true religion does.
Continue the examination, for there is yet another outstanding feature of the true religion. That is its preaching of the message of God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ also set the example in bearing this fruitage. The Bible explains: “He went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:1) He also instructed his disciples. (Matt. 10:12-14) And when giving the commission for Christians living in these “last days,” Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
How does your religion measure up? Does it take the Kingdom message to the homes of the people, performing the ministry in the way Jesus and his apostles did? Can its ministers say, as did the apostle Paul: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house”? (Acts 20:20) The ministers of the true religion can, for this is the principal way they perform their ministry.
THE TRUE RELIGION
So there is a way to identify the true religion. First, it can be recognized by its teachings. The true religion does not teach the “Trinity” doctrine; it does not say that man has an immortal soul; nor does it teach that humans will suffer everlasting torment in a hellfire after death. Rather, it teaches that the Father, Jehovah God, is greater than the Son; it says that the dead are unconscious, and it explains that they are resting in their graves until the resurrection. Really, does not the Scriptural truth on just these matters help greatly to identify the true religion?
How helpful, too, is the examination of fruitage! We have seen that the true religion bears the fruitage of love, and that those who practice it refuse to slaughter fellow believers during wartime, regardless of their race or nationality. They keep completely free from worldly politics. They regularly speak about God, and frequently use his name Jehovah. They are outstandingly noted for conducting Bible studies free of charge in the homes of interested persons. And the ministers of the true religion call regularly from house to house preaching about God’s kingdom.
Are you familiar with the religion that fits this description? Is it your religion? If it is not, then it is vitally important that you search to find the true religion.
This will require some personal study on your part. But it is not difficult. God has provided his Word, the Bible, which outlines what is true religion. Study the Bible. Prove what is false and reject it. Prove what is true and hold it fast. After learning what God’s will is, do it. The apostle John revealed how important it is for you to do this, writing: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17.