Do All Religions Please God?
Do you feel that all religions please God? Probably any form of worship that you know about encourages good conduct, at least to some extent. But is that enough to please God?
SOME say, ‘Just be sincere in your worship, and God will be pleased. There is good in all religions.’ For example, the Bahai Faith has carried this view to the point of adopting into its beliefs the nine principal religions of the world. This religious group holds that all of these are of divine origin and are facets of one truth. How could this be so?
Further, you have a right to wonder how a religion could please God when it orders its members to plant nerve gas in public places, with the possibility of killing many people. That charge has been leveled against one religious group in Japan. Or is God pleased with a religion that causes its members to commit suicide? A few years ago, that happened to followers of the religious leader Jim Jones.
Looking back to earlier times, we may well ask, Can religions please God when they foment warfare, as in the case of the Thirty Years’ War, fought from 1618 to 1648? According to The Universal History of the World, that religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants was “one of the most terrible wars of European history.”
The religious Crusades from the 11th to the 13th century also resulted in horrible bloodshed. In the first Crusade, for example, the so-called Christian crusaders brutally slaughtered the Muslim and Jewish residents of Jerusalem.
Consider, too, what happened during the Inquisition, which began in the 13th century and lasted about 600 years. Thousands were tortured and burned to death at the order of religious leaders. In his book Vicars of Christ—The Dark Side of the Papacy, Peter De Rosa states: “In the pope’s name, [the inquisitors] were responsible for the most savage and sustained onslaught on human decency in the history of the [human] race.” Regarding the Dominican inquisitor Torquemada of Spain, De Rosa says: “Appointed in 1483, he ruled tyrannically for fifteen years. His victims numbered over 114,000 of whom 10,220 were burned.”
Of course, the religions of Christendom are not the only ones that are bloodguilty. In his work Pensées, French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
Recognized by Their Fruits
From God’s standpoint, a religion’s acceptability is not based on just one factor. For a religion to be acceptable to him, its teachings and activities must conform to his written Word of truth, the Bible. (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17) The fruitage of God-approved worship must conform to Jehovah God’s standards.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ indicated that there would be prophets falsely claiming to represent God. Jesus said: “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” (Matthew 7:15-20) These words show that we need to be on guard spiritually. We may think that a religious leader or group is acceptable to God and Christ, but we could be mistaken.
A Need for Caution
Though a religion claims to have God’s approval and its ministers read passages from the Bible, that does not mean that it is a form of worship pleasing to God. Its leaders might even do impressive things that make it seem as if God were working through them. Nevertheless, the religion could still be false, not producing fruitage acceptable to God. Magic-practicing Egyptian priests of Moses’ day were able to do impressive things, but they certainly did not have God’s approval.—Exodus 7:8-22.
Today as in the past, many religions promote human ideas and philosophies instead of adhering to what God declares to be the truth. Especially appropriate, then, is the Bible’s warning: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”—Colossians 2:8.
After speaking about good and bad fruitage, Jesus said: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ 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, ‘Lord, Lord, 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! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.”—Matthew 7:21-23.
Examine the Fruitage
Clearly, then, it is essential to look at the fruitage of a religion before concluding that it is acceptable to God. For instance, is the religion involved with politics? Then note these words, recorded at James 4:4: “Whoever . . . wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” Moreover, Jesus said of his true followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) The religion that is good in God’s eyes is not involved with the politics of this world, which “is lying in the power of the wicked one,” the invisible spirit creature Satan the Devil. (1 John 5:19) Instead, the religion that God approves loyally advocates his Kingdom under Jesus Christ and declares the good news concerning that heavenly government.—Mark 13:10.
Is a religion acceptable to God if it advocates civil disobedience? The answer is obvious if we heed the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Continue reminding them to be in subjection and be obedient to governments and authorities as rulers, to be ready for every good work.” (Titus 3:1) Of course, Jesus showed that his followers were to “pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.”—Mark 12:17.
Suppose a religion encourages participation in the wars of the nations. First Peter 3:11 urges us to “do what is good” and to “seek peace and pursue it.” How can a religion please God if its members are willing to kill their fellow worshipers of another country in warfare? Members of the religion that has God’s approval reflect his principal quality—love. And Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) That love has nothing in common with the violent hatred fostered in the wars of the nations.
True religion changes warlike people into lovers of peace. This was foretold in these words: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) Instead of spewing out words of hatred, those who practice true worship comply with the command: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Matthew 22:39.
Those practicing true religion strive to live by the high standards of Jehovah God, refusing to adopt immoral life-styles. God’s Word states: “What! Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom. And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.”—1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
A Time for Decisive Action
It is essential to discern the difference between false worship and true religion. In the Bible book of Revelation, the world empire of false religion is identified as “Babylon the Great,” a symbolic harlot “with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication.” She is bloodguilty and holds a golden cup “full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:1-6) There is nothing acceptable to God about her.
This is a time for decisive action. To sincere people still in Babylon the Great, our loving Creator sends out this call: “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.”—Revelation 18:4.
If you wish to practice religion that pleases God, why not get better acquainted with Jehovah’s Witnesses? The accompanying chart lists some of their beliefs, along with Scriptural reasons for these. Check your Bible to see if the beliefs of the Witnesses harmonize with God’s Word. Investigate to find out if their religion produces the kind of fruitage you would expect of true worship. If you find that it does, you will have discovered the religion that pleases God.
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WHAT JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES BELIEVE
BELIEF BIBLICAL BASIS
but was created
Human death is due to the Romans 5:12
first man’s sin
King James Version
for the dead
as the ransom for obedient 1 John 2:1, 2
to Jehovah through Christ
Bible’s laws on morals 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10
must be obeyed
Spiritism must be avoided Deuteronomy 18:10-12;
into one’s body
separate from the world
Christians witness, Isaiah 43:10-12;
immersion symbolizes Acts 19:4, 5
dedication to God
“the time of the end” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
God will destroy the present Daniel 2:44;
will rule the earth Matthew 6:10
A “little flock” is to rule Luke 12:32;
will receive eternal life Revelation 21:1-4
on a paradise earth
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Thousands were murdered during the Inquisition
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The Crusades resulted in horrible bloodshed
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True religion is known by its good fruitage
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Cover: Garo Nalbandian