Does being Religious = Being right with God?
In our country, despite many recent changes, there are still many people who are deeply religious. They live a fairly good, moral life. They try in various ways to help other people. They are a committed part of some religious organization. If you were to ask them why they do these things, many would reply “Because I want to go to heaven when I die.” Others might reply “I want to be close to God” or “I want to please God.” Although many of these people are genuine and their efforts commendable we must candidly ask this simple question, “Does being religious, i.e. attending church services, taking part in religious rituals, helping others etc., mean that a person is right with God and on their way to heaven?” To answer this question rightly we must look, not at what we think or feel, but what God says.
God says very clearly that we cannot earn a place in heaven by our own efforts. Romans 3:28 explains that we are justified, or made right with God by faith and that our efforts have nothing to do with it. On the other side, Galatians 2:16 states that no person will ever be justified, or made right with God by doing good things. Ephesians 2:8&9 teaches us that we are saved from our sins by grace and that it is a free gift. Unfortunately, all the religious activity in the world cannot get us into Heaven. We must humbly depend on what Jesus did on the cross when He died for our sins.
God also gives us examples of religious people. In Acts chapter 10 we read the story of Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman army commander, and a very good, religious man. But one day God appeared to Cornelius in a vision and told him to talk to the Apostle Peter. Peter told this man that while God recognized his noble efforts, only those who believe in Jesus can have their sins forgiven (Acts 10:43.) Upon hearing this, Cornelius put his trust in Jesus alone to forgive all of his sins, something he’d never done before. In John 3 we read the story of another religious man, Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a religious leader, and knew the Old Testament writings of the Bible exceptionally well. But this devout religious man lacked something without which Jesus said he would never make it to heaven. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” (John 3:3) Nicodemus didn’t even understand what it meant to be born again, and he had definitely never experienced it! Jesus explained in verse 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Nicodemus needed to simply believe (depend, trust) on Jesus and what He did on the cross. He later did! That’s what it means to be born again.
How about you? Perhaps you are religious, but unsure if you’re going to heaven. Like Nicodemus, you would have to admit you’ve never been born again. Good News – God wants you to be born again! Please click here to find out how you can know for sure you are going to Heaven.