What About Other People's Religion?

by Kenneth E. Thomas

May 4, 2000

     The devil must be happy to hear people parrot his most subtle lie of all times, as they say "It is wrong to oppose or criticize other people's religion." Usually these folks will throw in a passage of scripture (perverted of course) to "prove" their point and supposedly clinch their argument. The devil knows of course that the more people who are convinced of this, the more his errors will have free course to flourish unopposed.

     It follows that those of us who stand up in opposition to religious error are considered by those so deceived by Satan and his "sweet spirited" promoters of all manner of error, as the bad guys. Often they quote (Matthew 7:1) wherein Jesus was condemning the professional fault finder who, with a log in his own eye, would attempt to remove a splinter from his brother's eye. When Jesus said "judge not that you be not judged." He went on to say "for with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged" (V-2). To make this a blanket statement forbidding all judging, makes Jesus at odds with Himself, for in another passage of Scripture Jesus said clearly; "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Here too an improper judging is condemned but the same passage enjoins a proper method of judging. Jesus calls the proper judging "righteous judgment" (John 7:24). How could we possibly obey Jesus' instruction given through the inspired apostle John when he said; "..test or prove the spirits (teachers ket) whether they be of God", (1 John 4:1) if all judging was forbidden?

     When we use the standard which God has given to determine who is and who isn't teaching the word of Christ, we aren't personally judging, Christ is. In Acts 17:11 some folks were praised for comparing a preacher's message with what was written in the Scriptures. "These (the Bereans) were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so."


     Satan would really be pleased if every one of God's children were spiritual weaklings who never obeyed Christ's command to "Earnestly contend for the faith which was once (for all) delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). To contend means to discuss, strive, dispute, and to debate. The Lord is pleased with those of us who love and uphold the truth by opposing all error. David said long ago; "Through Thy precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way" (Psalms 119:104). One's love of the truth of Christ is in direct proportion to one's hatred of error. One who loves the truth of Christ could as easily stand by and see the side of Jesus pierced and say nothing as he could hear the word of Christ perverted and be silent!


     When Peter's actions toward the Gentiles tended to undermine the truth that they were all teaching by inspiration i.e..."God is no respecter of persons..."(Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34-35), Paul did not allow this to go unchecked. He rebuked Peter to the face before the whole church for his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-18).


     I cannot recall the many times I have personally been "condemned for condemning others." It seemingly doesn't occur to folks who are so vociferous against those of us who "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered," that they are doing exactly what they say one shouldn't do, namely condemn another for what he teaches! How inconsistent can they be?

     How well this scribe remembers preaching a flannel board lesson designed to expose the many wrong concepts of denominational baptism, only to be condemned in strong language as a fellow went out the door of the meeting- house. I had brought a lady who had been involved in denominational error for years and had gone from one "church" to another. She asked me to pick her up for the services due to listening to my sermons on the local radio station. The man who condemned me for condemning, was a member of the church of Christ. He said, "If there had been visitors here today, you would have run them away." He was ignorant of the fact that I did have a visitor and the lesson was designed in an attempt to save her precious soul! The lady in question is still a good friend and she was not offended at my lesson.


     I suggest that the problem lay with the brother in Christ! He was ashamed of the Bible's teaching on baptism! Many times this happens. Some brethren in Christ are in fact ashamed of the faithful gospel preacher and the message he preaches. This isn't something new to be sure, for Paul had to encourage some not to be ashamed of him or the gospel. It reads thus in 2 Timothy 1:8, "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." Paul himself affirmed that he was "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it was the power of God unto salvation..."(Romans 1:16- 17).

     Paul spoke of Onesiphorus a co-worker who was not ashamed of my chain (2 Timothy 1:16). Paul was bound because of how plainly he preached the truth of Christ, which condemned all who rejected or perverted it, and this good brother wasn't ashamed of his message nor of the messenger who proclaimed it. Not all (not even all brethren) are so disposed I am sad to say! Revelation twenty one verse eight, shows how God feels about those who are "fearful" (cowardly) as well as those guilty a several other ungodly activities. He says their part in eternity will be the "lake of fire and brimstone.."


     The Master spent much of His time teaching against those who, because of their own traditions, were guilty of perverting the way of the Lord as taught in the Law of Moses. He pronounced a woe unto them calling their attempts to worship God vain worship. He also called them hypocrites. Some folks must have never read the New Testament as yet from the way they talk. If it is wrong to condemn those teaching and practicing error, then Jesus is indicted too, for He certainly did so in no uncertain language. He referred to some of the Jewish leaders as "children of the devil." Sure they protested and claimed that they were the seed of Abraham. Jesus said in essence "if you were you would do as he did." He was the "father of those who walk by faith." Read these passages please before you proceed! (Matthew 14:1-8; Matthew 23:1-38; John 8:31-44).

      When Jesus' disciples told him that the Pharisees were offended at His teaching He did not apologize. What He said was "..every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind, and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14-15).

     He also said "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words; of him also shall Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Luke 9:26).

     The teachings of Jesus were never popular with the masses of people, nor shall they ever be. When Christians, and especially those who have made it their life's work to "preach Christ," get better manners than the Son of God Himself, they have missed it somewhere!

     Many of the teachings of Jesus condemn what men desire to believe and practice. This is why they never were and never will be popular. We must stand firm behind His word regardless of how unpopular we may become. My Lord plainly taught that the way to eternal life is "narrow and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). Conversely, He taught that the way to destruction is the "broad way and many there be which go in thereat."


     Rather than the old soft, all positive and no negative preaching that is often encouraged today, the apostle's of Christ in the first century condemned the error they encountered and tried to turn folks away from such to the truth of Jesus Christ. Consequently, the above was said of them. For example the Jews at Thessalonica became so worked up over the teaching of Paul and Silas concerning the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that Luke records "they were moved with envy against them." Let us read (Acts 17:5-7). "But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also..saying there is another king, one Jesus."

      When truth is taught, error is exposed. It is utterly impossible to do otherwise you see. If I teach there is one true God in heaven I am condemning every person who says that He doesn't exist. So I will make the atheist angry. What to do? Leave off teaching this particular Biblical truth? Why you know better (Hebrews 11:6; Psalms 100:3). When Peter and the others were commanded by some Jewish leaders not to preach or teach any more in the name of Jesus as the Christ, they said "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Their teaching and preaching was condemning those who rejected Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. They were said to be filling Jerusalem with their doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us" (Acts 5:28b). Their teaching was so pointed and plain that it really burned those who were in error. What were they to do? They could accept the message of truth as taught by the apostles, or they could make charges against them. Many did the latter just as many folks today when the message demands repentance and change.


     The heading above is a partial quote of the words of Jesus to His disciples found in (Luke 6:26). The entire quote reads "Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets." Some folks who profess to be preachers of the gospel of Christ can as they used to say, "preach it round or flat." This simply meant that if folks in an area believed the world to be flat, this is what they will preach so as not to offend them. Never mind what the Lord says in the matter. Paul warned Timothy of what would happen in the latter days, saying, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; And they shall be turned away from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.."(2 Timothy 4:2-5).


     I cannot rightfully claim a love of the truth and love for those in religious error if I do not at least attempt to show them the error of their way. What one believes or fails to believe can be eternally detrimental to one's soul! Jesus said, "..the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). Paul wrote that if one believes a lie he will be damned (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). It does make a difference what one believes! To some who were departing the faith early in the first century, Paul wrote, "I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him who called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another (there is one faith (Eph. 4:5) ; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9). This hardly sounds like doctrine is of little importance! Doctrine is sufficiently important that if one is taught error, a lie, instead of the truth, that person as well as the one who has taught them (whether in honesty or with intent to deceive) will be lost in eternal torment! Jesus plainly taught "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14). In a passage cited earlier Paul wrote "That they all might be damned who believe not the truth..."(2 Thessalonians 2:12).


     It is not only true that one must believe the truth to be saved (John 8:32), but one must also be obedient to the truth to be saved from alien sins and to remain saved. In other words one must hear, believe, obey, and walk in the truth of divine revelation to be and to remain in fellowship with God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and others of "like precious faith" (1 John 1:1-9; 3 John 4). Please read those two citations. Peter wrote to Christians the following; "Seeing your have purified your souls in obeying the truth...being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever...And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:22-25).


     Many live and die outside of the relationship known as the church or kingdom of Christ simply because they are deceived into thinking that there is nothing to do or to obey to be saved! Jesus says only those who "do the Father's will" will enter into the church or kingdom or be saved (Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 5:9). Jesus also said plainly what this involves in the giving of His "great commission" (Luke 24:45-49; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). Who can misunderstand the simplicity of (Mark 16:16) which says "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved?" When believers on the birthday of Christ's church asked the apostles what they must do they were told to "repent and be baptized every one of you...for the remission of sins..."(Acts 2:38). When they did this they were added unto them (apostles, who were in Christ's blood bought church) (Acts 2:41,47; Colossians 1;13-14). This made them simply and only "Christians" and united them in the one body by the cross of Christ (Ephesians 2:10-17). You can do the same today and be what they were. Only in this way can there be the "unity of the Spirit" for which the Lord prayed and about which His inspired apostles wrote (John 17:17-21; 1 Corinthians 1:10-12; Ephesians 4:1-6). Is "your religion" the religion of Jesus Christ?

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