Manufacturing Religion

Can a human make for himself gods? Yet they are not gods!” “Therefore look, I am about to let them know, this time I am going to let them know my power and my might, and they will know that my name is Yahweh.”

Jeremiah 16:20–21 (LEB)

Religion is complicated. How many different religious belief systems are there? In each major religious group, how many sects does it contain? In each sect, how many disagreements would we find? Wars are fought and people are martyred over their religious beliefs. If we look at the origin of some Christian denominations, we will see they came about by external forces, in some cases, and internal disagreements that could not be reconciled in other cases.

The Anglican church exists because King Henry VIII had a disagreement with Pope Clement VII concerning divorce. King Henry VIII was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church and started the Anglican church. After the American Revolutionary war, the Episcopal church was formed by the people who did not remain loyal to the king of England. The oath the clergy took to be loyal to the kingdom in the Anglican church caused much division. This is one reason we have no business taking oaths to secular governments.

The American Civil war also caused divisions in denominations. The Baptist followed the political views of the North and South, and the Southern Baptists broke away to form their own organization. The Methodists and Presbyterians also split over issues in the Civil War. More recently, the United Methodist organization split over gay marriage differences. Other splits involve less mainstream doctrine such as in the United Pentecostal churches. I do not know all the details, but just from observation where I live, the United Pentecostal church split and there is a “sister” church in each community where originally there was just the United Pentecostal church. I assume these splits had to do with dress codes and oneness doctrine that the United Pentecostal churches teach.

There are probably thousands of denominational splits that we could examine. Everyone could also justify picking a side in each one of these splits. How can the church, supposedly the body of Christ, have so many disagreements? When someone insists one must attend church, my question is simply, “Which one?”. If I go to the United Pentecostal church, some would say that it is a cult and I should not go there. Well then, why not go to the United Methodists to fulfill my church attendance duty? The Global Methodists, along with many others, would not count attending the United Methodists church because they affirm now gay marriage. So, if someone tells me I am required to attend church, it usually means I must attend a church that believes similar to the way they believe. If I was in the United States in 1850, where I attended church might have to do with my thoughts on slavery. In 2022, maybe it would have to do with my beliefs on gay marriage, or whether women should wear pants. There is no anchor or solid bedrock that anyone regards. It is opinions about which beliefs people perceive to be Godly at any particular time in history. All of these various belief systems claim to use the Bible as their source of truth; however, they simply invent doctrine out of consensus of opinion.

1 Corinthians 1:10–17 (LEB): 10 Now I exhort you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing and there not be divisions among you, and that you be made complete in the same mind and with the same purpose. 11 For it has been made clear to me concerning you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 But I say this, that each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” and “I am with Apollos,” and “I am with Cephas,” and “I am with Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I give thanks that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Now I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Beyond that I do not know if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the gospel, not with clever speech, lest the cross of Christ be emptied.

Each of us have created our own religion and plugged it into a church denomination where it best fits. Some will grow and learn and have to move to another denomination because their belief system no longer fits their current church. Sometimes denominations change their tenants of belief and move on, leaving the person behind, such as in the case of the United Methodists. Maybe some women just get tired of long hair and skirts, and want to be able to dress the same way they do when they are not with their church friends, as we find in the United Pentecostal church. How do we know our personal religious beliefs are anything close to what the Creator of the universe expects from us? How do we avoid being manipulated by pastors and organizations that want to keep people trapped in man made dogma and are not concerned with the true nature of God?

“Education prevents manipulation” is a saying that I recently heard that we can easily apply to religion. The last thing many churches want a person to do is to study the Bible for themselves and start asking hard questions about the church’s belief system. The person that questions doctrine will just be shut down because that is how man-made religion works. Religious institutions have been infiltrated by the adversary to obfuscate the truth. Alice Bailey was a proponent of the new age and a theosophist who wrote many books in the early twentieth century. In The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, she described how society would be transformed: “The three main channels for which the preparation for the new age is going on might be regarded as the Church, The Masonic Fraternity and the educational field”. She wrote this prior to 1950, and over seventy years later, this is exactly what we have seen transpire.

Do we just “believe what we believe”, or should we do the following: 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV 1900), “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”? “Rightly dividing the truth” can even be twisted, as it is done in dispensational theology, if one does not understand what the New Testament writers mean by “truth”. John Nelson Darby, one of the people that helped make dispensationalism theology mainstream, protestant theology, would say that dispensationalism is the only way to rightly divide the truth. Maybe “rightly dividing the word of truth” is just a bad translation. How can truth be divided? Here is the same verse in context:

2 Timothy 2:14–19 (LEB): 14 Remind people of these things, solemnly urging them before the Lord not to dispute about words. This is in no way beneficial and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, a worker having no need to be ashamed, guiding the word of truth along a straight path. 16 But avoid pointless chatter, for it will progress to greater ungodliness, 17 and their message will spread like gangrene, among whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have deviated concerning the truth by saying the resurrection has already taken place, and they are upsetting the faith of some. 19 However, the solid foundation of God stands firm, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “Everyone who names the name of the Lord must abstain from unrighteousness.”

“Everyone who names the name of the Lord must abstain from unrighteousness.” If one knows how truth is defined by Paul, it will be easy to define unrighteousness. Yeshua said he is the truth, and he is the word of God in flesh.

Psalm 119:142 (LEB): 142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is truth.

Psalm 119:151 (LEB): 151 You are near, O Yahweh, and all your commands are truth.

Psalm 119:160 (LEB): 160 The whole of your word is truth, and your every righteous judgment endures forever.

God’s commandments are truth, as well as His word. Yeshua is the word of God. This does note negate the actual words of God. Yeshua only said what he heard his Father say. It is the same truth. Truth can only be found in the word of God. One learns the truth by studying the words of God and applying it in their life. The other option is to block one’s ears from the word of God and believe their own imaginations, then get plugged into a church denomination that best fits these imaginations. However, in order to abstain from unrighteousness, we must learn how to be righteous.

Deuteronomy 6:24–25 (LEB): 24 And so Yahweh commanded us to observe all of these rules and to revere Yahweh our God for our benefit all the days that we live, as it is today. 25 And it shall be righteousness for us if we diligently observe and do all of this commandment before Yahweh our God, as he has commanded us.’

Truth and righteousness point us to the instructions God gave through Israel to be extended through the whole world by the truth in flesh, Yeshua. We become righteous only when we do His righteousness, not our own. Yeshua made it possible through the Spirit to do the righteousness of God, which is His instructions for life. Our doctrine must come from God’s instructions, not our own imaginations. In other words, we do not get to define righteousness, truth or sin.

Jeremiah 16:19–21 (LEB): 19 O Yahweh, my strength, and my stronghold, and my refuge in the day of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth, and they will say, “Our ancestors have inherited only lies, vanity, and there is no profit in them. 20 Can a human make for himself gods? Yet they are not gods!” 21 “Therefore look, I am about to let them know, this time I am going to let them know my power and my might, and they will know that my name is Yahweh.”

Furthermore, we cannot boast in our own knowledge. We must give credit to God for everything He reveals to us through scripture. One cannot have truth revealed to them without the holy Spirit of truth. Truth without action is not useful. The Spirit of grace convicts our hearts of our sin and the Spirit of truth shows us everything Yeshua taught. John 14:26 (LEB), “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name—that one will teach you all things, and will remind you of everything that I said to you.”

James 2:14–19 (LEB): 14 What is the benefit, my brothers, if someone says that he has faith but does not have works? That faith is not able to save him, is it? 15 If a brother or a sister is poorly clothed and lacking food for the day, 16 and one of you should say to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but does not give them what is necessary for the body, what is the benefit? 17 Thus also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your* works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe, and shudder!

Somehow, the brother of Yeshua, James, ended up getting a new English name. His real name was Jacob, and he understood faith required action. In these verses, he says to give people food, which can also mean the meat of scripture. So many churches deny people their daily bread. We see the writer of Hebrews discussing the elementary message of Christ being repentance, faith in God, baptism, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. How many view these subjects as elementary? The resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment are not taught today. Most sermons are along the lines of “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so”. They may not even get this deep in some denominations for fear of offending someone.

Hebrews 6:1–8 (LEB): 6 Therefore, leaving behind the elementary message about Christ, let us move on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God, teaching about baptisms and laying on of hands, and resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For it is impossible concerning those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and become sharers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the coming age, and having fallen away, to renew them again to repentance, because they have crucified again for themselves the Son of God and held him up to contempt. For ground that drinks the rain that comes often upon it, and brings forth vegetation usable to those people for whose sake it is also cultivated, shares a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to a curse, whose end is for burning.

If the Spirit of grace is convicting someone, they may not know what to do because of the lack of teaching. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Acts 3:16–23 (LEB): 16 And on the basis of faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know, and the faith that is through him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. 17 And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 But the things which God foretold through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he has fulfilled in this way. 19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be blotted out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and he may send the Christ appointed for you—Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things, about which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from earliest times. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You will listen to him in everything that he says to you. 23 And it will be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet will be destroyed utterly from the people.’

Learn what the prophets said, listen to the living word in flesh, Yeshua, and repent! Those who refuse to listen to Yeshua will “be destroyed utterly from the people“.

Featured photo is by thom masat on Unsplash.

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