1. Ask yourself this question; “do I consider my self a religious person?”
I have another question for you to think about; “can a religious person die and spend eternity in hell?”
a. That thought brings us to another question; “what does it mean to be religious?”
i. The secular world definition of religion is this;
1. the worship of god or the supernatural
2. devotion to a religious faith whatever that may be
3. A personal set of/or institutionalized system of religious belief, attitudes, practices, to a cause.
ii. Christians are Hesitant today in using the word ‘religion’ in the content of the Christian faith, this is due to the conviction that Christianity is not simply one among many religions;
1. Illustration; religions in one hand and Christianity in the other. Christianity is a way of life.
2. Ephesians 2:8-9 says; for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Jesus paid it all, ALL TO HIM I owe!!!)
3. People are religious about their jobs and their causes, such as;
a. Abortion rights groups,
b. The environmentalist groups,
i. They worship the created…….
c. Homosexual groups and so on.
4. A spokesperson for PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals.) said this;
a. The killing of 6 million Jews in the gas chambers and furnaces in Germany during WWII is no worse than killing 6 million chickens in slaughter houses each yr. They are religious to their beliefs and cause.
b. Being religious in ones beliefs and causes does not make those beliefs and causes right.
2. So to get back to the question I asked you to think about; “can a religious person die and spend eternity in hell?” The answer is YES!! Now you may say wait a minute Bro. Garry. Let’s see what Jesus has to say in the Gospel of John chapter 3. Turn to & Read versus 1-3.
a. V. 1 tells us that Nicodemus was a religious leader of the Jewish nation
i. The leaders of Israel where religious people, they where trying to work there way into God’s Kingdom by keeping all the laws they had made. It was a works based religion. Somewhere they turned from faith in God to a Works based salvation.
ii. Today we have people that have turned to a religious works based salvation. They seek to Please God with…..
b. V. 2, Nicodemus was a seeker; he wanted to know the truths of what Jesus was teaching. (Today well intentioned people are seeking but like Nicodemus they are doing so in their on efforts thinking that they have to do something to earn God’s favor.)
c. But in v. 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus that his religion will not get him into the kingdom of God that he needed to be born again.
i. What a shock that must have been to Nicodemus, why after all he was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin the ruling body of the Jews. He was an Israelite, God’s chosen people, If his birth-right could not save him what could? (Membership can never save. It’s not where your name is on a list, it’s where your heart is. Jesus said “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN!!!!”
ii. Jesus was telling him unless he was born again his religion would send him to hell for eternity.
iii. Nicodemus did not under stand why his religion would not get him into God’s Kingdom.
1. After all he worked at keeping all the man made laws of the nation of Israel. He did what all his religion and religious leaders told he should do. Verses 4-9 Jesus explained to him about being born again.
iv. But if you look in V. 10 Jesus said you are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things. (Paraphrasing) “You don’t understand the difference between religion and righteousness.”
1. Nicodemus knew the writings of the Old Testament.
a. That is why in v. 14-15, Jesus quotes Numbers 21: 5-9. Look at these verses.
2. The people of Israel could not see the difference in religion and righteousness because their leaders did not under stand the difference.
3. We too need to understand the difference between religion and righteousness.
d. Just as it was impossible for the nation of Israel to see the difference of religion and righteousness because of their sin. It is hard for the lost around us to distinguish between religion and righteousness!!
i. When they see those who claim the name of Christ support liberal ungodly causes and the people who support those causes.
ii. When they also see those same people live one way on Sunday and another way through the week.
e. The religious way of thinking was destroying the nation of Israel. It was leading them farther and farther away from God.
f. Today we see more and more “Christian denominations” and their churches turning to religion and away from righteousness, and following liberal causes and ideologies and forsaking the Lord God Almighty.
i. They are trying to work out their own salvation by what they consider good works.
ii. Jesus told Nicodemus that his good religious intentions would not bring him salvation, he needed to be born again.
3. There are those in our own evangelical churches that are religious and have never been born again, I know I was one of them.
a. (Tell own story) went forward at 6, grew up in church, knew all the right things to say, Sundays a good Christian boy but during the week God was not in my life. After Linda & I were married we didn’t go to church much, some friends of our asked us to start going to S.S. with them (GROW contact). 1970 Linda became a Christian and I told the pastor I want to turn over a new leaf, and become a member of that church. The only thing you have in doing that is the same old leaf. I was trying to live for God in my own power. I become a deacon and served in different areas of the church. I like Nicodemus was a religious leader.
b. My religiousness filtered into to my personal life and I listen to ungodly men tell me how I should vote if I wanted to keep working and I religiously did so.
i. 1973 came with Roe vs. Wade that gave women abortion rights and I religiously supported that ungodly causes by the people I voted for.
ii. During the two years between 1973 and 75 God started revealing to me that my heart was wrong about my religious support of ungodliness, and my own religious efforts in serving Him. On Aug. 31st 1975 I realized I needed to be *born again that my support of ungodliness had made me an enemy of God! That my own religious efforts were not good enough to get me into the kingdom of God!!!!
4. It is going to be a terrible day when the religious stand before the judgment and especially the religious of the church.
a. The religious church member will say; “Lord, didn’t you see me in church, my name was in the church membership book.”
b. Didn’t you see me service on different committees.
c. Lord I was in S.S. all the time. (If time permits, lady at lay renewal.)
d. Luke 13: 26-27 tells us how Jesus will respond to the religious; V. 26,“Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; V. 27, and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’
i. Not necessarily bad people in the eyes of most people.
ii. They were people that thought their own goodness would save them.
5. How do we tell the difference between the born again and the religious; 2nd Timothy 3:5 says this about the ungodly religious;
a. V. 5 tells us that they; “hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”
b. All their works are self motivated, not love of God motivated.
c. Most people in the world do not know what a Christian is or how they can become Christians. They trust in religious works and good intentions, depending on the strength of their flesh. God says that a Christian is someone who has been born again. It is faith in the finished work of Christ that makes a child of disobedience into a child of God.
6. This is what religion does.
i. It removes faith and replaces it with a self-centered attitude of what I must do to please God and get to heaven.
ii. Hebrews 11:6 now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
7. (Every head bowed, Music team come. In a moment we will sing a hymn of invitation and you will have a chance to respond to God.) Where are you today?
a. Are you where I was 30+ years ago, a religious church member, supporting ungodliness and trying to please God with your own efforts, but you have never been born again?
b. Maybe you have never made a profession of faith before and you need to come this morning repenting of your sins and confess Jesus as Lord of your life and live for him.
c. May be you are looking for a Church home and God has been leading to join 1st Baptist, but you have been putting it off. You need to be obedient to God’s leading in your life.
d. Maybe your not sure where you are in your walk with the Lord and you need to come an kneel and pray and ask God to show you what He want you to do.
e. Whatever decision God wants you to make, make it today.
f. Come now! Don’t let your pride stand between Heaven or hell.