Lesson Three

A simple survey of the world scene reveals the reason for the title question.  Religions of all kinds abound, and they do create a confusing situation.  Why, then, does God confuse us in this way?

Be reminded that Jesus did not come into the world to make people religious.  They already were, very much so.  Jesus came to deliver TRUTH.  The apostle John wrote:  "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).  Since Jesus came to deliver truth, but not to make people religious (they already were), we must conclude that people can be religious and not be practicing truth.

The great number of religions that existed when Jesus came has not diminished.  No indeed!  They have increased greatly.  However, though this but adds to the confusion, it does not impact at all the power of truth.  Truth is truth, no matter how much error is being practiced.  Jesus came to bring truth into a world of error; to bring peace into a world of confusion and chaos.

Since God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), and we admit that confusion exists, we must surely learn from this that God is not to blame for the situation that exists.  Who, then, is to blame?

Man is to blame.  He is no different now than in times past.  He has always had an aversion to following the will of God.  Since the dawn of creation he has sought to direct his own steps, or to have them directed by someone other than God.  The former will not work (Jeremiah 10:23), nor will the latter (Matthew 15:14).

We must not let anyone deceive us (nor deceive ourselves) into walking a path of life which God will not bless.  We must heed the warning of Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 that "there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death".

Man has never been a good listener.  The appeal of Jeremiah 22:29, "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord", and of Habakkuk 2:20 "But the Lord is in his holy temple:  let all the earth keep silence before him" are reminders of the difficulty God has of getting man to listen to him.  In the days of Noah only eight people were saved.  The rest ignored the appeals from God's "preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5) and perished (1 Peter 3:20; Hebrews 11:7).  In the days of Jeremiah an appeal was made in the following words:  "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein" (Jeremiah 6:16).  What was their answer to this appeal?  They said, "We will not walk therein."  Was God to blame?  NO!  This same mind-set was prevalent in the world when Jesus came.  The Lord spoke to some in John 5:39 who were searching the scriptures to find eternal life.  He informed them that these same scriptures were testifying of Him as the source of that life.  Their response?  Jesus said, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40).  This same attitude is still prevalent in the world today.  It explains, but does not justify, the presence of so many religions.  Men want to do what they want to do, and they will seek some way of making themselves feel right in doing so.  The many philosophies, mythologies, movements, organizations, etc. of men confirm this.

Excuses are such deceitful things.  They keep us from doing what is right while at the same time making us feel right.  I suppose this is why men are so fond of them.  One example:  It has been said that "Hinduism is the eastern man's religion, and Christianity is the western man's religion".  We admit that what some call "Christianity" is western.  Roman Catholicism and the many protestant churches have certainly had their birth in the west.  However, these are not Christianity!  They are counterfeit substitutes, and it is wrong to use them as an excuse to refuse to hear truth.  Also, bear in mind that Hinduism is not the only "eastern" religion (cf. Taoism, Buddhism, Shintoism, etc.).  Christianity had its beginning on this earth in the city of Jerusalem.  That's in the middle east! and it was to spread from there to the four corners of the earth (Mark 16:15).  Christianity is a universal religion for all men in every nation of the earth.  It is neither "western" or "eastern".

In the days of the apostle Paul men were living as they had in the past, and as they have since.  In Romans 10:1-3 Paul wrote:  "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God".  Do you see the problem?  God had established a means of making man righteous (Romans 1:16; Acts 10:34-35), but man had not submitted to it.  Instead, they zealously created a substitute.  And as long as one remains in a substitute religion, God will not bless them with fulfillment of their spiritual needs.  It is truly sad that the situation is as it is in our world.  We sorrow for the victims of religious error.  What must be the answer - the only answer - is a strong determination to know the truth.  Truth alone will make one free (John 8:32).  Examination is the key.  Truth has nothing to fear from examination.  The word of God, the Bible, invites investigation (John 5:39), and it commends those who do so (Acts 17:11).

Does confusion come from a world filled with different religions?  Yes, it does.  Is God to blame?  No, he is not!  The blame must lie at the feet of Satan, and the minds of men who have submitted to Satan's tactic of "divide and conquer".

It is God's will that all people "be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).  He does not wish for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9), but He will not save men against their will, nor in opposition to His will.  It is His desire and intention that all conform to His will as it is revealed in the scriptures.

Each person needs to confront the challenge to examine the scriptures fully.  Be fair with God, and with yourself.  Do not remain lost and confused, blaming God for something that he has not done.  Take the control of your life that you're expected to have, seek the guidance that the word of God has to offer, and enjoy the freedom of mind and spirit that will surely result.

 Questions for Lesson Three

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