In the wake of the tragedy of the bombings at the Boston Marathon last week the religious community gathered together to encourage one another and to offer hope, not only to those who had been directly affected by the death or injury of loved ones, but to a community living in fear and uncertainty. An Interfaith Service was held where President Obama spoke to those gathered, and through the news media thousands more, perhaps millions, heard his words.
At one point President Obama quoted II Timothy 1:7: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." He encouraged the people not to fear because we are Americans. We will not be intimidated and we will not live in fear because we are a free people. It was a rally cry for the people in Boston and others who may wonder what is next in the war against terrorists - against those who would do harm to others to seek to advance an ideology of hate.
All of this seems good to most people, including many in the Christian community. In times like this all people need to come together to stand against evil. So what could possibly be wrong with such an "interfaith" service? Those who read this blog know that the name of the blog: "Truth and Grace," refers to God's call for His people to speak truth into a world where a growing number of people are believing that truth is "relative," that it is subjective, that you decide what is true for you and I decide what is true for me. When it comes to "religion," what you believe about spiritual things, we are told that there is some truth in all religions and that we cannot judge what others believe.
Such "reasoning" is deadly, and when it comes to GOD's truth, practicing a religion of tolerance for ANY teaching is an abomination to God. The Bible is either God's revelation of Himself and of His plan of salvation or it is not. It is either true or it is false. And if it is true, the God who reveals Himself in the Bible is utterly and totally INTOLERANT of mixing His truth with Satan's lies! You simply cannot worship God as He desires to be worshiped, and worship other gods at the same time. The people of Israel tried it, and others have tried it since, to their own destruction.
After the people of Israel were delivered from Egypt by the hand of God, they came to Mount Sinai and Moses went up the mountain to meet with God. As the people waited for Moses to come down they became impatient and said to Aaron, Moses' brother, "Make us gods who will go before us" (Exodus 32:1). Egypt had many gods and the people as yet failed to grasp that there was only ONE true God. Aaron should have known better, but he gave in to their demands and gathered the gold they had taken from Egypt and fashioned it into a golden calf. Then he announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD" (Exodus 32:5).
"LORD" was the name God had given to Moses to reveal to the people of Israel. It pointed to God as the Almighty One, the Great "I AM." Aaron and the people were trying to mix the worship of the gods of Egypt with the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God would have none of that. Moses burned the golden calf and ground it to powder and put it in the water and made the Israelites drink it. Then he called those who were for the LORD to come to him, and the Levites came, and he sent them throughout the camp with swords and 3,000 people were killed in judgment for their sin, and the rest saw the judgment of God upon them.
Later in their history Israel was once again trying to mix the worship of other gods with the worship of the one true God. This time the prophet Elijah called all of the false prophets to Mount Carmel and challenged them, erecting an altar with wood and arranging a contest to see whether their gods or his God would send fire to light the altar. Elijah said to the people: "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him, but if Baal is God, follow him" (I Kings 18:21). When the false prophets failed to persuade their "gods" to send fire to light the altar, Elijah prayed and God sent fire from heaven and consumed the altar. All the false prophets were put to death - 850 in all.
God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and says, "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols" (Isaiah 42:8). And in Isaiah 48:11, He says, "For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another." God says that He is a "jealous God." If you and I are jealous it is a foolish thing because God calls us to consider others above ourselves as we live in humility before Him. But God is God! He alone is worthy of worship and He has revealed one way, and only one way to come to Him and that is through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me!" (John 14:6).
At the Interfaith Service in Boston there were Jews and Christians and Muslims gathered together in a supposed religious unity, but that cannot be the case. People are looking for hope, but that hope is found only through faith in Jesus Christ. Some believe that Jews, Christians and Muslims are all descended from Abraham, and that somehow they can be brought together to worship the God of Abraham. But that doesn't work! While there are some Jews who have accepted Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God's promise to send the Messiah and have become part of the Church, those who do not confess Jesus Christ are not yet part of God's family. God says we must come to Him through Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. And the Muslims worship an entirely different god by an entirely different name. While they believe Jesus was a prophet, they deny that He is the Messiah, that He is the Savior, that He is Lord, that He is the only way to come to God.
Jesus said, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth" (John 4:24). Only by being born again by His Spirit and placing our faith in Jesus Christ, the living Truth, can we or anyone come to God. Any other worship, in any other way, in any other name is an abomination to the one true God, the God of whom the Bible speaks from beginning to end. It is against the law in Muslim countries to convert Muslims to Christianity. People who do convert risk severe persecution and even death. Yet here in the United States a growing number of church leaders and those who claim to be Christians are making an effort to get all religions together, including Islam, to promote love and unity and harmony among all people.
While Jesus offers peace with God and calls His people to love one another and to show love even to their enemies, He never calls us to compromise the truth that only through faith in Him is there forgiveness and life. "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:32-34). While Islam brings the sword of war, Jesus brings the "sword of the Spirit," His Word, to divide people between those who believe in Him and those who don't.
Paul wrote, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ... Therefore, come out from them and be separate, says the Lord" (II Corinthians 6:14-17).
When Paul wrote to his young friend, Timothy, and told him, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (II Timothy 1:7), he was speaking of the one true God who had revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, who had suffered and died on the cross, who rose from the dead, and who was exalted to the right hand of the Father in heaven. To attempt to "mix" religions requires denying Jesus Christ and rejecting God's revelation in the Bible. You cannot have it both ways. If the LORD is God, worship HIM!
I pray for the true Church, for those who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who have been born again by His Spirit. Jesus warned that in the days before His return there will be a severe persecution of those who hold to the testimony of Jesus Christ. "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people" (Matthew 24:9-11). That day is drawing near and many today are already turning from devotion to Christ in order to embrace other religions. Take comfort. "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us" (I John 2:19).
Stand firm in your faith, keeping your eyes on Jesus. Do not be discouraged and do not be deceived. God is the same today as He has been throughout all of history. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2). Rejoice today if you know Jesus Christ and if you have come to the Father through Him, as His Spirit works within you! Stand firm, and He will deliver you. His grace is sufficient for your every need and He is with you.
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" (Isaiah 52:7). Therefore, "We exist to proclaim the reign of Jesus Christ over all things; glorifying and enjoying God forever!" We sincerely invite you to join us!!