When I was in school we learned the ‘Three R’s’. These were known as ‘reading, writing, and Arithmetic. Also known as reading, ritin, and rithematic, these formed the basis for what we learned in school. Since that time, school has definitely changed from what I knew as a young lad. The times, they say, have changed. More to the point, there are many who are called Christians today that go from day to day in Gods own school.
Moreover, as religionists, Americans know no equal. That is except maybe the Jews and their own Judaism. Both Judaism and Christianity sport the monotheistic mode of God, with the exception that most Christians believe in the Trinity or Triune Godhead. Christians also hold to the Messiah as having come, his name being Messiah Yeshua. Both have its roots of spirituality rooted in the Old Testament. The Jews, however, embody the form, ritual, and commandments of God. The practicing Jew chiefly practices his religion based on the Torah and the Talmud.
It was to this form, the Apostle Paul grew up under the tutelage of Gamaliel. As Paul tells us in Acts 22:3, saying “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” Paul knew religion better than anyone. He also kept the law blameless, knowing the manner of the law, being zealous, and was so good, it could be said, Paul was perfect in his religion.
However, religion, being a belief, creed, or deep rooted conviction cannot save a person. It cannot bring one closer to God. Many are the people over the centuries that have developed religion and deep religious beliefs. These have garnered followers by the tens of thousands. Yet, to know God, it must not be religion. Paul, himself would have been a large figure in the history of Judaism and Israel. He would have been a well to-do scholar and had students of his own. His famed would have reached to the very pentacle of Judaism, yet for all this, he lacked something.
The Apostle Paul testified later to hundreds of people and before Kings. His testimony was one of a person who had religion and kept it perfectly. But, according to Paul, he received the gospel by the personal revelation of Jesus Christ, Messiah Yeshua. He says that it pleased God who had separated him from his mother’s womb and called him by his grace.
Religion: Judaism, the jews religion, - strongs 2454; [Gal 1:13-14]
Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Moreover, this grace would take this man from the top of the religious heap to the lowly follower of an outcast band of rebels. These rebels all had followed a radical young rabbi, who called himself the Son of God. All these rebels knew of the Jews religion and kept it. Still, they were Jews, who kept to what the Lord God had revealed to them. This young Rabbi, named Jesus Christ, Messiah Yeshua was the Son of God and fulfilled all the prophecies concerning him. When Jesus Christ was confronted by those of the Jews religion, he told them in Mark 7:9 that they “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” This was just a glimpse into the schism that happened between Jesus Christ and those who followed the religion of the Jews. In time, the Messiah Yeshua was crucified on the cross, then dead, was laid in a tomb. Three days later, however, he arose from the dead and was seen alive by many infallible proofs. Afterwards, he ascended to heaven at the right had of God the Father.
Rejection (reject): set aside, despiseth, cast off [Mark 7:9]
Mark 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
This gives the background for what many face in America today. This is, simply put, the schism between the light and dark of the true faith of Jesus Christ. There are many today in churches who attended a regular service dedicated to God. They follow denominational lines, doctrines, and keep their religion very well. Just as the Apostle Paul in his ignorance, they too, keep the same type of attitude and devotion towards their own brand of knowing God.
It is in this day and age that many people have religion, but in fact are reprobates. That is, they fail the test, are cast away, and have rejected the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have done this by following man made doctrines and listening to an Americanized Gospel pabulum which feeds its members a feel good type Christianity. It is one of materialism, wealth, prosperity, and pure secularization. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians to ‘Examine yourselves’, in order that you can prove for a fact that you are in the true faith or not. For you must be in Jesus Christ and he in you. If he is not in you, then you are reprobate or cast away.
Reprobate: failing the test, cast away, rejected [2 Cor 13:5-6]
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Furthermore, Jesus reminds us in John 14:23 that “if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Keeping the words of Christ, not man is paramount. These words test the love factor of any person claiming to be of Christ. If you love Christ, then you will keep his words. Keeping Words are as keeping the commandments of the Lord. The Apostle John in Revelation 14:12 describes the patience of the saints during the time of the tribulation saying “here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
There are many words in scripture on love, but for the church, believer, and true follower of Jesus Christ, it means the difference between being a reprobate and actually passing the test. Today it is sad that many in denominational churches do not visit those who drop out of their churches. It is equally sad that to say Christians actually love each other, no matter the church affiliation or not, is an understatement.
Many times, it is a cold church, with empty songs sung by people who can hardly wait to get out of service to go eat in the local restaurant. It is a church plague by scandals, vices, harlotries, lack of power, and most of all, one that has only a form of godliness. This form is mentioned by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:5, telling his young disciple that people in the last days would end up “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”, which Paul told him further, “from such turn away.”
Therefore also be reminded what the Apostle James says of True religion. This greek word for religion means a “worshipping”. By following this, believers can know the difference between vain or empty religion in the sight of God and ones religion which is actually a worship of God in truth and Spirit.
James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
In the end, only you can know what your heart is like. Only you can know whether or not you are following up on the Lords commandments. As a believer you are saved by Grace through faith, but this faith has legs on it. If you are true believer, then the natural works of God will flow through you, as will all the nine fruits of the Spirit. As a believer, fully and prayerfully in Jesus Christ, the fruits cannot help but flow through you to others. This then is for you to examine. Examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith or are following the reprobates line of religion.