I get all kinds of answers when I ask people, "What are you religiously?"
I'm actually asking them what religious body they identify with.
Some say, "Baptist." Some, "Methodist." Some reply, "Mormon." Some claim Episcopalian, some Protestant, and what have you. I get all kind of answers.
You know, the strange thing about all those responses is that not one of those identities is found in New Testament scripture. Not one. The words Methodist, Mormon, Episcopalian, Baptist, Mennonite and a whole host of other religious identities are not found one time in New Testament scripture.
Religious identities tell whose religious teaching we follow. When we say we are Mormon we are saying we follow the teachings of Joseph Smith. When we say we are Lutheran we are saying we follow the teaching of Martin Luther. And so on.
"So?" you ask. "Why is that a problem?"
Let's look at the words of Jesus Himself...
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Matthew 15:9 NKJV)
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mark 7:7 NKJV)
And the words of Paul...
21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:21-23 NKJV)
And the words of John...
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9 NKJV)
Following the teachings, doctrines, of men is vain worship. When we follow the religious identities not found in scripture we are worshiping in vain.
The only acceptable religious identity found in scripture is simply, Christian. Nothing more, nothing less.
And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26 NKJV)
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” (Acts 26:28 NKJV)
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (1 Peter 4:16 NKJV)
No Baptist Christian, no Methodist Christian, no Presbyterian Christian, just plain, simple Christians following the teachings of Christ without man's influence.
Any religious designation of man that teaches more than the Bible is vain because it teaches more than the Bible. Any religious designation of man that teaches less than the Bible is vain because it teaches less than the Bible.
Turn away from man's religious designations and turn to God and Christ's religious designation, simply Christian.
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