Are all religions pleasing to God?
How can we identify the true religion?
Who are God’s true worshipers on earth today?
JEHOVAH GOD deeply cares for us and wants us to benefit from his loving direction. If we worship him in the right way, we will be happy and will avoid many problems in life. We will also have his blessing and his help. (Isaiah 48:17) There are, however, hundreds of religions that claim to teach the truth about God. Yet, they differ greatly in their teachings about who God is and what he expects of us.
2 How can you know the right way to worship Jehovah? You do not have to study and compare the teachings of all the many religions. You need only learn what the Bible really teaches about true worship. To illustrate: In many lands, there is a problem with counterfeit money. If you were given the job of picking out such false money, how would you go about it? By memorizing every kind of counterfeit? No. Your time would be better spent if you studied real money. After you knew what real money looked like, you could recognize a counterfeit. Similarly, when we learn how to identify the true religion, we can recognize those religions that are false.
3 It is important that we worship Jehovah in the way that he approves. Many people believe that all religions are pleasing to God, but the Bible does not teach that. It is not even enough just to claim to be a Christian. Jesus said: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” To have God’s approval, therefore, we must learn what God requires of us and do it. Jesus called those who do not do God’s will “workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Like counterfeit money, false religion has no real value. Even worse, such religion is actually harmful.
4 Jehovah gives everyone on earth the opportunity to gain everlasting life. To have eternal life in Paradise, however, we must worship God properly and live now in a way that is acceptable to him. Sadly, many refuse to do so. That is why Jesus said: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14) True religion leads to everlasting life. False religion leads to destruction. Jehovah does not want any human to be destroyed, and that is why he is giving people everywhere an opportunity to learn about him. (2 Peter 3:9) Really, then, the way we worship God means either life or death for us.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE TRUE RELIGION
5 How can ‘the road to life’ be found? Jesus said that the true religion would be evident in the lives of the people who practice it. “By their fruits you will recognize them,” he said. “Every good tree produces fine fruit.” (Matthew 7:16, 17) In other words, those who practice the true religion would be recognized by their beliefs and their conduct. Although they are not perfect and they make mistakes, true worshipers as a group seek to do God’s will. Let us consider six features that identify those who practice true religion.
THOSE WHO WORSHIP THE TRUE GOD
- base their teachings on the Bible
- worship only Jehovah and make his name known
- show genuine love for one another
- accept Jesus as God’s means of salvation
- are no part of the world
- preach God’s Kingdom as man’s only hope
6God’s servants base their teachings on the Bible. The Bible itself says: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) To his fellow Christians, the apostle Paul wrote: “When you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) Hence, beliefs and practices of the true religion are not based on human views or tradition. They originate in God’s inspired Word, the Bible.
7 Jesus Christ set the proper example by basing his teachings on God’s Word. In prayer to his heavenly Father, he said: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Jesus believed the Word of God, and everything he taught harmonized with the Scriptures. Jesus often said: “It is written.” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) Then Jesus would quote a scripture. Similarly, God’s people today do not teach their own ideas. They believe that the Bible is God’s Word, and they base their teachings firmly on what it says.
8Those who practice the true religion worship only Jehovah and make his name known. Jesus declared: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matthew 4:10) Thus, God’s servants worship no one other than Jehovah. This worship includes letting people know what the name of the true God is and what he is like. Psalm 83:18 states: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Jesus set the pattern in helping others to get to know God, as he said in prayer: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6) Similarly, true worshipers today teach others about God’s name, his purposes, and his qualities.
9God’s people show genuine, unselfish love for one another. Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) The early Christians had such love for one another. Godly love overcomes racial, social, and national barriers and draws people together in an unbreakable bond of true brotherhood. (Colossians 3:14) Members of false religions do not have such a loving brotherhood. How do we know that? They kill one another because of national or ethnic differences. True Christians do not take up weapons to kill their Christian brothers or anyone else. The Bible states: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother.…We should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother.”—1 John 3:10-12; 4:20, 21.
10 Of course, genuine love means more than not killing others. True Christians unselfishly use their time, energy, and resources to help and encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) They help one another in times of distress, and they deal honestly with others. In fact, they apply in their lives the Bible counsel to “work what is good toward all.”—Galatians 6:10.
11True Christians accept Jesus Christ as God’s means of salvation. The Bible says: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) As we saw in Chapter 5, Jesus gave his life as a ransom for obedient humans. (Matthew 20:28) In addition, Jesus is God’s appointed King in the heavenly Kingdom that will rule the entire earth. And God requires that we obey Jesus and apply his teachings if we want everlasting life. That is why the Bible states: “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life.”—John 3:36.
12True worshipers are no part of the world. When on trial before the Roman ruler Pilate, Jesus said: “My kingdom is no part of this world.” (John 18:36) No matter what country they live in, Jesus’ true followers are subjects of his heavenly Kingdom and thus maintain strict neutrality in the world’s political affairs. They take no part in its conflicts. However, Jehovah’s worshipers do not interfere with what others choose to do about joining a political party, running for office, or voting. And while God’s true worshipers are neutral regarding politics, they are law-abiding. Why? Because God’s Word commands them to “be in subjection” to the governmental “superior authorities.” (Romans 13:1) Where there is a conflict between what God requires and what a political system requires, true worshipers follow the example of the apostles, who said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29; Mark 12:17.
13Jesus’ true followers preach that God’s Kingdom is mankind’s only hope. Jesus foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Instead of encouraging people to look to human rulers to solve their problems, true followers of Jesus Christ proclaim God’s heavenly Kingdom as the only hope for mankind. (Psalm 146:3) Jesus taught us to pray for that perfect government when he said: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:10) God’s Word foretold that this heavenly Kingdom “will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [now existing], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44.
14 On the basis of what we have just considered, ask yourself: ‘What religious group bases all its teachings on the Bible and makes known Jehovah’s name? What group practices godly love, exercises faith in Jesus, is no part of the world, and proclaims that God’s Kingdom is the only real hope for mankind? Of all the religious groups on earth, which one meets all these requirements?’ The facts clearly show that it is Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Isaiah 43:10-12.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
15 Simply believing in God is not enough to please him. After all, the Bible says that even the demons believe that God exists. (James 2:19) Obviously, though, they do not do God’s will and do not have his approval. To be approved by God, not only must we believe in his existence but we must also do his will. We must also break free from false religion and embrace true worship.
16 The apostle Paul showed that we must not take part in false worship. He wrote: “‘Get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’; ‘and I will take you in.’” (2 Corinthians 6:17; Isaiah 52:11) True Christians therefore avoid anything that is connected with false worship.
17 The Bible shows that all the many forms of false religion are part of “Babylon the Great.”* (Revelation 17:5) That name calls to mind the ancient city of Babylon, where false religion started up after the Flood of Noah’s day. Many teachings and practices now common in false religion originated long ago in Babylon. For example, the Babylonians worshiped trinities, or triads, of gods. Today, the central doctrine of many religions is the Trinity. But the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one true God, Jehovah, and that Jesus Christ is his Son. (John 17:3) The Babylonians also believed that humans have an immortal soul that survives the body after death and can suffer in a place of torment. Today, belief in the immortal soul or spirit that can suffer in hellfire is taught by most religions.
18 Since ancient Babylonian worship spread throughout the earth, modern Babylon the Great can properly be identified as the world empire of false religion. And God has foretold that this empire of false religion will come to a sudden end. (Revelation 18:8) Do you see why it is vital that you separate yourself from every part of Babylon the Great? Jehovah God wants you to “get out of her” quickly while there is still time.—Revelation 18:4.
19 As a result of your decision to quit practicing false religion, some may choose to stop associating with you. By serving Jehovah with his people, however, you will gain far more than you could ever lose. Like Jesus’ early disciples who left other things to follow him, you will come to have many spiritual brothers and sisters. You will become part of a large worldwide family of millions of true Christians, who show you genuine love. And you will have the wonderful hope of everlasting life “in the coming system of things.” (Mark 10:28-30) Perhaps in time, those who abandoned you because of your beliefs will look into what the Bible teaches and become worshipers of Jehovah.
20 The Bible teaches that God will soon bring an end to this wicked system of things and will replace it with a righteous new world under the rulership of his Kingdom. (2 Peter 3:9, 13) What a marvelous world that will be! And in that righteous new system, there will be only one religion, one true form of worship. Is it not the course of wisdom for you to take the necessary steps to come into association with true worshipers right now?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
1. How will we benefit if we worship God in the right way?
2. How can we learn the right way to worship Jehovah, and what illustration helps us to understand this?
3. According to Jesus, what must we do if we want to have God’s approval?
4. What do Jesus’ words concerning the two roads mean, and where does each road lead?
5. How can we recognize those who practice the true religion?
6, 7. How do God’s servants view the Bible, and how did Jesus set the example in this regard?
8. What is involved in worshiping Jehovah?
9, 10. In what ways do true Christians show love for one another?
11. Why is it important to accept Jesus Christ as God’s means of salvation?
12. What does being no part of the world involve?
13. How do Jesus’ true followers view God’s Kingdom, and therefore, what action do they take?
14. What religious group do you believe meets the requirements for true worship?
15. What does God require in addition to believing that he exists?
16. What should be done about taking part in false religion?
17, 18. What is “Babylon the Great,” and why is it urgent to “get out of her”?
19. What will you gain by serving Jehovah?
20. What does the future hold for those who practice the true religion?