SUPERNATURAL FAITH vs. RELIGION
an article by Ken Simmons
This article might also have been entitled Christianity vs. Religion, and many would ask, “What’s the difference, isn’t Christianity a religion?” Let’s start by looking at the term “religion.”
There are many religions in the world today. According to some experts there are more than 4,300 religions globally, the most prominent of which are Christianity, Islam, Secular/Agnostic/Atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on. Most of these, but not all, are ostensibly man's search for God, or man's hope to please God as found in the Muslim religion. Secular/Agnostic/Atheism has been declared a "religion" just as Humanism has been declared so by the U.S. Supreme Court and those religions seek to deny God’s existence altogether.
True Christianity (not the Christian religion) is different in that it is the only faith that declares it is not possible to be good enough, or penitent enough, or "religious" enough to please God and gain entry to Heaven, but instead God reached out to mankind through Jesus and said, "believe in Me and you will have eternal life." In Islam, even Mohammed was never assured of eternal life. Of course, the word "believe" has lost a great deal in translation. In the original language of the Bible the word for believe is "pisteus," which means to cling to, trust in and rely upon. Based on that definition very few Christians actually "believe."
In this article some of the definitions of religion are my own and are based on my observations over the years. The Christian religion has become an institutionalized system, although this was never the original intent. It has man’s fingerprints all over it and rather than having the sweet breath of the Holy Spirit it suffers from the stench of man’s halitosis (bad breath). It is because of reasons such as these that I do not think very highly of religion. Religion didn’t save my soul and forgive me of my many sins, but faith in Jesus did just that. Now when someone asks if I am a Christian I usually respond, “I am a follower of Jesus.”
Something has been pent up within me for some time now, but at the risk of offending some of my "religious" brethren I'm going to let it all out -- Jesus never went around wearing a monstrous hat that was two feet tall and demanding that his followers kneel down and kiss his ring. This smacks of "religion" in its most outrageous form, and I cannot believe it pleases our Savior.
having a form of godliness . . .
Scriptures warn us of those who . . . “have a form of godliness but deny its power. And from such people turn away!” (see 2Timothy 3:5). This is exactly what has happened to Christianity when it became a religion. What began as a supernatural faith gradually turned into an institutionalized system and the results were an anemic, impotent system devoid of any of the power of God manifested in those who call themselves Christians. It had the trappings of godliness but inside it was a hollow shell. It bears little resemblance to how it was in the beginning.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus he declared “ . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (See Matthew 3:11).
power from on high . . .
Jesus told his disciples, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). The event Jesus predicted was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and fire on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21).
And, following the 40 days after the crucifixion during which some 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus, He told his followers, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and when they drink deadly poison it will not hurt them at all; they will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)
walking and leaping and praising God --
Shortly after the Day of Pentecost Peter (the same Peter who had denied Jesus three times just a few weeks earlier) preached with holy boldness to the multitude that had gathered in Jerusalem for the observance of Pentecost, and three thousand people were saved. A few days later and Peter preached again and five thousand more were saved.
Soon afterward Peter met a man who had been crippled since birth, who was begging for alms, and he said to him, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he leaped up, stood, and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, and leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:6-8)
In his letter to the believers in Corinth, the Apostle Paul said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (I Corinthians 2:1-5). Paul was saying that he didn’t use great and wise oratory when he came to them, but he did so in demonstration of the Spirit and power for the express purpose of making certain their faith was not based on his great speaking ability, or his wisdom, but their faith was in the power of God.
Paul went on to say, “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.” (I Corinthians 12:12).
the Great Falling Away . . .
As more and more people see what has become of Christianity more and more are saying, “Sorry, that’s not for me.” They see a feckless, powerless, and impotent dead shell of what was originally a faith that demonstrated that God is real, and it demonstrated that faith with signs and wonders.
On the one hand we are seeing a Great Falling Away as predicted in Bible prophecies. In America, of the 72% who profess to be Christians (I call them “Check the Box Christians”) it is likely that only a small percentage are true followers of Jesus Christ. The percentage is not quantifiable but sadly it could be as low as 7-10%.
Great Outpouring of the Holy Spirit --
At the same time we are seeing convincing evidence that the Great Outpouring of the Holy Spirit as prophesied in the Bible has begun (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17). And, it has begun in a wide variety of places, such as in China, where it is now estimated there are more than 200 million followers of Jesus; in Nigeria, where millions gather for prayer in a church building that is 87 football fields long and miracles are commonplace, including documented cases of people raised from the dead; in secret house churches in Iran where as many as three million gather despite threats from the government; and in Brazil where it has been confirmed that sixteen people have been raised from the dead.
The evidence is clear. Christianity was intended from the beginning to be
. . . supernatural !!