Friday, April 2, 2010

On Good Friday, Religious Practices and the Bible

Today is Good Friday, one day of the Holy Week, and it is the time of the year when many Filipinos, who are mostly religious, take time to do penance or pay for their sins. Sacrifices are done by each person in his or her own little way like going to different churches (known as the “Bisita Iglesia”). Others practice a different sacrifice by trying to replicate Christ’s passion, carrying their own crosses, some even going to the extent of having themselves nailed to the cross.

As a pastor, I see these practices and feel for the people who do them. Many of these people are sincere about finding peace with God because of past sins they have committed. Some honestly think of the grave decisions they have made in life like maybe getting an abortion, leaving a spouse behind but others may think of wrong doings like drinking and smoking Black and Mild and the like.

But what does the Bible say about these things? I realize that all of us are on our own spiritual journey and have our own ways of making peace with God, but what does Jesus say about all these?

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This is a statement where He claims that there is no other way - not religion, not a religious practice, and no other belief system is the way to God but through Him alone. For skeptics, this statement is an arrogant statement. But what about if we take a step back and evaluate Christ’s and the Bible’s claims? For those who already believe in Christ and the Bible, what about re-evaluating what we have done based on tradition and religious practices based on what Christ and the whole Bible says?

Below are passages from the Bible about this topic. Take time to read, consider these things and re-evaluate your own spiritual journey.

Hebrews 9:22 “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

But whose blood sacrifice does God accept?

Romans 3:20-28 “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Titus 3:5 “…He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.”

Galatians 2:16 “…Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

We make peace with God by simply coming to Him and confessing our sins and asking forgiveness and recognizing that He will forgive us because Christ has already paid the only acceptable sacrifice for all man’s sins.

Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Romans 10:13 “For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”