What is Eastern Orthodoxy?

In April of this year the Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff, became a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodoxy, and the other Orthodox Churches, are unfamiliar to many Americans. Eastern Orthodoxy rose in the eastern Roman Empire. As a result, it is most prominent in places like Russia, Eastern Africa and the Middle East. With 270 million adherents the Orthodox church is the third largest Christian group in the world.

Orthodox Churches trace back to the earliest major split in Roman Catholicism. Catholicism began to divide with the division of the Roman Empire in the late 400’s. Over the centuries differences in culture, language, ritual and leadership grew, further separating the east from the west. The divide was complete in 1054 when the Pope excommunicated the leading Archbishop and the Archbishop excommunicated the pope. Since then a few attempts have been made to repair the rift, but the two remain distinct churches. Orthodoxy bears strong resemblance to Roman Catholicism and yet retains significance differences.

Like Catholicism, the Orthodox Church believes tradition to share authority with the Bible. Orthodoxy believes the writings of the church fathers provide the authoritative interpretation of the Bible. Like Catholicism, the Orthodox church places great importance on participation in sacraments for salvation. Orthodoxy holds to seven sacraments, but replaces confirmation with chrismation.

The first sacrament of Eastern Orthodoxy is baptism. Baptism is always full immersion. The person being baptized receives salvation by his baptism. This begins the life in Christ but life in Christ must be nourished to remain. The ability to continue in salvation is received through chrismation. Chrismation immediately follows baptism. The priests anoints the baptized person with oil and makes the sign of the cross over him. This sacrament brings the Holy Spirit to indwell the person enabling him to “live the life of Christ.”

As with Catholicism, the most frequent and familiar sacrament is the Eucharist. By taking the bread and wine the individual receives the body and blood of Christ. The Eucharist provides spiritual nourishment to the receiver necessary for continued spiritual life.

The other sacraments observed by the Orthodox church are the sacraments of penance- much like the Catholic confessional, holy orders- ordaining to ministry, holy unction- anointing of the sick and prayer for healing, and marriage.

To western protestants one of the more confusing views of Orthodoxy is that of deification. Deification is the process of becoming more and more Godlike. This means something more than the Protestant idea of being imitators of God and something less than the Hindu doctrines of becoming one with the Divine. In Orthodoxy the Christian strives to enter more and more into union with the Divine nature. Through obedience the person enters into a greater mystical union with God and has a greater part in the perfection of God. By participating in the sacraments and religious rituals the person becomes more and more “like God”.

Unfortunately, like the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodoxy teaches a means of salvation that denies the grace of God. (Galatians 2:21) Salvation is accomplished by the person’s continual attendance to the sacraments and religious observances. The Bible is in clear opposition to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. No part of salvation is accomplished by the person. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:5)

What is the book of life?

Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter the New Jerusalem. God’s judgment upon the unsaved will be executed based upon the contents of several books. The most important book in judgment will be the book of life. Those who are not listed in the book of life will be thrown into eternal punishment. “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)

What is the book of life? Does God have a physical book in which He keeps a list of all those who will be allowed to enter heaven? The idea of God’s record book is found scattered throughout the Bible. The first mention is in Exodus 32 when Moses pray for God to preserve rebellious Israel. Moses says, “Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin- and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Other mentions of a celestial book are found in the Old Testament, but not until the New Testament is a direct reference made to the book of life. The first use of the phrase “book of life” is in Philippians 4. There the apostle Paul describes his fellow workers in the ministry as those “whose names are in the book of life.”

Two references in the New Testament seem to refer to the book of life though they do use that phrase. In Luke 10 Jesus tells the disciples “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Hebrews 12 says those who are saved are part of the church of the firstborn, “whose names are written in heaven.”

The book of Revelation makes the most frequent mention to the book of life. During the time of the tribulation most of the world will worship the antichrist. Revelation 13 and 17 say that those who worship the antichrist are ones “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb”. Revelation 21 describes the New Jerusalem, the great heavenly city where the saved will enjoy eternal bliss. The only ones who will enter God’s city are those who “are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

The Bible does not aim to give an explanation of the book of life. Any man’s description of the book of life is based upon deductions from the Bible’s descriptions of how the book is used. What is clear in Scripture is that the book of life is a heavenly record of those who are saved. Those whose names are written in the book of life will enter into eternal life. Those whose names are not in the book of life will not.

Little else can be said with certainty. The book of life may be a just a metaphor of God’s accuracy of in keeping track of those who are saved. This author prefers the more literal reading that the book of life is a written record of all those who genuinely have eternal life. The clear truth is most important. God knows those that are His. Those who have been saved will have eternal life. Those who have not been saved will not. God will not err in distinguishing between the saved and the lost.

Are the miraculous gifts for the church today?

The spiritual gifts are a matter of significant debate and division in the church today. Millions of Christians around the world attend churches which believe the miraculous gifts are a normal part of the Christian life today. The most familiar religious television channels feature a large portion of preachers and ministries who teach the miraculous gifts are still accessible to modern Christians.

The belief in the continued use of miraculous spiritual gifts is the hallmark of the charismatic movement. Charismatics can be found in every major Christian denomination, including Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Anglicanism and Baptist. Several major denominations were formed around the belief in the miraculous gifts, including, Pentecostals, Church of God, Assembly of God and Four Square Gospel Churches.

All Christian denominations believe that spiritual gifts continue to this day and that the Holy Spirit is actively at work in the life of Christians. The disagreement centers around the relation of miraculous gifts- tongues, interpretation, prophecy and healing- to modern day Christianity. The argument about the charismatic gifts is not based the interpretation of a single Biblical text. The discussion ranges around the purpose of the miraculous gifts in the early church and the sufficiency of the Word for today.

Everyone is agreed the miraculous gifts were not commonly in evidence during most of church history. A few scattered, small Christian groups may have believed in the continuation of miraculous gifts but the vast majority of Christian churches from the late first century to the early twentieth century believed the miraculous gifts to have ceased after the apostolic era.

This changed in the early 1900’s with the birth of Pentecostalism. Growing out of the Holiness Methodist movement Pentecostalism’s earliest proponents were searching for evidence of the baptism of the Holy SPirit. In Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came upon the first Christians they began to speak in tongues. Thus, the earliest charismatics experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit by speaking in tongues. This early Pentecostalism soon spread across the world as a result of a three year revival in Los Angeles. Pentecostals poured out from Azusa Street to spread charismatic theology across the globe.

The charismatic movement springs out of a fundamental disagreement regarding the purpose of miracles during the New Testament era. The miraculous gifts were given as signs for the Jews. The miracles of Jesus and the apostles were the Divine stamp of authenticity verifying the validity of the claims of Jesus and His apostles. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs.” (Acts 2:22) “God also bearing (the apostles) witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles.” (Hebrews 2:4) (also consider Matthew 11:4-6; Mark 16:20; 1 Corinthians 14:22) The miracles done in the earliest days of the church were God’s testimony that Jesus was truly God’s Son and the apostles were preaching God’s truth. The ministry of the apostles has been completed. The gospel has been authenticated. The miraculous gifts are no longer necessary or normal for the church today.

What happened to the ark of the covenant?

Anyone who has seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is familiar with the ark of the covenant. In a dramatic scene ark is opened and ghostly creatures kill the German soldiers to climax the harrowing search for the long lost Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box built by the Israelites shortly after their departure from Egypt. While camped around Mt. Sinai the Israelites constructed the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a kind of giant tent where the worship of God took place. God gave the Israelites precise instructions about building the Tabernacle and all its furnishings.

The ark of the covenant was a key piece of furniture in the tabernacle. It was a rectangular box about 4 feet long by 2 feet wide. The box was made out of shittim wood and completely covered with gold. Inside the ark were three items: the rod of Aaron, a pot of manna and the stone tablets on which the law was written. The lid of the ark was made of solid gold. On each end of the lid was a hand wrought golden cherub stretching it wings over the lid. This golden lid was called the mercy seat.

The ark of the covenant and the mercy seat were kept inside the back room of the tabernacle. Above the mercy seat rested the presence of God. This room, called the Holy of Holies, was closed off to everyone. No one entered the holy of holies, except for one time a year. On that one day the High Priest, and only the High Priest, would go into the holy of holies to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat.

When Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem he did so according to the design of the tabernacle. The furniture of the tabernacle was moved into the new temple where each piece served the same purpose it had in the tabernacle. The ark of the covenant and the mercy seat were placed inside the Temple Holy of Holies. The ark and mercy seat were possibly the most sacred pieces of temple furniture. However, they have now been lost to history. What happened to them?

The Bible is silent on the fate of the ark. The last mention of the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament is in 2 Chronicles 35. In the early 600’s BC Josiah, the king of Judah, restored the ark to its proper place in the temple. Several decades later in 586 BC the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. The furniture and vessels of the ark were taken as spoils of war, but the ark is not specifically mentioned in that list.

The book of 2 Maccabees, which is not Biblical but may be historically accurate, says the prophet Jeremiah hid the ark before Babylon took Jerusalem. The statement of Maccabees may or not be true, but it seems the ark was never again seen in Jerusalem. After the seventy years of captivity the Jews were allowed to return to their capital city. They rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple. They restored some of the temple furnishings, but could not restore everything. It seems the ark of the covenant was never returned to Jerusalem after the captivity. As a result, no one knows what happened to the ark of the covenant.

What is mindfulness? Is it Christian?

America is drowning in a flood of intellectual noise. Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, news reports, emails and text messages are just a few of the many popular means of barraging people with an excess of information. Many Americans are recognizing the need to shut down the noise and create moments of quiet in their lives. Mindfulness promises to help quiet the over stimulated minds of stressed out people. What is mindfulness? Is it something that Christians should be involved in?

Mindfulness promotes the focus upon the sensations of the moment to help to center the person in the present. Mindfulness does not teach focus on the task at hand. Mindfulness stops all other activity to become aware of the present. Mindfulness pauses and looks inward to pay complete attention to one’s senses, thoughts and emotions. It is the practice of being aware of the moment without critique, judgment or thought. A recent advertisement for local mindfulness classes said, “”Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness is taught through the application of principles from classic eastern meditation. By setting aside a specific time of meditation the person learns the ability to fully experience the sensations of the moment. Throughout the day the mindful person stops for a brief time to refresh mind, emotion and energy.

Americans have intentionally divorced mindfulness from its religious connections, but the principles behind this practice are nothing less than pagan. Mindfulness comes out of Buddhism and Hinduism. As a result, it is based upon a a view of the mind and body that is contrary to the Bible. Mindfulness, and all eastern meditation, starts with the premise that every person is a manifestation of the Divine. Mindfulness involves the participant in a technique springing directly from a false salvation that believes the ultimate goal is to be absorbed into the great universal divine.

As with most relaxation techniques mindfulness does bring some physical benefit to the practitioner. It may rest the mind, relax the body and refresh the person, but it carries with it the baggage of the false religions of the far east.

The quieting of the mind and attending to the moment are praiseworthy goals. Certainly a person should pay attention to the task and people at hand. This is not mindfulness. This is diligence and courtesy.

Instead of turning to mystical practices Christians should turn to the Bible for guidance in virtuous behavior. Give your life to the control of the Holy Spirit who will produce in you the fruit of love, joy and peace. Practice Biblical meditation on verses like Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ephesians 5:16-17; Colossians 4:5-6; Colossians 3:23 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17. These verses will help instill Christian virtues in your life. Practice some simple steps like turning off most of the notifications on your phone. Refuse to look at the phone every time it beeps. Turn off the TV. Ignore text messages when you are in a face to face conversation with someone. Pray. Remember that your life is given to you by God for His glory. Use your life intentionally and wisely for His service.

Are Encounters with Aliens True?

You may know someone who has been abducted by aliens. Since the late 1940’s tales of personal encounters with alien beings have circulated across America. Some accounts are entertaining, some strange, some disturbing and some terrifying. The widespread accounts of meeting aliens challenges the conclusion of those who deny the existence of intelligent, extra-terrestrial life. What is happening to these people? Can the accounts of alien encounters be explained? 

Since aliens do not exist they cannot be appearing to people, hovering overhead in strange craft or kidnapping hapless humans. Explanations of these events are possible without involving creatures from other planets. The possible explanations are as varied as the tales. Without doubt some of the stories can be written off as intentional lies intended to profit the teller in someway. Whether it be to sell a story or to impress friends some people have created alien abduction stories for their own purposes.

Another probable answer to some of the alien encounter stories is simply mistaken identity. Bright lights, weird shapes and strange noises can all be misintepreted as seeing an alien creature or vessel. A steady stream of alien stories, television shows and movies has primed minds to assume any strange or unexpected sight is an alien. Even those who don’t believe in aliens look at strange sights in the sky and wonder if they are seeing a UFO. Many alien sightings are nothing more than the result of someone leaping to the wrong conclusion. 

Other answers are not as simple to address, but are nonetheless plausible. Some stories of alien abduction have to be chalked up to various mental problems. Hallucinations, vivid dreams, mental handicaps and mental health disorders  explain some of these stories. The use of mind altering substances can have sufficient impact on a person’s senses that it creates false sensations- visual and auditory hallucinations or the inability to distinguish dreams from reality.

Mundane phsyical possiblities are not the only explanations for alien encounters. Satan is actively working on this earth to deceive people. Nothing says that Satan and demons cannot appear to people like strange alien creatures. Satan hates mankind. He desires to keep people blinded to the truth of the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:4) He delights to add to humanity’s sorrow and confusion. (1 Petre 5:8) Satanic manipulation through demonic manifestation is a possible explanation for some experiences with aliens. This is not to say that all descriptions of alien encounters are demonic. Nor does this mean that those who see aliens are demon possessed devil worshipers. However, the spiritual realities of this world cannot be ignored. Satan is a crafty enemy of man who will stop at nothing to bring additional misery and trouble upon mankind. Any lie will suffice if it causes people to question the truth of the Bible. (Genesis 3:1-5)

Man does not know all there is to know about the heavens or the earth. Discoveries will continue to be made that will astound humanity. Though the universe is filled with strange wonders, theological and practical considerations lead to the conclusion that man is the only intelligent physical creature inhabiting the universe.

Finally, we must remember how easily the senses are deceived. Hunger, fatigue, stress, emotional disturbance, mental problems, drugs and alcohol all affect the perceptions of individuals. Experience should be supported by verifiable, reliable evidence. All experience must be examined and interpreted by the truth of God’s revealed Word. 

What are Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual gifts seem to be a bit of an enigma and are a significant matter of debate. Every major Christian group believes in the spiritual gifts, but most differ from each other on the particulars. The charismatic churches are probably most well known for their beliefs about the spiritual gifts. A few years ago a well known ministry in California hosted a conference focused on their disagreements with Charismatic theology. Why is the topic of spiritual gifts so difficult and contentious?

The Bible is not at all silent about spiritual gifts. The promise of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave the disciples before His death includes the reception of spiritual gifts. Peter says in Acts 2 that the miraculous things done by the apostles on the day of Pentecost were the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts are abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to do the work of the ministry. The spiritual gifts are supernatural gifts of God not skills developed by the person, but the Christian should exercise and improve his spiritual gift.

The spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of others and for the glory of God. The largest section of teaching on the spiritual gifts in the Bible is found in 1 Corinthians 12-14. In that passage Paul teaches the Corinthian believers about the gifts because they were desiring the most impressive gifts and were using the gifts for self-promotion. The spiritual gifts are given by God for the promotion of Christlikeness in the church.

1 Corinthians 12 teaches that all spiritual gifts come from God. God gives gifts to Christians for the benefit of the entire church. No one gift provides everything a church needs and every gift God gives is important to the church. Like the human body, each member of the church body exercises a specific and essential function for the good of all. If everyone had the same spiritual gift the church would be as deformed as a person comprised entirely of ears.

1 Corinthians 14 shows the church the orderly use of the gifts within the church. Gifts are not to be used against one another. Each Christian must show preference to other believers in the application of gifts. Those who have speaking gifts must not insist on their right to be heard but must speak in an orderly fashion, each in turn and only when it is proper to do so.

The Bible contains several other key passages about the spiritual gifts. 1 Peter 4:10-11 puts the spiritual gifts into two broad categories, the speaking gifts and the serving gifts. Ephesians 4 mentions four specific leadership gifts given to the local church for the equipping of the saints to do the work of the ministry. Romans 12:3-8 describes various kinds of gifts. In Romans 12 Christians are instructed to use the gifts humbly for the benefit of the entire church. Each person is to use his gift in the fullest possible way to the best of the ability given him by God. The gifts mentioned in these New Testament passage are: teaching, administration, mercy showing, giving, ruling, prophecy, ministry, exhortation, governments, helps, tongues, interpretation, healing, miracles, prophecy, apostle, evangelist and pastor.

The absence of a particular spiritual gift does not exclude the Christian from engaging in that kind of ministry. All Christians should be merciful, though only some have the gift of mercy-showing. Some Christians are given the gift of evangelism, but all are commanded by Jesus tell others the gospel. The spiritual gifts are given to aid the growth of the entire church not exclude Christians from areas of ministry. Every believer is given at least one spiritual gift. Some may be given more than one, but all believers are gifted by God for the edification of the church. The responsibility of the Christian is to use his gift for the glory of God and the growth of His church.

How can those in heaven be joyful while the lost suffer in hell?

“In heaven we’ll all be sociopaths.” This provocative article title refers to the awareness of those in heaven of the suffering of those in hell. The Bible says that those who enter into eternal life will have eternal joy, free from all sorrow, pain and tears. The Bible also indicates that the people in heaven will be aware of the suffering of the people in hell. At the very least the people in heaven will know that billions of people are in hell. How can the people in heaven have this knowledge and still be happy?

None can deny the sufferings of hell are terrible. No one should delight in them. God does not delight in them. (Ezekiel 33:11; Lamentations 3:33; 2 Peter 3:9) No one in heaven will enjoy the pain of the wicked. The joys of heaven are not malicious or sociopathic. However, God will be praised because of His justice and holiness. Those who hated God and rejected His Son will suffer the punishment prepared for the rebellious angels who rebelled. (Matthew 25:41)

Those in heaven will not weep over the suffering in hell because in heaven we will understand all things perfectly. On earth all men view the judgment of the lost through sinful eyes. None can fully comprehend hell’s justice or God’s holiness. In heaven, the full justice and appropriateness of hell will be understood.

The assurance of the Bible is that God will wipe away all tears from the eyes of the redeeemed. (Revelation 20:3-4) God will come down to earth in all His glory. He will establish His throne in the New Jerusalem. He will be the glory of the earth. The sun will not be needed. There will be no night and no darkness because the glory of God will illuminate all things. The curse of sin will be completely removed. All in the new earth will bring their praise directly to the throne of God. The glory of God will be so great that it will forever enamor those who stand in His presence. Hell is horrible, but God’s glory is so great it will outshine the terrors of eternal suffering.

Instead of denying the goodness of God because of the bliss of heaven consider your own goodness. How grieved are you right now because of the suffering of those in hell? Do you weep because of their agony? Do you work to tell the gospel to the unsaved so they can be delivered from the punishment of their sin?

This does not mean that none should rejoice in this life. All should give thanks to God for His good gifts. You can delight in births, sunsets, snow, Spring and all the other blessings of God knowing. Though millions are suffering in hell we can, and should, rejoice now in the good gifts of God. The seriousness of hell should stir everyone to live with due regard to the eternal realities awaiting everyone.

Are Christians Required to Keep the Sabbath?

The Sabbath Day was a weekly memorial given to Israel as part of God’s covenant with the nation. (Exodus 31:15-16) The command to keep the Sabbath is the fourth and longest of the ten commandments. Breaking the Sabbath was in effect breaking the covenant with God and suffered the harshest of punishments. Surely this command must be taken seriously by all who study the Bible.

Traditionally Christianity has viewed Sunday as the New Testament Sabbath. Christians were taught to observe Sunday as a day of rest, doing nothing but the most necesary work and attending church services. This shaped American business practices for many decades. Though observing a Sunday sabbath has long been the teaching of churches few Christians today see a need to keep a Sabbath of any kind.

Uncertainty about the requirement of a Sabbath can be traced to the way the New Testament views the law of Moses. After the death and resurrection of Jesus certain of the Mosaic laws were recognized as no longer necessary. This included the dietary restrictions (Acts 10:11-16), circumcision (Galatians 2:3) and the sacrificial system (Hebrews 10:2, 14, 18). Most of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament, but it contains no assertion of an obligation to observe the fourth commandment.

The pattern of the church during the apostolic era was to meet together on Sunday. The day of Pentecost, the day on which the New Testament church began, was a Sunday. Initially the church met daily, but within a few years the church began to set aside the first day of the week for the regular gathering of believers. (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2)

The Jewish believers probably continued to observe the Sabbath day. They continued to keep the law of Moses but did not require Gentile Christians to become observant Jews. Acts 15 records the discussion about Gentile obligation to keep the law of Moses. The only requirements the church in Jerusalem placed on Gentile believers was to avoid fornication and idolatry and to abstain from eating blood or animals strangled. The first pair of commands were universal commands and the second pair were things that would have hindered the preaching of the gospel because of their offensive to the Jews. They apostles and believers in Jerusalem say nothing about keeping a sabbath. The New Testament does not give any command to Christians to observe a sabbath day.

The New Testament leaves sabbath observance up to the individual Christian. The clearest statement of this is found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He says “let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17) The special days, special diets and religious feasts of the law were but shadows of Jesus. Now that Jesus has come the foreshadowings are no longer necessary. Those who keep the sabbath were never rebuked, but the New Testament clearly teaches there must be no insistence on the keeping of the sabbath. There must be no condemnation because someone does or does not observe the sabbath. Sabbath observance is a matter of personal preference and conscience to be kept or not unto the Lord.

Why are there so many different kinds of religions in the world?

The world is filled with religions. The number of religions existing today has been estimated to be somewhere in the thousands. Man has been developing religions for thousands of years. Every major religion has splintered into a bewildering variety of sects, denomination and spin-offs. Why are there so many different religions?

A common answer to this question is that all the religions have elements of truth. As man has searched after truth he has discovered little portions of the whole truth. Each religion describes one aspect of truth. By combining the truths of many different religions a person can gain a better understanding of spiritual truth. This idea is itself a religious principle, but not one found in the monotheistic religions of Islam, Christianity or Judaism. The belief that all religions contain a portion of truth originates in the Eastern religions but it cannot be true.

Certain religions, particularly Christianity and Islam, claim exclusivity. They claim the truth they uphold is ultimate truth. That which disagrees is in error. Many religions which do not make exclusivistic claims teach things that are incompatible with other religions. Christianity claims God is Trinity. Judaism and Islam claim God is One. Which is it? God cannot be both the Christian Trinity and the Muslim One. Hinduism teaches there are many Gods. Christianity, Islam and Judaism teach there is only one God. Both claims cannot be true. Christianity claims there is only one way to be forgiven of sin and have eternal life. Many other religions claim there are many ways to heaven. All religious claims cannot be true. More significantly, the core elements of religions cannot all be true. The nature of God and the means of salvation are central principles of most religions. From a logical perspective the possibility exists that all religions are wrong. The major tenets of all, or even most, religions cannot all be right.

Religion is not the result of man’s search for truth. The many different religions exist because of man’s rejection of truth. In Genesis 4 there were only four people on the planet and they all knew God was real. At least half the human population had spoken face to face with God. No one denied the existence of God. Everyone agreed on major tenets about God: He is real, He is creator, He is in charge, He is to be worshiped. Yet even with a tiny population and much first hand information there were still religious differences. Cain and Abel came to worship God. Abel brought a prime lamb for sacrifice and Cain brought some vegetables. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, which led to Cain killing Abel. Cain’s offering was nothing more than a new worship, a new religion, which rejected the truth revealed by God. The first religious division was the result of disobedience to God.

Making this problem worse is the intentional effort of Satan. He is described in the Bible as the god of this world who blinds the eyes of men lest they see the light of the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Satan and the fallen angels masquerade as messengers of the light. (1 Corinthians 11:13-15) Demonic forces work to confuse and mislead men. (1 Timothy 4:1). Satanic manipulation moves men to devise and proclaim false religions. Satanic and demonic influence have added to the multitude of religions in this world.

The world is confused by an abundance of different, disagreeing religions because men refuse to believe and obey God. Romans 1 says that God’s existence and glory are seen in creation. Men refuse to acknowledge Him or give thanks to Him. They prefer to worship creatures instead of the Creator. Satan hates man and God. The devil actively works to create more confusion and to promote more idolatry. The vast numbers of religions come directly from the huge number of people and societies that have replaced the worship of God with the worship of other things.