LOSING MY RELIGION
Gateway to Heaven
July 18, 2010
Religion can have a very dark side. One that can only lead to confusion, strife, and at times, even war. In this message, Stovall takes us back to Genesis with a look at the founder of false religion, who started out with a man-made attempt to reach God. Discover the difference, as we identify what is man-made, and what is truly of God.
I’m kicking off a series today called “Losing My Religion.” I certainly don’t mean to offend anyone today, especially our television audience, but God has really just dropped a word in my heart, and I need to get it out. If you have your Bibles, please turn to Genesis 10, and we’ll be getting there in just a minute.
Did you know that right now, there are currently 28 religious wars going on in our world? Right now, as we speak. Think back through history. I want to just give you a few details of some of the more famous ones you’ve probably heard of. Think of the Crusades that lasted for almost 200 years. The first Crusade was launched in 1095, with the battle cry of “Deus vult.” That means, “God wills it.” It was a mandate to destroy “infidels” in the Holy Land, thousands were dragged from their homes or hiding places and hacked to death or burned alive…in the name of God. The religious legions plundered their way 2000 miles to Jerusalem, where they killed virtually every inhabitant, quote “purifying the symbolic city.” Over one and a half million deaths occurred.
You may have also heard of the 30 years of Holy Wars, 1618 through 48, during the time of the Reformation. It was one of the most bloody conflicts in Europe, ever. So many things done in the name of religion and in the name of God. It finally came to an end in 1648. About seven and a half million people were killed. The Roman Empire was involved in all of these wars, and finally, at the end, it was decided that everyone could have their own religion.
More recently, in 1984, Shiite fanatics who killed and tortured Americans on a hijacked Kuwaiti airliner in Tehran said they did it not only for the will of God, but for the pleasure of God.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists, fundamental Islamic jihadists hijacked four commercial jet airliners. Two airliners were intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board.
Many of you, in fact probably everyone in the world is familiar with this. Nearly 3000 people were killed. The hijacks were staged by Al Qaeda and their radical leader Osama Bin Laden. They said that they did it in the name of God and in the name of their holy war that they are called by God to do.
I don’t know about you, but when I read those things, and when I look into the 28 religious wars that are currently going on in our world right now, that’s enough to make me want to lose my religion. Things done in the name of God—Why? Why is it – what is it about religion? Why are people so passionate? How does it have such a hold on people? How about the cultic leaders? Many of you are familiar with David Koresh and, of course, Jim Jones and several other cultic leaders that are able to get people to do things that—are just unbelievable! Religion has a very dark side. It has a very negative side. And if I was just out there, living in the world as a person that’s not familiar with God and not familiar with religion, (like I was for at least 20 years of my life) I’m telling you, if I was looking at all that stuff, it would be enough to make me just lose my religion and just think, “All this God stuff is just crazy!”
If you follow me on Twitter (I encourage you to follow me, and please know I do read your @StovallWeems mentions. I can’t reply to them all, but I do read them and pray for your prayer requests). But on Twitter this week, I sent out a tweet, and asked, “What comes to your mind when you hear the word, ‘religion’, or think of ‘religious people”? And I mean, I got tons of feedback. I want to thank many of you for your answers, and for the sake of time, I summarized a lot of them. Just listen to these answers – here’s what people tweeted back about religion:
“Outward forms lacking inward love”; “Manmade tradition”; “Rules instead of a relationship with God”; “Keeping the masses under control”; “Rules, regulations, conformity”; “A form of godliness but no power”; “Joyless” (That’s what drains the life out of a relationship with God.) A lot of you tweeted this: “Stuffy”; “Boring”; “Judgmental”. I like this one: “Man’s attempt to define God on his own terms”. And this was probably my favorite one right here: “Religion: Ladies wearing uncomfortable dresses and pantyhose in the summer because that’s what their church tells them they’re supposed to do.” Somebody call somebody! That’s hilarious!
You know, I think that when we think of religion – this is so interesting—all those things I read to you, “outward”, “stuffy”, “judgmental”, “boring”, all of those things—you know, Jesus was never described as any of those things. When Jesus came, He was the example of love. He showed the love of the Father. He specifically said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He told Peter, “Put down your sword.” He said, “Turn the other cheek.” He said, “Don’t worry about the earthly kingdoms of this world. If My kingdom was of this world, My angels would come and fight for Me. But it’s not of this world.”
I looked up the definition of religion in Webster’s Dictionary. Look at this. The very first sentence…and I think this really sums it up. The very first word of the definition of “religion” in the dictionary is “The outward”. Everybody say, “Outward.” “The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a God or gods having power over their destiny.” It is “the outward form of some type of expression towards a higher power that people think has control or can control the outcome of their destiny”. Jesus did not come to establish an outward form. Jesus came to establish a kingdom that’s on the inside of us. He came to establish His rule and His reign in the hearts of men.
I want you to turn to Genesis 10. And before we get there, I know what some of you are thinking. I’m not going spend a lot of time on this today, but religion is mentioned in the Bible. It is mentioned in James, chapter 1:27, where it says that pure and undefiled religion is one who ministers (I’m summing it up here). It’s basically someone that ministers to orphans and widows and keeps oneself unspotted from the world. But look at what James does. The one time that the Bible talks about religion, the first thing he does is, he qualifies it. He says, “Pure and undefiled.” That means he’s assuming what? Religion is defiled. Those outward forms, when you really dig on the inside, there is something that’s defiling about them. So he says, “Look, if you want to be religious, if you want to know what a pure and undefiled religion is, this is it. It’s looking after the widows and the orphans, and it’s to keep yourself unspotted from the world.” But if you look at that entire chapter 1 in context, do you know what James is talking about? He’s talking about controlling your tongue. And what he’s basically saying is, “Look, if you want to keep yourself unspotted from the world, you learn to control your tongue. And if you want to do some outward forms that express your piety or whatever, get out there and humble yourself and get down and dirty, and help the widows and the orphans and the poor of this world.”
Today, we’re going to look at the founder of false religion for a few minutes. How does religion get political? How does it get social? How does it get economical? Why are people so passionate about it? We’re going to look at this in Genesis 10.
Let me give you some brief history here. Genesis 10 is talking about the descendants of Noah. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah was a righteous man, and he was spared when God sent the deluge or the flood over the world. After the flood, God told Noah that He wanted him and his three sons to go out and repopulate the earth. “I want you to spread out over the earth. I want you to replenish the earth.” So some time after they started getting set up and everything—many of you know the story—one afternoon, Noah had too much to drink. Can anybody relate? Even though Noah was righteous—I guess those vineyards were doing pretty well, and those grapes were just ripe, and that wine was tasting really good, and he just had one, two, or eight glasses too many. The Bible says that Noah got drunk, and he passed out. And then his three sons, remember: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Well, when Shem and Japheth saw their father, (the Bible says Noah was passed out and naked), Shem and Japheth covered their father. It was an act of mercy. They’re covering their father. They’re protecting their father’s integrity. You see, Noah had integrity; the Bible called him “righteous.” He just had a lapse in judgment. He had a moment of weakness, like any of us can.
But the Bible says that his other son, Ham, looked upon his father’s nakedness—now, that’s not in a sexual way – but that language there, what it’s implying is that he saw it with the intent to expose it. In other words, he was going to slander his father. Let me just pause here and tell you something about slander: Slander is stating something that is true or a fact with the intent to hurt someone’s integrity or character. Slander is not lying; it’s just presenting a truth…usually, it’s just one part of the truth. In other words, Ham wasn’t going to talk about all the good things his father did and how, I’m sure, maybe this was a lapse in judgment and let’s help him and all of that kind of stuff. He’s not going to look at the big picture. He’s going to pull out the one fact, and then use that and twist it a little bit to damage his father’s credibility, character, or integrity. As followers of Christ, we’re not to slander one another, and we’re not to slander other people, including our leaders, including our governmental leaders. I don’t care what the news tells us.
Okay, so going back to our story. Now, one of the descendants of Ham was named Nimrod. Nimrod was the son of Cush, a descendant of Ham, and in Genesis 10:8, it says, “And Cush begot Nimrod, and he began to be a mighty one.” So in the rest of our story Shem and Japheth ended up being blessed. Ham ended up being cursed, and so now we’re seeing that curse carried out in his lineage. So here we finally come to this guy, Nimrod, in verse 8, and look at what it says, “Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.’ And in the beginning of his kingdom”—so he established a kingdom—”And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”
Now, the land of Shinar is in modern-day Iraq. And so what the Bible is telling us here is that Ham had this descendant named Nimrod. Nimrod was a mighty hunter—or a mighty conqueror—before the Lord. Now, this is actually very negative language. It doesn’t mean, like, he was this great guy, but it’s kind of like when Satan presented himself before the Lord, (as it talks about in the book of Job). In fact, some translations translate “before” as “against.” Nimrod was a conqueror who was against the Lord. And he was out there rallying people to himself. It was in the area that is now modern-day Iraq, and of course, he was also the founder of the Assyrians and all type of different nations, but he founded one place called “Babel”, and this actually means “gateway to God.” Babel, in its first original meaning, its first original spelling, meant “gateway to God.”
So Nimrod founded this city, and then look at what he does here in Genesis 11:1, let’s just skip over there. It says, “Now the whole earth had one language and was of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar”—modern-day Iraq—”and they dwelt there. They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, they also had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves”—let us make a name for ourselves—”lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, ‘Indeed the people are one, they have one language. Now this is what they began to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore the name of it is called Babel”, (the name changed slightly if you study the original Semitic—the original Hebrew language translation of it), Babel, which means “confusion,”—”because the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the earth.”
Let’s look back at what it says, what Nimrod talks about in this story here. So Nimrod goes to the land of Shinar, modern-day Iraq—and look at what he says in verse 3, if you have your Bible, open it up to that verse. Look at this, “They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, they also had asphalt for mortar.” Now, this is very, very interesting, okay? Nimrod and all these people want to build this tower, which, if you study it, it was actually a zurigot, it was a massive edifice, a massive monument that pagan religions would use for astrology. They would use it for rituals. Some of them would use it for human sacrifice. It was a massive, massive building. And he said, “Look, we’re going do this with bricks, and we’re going to do it with mortar.” You know, bricks are manmade. Man builds with bricks. It’s very interesting when God commanded the children of Israel to build the temple, He said, “Do not do it with bricks. I don’t want you to do it with anything manmade.” Bricks represent what is manmade. When God built the temple (you can read about this in 1 Kings 6: 7) He said, “I just want you to use the natural stone.” Bricks represent what is manmade; stone represents what is birthed by God.
What is Jesus? He is the chief cornerstone. He is not a brick; He is a stone. What does the Bible call us? We are living what? Stones. So when they would build the temple, they would cut out these huge stones. They actually didn’t need any asphalt. Another word for that is actually “slime.” Come on, when man builds something, how many of you know, there’s always a little bit of slime involved? It might look good on the outside, but on the inside – the intents of the heart, the why behind the what, the motive and what it’s focusing on—the Bible says that the heart of man is deceitful; it’s wicked. Man wants to preserve his name. He wants to preserve himself. That’s what we all want to do before Jesus comes and begins to dwell on the inside of us!
So Nimrod, with these bricks and this slime, begins to construct this manmade thing. And look at what he says about why he wants to do it, “Let’s build ourselves a city, a tower whose top is in the heavens”—that’s why it was called “Babel” originally, “gateway to God“—”Let’s build a bridge to God; let’s build a gateway to God.” And here’s why: “So we can make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” In other words, why is Nimrod doing this? Remember, God just told Noah and his sons the exact opposite of what Nimrod is doing. He just told Noah and His sons, “I want you to be scattered abroad the face of the whole earth. I want you to get out there. I want you to repopulate. I want you to replenish the earth. I want you to take My name into the four corners of the earth. I don’t want everybody coming together. I want you to get out there, and I want you to scatter.” But what does manmade religion end up doing? It ends up doing the very opposite of the purposes of God.
Nimrod’s saying, “Look, we’ve got to protect ourselves. We need to protect our culture. We need to protect our way of life. And so what we’re going to do. We’re going to build it and add God to this thing. We’re going to make our own religion. We’re going to protect our way of life.” But we know that when man gets prideful, his heart begins to be puffed up. The Bible says that Nimrod was a mighty hunter in the earth. But here we see that his heart begins to be puffed up and he says, “This is going to be the bridge to God. This is going to be the religion. We’re going to gather everybody here together. We’re going to make a name for ourselves. We’re going to protect ourselves, and we’re going to protect our culture. And in order to do that, we need God involved, and we need God to bless what we’re doing, so that people will fear that higher power.”
You know, when I was in college, my major was religious studies. Many of you know my story. I went to LSU. Don’t hold that against me all you Gator fans! But I got saved in the middle of my college experience. I was in the whole bar/drug scene and all that kind of stuff. But after I got saved, and sincerely surrendered to God, and was fired up for God, I still had a whole lot of questions about God and about other religions. And so my major at LSU—a very secular and a very liberal university—my major was religious studies. I studied all of the religions of the world when I was in college. Almost all of the classes that I took, except for a few, were anti-Christianity, anti-Jesus. Let me tell you something – you go to a secular university and major in religious studies? That’s a real Bible school. That’s some real training ground. Because, if you don’t know your stuff, you will get torn to pieces. It is amazing to see what they’ll teach in those classes, and yet no one will challenge them.
I remember being in one religious class in particular. There were over 300 students in this class. It was in an auditorium. One day, the professor there actually taught that it was God who sent heavenly angels to Lot’s house in Sodom, who wanted to have sex with Lot’s daughters, and were practicing homosexuality with all the men of Sodom. He was teaching that God sent heavenly angels from heaven—he actually taught this in the class and said that that’s what the Bible said, that God sent heavenly angels from heaven to Sodom to have sex with men and to rape Lot’s daughters. Not one person said one thing, over 300 students. Well, except me. Man, I stood up – I didn’t even raise my hand for that one! I stood up and said, “What!?” Right there in the class, I said, “I have my Bible…and this is what it actually says. How can you do that?” And of course, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah. They all shouted me down. You know, I was the religious zealot. But I went to him after class, and I said to him, “You have an ethical responsibility. Forget what you think about me or anything else, you have an ethical responsibility to correct yourself.” And he got up the next day, and he apologized to the class for teaching that stuff. But I’m telling you—listen—that happens all the time in our universities. People twist the Word of God.
I say all that to say this: If you have an open mind, and you study religion—I studied all the religions of the world, the six major religions of the world and there’s hundreds of what you would call “side” or “smaller” religions of the world. If you get into cultic practices and stuff like that, it’s even in the millions. But what I’m saying is, when you study all those things, here’s what you see: In every single one of those, even in a form of Christianity, you see all of that outward-ness we talked about. You see all of the traditions. You see all of the religion. You see all the regulations. But there’s only one place where you find a relationship, and there’s only one place where you find real truth, and that is in the person of Jesus Christ.
This is why at first, some of the greatest Christians like C. S. Lewis and Josh McDowell—at first, they were first atheists, but they went in with an open mind, an open heart, and studied the religions of the world, I’m telling you, it is obvious. Jesus is so far above and beyond and different from anything, from all those other bricks and slime out there!
Listen, I’m asking you to lose your religion…so you can gain Christ. And you know what? This sometimes applies within Christianity too. Next week, we’re going to talk about the “RELIGION” of Christianity and how it repels people. Jesus came so that we could have a relationship with God. It’s that simple. We’re not a religion. He didn’t come to establish a religion. He didn’t come to establish a government or a political movement of this world. He came to establish a love relationship with you and I. And every time we practice manmade religion, whether it’s an outward form of Christianity or it’s one of the other religions of the world, it’s going to end up being bricks and slime, and the fruit of it is gonna be just like what happened at Babel. It’s going to end up bringing confusion. It’s going to end up bringing division. In the end, it will end up failing and not delivering on what was promised.
You know, I can remember looking around when I was in college and thinking, “Well, man, all these people practice this certain religion. I mean, how can all those people be wrong? And there’s all these people practicing this kind of religion. How could all those people be wrong?” Listen, don’t think in terms of that. All you need to do is look at who founded the religion. Do you see what I’m saying? So if you’re talking about followers of Jesus, we—we look to our founder, Jesus. If you want to talk about those who practice Buddhism, forget if it’s however many millions of people; it doesn’t matter how many people believe that or practice it. It all comes down to Buddha. Do you see? It all comes down to Jesus. It all comes down to Muhammad. It all comes down to Confucius. It all comes down to who is the leader or the founder, and I’m telling you, if the foundation is faulty, the house will come down. It’s not about all these people being wrong. It’s not about that. It’s about who are you following. It’s about that leader’s life and words and mission. Jesus was the only one who even claimed to be God. Jesus said, “I’m the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” I didn’t say that. Jesus said that. What else did Jesus say? You talk about a gateway to heaven—do you remember what Jesus said? “I’m the gate.” He said, “All who came before Me were robbers and thieves.” Like Nimrod. It was bricks. It was slime. It was a manmade gateway to self-preservation, to preserve culture. They had to somehow add God to the equation, and that’s what a lot of religion is. It’s manmade things adding God to the equation to promote their own political system, social system, nation, economic system, etc.
I also want to say this: Followers of Jesus are not Western. Our faith was not birthed in America. It was birthed in Jerusalem. You think America has a lot of followers of Jesus? You need to wake up. Did you know that there’s a church in Korea—you might have heard of him—pastored by Dr. Yonggi Cho. It’s got, like, 1.3 million people that attend the church. That would be like the entire city of Jacksonville going to one church. Did you know, in China, there’s estimated 150 million underground, fired-up, born-again, spirit-filled believers? They say in 10 years, it could hit 300 million. There will be more born-again, spirit-filled believers in the country of China than the entire population of the United States. You talk about followers of Jesus, how about right in this very area we’ve been talking about? Iraq, Iran. All you see on the news is the Iranian president and all the stuff he’s saying. Do you know where there is a massive move of God going on in Tehran? Those college kids are fired up for Jesus! It’s everywhere, man! Do you know why? Because true followers of Jesus, and our faith in Jesus Christ, it is not manmade. It is God birthed. And Jesus said, “I will build My church. It will not be of this world. It will not be an earthly kingdom. It will be a heavenly kingdom.” You can’t stop God. It is unstoppable. You can’t stop the church!
So where do all these religions come from? You know, you can make one up yourself. Maybe your name’s….Marmaduke. Here’s a good one. Let’s just say that all religions of the world are some type of pathway to God, and, you know, let’s have everyone be at peace, and whatever else. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Everybody be at peace. Everybody goes to heaven, right? Eventually. That sounds good. And we’ll just call that “Marmadukism.” I don’t care if there’s a billion followers of Marmadukism. If Marmaduke’s wrong, the billion followers are wrong. I don’t care how many followers there are of how many different religions; if the founder is wrong, all the rest are wrong.
Remember what Jesus told the Pharisees? Read the gospels. The greatest enemy of Jesus was religion. Do you know what Jesus told the Pharisees, the ones that He was in conflict with? Not Pharisees, overall. There were a lot of Pharisees that were very well meaning, and a lot of them ended up becoming followers of Christ. But Jesus said to them, “You guys travel over land and sea to make one convert.” In other words, He’s saying, “You’re passionate about making converts. You’re willing to do anything to make a convert.” But then he told them, “But when you do, you make him twice the son of hell as you are yourself.” I’m sorry, but Jesus said that.
My intent is not to offend anyone today, but I’ll tell you what: Nobody is speaking up and at least bringing Jesus into the picture with what’s going on in the world today. So at this time, we see the fruit of manmade religion. Where did all the religions of the earth come from? We learned it right here, right here in Genesis 11. This is the founder of false religion, Nimrod. The fruit of manmade, false religion, self-preservation, the gateway to God was actually renamed “Confusion.” And all manmade gateways to God eventually bring confusion, which eventually brings strife, which eventually bring war. Remember – there are currently 28 religious wars going on.
And back in this story, what eventually happened was their language was confused, they all got confused, and all these different nations and tribes, guess what? They took what they learned from Nimrod, they went to their own place, with their own language that they could understand and said, “Look, we’d better have our own gateway to God, and we’d better protect our way of life, and we’d better do what Nimrod did. Nimrod was a conqueror. He was a mighty one in the earth. He had it going on. So, if we want it going on, we need to find our God, to preserve our way of life….etc. etc. etc. Hence every different tribe and all these different things.
See, here’s the thing: God created human beings for worship and trust, so what Satan does is, he takes advantage of our natural desire to find and know God, but he twists it with the sinful, selfish human desires that we all have before we come to Jesus. But do you want to know the good news? Watch this. Jesus loves all the people of the world. When Jesus looks down, He doesn’t see different religions. He just sees people. People can believe in whatever. People are atheists. People can follow whatever. When Jesus looks down, He sees individuals, and He sees people that He loves. And He sent the Holy Spirit, and guess what the Holy Spirit is doing in every person, all throughout the world right now? He is—as it says in John 16—He is convincing them and convicting them of their need of Jesus, that Jesus loves them, and that Jesus is who they are really looking for. He’s not convincing them of Christianity. Christianity is a name that Christians have given theirself. Some Christianity is true. Some Christianity is false. He’s convincing them to surrender their lives to Him so that they can have a relationship with God and be a follower of Jesus!
I’ll be honest with you – I don’t care if people call me a “Christian” or not. With some Christian circles, I don’t even want to be associated with them. You know what I want to be known as? A follower of Jesus! I am a follower of Jesus, and I have a relationship with God. Jesus is the gate.
Here’s the really good news: There is a gateway to heaven, but it’s not built with bricks. It’s built with our living stone, Jesus Christ. And He died for your sins, and He rose again from the grave, and He sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Do you want to know what the Day of Pentecost was? It was the opposite of the Tower of Babel. At the Tower of Babel, man tried to ascend himself, manmade. But what happened on the Day of Pentecost? God came down. What happened at Babel? All the earthly languages were mixed up and caused confusion. On the Day of Pentecost, just the opposite happened. God sent a heavenly language—Acts chapter 2—and even though the Bible says there were people from all different parts of the world that spoke different earthly languages because of the Tower of Babel, now through the heavenly language, as they were speaking in tongues, people with all these different earthly languages said, “Man, they’re praising God in My own language. They’re telling me about Jesus in my own language.”
Do you see? God reversed the curse of Genesis 11 in Acts 2! The Tower of Babel caused confusion, but Acts 2 brought what? Peace. Unity came, order came! Even though maybe on the outside, it looked a little messy, remember what Peter said? Peter said, “Look, we’re not drunk as you suppose! We’re just filled with the Holy Ghost.” He was saying, “Guess what, everybody? You don’t need a tower. Guess what the building is now? It’s your body! You’re the temple of the Holy Spirit! We don’t need a brick-made tower. God has come down, and now, we’re the temple of the Holy Spirit.”
Man went up at Babel; but God came down at Pentecost. At Babel, earthly languages ended up being confusion and resulted in division. At Pentecost, the heavenly language brought order and unity. At Babel, everybody came in; it was inward. “Don’t go out, Don’t spread out”. But after Pentecost, everybody went out to spread the love of God.
See, religion wants you to conform. Jesus wants you to be yourself. He wants you to be who you are in Christ. That’s why I love the body of Christ. I love the diversity of the body of Christ. I’ll flow with all of them, man. I’ll roll up in some of those denominations. I’ll sing me a hymn. I’ll be quiet. I’ll listen to that organ, and I’ll just love Jesus. And then I’ll go right across the way and get into some wild Pentecostal huck-buck shout, touch your neighbor, running all around…I love it all, man! I love worshipping with the Africans, I love worshipping with the Asians, I love worshipping with all the different people all around the world! I don’t want them to be American, and they don’t want me to be African. I don’t want them to be American, and they don’t want me to be Asian. We’re not trying to conform to anybody or anything; we’re just trying to follow Jesus and express gratitude for who He is!
Do you know what the beautiful thing is? Here’s the great thing, and I really want to tell this to our television audience as well. When you’re a follower of Jesus, it’s not your job to tell everybody that they’re wrong. That’s not why we’re here. Watch this—I know that we’re studying the founding of false religion and how religion came into being in this message and so forth, but when you look at Acts 2—see, here’s what religion does…What the “Nimrod plan” is, it’s to tell everybody else that they’re wrong, and that they need to conform. That’s how religion has been used. All those wars? It was man manipulating. Many times, Christians manipulating the Word of God for their own political and social and cultural purposes. It’s been used to control the masses. A great movie—I mean, it’s a violent movie—come on, guys, give me a little grace here. It’s a violent movie, but a great movie is The Book of Eli. It really is. I know there’s a lot of, heads being chopping off, but it’s a great story of how the evil person—you can see how bad he wants the Bible, because he knows he can use it to manipulate the masses. He’s taking advantage of the way that we were created—just like the devil comes in, and we all have the natural desire for sex. He’ll come in and twist it and get people in perversion and adultery and all that. We all have a natural desire to know God, so human beings are susceptible. We’re all going to worship something, either ourselves, some type of God. We were created for worship. I don’t care who you are or what you do; you worship something. And whatever you worship, you become like. And that’s why it’s so important that people find Jesus.
But anyways, going back to what I was saying – on the day of Pentecost, Peter didn’t come out after God came down and say, “All right, everybody, listen up. Okay, you’re wrong, and you’re wrong, and you’re wrong, and you’re wrong. And you’re wrong, and you’re wrong, and you’re wrong, and I’m right.” What did he do? He stood up; he said, “Man, we’re filled with the Holy Spirit.” People saw it was a witness of the love of God. They saw, they felt God’s love. There was a drawing. They said, “What should we do to be saved?” What did Peter say? Not “You’re wrong”, No, he said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus said, “I’m the way, I’m the truth, and I’m the life.” Jesus loves us. He is who we should follow. He’s the only leader whose grave is empty. He is the only leader who never sinned and never even had that brought into question by His own brother. He’s the only leader that did miracles. No other religious leader even claimed to do miracles. The miracles that Jesus did that were witnessed by His enemies and testified to by His enemies. The life that He lived, the love that He had. He’s either Lord, liar, or lunatic, and I’m here to tell you today that He is Lord of heaven and earth!
You know, there’s only two types of people, okay? There are followers of Jesus, and there are those that don’t follow Jesus. That’s it. Followers of Jesus and those who don’t follow Jesus. But many times, to become a follower of Jesus, you’re gonna have to lose your religion. I lost my religion over 20 years ago so that I could gain Christ and become a follower of Jesus and I’ve never been the same.