What is True Religion?


True Bible Teaching - About You and God and Your Hope of Salvation

What is True Religion?


Pure Religion James 1:27

There’s a lot of talk nowadays about the different religions there are in the world, and their relative attractions and what they offer − Church of England, Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphian, etc., etc. But what do we mean by “religion”?

Religion: A Bind!

Our English word “religion” comes from Latin, and it means “to bind together again”. You can see the word in action when you think that  “ligament” is the tissue which holds or binds together the different parts of our limbs – like our knees or our elbows – and enables them to twist and turn as they are meant to do.

So, from the word alone, we can deduce that religion is something that would bind mankind again to God, so that the breach which Adam made in his relationship with God in Eden could be repaired. Religion is that which binds us back to God.

When we think of choosing a religion, we have to judge it by whether we think it will achieve the defined purpose of binding us back to God again.


I suggest that some of the religions we mentioned above do not achieve that purpose, and indeed many do not appear to set out to do so. They may be referred to possibly as “faith systems”, or “mysticism”, but they are not really true religions. Really, the only religion that complies with our definition is the Christian religion. But with so many Christian denominations, how can we decide which one most fully answers to the purpose of binding us back to God?

The only satisfactory way to decide is to compare their teachings with the Bible. God really wants us to be bound back to Him again, and that’s why He gave us the Bible, so that we know how much He loves us and what He wants us to do.

Bible Truth

The Bible is the only source of divine information about:

·       why we were created (to emulate the image and character of God);

·       why we are subject to sin and death (because man disobeyed God), and

·       it alone offers us a solution to our dire condition (the forgiveness of our sins, by linking our lives with that of Jesus in baptism).

Another word the Bible uses in this connection is “reconciliation” – the original Greek word means “to change thoroughly.” We need to be changed or reconciled if we are to be bound to God once again. One Bible passage which tells us how much we need God’s help in our recovery reads as follows:

At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made both one … and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:12–16).

Another passage says this:

… having made peace through the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in his sight … (Colossians 1:20–22).


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:17–20).

These verses confirm our definition at the beginning that the way back to God is through a recognition of our sins, and by availing ourselves of the sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, and by being baptised into him to identify ourselves as true Christians.

The only way we can have knowledge and instruction about this salvation, which is the true religion, is in the Bible, God’s message of salvation and love to us.

Impelled to Act

Before we leave the question of what constitutes true religion, we need to be aware that the word “religion” itself appears in the Bible only in the New Testament. In four out of the five occurrences the Greek word used is the word “threskeia” or “threskos”, which means “outward religious service”. In other words, it features the things which religion impels us to do, or the things by which we demonstrate our religion. That has nothing to do with the meaning of the English word “religion,” which we’ve looked at, but it tells us the sort of things we should do for other people in response to what God has done for us. If we want to be like Him, and be bound back to Him then we must try to act in a way which is pleasing to Him.

The apostle James writes about practical Christianity and says this:

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

So, let’s all go and practise both of these two aspects of religion in our lives from now on!

By Hamilton Wilson