Nothing holds back God’s chosen ones as does religion. About one fourth of the world’s population is Catholic. The Catholic Church brings her followers only a short distance of the way to God. Then she prevents them from taking even one further step. This subtle, demonic religion we must overcome. Then there is Protestantism, which brings people only a little farther on the way to God and then hinders them from going on. Christless Protestantism also we must overcome. Finally, there is the satanic religion, which completely blocks the way to God. Here again we must overcome. There are not only the openly evil things to be overcome like sin, Satan, and the world; there are especially the demonic, Christless, and satanic religions to be overcome.
Consider, as illustrations, eight typical fallen sinners. Though they were born of Adam and therefore fallen, they were all chosen and predestinated by God.
Let us say that two of them were caught by Judaism, a religion formed according to the Old Testament. When someone comes to preach the gospel to them, they will have nothing to do with him; they refuse to budge from their religion. Do you see how this religion holds people in its grasp and hinders them from reaching the goal of God?
Let us say that another two are attending a Catholic university. One of their professors, a brilliant man, is a priest. Under his influence these two students decide to enter the Catholic Church. One of them has an uncle who is with the Brethren. He talks to his nephew and the other student and tries his best to persuade them of their need of salvation. When the two boys later check with their professor-priest, he tells them not to be influenced by such old-fashioned views. Thus the two are kept in the snare of demonic religion.
Another two hear the gospel from a Christian preacher and believe. At their school one of the teachers is a brother in the Lord’s recovery. In his contacts with these two students, he helps them to go on beyond their initial salvation. In the background, however, there is this preacher. As he watches the change in the two who were converted through him, he is upset that he is losing his influence. A conflict develops in the students between their desire to go on and their loyalty to the preacher who first gave them the gospel.
The last two of the eight cases one day meet a brother from the church. From his preaching they hear the gospel and are saved. They go together to the church meetings and are encouraged to go on to God’s goal.
Of the eight, then, two are held back by Judaism, two by Catholicism, and two by Protestantism. Only two come into the church life, where they can be helped to reach God’s goal.
Do you see the need now to overcome religion? You must overcome your kind of religion. Look again at the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Where overcoming is mentioned, it is mainly a matter pertaining to religion. Many Christian teachers think that overcoming pertains to the flesh, to sin, and to worldliness. They do not see that what needs to be overcome is religion. We must overcome all the other things, and religion as well.
A HEAVENLY SUPPLY TO GOD’S LOVERS AND SEEKERS
While the Lord Jesus is arranging the world’s situation so that God’s people may go on, He is also exercising His heavenly ministry to especially supply God’s lovers and seekers with the heavenly riches, the divine element, so that they may be kept at an overcoming level. All they are seeking is God and Christ; there is nothing else they desire. The sustaining of these God-lovers and Christ-seekers needs Christ’s heavenly ministry.
It is not a small thing that we are in the Lord’s recovery. Our Lord has exercised His rulership to arrange our environment so that we could be here. Meantime He also exercises His heavenly ministry to supply us with God’s riches.
At the Lord’s table Christ comes as the heavenly Melchisedec, bringing us bread and wine. In the ancient time, when Abraham was weary from fighting with the kings, Melchisedec came to refresh him with bread and wine (Gen. 14:18-20). How refreshing is the Lord’s table, where He serves us the bread and wine! But He also comes to us to refresh us morning by morning, with the nourishment to supply our daily need. This Melchisedec is our heavenly Christ, bringing the heavenly riches to sustain us so that we can overcome.
(The Mending Ministry of John, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)