A recent survey revealed what may appear to be some surprising, perhaps even shocking, information.
According to a USA Today article: “Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life. On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.”
What may be most surprising and shocking to us is that the survey indicated that those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, and two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons.
One could read this research and conclude that atheists, agnostics and non-Christian religious persons know more about God and the Bible than most Christians. But that’s not what the survey showed. It showed that those non-Christians surveyed knew more about “religion” than the average Christian.
I’m not surprised at this. There’s a huge difference between religious knowledge and biblical faith. The author of this survey is talking about two entirely different issues. One is a function of education (religious knowledge), the other is a function of salvation (biblical faith).
The Apostle Paul spoke of the religious people of his day as “having a form of godliness, but denying its power” (II Tim.3:5). They have the appearance of religious behavior, but they know nothing of the power of true godliness.
Authentic, biblical faith is not rooted in intellectual knowledge but in an intimate, experiential relationship with the God of the Bible through His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus prayed to His Father God, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
It’s really no big deal that a person doesn’t know that Martin Luther was the man who started the Protestant Reformation … or that Maimonides, one of the foremost rabbinical authorities and philosophers, was Jewish … or that Joseph Smith was Mormon, or that Mother Teresa was Roman Catholic.
The greatest tragedy is to not intimately, experientially and personally know Christ.
The Apostle Paul knew this first-hand. No man in his day had a greater knowledge of religion. He was trained under one of the most respected rabbis of his generation. He knew the Jewish Law like few others knew it. And he not only knew it … he strictly adhered to it. But ultimately Paul came to the understanding that such knowledge was nothing compared to the knowledge of Christ. Hear his words:
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ … I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” (Phil.3:8,10).
When we stand before God one day our knowledge will be tested and questioned. And our answer to His question spells the difference between heaven and hell. God will not ask, “Do you know where Mecca is?” or “What religion is the Dalai Lama?” No, He will ask the only question that really matters: “Do you know my Son Jesus?”