Jerry C. Brewer
Most people have no idea that the religion of Jesus Christ is one of absolute Truth. They therefore believe that man has a right to be wrong in religious matters. They consider it of no consequence if the Bible proves they are members of religious organizations unknown in the Bible, or if they follow the wrong plan of salvation, or worship in the wrong way. Believing they have the right to be wrong in religion and still please God, they are satisfied with their error and never consult the Bible for the right way. “Do we have the right to be wrong in religion?” The answer to that question is “Yes and No.”
The U.S. Constitution guarantees us the freedom of religion. No one–not even the government–has the right to force us to believe something we do not want to believe. Neither does God force His Truth on anyone. Jesus invites all to come to Him of their own free wills. He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28-29). Neither do Christians force anyone to accept Christ’s truth. We only preach and persuade as Jesus commanded when He said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). So, “yes,” in one sense, we do have the right to be wrong in religion. But the real question is this: “Do we have the right to be wrong about religion and still be eternally saved?”
That is the central issue and the Bible answer is, “No.” We understand this principle from the physical realm in which we live. I have the right to drink whatever I want, but if I drink rat poison, honestly believing it is beneficial, I will die anyway. That is true in the spiritual realm as well. Christians do not, and cannot, jail people for not accepting the Gospel, but all must do God’s will if we are to be saved eternally. Adam and Eve did not have the right to be wrong about eating the forbidden fruit and still have fellowship with God (Gen. 2:17). Nadab and Abihu did not have the right to offer fire which God had not commanded and still please Him (Lev. 10:1-2).
So it is with us today. We interpret our civil right to be wrong in religion to mean that we can do whatever we want and still be acceptable to God. That interpretation is eternally fatal. God demands a right way for us to do His will and all the sincerity in the world will not save one who disregards His right way.
There are two more questions we need to ask in religion: (1) “Is there nothing in religion about which a man must be right?” (2) “Do we have to be right in points of doctrine?” We do not have the right to be wrong about faith in God (Heb. 11:6) or in Christ (John 8:24). Neither does man have the right to be wrong about believing the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16). We do not have the right to be wrong about repentance (Acts 2:38; Luke 13:3), or baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). To be saved, one must learn that error isn’t as good as God’s Truth. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Error damns men’s souls (2 Thess. 2:8-12). No, man does not have the right to be wrong in religion and still be saved in heaven. Study your Bible, learn it, understand it, and obey it.