THE SHEPHERD’S ROD -
WHAT IS RELIGION?
DOES IT PROFIT BOTH NOW AND HEREAFTER?
Vol. 1 Timely Greetings Nos. 49, 50
THE ONLY PEACE OF MIND
Numbers 49, 50
Copyright, 1953 Reprint
All rights reserved
WHAT IS RELIGION?
DOES IT PROFIT BOTH NOW
LIFE IS BUT WHAT WE MAKE IT
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 1
TEXT FOR PRAYER
I shall read from "Christ's Object Lessons," on page 17-
"In Christ's parable-
Let us pray that we might understand Christ's teachings of the unknown through
the known -
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 2
WHAT IS RELIGION?
DOES IT PROFIT BOTH
NOW AND HEREAFTER?
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-
SABBATH, JULY 12, 1947
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
If humanity needs to know any one thing above another, it is the answer to these two questions: What is religion? Does it profit now and hereafter?
Many think that religion consists of going to church, of praying, of having good morals, not stealing, not killing, not playing games, not gambling, not attending shows, not eating certain things, of doing or of not doing this, that, and the other.
Others think religion is nothing more than some kind of a sociological order, and that the church is a place in which to get acquainted, etc., etc. Let us see:
Jesus was confronted by the rich young ruler, who said to Him, I have kept the commandments. What yet must I do to enter into life eternal? Here follows the answer:
Luke 18:22 -
To understand this scripture, we must read another
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 3
one along with it:
Both the rich young man and Nicodemus were rulers, and though Nicodemus might not have been as rich as was the young man, he nevertheless was not poor. But why was the one asked to distribute his riches to the poor, and the other told to be born again? Why should not both pay the same price for salvation? Here are the reasons:
To avoid being seen in the company of Jesus, Nicodemus came to Him, not by day, but secretly by night, whereas the young ruler came to Jesus not only openly by day, but also while a multitude were with Jesus. The rich young ruler's basic hindrance, therefore, was his wealth, and Nicodemus' basic hindrance was his pride. Plainly, then, the one's ailment called for one kind of treatment, and the other's ailment called for another kind of treatment.
Jesus never asked anyone to take His religion, but He asked them to "follow" Him, to be one of His disciples. The rich young ruler could not follow the Lord because his heart was centered upon his own riches. And Nicodemus could not follow the Lord because he was too proud to be seen in the company of unpopular and hated Jesus followed by humble fishermen. To remove the hindrances, the one had
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 4
to get rid of his riches, and the other had to get rid of his pride. To eradicate pride, one must be born again, must become a new man. But to eradicate the love of money one must give his money to those who really need it.
The Scriptures bear record that Abraham was very rich. Yet he is called the "friend of God." Riches in themselves, therefore, can be a blessing, although they more often become a curse. Pride, however, is never good.
Remember that the Devil finds in every one of us at least one loop-
Let us read again from John three-
Nicodemus' acknowledgment that Jesus was the
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 5
Son of God made his case exceedingly bad. Knowing who Jesus was, he should not have
been ashamed to be seen in His company, nor should he have been afraid of His enemies.
He should have considered it a privilege to associate with the Son of God, with
a Heavenly Being. But inasmuch as Nicodemus was ashamed to be seen with Him, and
was proud to be with Pharisees, he needed to bury the "old man," and to arise in
newness of life -
To the question, "How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus answered, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." Nicodemus had to be baptized, had to publicly acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, and receive the Spirit of Truth.
And the illustration, "the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit," definitely points out that to really know what it is to be born of the Spirit is to have the experience of being one of His disciples, of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and of proclaiming His Truth. Jesus, comparing His followers, those who are born again, with the wind, makes this fact still clearer; for if His disciples are like the wind, if no one knows where they come from and where they go to, then the only way to find out is to become one with them.
For Jesus to become one with us He had to be born again; He had to become an earthly man. And for us to be one with Him, we have to be born again, born of the Spirit. The difference is that Jesus was first born a spiritual, a Divine being, and second a human
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 6
being; whereas we are first born human beings, and second spiritual beings. Prophetically speaking of Jesus' birth, the prophet Isaiah wrote:
Isa. 66:7 -
The Jewish church, the church into which and by which Jesus was born, Inspiration declares, neither travailed nor had pain; that is, she felt neither need of nor burden for a Saviour, and yet in spite of it, He was born.
But speaking of the children that are to make up the Kingdom, we read:
Isa. 66:8 -
Although the Jewish church in Jesus' day travailed not, yet she brought forth the Son of God! But when Zion travaileth she brings forth all her children at once, a whole nation! A miracle in each instance.
How may Zion travail? -
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 7
And as Inspiration makes it clear that they must be born again, they all at the outset
must be in the same state of mind as was Nicodemus -
Plainly, then, our efforts to reach the people with the message of a "second birth" shall not be in vain: Zion shall bring forth all her children, as it were, in one day. And that is why we cannot be driven to despair or to discouragement. We are assured that "revival and reformation" will take place among all God's people, that His word will not return unto Him void.
Now, who could the children be? -
From the Scriptures it is now clearly seen that in this instance when one joins
the church, the church becomes pregnant with that member. Thus it is that from the
time one becomes a member of the church to the time he is "born again," he is spiritually
developing for the hour of this second birth. Then, after he is "born again" he
is still to keep on growing until he becomes a full-
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 8
Isa. 66:9 -
This scripture endeavors to remove all doubt. Let us believe the Lord and know for certain that the time for this particular new birth is here and that the Lord can and will make it possible regardless how it may appear to us.
From this study we see that religion is not made up of must's and don't's; that
no one is to be tied to a man, but to God's ever unfolding Truth; that religion means
to be following the Lord, and to be doing those things which He leads one to do;
that from the time one accepts the Lord as his Saviour, -
No, religion is not something extra, something optional. It is something which
everyone must have. A true and up-
For examples let me take you through the stream of time, beginning with Noah.
His religion not only saved him and his family from drowning in the terrible flood,
but also made him become the progenitor of the world after the flood, -
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 9
world. The world in his day, though, perished because it felt no need of an up-
Let us take a look at another highlight in Bible history. The mother of Moses
believed in up-
Eighty years later Moses' religion led the whole Hebrew nation from the brick yards of Pharaoh to the Red Sea. The sea parted for their sake, and as soon as they passed through, it closed in on their taskmasters. What a deliverance! What a victory!
Moreover, as those millions of men, women, and children, also their cattle, came
into that forbidding desert place where there was neither food nor water, religion
made the rocks gush with streams, and the clouds drop down manna -
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 10
Notwithstanding all these great happenings, when they became careless and indifferent, when they felt no need of prophets, no need of present Truth, no need of meat in due season, they again became slaves and captives! That is why we need the right kind of religion, and that is why we need to stick to religion and to grow with it.
The Jews were taken captive and carried into Babylon. Nevertheless, those who
were faithful to their religion were well taken care of even in their captivity.
Daniel, for instance, rather than serving as a slave, was instead treated as a lord,
and was at last made a ruler by both the Chaldeans and the Medo-
When the three Hebrews, for faithfulness to their religion, were thrown into the fiery furnace, the Son of God came and rescued them and not a hair of their heads perished. Their enemies, though, were burned to death, but the Hebrews were made rulers in the kingdom.
Gideon had to win a war. After recruiting 22,000 soldiers, he was told that they
were too many! Consequently the time-
All could have been Daniels and Gideons. Yes, even the Jews of today could have
been something, but what are they? -
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 11
in the world, a nation without a king, without a flag, without a land, -
Now let me tell you of an experience that is strictly personal, and news to most of you. Several years ago while I was crossing one of the busy streets of Los Angeles, California, a woman from my left drove squarely into me. She then became so nervous that she could not stop her car but kept going for a half block. The car, though, did not tip me over; an unseen hand carried me ahead of it. And when the car stopped right at the alley which crossed the street, I stopped, too! By that time hundreds of spectators including news reporters and three motor cops, had gathered around the car. As they found no one lying in the street, dead or wounded, they then decided the victim must have been pinned under the car. When I told them that it was I who had been hit, they wondered. As I told them that I was not hurt, and as I refused to be taken to the hospital, they made me raise up my hands and legs, and they asked dozens of questions. The pencil in my coat pocket had been crushed by the impact of the car into about a dozen pieces, but my ribs were untouched! Then one from among the crowd said, "He must be made of rubber."
Religion, you see, is better than an insurance policy.
From our study we perceive that God's power that protected life even in the fiery
furnace and in the lion's den, is still at work; that God is still as much interested
in His people today as He was in Daniel's or in any other day. We therefore need
Timely Truth not only saves our souls for eternity,
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 12
but It protects us from day to day. It supplies our needs today and gives us hope for hereafter. There is safety in nothing else, and faith in God is our only peace of mind, especially in this day and age.
Religion obviously is profitable not only for hereafter, but certainly for today as well. Do not play the fool by trying to get along without it.
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49 13