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PART 1 My Search for the One True God
I owe the writing of this book to my son, Micah, who is not a believer in God. While visiting him in Washington D.C., we attended a church festivity together on New Year’s Eve. The music and video presentation prompted him to begin asking a thought-provoking question, “Who is the one true God?” Aware that I had just finished writing a book called Overcoming: Learning How to Live Victoriously, he mentioned that if there were a way to write a book about the many religions, clearly showing that one of them evidenced the one true God, everyone would want to buy the book. This was an intriguing thought, not so much from the idea of selling a lot of books, although that would be nice, but answering the question, “Why does every religion claim that the god that they are worshipping is the correct one, and yet every religion seems to have a different one?”
Could it be true that there are many different gods who co-exist, and each of them will bring their followers to heaven?
Could it be true that there is only one God that brings His followers to heaven?
Who is right?
If I were going to devote my life to the worship of God, then wouldn’t I want to make sure that this God is the right one?
If there were one true God, then what would differentiate this God from all of the other imposter gods?
This book will give you a glimpse into my own personal quest to find God and, hopefully, answer these questions. It will also present a synopsis of the major current religions in the world.
I will briefly provide information about each of these religions in order to answer such questions as:
- Does each religion have writings that support it?
- What does a person have to do to become a member of this religion?
- Does this religion cause me to get to know God in a personal way?
I hope that after you read this book, that the information presented here will give you a clearer understanding as to whether there is indeed a one true God.
My Quest to Find God
Brought up in the Catholic faith, I was baptized (sprinkled) in water as a baby and confirmed later on. I partook of communion, went to confession, became an altar boy, went to church every Sunday as best as I could, observed the six Holy Days of Obligation, and participated in the two church fasts. I can honestly say that I hoped my religious convictions and fulfillment of the many church obligations brought me favor in heaven. However, all of my religion and religious activities had no effect on me in terms of changing how I thought about others and myself, and did not impact my behavior outside of church. While I could be kind and concerned about others, I could also be arrogant and self-centered.
My religious hope was to earn favor with God and go to heaven when I die, but did I earn favor with God? At times I thought I did, especially when I had the altar boy clothing on. But something was missing, and I never had an absolute assurance that God was pleased with me, and that my eternal destiny was secure.
The Catholic Church kept me pre-occupied with trying to keep up with my religious responsibilities. It was a faith I could be proud of with a church hierarchy going back to the time of Christ, and buildings that in many cases are breathtakingly beautiful in their architecture. Most of my relatives and friends are Catholic and many of us would observe certain days of obligation together, so there was also a comfortable family component built in.
But again, something in my life was missing and, even as I write, I realize that for many people this may be a difficult admission. It’s kind of like acknowledging that a true friend since grammar school has become more of an acquaintance now that you’ve grown up and gained the ability to reason things out on an adult level. You still know this person, but a true friendship in which you look out for one another’s welfare is lacking; a friendship that not only wishes the best for the other person, but is also there to help in a time of need. When such realization occurs, it might be wise to sever the relationship and find a true friend, but that’s not always so easy to do.
If such a situation is the case concerning the church that you are attending, where do you go from here?
Where Do I Go From Here?
I left the Catholic Church during my teenage years, but didn’t start out immediately looking for God. After high school, I went to a four-year college and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics. One of my elective courses was a critique of a book of the Bible called First Samuel. The professor believed that the account of the first king of Israel, Saul, was in contradiction with information from other books of the Bible. This course was interesting and the one thing that caught my attention as I read many of the related scriptures was that God was intimate or interactive in King Saul’s life. God wasn’t a figment of his imagination.
During my college years, I worked for my father at his spa and grille business, which was located on one of the main streets of the city. One day a parade was passing by and, having just gotten off work, I decided to follow it to wherever it ended. When it broke up in front of the city’s town hall, I heard a voice on a loud speaker in the near distance. I walked in the direction of the sound and found a group of people speaking about how God wants to have a personal relationship with us. This sparked my interest, so I listened to what was said and obtained the time and address of their next meeting.
The meeting was at someone’s home and I arrived at the appropriate time, and listened to someone talking about God. When the message was finished, there was a question, “Is there anyone here that would like to know God in a personal way?” I couldn’t imagine that such a thing could be possible. What would it be like to actually have an encounter with God? So, I stepped forward and responded with a prayer of confession that they led me in, after which I was filled with a presence that saturated me with a peace and joy such as I had never experienced before.
I began to attend the weekly gatherings of the church as well as related get-togethers at various people’s homes throughout the week. Unfortunately, after a few months, a church split occurred and most of the young people left but I stayed on. As time passed, the sense of God’s presence was not apparent and I didn’t understand why, but I was getting concerned. Eventually, I decided to leave and began attending churches of different faiths (e.g. Greek Orthodox, Pentecostal, Catholic, the Church of Bible Understanding, etc.). One week I would go here, and the next week I would go there. This probably lasted for about two months, until I had attended the gatherings of about six different faiths; but the presence of God was nowhere to be found.
I was praying for God to direct me to a church where He would be found. One day I was driving my car down the main street of the city, heading to work, when I noticed a young man to my right who waved at me. He was someone that I used to hang around with, but we’d lost touch. So, I pulled the car over, rolled down the window, and asked how he was doing. He answered that his life had changed because he’d found God. His days of drugs and alcohol were over, and he claimed to now have a personal relationship with God. He shared that the messages that he was hearing were both convicting and uplifting at the same time, and the presence of God was of great impact. He invited me to attend one of the meetings and I accepted.
When I arrived, I sat in the back, hoping this was the place where God would help me to get to know Him more personally. A young pastor walked up to the microphone, introduced himself, grabbed his guitar; and began singing. The words of the songs lifted up my spirit. Next, he talked about his church affiliation and then said it was time to present the teaching, mentioning the title of the message. As he began to speak, scriptures began coming out of his mouth without him even looking them up in the Bible, and I didn’t understand much of what was said, but I was both convicted and uplifted at different times. God’s peace and joy were penetrating my inner being. I knew I was where I was supposed to be for, in the midst of it all, God had shown up.
For me personally, church is about God showing up, and while I might not agree with the content of every message, does God show up? Whether I was being convicted of sin or receiving a divine prescription for addressing a sinful behavior, I had found the one true personal God once again. Do you want to find Him?
Eventually, the leadership of my church asked if I would consider going on staff as an outreach coordinator, and I replied yes. This position allowed me to not only visit people in hospitals, at their homes, etc., but also made it possible for me to interact with those of different faiths. I mentioned earlier that I had attended at least six different denominations in my search for God, and some of them will be mentioned in this book. Some other predominant ones that I have not visited personally are also presented because it’s likely that an individual searching for the one true personal God might visit them. I will do my best to provide the basics of their beliefs.
If you did choose to attend these assemblies, what would it be like?
Does each faith have a group of writings that its theology is taken from?
What are the conditions that would be placed on you, if you wanted to become a member of said faith?
Will this faith cause you to get to know God in a personal way, and if so, then how will this take place?
Are you interested in finding a faith that will cause you to get to know God in a personal way?
If so, read on.
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