Why are there so many religions in the world? Why are there so many conflicting ideologies warring for people's allegiance? And why have human efforts to achieve peace and happiness failed again and again? The Bible reveals answers to these sobering questions in prophecies that are coming alive today!
Though many have viewed Scripture as simply a collection of myths and legends, it reveals why the world is the way it is, and explains what lies ahead. Your Bible describes a powerful spirit being known as "the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9–10). Scripture refers to this being by various names—Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, the evil one, the great dragon, and the serpent of old (see Isaiah 14; Matthew 6:13).
Satan is also described as "the god of this age" who has blinded human beings to the real source of truth (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). As the "ruler of this world" (John 14:30) and the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), Satan influences human thought processes by broadcasting his warped ideas—which unsuspecting people pick up in their minds and assume are their own ideas. This is the ultimate source of the perversions that have influenced so many religions, ideologies and cultures in our world. Since Satan is described as a murderer and a liar, and as the "father" of lies (John 8:44), it is no wonder that the world has experienced so much trouble, tragedy and bloodshed down through history!
The Bible points out there are ultimately just two ways of life: God's way of truth and right, and Satan's path of error and wrong. The book of Genesis reveals that Satan deceived the first human beings into choosing his lies and rejecting God's way—a choice that seemed appealing but led to big problems (Genesis 3; Proverbs 14:12).
When God revealed Himself to the Egyptians through Moses, Egypt's religious leaders soon realized that their gods were powerless before the true God (Exodus 8:19). In the book of Isaiah, the God of the Bible scoffs at the powerless, man-made idols worshipped by pagan nations (see Isaiah 44:9–11; 46:5–11), yet Scripture records that the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar came to recognize the real God and acknowledged Him as such (see Daniel 4:34–37).
In the first century ad, the Apostle Paul noted that the idol-worshiping Greeks of Athens even had a statue to the "Unknown God"—so Paul told them who that God really is (Acts 17:16–34). In his letter to the Romans, Paul spoke against misguided pagan teachers "who suppress the truth in unrighteousness," and he charged that "even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind" (Romans 1:18–32). The book of Revelation describes a woman (symbolic of a church), dressed in scarlet, who deceives the world with her false doctrines. Her great false church will support a coming beast power in Europe, and is linked symbolically to the seven hills of Rome, as well as to ancient Babylon as the fount of our world's evil political and religious systems (Revelation 17:1–9). The Scriptures state that Satan will empower both the beast and a church that has spread false religious ideas (see Revelation 13; 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10). Indeed, the Bible reveals that Satan—the "god of this age"—is the author of the fighting, the bickering and the misguided false religions around us.
Both the Bible and history reveal that "Christianity" has not escaped Satan's deceptive efforts. The New Testament warns repeatedly about false teachers who claim to be ministers of Jesus Christ, yet deceive many into following corrupted versions of Christianity (Matthew 7:15–20; 24:3–5; 2 Thessalonians 2; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 4; 2 Peter 2). The Apostle Paul describes misguided ministers who claim to be Christians, but who actually serve Satan when they preach about another Jesus and another gospel—contrary to what is found in Scripture (2 Corinthians 11:3–4, 13–15).
Jesus, the Apostles and the early Church never participated in weekly Sunday worship; they observed the biblical seventh-day Sabbath as they had been taught (see Luke 4:16; Acts 13:13–14, 42–44; 16:11–15; 17:1–2). Yet, today, most who call themselves "Christians" worship on Sunday—a day of worship established almost 300 years after the apostolic era by the Roman Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea! Religious leaders around Constantine's era also began to enforce their teaching that Jesus' birth was to be observed on December 25—a day on which pagans celebrated the rebirth of the Sun—though the Bible nowhere commands the observance of Christ's birth, and in fact shows that Jesus was not born in the cold of winter. Jesus was actually born in the milder temperatures of autumn, when shepherds could stay out at night, tending to their flocks (Luke 2:8). Ignoring biblical truths, however, false leaders reasoned that "Christianizing" formerly pagan holidays would make it easier to win pagan converts—even though Scripture tells God's people not to adopt the customs of other religions (Deuteronomy 12:30).
Historian Will Durant states plainly, "Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it… Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world" (Caesar and Christ, p. 595). Religious pollster George Barna has observed that "a great deal of what we Christians do for Sunday morning church did not come from Jesus Christ, the apostles or the Scriptures… Strikingly much of what we do for 'church' was lifted directly out of pagan culture in the post-apostolic period" (Pagan Christianity, Viloa & Barna, p. 6). These are facts of history, yet most "Christians" today do not realize how much their practices reflect centuries of religious corruption.
Considering Satan's hand in the process, it is not hard to see why there are so many different varieties of "Christianity." However, Jesus said, "I will build My church"—not churches (Matthew 16:18)—and the Apostle Paul urged Christians that "there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Down through the ages, our world has seen a wide variety of governments, philosophies and economic theories rise and fall. Monarchies, despots and dictatorships have emerged and disappeared. Around 350bc, the Greek philosopher Plato observed a repeating cycle in the structure of nations' government—monarchy to aristocracy to democracy to anarchy to dictatorship—because the failings of each led to the next, and none could last too long unchallenged in the hands of human beings (The Lessons of History, Durant, p. 75). Democracies and republics have appeared and disappeared quickly on the world stage. Philosophical systems of stoicism, rationalism, humanism and agnosticism have had their day and failed to provide lasting answers to the big questions of life. Human-devised theories of communism, socialism and capitalism have failed to achieve the golden ages they once promised. All these systems have failed because human beings have not understood that, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it" (Psalm 127:1). Unless plans and ideas are built on the solid rock of God's word, they will fail (Matthew 7:24–29).
Bible prophecy long ago foretold that world conditions will continue to deteriorate until the return of Jesus Christ (see 2 Timothy 3–4). Jesus revealed that human efforts and ideas will eventually bring this deceived world to the brink of annihilation, and that "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:22). Scripture reveals that Jesus Christ will return to the earth as "Prince of Peace," to establish a world government from Jerusalem that will bring joy, harmony and prosperity to the whole world (Isaiah 2:2–4; 9:6–7). He will establish one religion on earth, pointing all people to the one true God and His way of life (Isaiah 30:20–21; Zechariah 14:16–20). At that time, the one "who deceives the whole world"—Satan the Devil—will be banished from the face of the earth (Revelation 20:1–2), and we will see the dawn of a new age: the Kingdom of God!