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Religion: The Opium of the People?

Karl Marx is quoted as saying religion was the opium of the people. He was one of the champions of communism, which has wreaked death and destruction around the entire globe. Conversely, Jesus Christ offers to His followers life and life more abundantly.
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Religion: The Opium of the People?

Article#: 1723

The beauty of righteousness, the peace of righteousness, the purpose of righteousness, the promise of righteousness, cannot be duplicated by any power on earth or elsewhere—philosophically, pharmaceutically, or demonically—because righteousness is not of this world, rather righteousness is of God.  The word righteousness is coined in Genesis 15:6 where God’s Word speaks of Abraham, who is known as the father of faith:

And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Abraham believed God and stepped out in that faith to act upon the promises God had given him.  Righteousness is faith in action and the faith that was in Abraham was Christ (Galatians 3:16). 

Faith in Christ Jesus and the blood He shed for the salvation of our souls, and acting upon it, is the believer’s first act of righteousness.  Romans 10:8-10:

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

I must believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that the crucified and risen Christ is the Lord and Saviour of my life.  This is where the new birth occurs. 

Have you been saved?  Have you been born again—born a literal second time, this time of the Spirit of God?  At this place Jesus calls “born-again,” all your sin and shame is expunged from your record and all Satan’s bondages broken.  Will today be the day you repent of your sins and believe upon the risen Christ; confessing with your mouth, first to yourself and then to others, that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life?  If you do, today will be your first act of righteousness and the beginning of life and life more abundantly—even eternal life.  Follow this prompt and make your decision for Christ while you still have time:  Click onto “Further with Jesus” for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God.  This will be your first act of righteousness.  NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, Hebrews 10:24-25:

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

GOD SAID, John 10:10:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

GOD SAID, Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

GOD SAID, Deuteronomy 30:19:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

MAN SAID: Christianity and its focus on church attendance is a trivial pursuit sought out by the poor and uneducated.  It is the religion of losers.

Now THE RECORD: Welcome to GodSaidManSaid feature article 930 that will once again certify the inerrancy of God’s beautiful book.  All of these faith-building features are archived here in text and streaming audio for the edification of the blood-bought and as a platform from which to convince the gainsayers.  Every Thursday eve, God willing, they grow by one.  Thank you for coming.  May God’s face shine upon you and your house. 

Carnal man always seeks another way—any way other than Jesus Christ. For mankind, this began in the Garden of Eden, where the curse of the law of sin and death began to reign. 

Karl Marx is quoted as saying religion was the opium of the people.  He was one of the champions of communism, which has wreaked death and destruction around the entire globe.  Conversely, Jesus Christ offers to His followers life and life more abundantly.  The contrast is glaring: True religion is not “churchianity,” but rather true and pure religion is embodied in Christ Himself and defined in James 1:27:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Does pure religion deliver any real, measurable benefit?  GodSaidManSaid reports today’s latest discoveries.  Foundational information follows from previous GodSaidManSaid features:

✟ GodSaidManSaid, “If You Want to be Happy for the Rest of Your Life:”

They always end up here.  Wrangle with the obvious as they will, they always end up here at the unbreakable, unshakeable, Word of God. 

All of God’s commandments and instructions—every insight, every historic account, every miraculous encounter—every single one, are true and righteous altogether.  If you are a frequent visitor to GodSaidManSaid, you are familiar with the principle that every one of God’s commandments has inherent within them a blessing or a curse

Because they are inerrant truth, obeying them yields the blessing of doing the right thing.  Because they are inerrant truth, disobeying them yields the curse of doing the wrong thing.  This GodSaidManSaid feature will make this principle abundantly clear. 

The Word of God creates a spiritual structure that houses and nourishes the souls of the redeemed; central to that structure is the house of God.  In a church where God’s Word is high and lifted up, you’ll find the preaching of the Cross and what the Cross of Christ makes possible:

The forgiveness of sin;
The baptism of the Holy Ghost with power;
The healing of the soul;
The healing of the body;
Eternal purpose;
The blessed hope of eternal life in Christ;
A structure where one is educated and blessed, and one where an individual can bless the body of Christ;
And so much more. 

This holy structure built upon the Cross is filled with the ministries of reconciliation, of teaching, and of Holy Ghost music—a place of marvelous meditation and the prayer of effectual faith.  It is a place where the awe of God is demonstrated weekly and where the mind is continually renewed.  God’s house is a place of eternal purpose where the family of God congregates.  If that’s all true, then science should be able to validate—and it certainly does. 

God’s house is the ultimate place for answers, vision, and encouragement.  When Jesus Christ resurrected from Abraham’s Bosom, He gave gifts unto men for the perfecting of the saints.  The gifts He gave are gifts of ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:8-12).  The primary setting for these ministry gifts to operate is in the formal church setting.  The benefits of congregating in God’s house are more than I could number, but a few follow:

A Yale study reported that churchgoers were less likely to become physically disabled.  In a syndicated article released by Knight Ridder Newspapers, it was recorded:

Several studies concluded that people who attended religious services regularly are hospitalized less often and have stronger immune systems than people who rarely or never attend. 

Again, the Knight Ridder article cites a 1996 poll of family doctors—arguably among the world’s most educated—and found that 99% believed spiritual practices and prayer can be helpful in medical treatment.  [End of quotes]

The headline from the January 9, 2014, MailOnline reads: “Religious people take fewer sick days and are less anxious because spirituality ‘offers a buffer against the strains of modern life.’”  The sub-head reads:

People who are religious are less likely to be stressed at work
They are also less likely to be depressed or exhausted
They are more likely to feel that their life has meaning

The research comes just after it was revealed that people who have a spiritual side have a “thicker” section of brain tissue than those who do not. 

The research, from Columbia University, also suggested that this thickening of the brain’s cortex could help to stave off depression.  The study authors believe this could suggest being religious changes the structure of the brain in a way which reduces depression risk.  [End of quotes]

August 14, 2015, the WashingtonPost.com headline reads, “Want ‘sustained happiness’? Get religion, study suggests.”   The feature follows:

A new study suggests that joining a religious group could do more for someone’s “sustained happiness” than other forms of social participation, such as volunteering, playing sports, or taking a class. 

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion. 

“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life,” Mauricio Avendano, an epidemiologist at LSE and author of the study, said in a statement.  “It is not clear to us how much this is about religion, per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated.” 

Researchers looked at four areas: 1) volunteering or working with a charity; 2) taking educational courses; 3) participating in religious organizations; 4) participating in a political or community organization.  Of the four, participating in a religious organization was the only social activity associated with sustained happiness, researchers found. [End of quotes]

✟ GodSaidManSaid, “Go to Church: Live Longer—Even Forever:”

The marvelous benefits of serving Jesus Christ cannot be fully enumerated—not even close.  The goodness of God is so gloriously vast and it never ends.  Feature after GodSaidManSaid feature continues to count the ways. 

When man’s science digs deep, when man’s science peers into the visible and invisible, when his research is published, God’s children of faith are already there with their banners unfurled. 

The following sentences are from the November 26, 2008 article, Religion May Help Extend Your Life, published by HealthDay:

The study participants came from the large Women’s Health Initiative observational study, and included nearly 95,000 women from all over the United States.  The women were all between 50 and 79 years old at the start of the study. 

When the researchers adjusted the data to account for the physical health, age, ethnicity, income, education, social support, important life events, and life satisfaction, they found that weekly religious service attendance was responsible for a 20% reduction in the risk of death.

Dr. Harold G. Koenig, founder and co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University Medical Center, called the new research “a very well-done study that provides good, well-controlled evidence that religious attendance is related to lower mortality.” [End of quote]

Concerning prayer, Dr. Dale Matthews of Georgetown University, author of The Faith Factor, reports that 75% of all research on studies of spirituality has confirmed health benefits.  He said, “If prayer were available in pill form, no pharmacy could stock enough of it.” [End of quote]

The following excerpts are from a March 2003 article in Parade magazine titled, “Why Prayer Could Be Good Medicine:”

According to University of Miami research, AIDS patients who became long-term survivors were more likely to be those involved in religious practices and engaged in volunteer work. 

In studies at several medical centers, prayers and faith have been shown to speed recovery from depression, alcoholism, hip surgery, drug addiction, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attacks, and bypass surgery.  [End of quote]

Dr. Dossey, a medical internist, authored Healing Words and Prayer is Good Medicine.  In his book, he states:  “I decided that not using prayer on behalf of my patients was the equivalent of withholding a needed medication or surgical procedure.” [End of quote]

Hundreds of studies have been, and are presently being, conducted to ascertain whether there is any connection between religious faith and health.  Some of the latest results are shocking to the unbelieving world.  In 1999, the results of a study conducted by the University of Texas were published.  Twenty-two thousand people were followed over a nine-year period.  Those who attended church or synagogue more than once a week lived an average of eight years longer than those who didn’t.  Let me say it another way: Those who attended church more than once a week lived 2,920 days, or 11% longer than those who didn’t. [End of quotes]

Several paragraphs follow from the May 2016 feature, “Do Churchgoers Actually Live Longer,” published by ChristianExaminer.com:

The latest study was posted this month on the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) website and showed that among women, frequent attendance at religious services “was associated with significantly lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.” 

In fact, the study even suggested that church attendance could be part of a doctor-prescribed health regiment.  Unlike a similar, earlier study, this one did not involve men.

“Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate,” the study found. 

It is not the first study to show a church attendance/health correlation.  In 2004, a 12-year study was released showing that people over the age of 65 who attended church services at least once a week were 35 percent more likely to live longer, compared to those who never attended church.  It also showed that regular church attenders were less likely to have cardiovascular or high blood pressure problems and more likely to have a stronger immune system. [End of quotes]

Several paragraphs follow from the May 16, 2016 feature, “Going to Church Can Help Women Be Healthier, Live Longer:”

Churchgoing aunts, grandmas, and moms might be on to something.  A study from JAMA Internal Medicine finds that women who attend religious services more than once a week have a 33 percent lower risk of death than women who never attend. 

“Religious attendance is a relatively good determinant of health,” says Tyler VanderWeele, a professor of epidemiology at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard and author of the study.  “It is perhaps an under-appreciated health resource.” 

VanderWeele looked at data from 1996 to 2012 from the Nurses’ Health Study, a longitudinal study following 74,534 women.  Of the women, 14,158 went to church more than once a week; 30,401 went weekly; 12,103 went less than once a week; and 17,872 never went.  The church ladies were either Catholic or Protestant.  Over the years, 13,537 women died with 2,721 dying from cardiovascular disease and 4,479 from cancer. 

Yet, the church ladies were less likely to die.  Overall, frequent churchgoers were 33 percent less likely to die than their non-churchgoing peers.  Women who attended church more than once a week were 27 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 21 percent less likely to die from cancer compared to women who never went to church. [End of quotes]

Psalm 1:2:

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

God’s children are directed to meditate.

✟ GodSaidManSaid, “Meditation, Prayer, Church, and Words Make Big News, Again!:

 The headline in the February 27, 2015 issue of the publication The Week reads, “Meditation Delays Aging.”  The short article from The Week follows in its entirety:

Meditation doesn’t just improve mental and physical health in the present; it also slows the aging process, and can help meditators stay mentally sharp into old age, a new study has found.  Once people reach their mid- to late 20s, their brains begin to lose volume and weight, which can eventually result in the loss of some functional ability.  But when researchers from UCLA compared brain scans of 50 people who meditated for at least four years with scans of 50 people who didn’t, they found that those who engaged in the practice had smaller reductions in gray matter—the neuron-containing tissue responsible for processing information.  “What we expected was to see this in just a few small regions,” Dr. Florian Kuth, the study’s co-author, tells HuffingtonPost.com.  “But what we saw was almost the entire brain.  That was a big surprise.”  The findings do not prove causality—meditators may have other healthy habits that contribute to brain health—but the researchers said that meditation would appear to be a powerful tool for reducing the risks for age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. [End of quote]

Has science proven any real, measurable benefit of prayer and of going to church?  The headline in the April 6, 2015 article published by CharismaNews.com reads, “Healing Power of Prayer Undeniable, According to 1,500 Medical Studies.”  Much of the feature follows:

For the devout, there has never been any question that prayer has the power to heal. 

Now, more and more medical research form leading hospitals and universities across the U.S. has shown conclusively a belief in God really IS good for you, making you healthier and happier, and helping you live longer. 

“Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick—and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster,” Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D. tells Newsmax Health. 

An exhaustive analysis of more than 1,500 reputable medical studies “indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health,” Dr. Koenig says.

“And out of 125 studies that looked at the link between health and regular worship, 85 showed regular churchgoers live longer.  There’s a lot of evidence out there.” [End of quote]

According to Dr. Caroline Leaf in her book Switch on Your Brain:

Outstanding research has recently been done by Dr. Gail Ironson, a leading mind-body medicine researcher and professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Miami.  She found that the most significant factor that made a difference in healing for those with HIV was their choice to believe in a benevolent and loving God, especially if they also chose to have a personal relationship with a benevolent and loving God.  Her study ran over four years and her determination of healing was based on the decrease of their viral load, the amount of the AIDS virus in a sample of blood, and the increased concentration of “helper T-cells”—the higher the concentration, the more the body is able to fight disease.  She found that those who did not believe God loved them lost helper T-cells three times faster.  Their viral load also increased three times faster, and their stress levels were higher, with damaging amounts of cortisol flowing.  Dr. Ironson summarizes her research by saying, “If you believe God loves you, it’s an enormously protective factor, even more protective than scoring low for depression or high for optimism.  A view of a benevolent God is protective, but scoring high on the personalized statement ‘God loves me’ is even stronger.” 

Whatever you believe in and hope for becomes substance on a physical level, and you act upon this.  This process can move in either direction—negative or positive.  [End of quotes]

The headline in the September 13, 2018 news release from Harvard.edu reads, “Religious Upbringing Linked to Better Health and Well-Being During Early Adulthood.”  Excerpts follow:

Participating in spiritual practices during childhood and adolescence may be a protective factor for a range of health and well-being outcomes in early adulthood, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  Researchers found that people who attended weekly religious services or practiced daily prayer or meditation in their youth reported greater life satisfaction and positivity in their 20s—and were less likely to subsequently have depressive symptoms, smoke, use illicit drugs, or have a sexually transmitted infection—than people raised with less spiritual habits. 

“These findings are important for both our understanding of health and our understanding of parenting practices,” said first author Ying Chen, who recently completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Chan School.  “Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being.” 

The study was published online September 13, 2018 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

For this study, Chen and senior author Tyler VanderWeele, John L. Loeb, and Frances Lehman-Loeb, Professor of Epidemiology, analyzed health data from mothers in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII) and their children in the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS). The sample included more than 5,000 youth who were followed between 8-14 years.  The researchers controlled for many variables such as maternal health, socioeconomic status, and history of substance abuse or depressive symptoms, to try to isolate the effect of religious upbringing. 

The results showed that people who attended religious services at least weekly in childhood and adolescence were approximately 18% more likely to report higher happiness as young adults (ages 23-30) than those who never attended services.  They were also 29% more likely to volunteer in their communities and 33% less likely to use illicit drugs. 

Those who prayed or meditated at least daily while growing up were 16% more likely to report higher happiness as young adults, 30% less likely to have started having sex at a young age, and 40% less likely to have a sexually transmitted infection compared to those who never prayed or meditated.  [End of quotes]

Jesus Christ promised life and life more abundantly, and He delivered on that promise.  God’s Word is true and righteous altogether—a place to build a life that will last forever. 

GOD SAID, Hebrews 10:24-25:

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

GOD SAID, John 10:10:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

GOD SAID, Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

GOD SAID, Deuteronomy 30:19:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

MAN SAID: Christianity and its focus on church attendance is a trivial pursuit sought out by the poor and uneducated.  It is the religion of losers.

Now you have THE RECORD.

 

 

References:

Authorized King James Version

“Religious Upbringing Linked to Better Health and Well-Being During Early Adulthood,” Harvard.edu, September 13, 2018

GodSaidManSaid, “Go To Church: Live Longer—Even Forever

GodSaidManSaid, “If You Want to be Happy for the Rest of Your Life

GodSaidManSaid, “Meditation, Prayer, Church, and Words Make Big News, Again!

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