Let’s look at the FIRST TWO RELIGIONS that began at the dawn of creation. They began with Adam and Eve’s two sons, Cain and Abel, as recorded in Genesis 4:1-5. “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said ‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain BROUGHT AN OFFERING OF THE FRUIT OF THE GROUND TO THE LORD. Abel also BROUGHT OF THE FIRSTBORN OF HIS FLOCK and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” Now let’s read Hebrews 11:4: “BY FAITH Abel offered a more EXCELLENT SACRIFICE than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”

We learn here that Cain and Abel both came to God with sacrifices to worship Him and, hopefully, to be accepted by Him. Yet as we saw, “the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” What made the difference? Ah, we just read that it was FAITH in the RIGHT SACRIFICE that made the difference! No doubt Cain thought God would accept his offering since he had, as a farmer, offered his very best crop that he had produced by “the sweat of his face” (Genesis 3:17-19a). It seemed so “logical to Cain’s mind to bring the fruit of the ground” but “his way was not the right way.” We read (twice!) in Proverbs “There is a WAY which seems right to a man, but its end is THE WAY OF DEATH” (14:12; 16:25). We believe that Cain had been told the “right way to approach God” but he decided to come by “his own way” and God had to reject his offering. Cain’s RELIGION is the “religion of GOOD WORKS,” where one seeks to “work his way to heaven.” In Jude 11 we read, “Woe to them! For they have gone in THE WAY OF CAIN.” Jude was writing of those who in his day were just like Cain; they were RELIGIOUS and seeking to come to God IN THEIR OWN WAY.

Abel, on the other hand, came to God BY FAITH. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Abel (and Cain) had “heard a word from God” as to what offering he should bring that God would accept. Perhaps God used his parents to tell him about how sin had come into the world and death through sin (see Genesis 2:15-17 & 3:6-7), and that the only way they could be accepted by God was through “the death of an innocent victim,” which was pictured by God clothing their nakedness with the skins of slain animals (Genesis 3:20-21). Abel BELIEVED GOD and Cain didn’t. Abel acted on his faith by coming to God with the only sacrifice that He could accept…the DEATH of an innocent victim whose BLOOD had to be shed. This sacrifice looked on to the supreme sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed on the cross to take away our sins and to make us righteous in God’s sight (see John 1:29; 19:34; Hebrews 9:12-14, 22-26; 10:1-20). He had offered “a more EXCELLENT SACRIFICE than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous.”

These, dear friends, are the ONLY TWO RELIGIONS in the world! The TRUE “religion of faith” and the FALSE “religion of good works.” Only the religion called Christianity teaches that man is a lost sinner incapable of working for their salvation and that they must be “SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). There seem to be many religions in the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Islam, et al.), but they all are going “in the way of Cain” by trying to earn heaven (whatever their “version of heaven” is) by various good works. The traditional “African religion” is made up of many beliefs and practices that are contrary to Christianity. It is not based on “FAITH in the DEATH of Christ on the cross for salvation and forgiveness of sins” and thus it is also going “in the way of Cain,” the FALSE RELIGION of good works.   (DO)  (524.5)