(Trussville, AL USA)
"Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals, which have never benefited those who participated in them. (Hebrews 13:7-8)
Do you remember the classic movie 'Sergeant York' hereby a prize-winning Tennessee marksman Alvin York (Gary Cooper), a recent convert to Christianity, finds himself torn between his non-violent beliefs and his desire to serve his country when recruited to fight in World War I. Kindly Major Buxton (Stanley Ridges) convinces York to engage in battle, where the pacifist's prowess with a rifle earns him honors as he continues to struggle with his decision to kill.
A particularly moving scene of the movie is when Sergeant York wanders into an old-fashioned church filled with family and friends. Amidst the backdrop of the song "Old Time Religion" and surrounded by family, friends and his to-be wife, York makes his way to the front of the church, encouraged by the pastor and praying friends.
For one who is such a religious dinosaur as myself and who is older than dirt and twice as gritty, I often reminisce about yesteryear's church service. It was a time when the structured church bulletin didn't rule the order of service, a time when the Amens and the Hallelujahs echoed, as the Spirit led. It was a time when holy hands were raised in praise, and a time when prayer was given on bended knees and spontaneous testimonies would be given. It was a time when the gospel was portrayed through the singing of Bible-based Praise and Worship songs and a time when many would seek forgiveness gathered around an old-fashioned altar known as the Mercy Seat.
And don't forget the preaching of the true Full Gospel. (I Cor 15:1-4)
Don't get me wrong, Christian discipline must prevail during all regular church services. Thus, all services should be an orderly assembly gathering for the sole purpose of edification through the expounding of God's holy Word and fellowship. I just feel that the main purpose of all activity should be set in motion by God's Holy Spirit.
Sad to say, one of the main reasons why the un-churched do not seek what today's church offers is because they already have it. In other words these un-churched have not come to the church, because the church has sadly come to them in the form of a social gospel, to tickle their ears, so to speak.
In (Jeremiah 6:10-19) a parallel is drawn between the past and the now. And in (Jeremiah 18:15) we see the religious leaders failing the people, just as is today. So has the "salt lost its savor" and has the "light been hidden under a bushel"?
God's principles have not become obsolete. His Word is just as true today, as when it was first penned. The Old Time religion should still be about being a part of God's family. (Galatians 3:28) And to be in God's family, one needs come in the old-fashioned way, through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:4-6) and Him only. (John 14:6)
This Old Time Religion is about rejoicing in the Lord. (Philippians 4:4)
This Old Time Religion is about having peace with God. (Philippians 4:7)
This Old Time religion is about righteous thinking. (Philippians 4:8)
This Old Time religion is about forgetting and forsaking the past. (I Timothy 1:12-13)
This Old Time Religion is about making you look forward to your future. (Philippians 3:13-14)
And above all, This Old Time religion is about the fear of God's judgment. (Jude 22-23) We serve a loving God, but we also serve a just God.
Times do change, people do change, and so do perceptions. An anonymous professor of military strategy once said, "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
Another anonymous stockbroker once stated that the stocks had reached what looked like a permanently high plateau, shortly before the financial crash of 1929.
Don't get me wrong. I like our modern day conveniences as much as anyone else. I certainly don't want to go back to the Dark Ages. However, this "Old Time Religion" is still a victorious old-fashioned life that honors the Lord Jesus Christ, saves the sinner and grows the saint. It never changes.
So what is the purpose of today's "Old Time Religion" church? This purpose of the church is the salvation of lost souls, the edification and separation of believers through the teaching of God's Holy Word, the worldwide proclamation of the gospel, the promotion of Godly worship, the defense of the "Faith Once Delivered" and the study of the Scriptures until He comes. (I Corinthians 15:51-55) (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
We believe that we can best worship God and serve our fellow man through a congregational form of church government, and at the same time, remain loyal to the fundamental principles that are recorded in the Holy Scripture, while not being unmindful of the heritage that is ours in and through the Holy Church of New Testament faith. (Acts 2:41-47)
As our introductory Scripture dictates, Jesus never changes, so the concept is that basic Christianity never changes as well, and never needs revision. Enter "The Old Time Religion."
So the only true religion, or Christianity if you will, is still that "Old Time Religion." The Scripture describes it as having a personal faith in Jesus Christ by accepting God's free grace, by faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
However, this old world is surely changing. Most of this change is distressing because these changes are leading away from the true teachings of God's word. The Bible, however, is filled with examples of fulfilled prophecy. (Isaiah 52:13) (Isaiah 53:12) (Psalm 22:1-18)
And Scripture verifies certain prophetic changes as we moving towards the end of time as we know it to be. (II Timothy 3:1:57, 13) (II Timothy 4:3-4) (I John 4:1-3) (II John 1:7-11) However, we still have a Savior who never changes. Amen!
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