Give Me That Old TIme Religion

Sun, Nov 27, 2022
Teacher: Tom Blackford
Passage: Jeremiah 6:16
Duration:35 mins 26 secs

Message text

Give Me That Old Time Religion
Jeremiah 6:16

INTRO: Good morning church.

Working on our Face Book page I noticed our page is listed as a “Religious Organization”. Then I recalled a song I’m sure many of you have heard over the years; “Give me that old time religion.” No worries, I'm not going to sing it, but I did think it might be interesting to take a look at “Old Time Religion”. I suspect most of us understand that the expression relates to religion as it was practiced in times past.

Did you know that a religion may be old, yet not old enough? Is the religion practiced say 100 years ago, “old time religion”? In some ways of course it is. We rarely ever hear of tent meetings anymore or see Bible scenes painted on bed sheets. They used to do it that way, but is that what we mean?

That's probably maybe 100-200 years or so ago, but not old enough. A religion can also be too old. Remember Nebuchadnezzar's image? If that's your idea of “old time religion”, you've gone too far back. You've passed the most important thing, and that's the cross of Christ.

I. God made this statement in Jeremiah 6:16 – “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, `We will not walk in it”. In this text, the ancient ways were the ways of faith, devotion, and honor of the One True God of Israel, as revealed and certified unto the people in the Pentateuch. In our own times the "good way" is the way of the Gospel of Christ.

A. Some religions are too old to be New Testament Christianity. We also want to think about what the Lord has taught us. Each one of us should be vitally concerned about the “old time religion” that pleases God. That's the one we're talking about today.
B. I know that some people are turned off by the word old. They don't like it. We don't even like to think of ourselves as old. We think newer is better and want things that are new and improved. Today, no less than in the times of Jeremiah, people are vainly searching for "something new" in religion. "Give us anything except the way our fathers did it!" is their motto. In that we are like the Athenian idolaters who had no better thing to do than to listen to or to tell some new thing. Acts 17:21. “For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” We see their counterparts today.
C. Others are turned off by the very word religion. They think religion is something evil, perhaps because some have practiced false religion and done evil in the name of that false religion.

1. The word religion is a neutral word and by itself it's neither good nor bad. It depends on the religion that you're talking about.
2. James talks about pure religion. In James 1:26 he writes, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.” Some religion is vain, but not all of it is. James 1:27 – “Pure religion (not vain, but pure) and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
3. Religion is human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It's the thing that you're most devoted to. For example to some, money is a religion.

D. We should understand that the “old time religion” that pleases God is a matter of divine tradition and not human tradition, and it's clearly outlined in God's Word. When we say “give me that old time religion”, we're talking about the “old time religion” that originated in the mind of God. That's what we will look at this morning. Paul informs us that this religion is such that man could not have discovered it on his own, through his own physical senses.

II. It had to be revealed. In First Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.''” These words are usually thought of as suggesting heaven and the glories of the future world; but Paul did not hesitate to apply them to what God has already done for His children.

A. He's talking about the revelation that was hidden but was then made known unto man. Let’s go on to verses 10-13, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things (concepts) with spiritual words.”[para] It's that revelation that came from God that's being spoken of in those passages. Man could not have known that with his own senses. It had to be revealed.
B. God's ways and thoughts are higher than man's ways and thoughts, even as the heaven is higher than the earth. When we consider that, the Bible says we marvel at God's infinite wisdom and knowledge that has been revealed to man for it is so much higher than ours.

1. Consider that God planned man's redemption when man was still in sin and unlovable by everyone but God, and in rebellion to God. Then we are amazed at God's amazing grace and His amazing mercy toward man.
2. We see that described in the Book of Romans 5:8-9 where the apostle Paul says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
3. And John 3:16, which says “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”. Yes, “give me that old time religion” that originated in the mind and the heart of God. Also give me that “old time religion” that centers in Jesus. He is the central part of the gospel.

C. We learned from Romans 1:1-5 that the gospel originated with God and it centers on Jesus Christ. There we're told that Jesus was born in the lineage of David, and He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.

1. In addition to these facts we are informed that the apostles were commissioned to proclaim that message, the good news, to all nations for the obedience of the faith. There's faith and obedience used together. This is the “old time religion” that should interest us. That's the one we want to advocate all of our days.
2. As we consider further, we want to ask for the “old time religion” that was revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, as we just read, searches all things, yeah, the deep things of God, and that He revealed to the apostles and prophets so we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
3. Some religions stress God the Father, other religions may stress Jesus the Son. Still others put more of their emphasis around the Holy Spirit. We want that “old time religion” from God's word that has all three of them in it. For all three are involved in our salvation and we dare not neglect any of them.

D. Also we want that “old time religion” which is found in the New Testament. The gospel is God's power to save and we're going to be judged by it. Nobody was ever saved without hearing the gospel, even if they testify that they were. Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Then in Romans 2:16 – “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” The gospel is what saves us, but we're also going to be judged by it. The Bible describes it as a two edged sword, doesn’t it? (Hebrews 4:12) It ought to behoove each one of us to seriously say, give me that “old time religion” that's found in the New Testament.

III. Give me that old time faith. That faith is something we need to consider as well. I’m thinking of the Hymn Faith of Our Fathers. We have learned that the word “faith” is used in different ways. It may be your belief in something or it may be that body of truth. We are to contend for the faith. That means we contend for the word of God.

A. The Bible tells us “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. We need to return to that old time faith that comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Notice it comes by hearing and not by feeling. A lot of people get that backwards. Peter said “… "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.” Acts 15:7.
B. How was faith established in the New Testament? Jesus said, “go and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned.” Hearing is of course implied there. Go preach the gospel and here's the response you're supposed to give. A person hears the gospel and they respond to what they hear… it is taught.

1. What happened when people gladly received the Word? The Bible says, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 2:41.
2. What happens when people don't gladly receive the word? They argue against baptism. They think of all the reasons why you don't need to be baptized, never mind that the people who gladly received the word were baptized. There’s a big difference in attitude there.
3. In Acts 8:35 the Bible says concerning Philip and the eunuch – “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” He opened his mouth, so there was speaking, and there was hearing. We've got to hear the Gospel.
4. In the cases of Lydia and the Philippian jailer and others, faith came as a result of preaching. We read that in Romans 10:14 where the apostle Paul, a preacher of righteousness, said, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” There had to be preaching, and there had to be a hearing.

C. If faith were a subjective thing, something that just comes from within by our own experiences, then there could be no unity of the faith, because everybody sees things differently, when apart from the Bible. Paul said, there is one faith, Ephesians 4:5.
D. The only way we can know Jesus is by knowledge of the Bible. Jesus said “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

IV. Not only the old time faith, but give me that old time obedience as well. When old time faith is established in the minds of people today, it ought to produce that same old time obedience that it did in the first century. We saw this is our study in Hebrews chapter 11. The Hebrew writer explained it referencing Old Testament examples. By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. He did it by faith. He heard what God said.

A. You can't do anything by faith without hearing, because faith comes by hearing. God had said something. We're not told what it was, but God had said something, or else Abel could not have offered it by faith. There's a necessary inference that we have to draw there that God spoke and Abel offered by faith, and Cain did not. One obeyed whatever it was that God said, the other one didn't.

1. By faith Noah, warned by God of things not yet seen was moved with fear, and prepared an ark. Again notice, he did something by faith once he heard what God said.
2. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. Hebrews 11:17. He did it by faith because God told him what to do. James 2:21 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?” All acts of conversion that are given in detail, each one of them, climaxed with the act of obedience, produced by faith, which came by hearing.
3. Numerous times we're told to be baptized to be saved, but not by baptism alone. Baptism is the culminating act that is preceded by genuine faith, and real repentance, and a godly confession, and then followed by the obedience of baptism to the Lord's command.
4. Not once in all of those cases where baptism is connected to remission of sins and salvation, not once did anybody ever argue that baptism is not essential to salvation—not once. We do not see anywhere in the Bible where anybody argued that it wasn't essential. There was a difference in attitude of people then and of people now toward the Word.

B. Failure to obey reflects a lack of faith. It's a lack of faith when people argue that obedience is unnecessary. Their problem is not really with baptism is it? It's with faith and their lack of it. They simply don't believe what the Lord said. They don't trust Him.

1. As we try to talk to people about God’s Word we find people that argue there's nothing to do, and they ridicule the idea of what we need to do. Yet the Bible says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.
2. It is always sad when we see people balk today. We don't see that so much in biblical times when people heard the gospel. Sad because we know “… in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Second Thessalonians 1:8.

V. Give me that old time righteousness. It doesn't end with obedience to the plan of salvation. We need to emphasize the righteousness that God reveals. “The conclusion of the whole matter is to fear God and keep His commandments.” Solomon said it plainly and it is still true.

A. That's taught in the New Testament as well. Ephesians 4 tells us of the new man in verse 24, “… that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

1. Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.”
2. Righteousness is involved. First Thessalonians 5:22 – “abstain from every form of evil”

B. It makes a difference how we live. There is one book in the Bible that is primarily telling us how to become Christians, and that's the Book of Acts. There are 21 books after that telling us how to live as Christians. It makes a difference how you live after you become a Christian. Otherwise we have just gone through the motions. We need to obey the gospel in view of living a certain way after our obedience. If nothing changes after our conversion, was it really conversion?
C. The popular attitude today seems to be, give me that Showtime religion. There are a lot of people that want that, and there are churches willing to offer it. Various churches are dismantling their pulpits and replacing them with a stage. New churches are starting up that way too. It's happening all over.

1. Today it's about performance and entertainment with religious flavoring thrown in. I suppose the religious flavoring is to salve the conscience or perhaps to give an operational advantage. Newspapers in many places contain advertisements, telling what is going on in some churches. There's a certain musical group that is going to be performing at a certain church here in town. They're not shy about using the word performance. It is a performance. It's entertainment. It ought to embarrass them, but they've lost their ability to blush.
2. I recently came across something called “101 ideas for better worship services”. I will only relate a few of these.

1. Schedule some unusual instrument for the special item--a harmonica, saw, musical bottles, etc. Have the performer tell how he or she happened to learn that instrument.
2. Have an entire family provide the musical item.
3. Try an "illustrated song." An artist can do a chalk drawing or sketch while the song is sung. Or slides can be shown on a screen.
4. Have a group of singers lead a rousing praise service, providing an item or two themselves.
5. Introduce the service with a brass fanfare. It really captures the attention.

D. Will they ever wake up? That’s not what it is all about. Will they ever see where their congregation is going? A lot of people have blinders on, they don't see it, and they'll go wherever it goes. The element of traditional worship and edification in song simply doesn't have a very high entertainment value today.

1. Ponder this, what is the church, the bride of Christ, here for? The church is not here to entertain… but to redeem. While worshippers may indirectly receive enjoyment from traditional worship, these services are largely designed to teach worshippers Bible truths through edification, training and offering homage unto God. I fear we have today a Showtime Religion.
2. Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.''” What does that imply? It implies that there are false worshippers. You wouldn't talk about true worshippers if there wasn't such a thing as false worship.
3. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must… not may, not can, but must… worship Him in spirit and in truth.

VI. Today we see mega churches, and there are quite a few of them across the country. How so? Look at how the Willow Creek Community Church got as big as they did—to 23,000 attendees in the 80’s and 90’s giving a blueprint for how to do a mega church. Prior to the founding of the church, Bill Hybels and his associates spent months surveying the neighborhoods around South Barrington, Ill, discovering what people liked and didn’t like about church, music, worship styles, and traditional religion. The result of their survey was a guide for what Willow Creek was going to look like. The plan worked, bringing in thousands of new attendees each week.

A. That's the formula for success, if you're thinking about worldly success. What the Lord wants was not a priority in those surveys. They did not believe they needed Bible authority for anything.
B. When folks want Showtime Religion, they're worshiping themselves and doing what pleases them. Along with that is the cry for what we sometimes call “feel good religion” featuring all sorts of activities trying to draw people in.

1. God only gave us one thing to draw people in, and that is Jesus. He said, “and if I be lifted up will draw all men unto myself”. He was talking about His death and about His manner of death. He was lifted up on the cross. That's the only thing the Lord gave us. Some people only see ugliness when they see the cross. When we sing the hymn The Old Rugged Cross, we see the beauty.
2. Because of that, we proclaim it still today. We're fighting a battle and the next generation is going to have a battle to fight as well. It's already underway. Whether we hold to the old paths, whether we teach the “old time religion” that's sought in the Bible, or whether we follow these new ideas that are unscriptural.

C. Why is the achievement of fun and good feelings a primary goal of modern worshippers? I suggest that one reason is we have not been taught what it really means to worship God. Secondly, I suspect, is that a lot of people today are addicted to entertainment.

1. Entertainment produces emotional stimulation. It's not fully our fault. I'm not saying it is. We just happen to have been born and reared in a society that is over stimulated through constant exposure to entertainment. American TV is devoted entirely to supplying its audience with entertainment. In many cases, it doesn't appeal to the intellect, but it's aimed largely at emotional stimulation. America is not alone in this of course.
2. Boredom with traditional worship becomes a spiritual problem, one that is formed by the modern worshipers’ passionate quest for entertainment. If we're going to give people what they want, we've got to turn worship into entertainment, and the work of the church then becomes entertainment. We end up worshiping ourselves.
3. Instead of viewing worship primarily as an occasion to give honor and glory and praise to God, the modern worshiper tends to view worship largely as an occasion to get something for them selves. It is difficult to get anyone to attend a meeting if the only attraction there is God. One can only conclude then, that God's professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to an assembly with a piece of candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.

D. Preachers point to attendance and say, but we're winning them. Winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross carrying? To self denial? To separation from the world? To holy living? To nobility of character, to loving one another? To a love for God, to total commitment to Christ? Of course, the answer to all of these is no.

1. Modern churches are constructed like theaters. Instead of a pulpit, the focus is on a stage. They are hiring full time media specialists, programming consultants, stage directors, drama coaches, special effects experts and choreographers.
2. I suppose the next title to appear will be Ministry of Programming.

E. And we're confronted today by the health and wealth Gospel, sometimes called the Prosperity Gospel. It's what we see on Primetime. Some people's attitude is, give me that “prime time religion”. This is a gospel which promises to its adherence, health and wealth, and is another gospel than that which was preached by Christ and the apostle. They preach today what they call Christianity, which promises the sick that they will be miraculously healed and the poor that they will be miraculously made rich. They promise that Christians will be the envy of the world because of the riches of God's temporal blessings on His children.

1. Where do they get that message? Certainly not from the Bible. The implication is that accepting their gospel will bring no suffering, no persecution.
2. In contrast, Jesus promised adversity to His saints. He said, “"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. "But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. "And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
3. Christ promised daily blessings, but He didn't promise material wealth or perfect health. He said, seek ye first the kingdom of God and these things shall be added unto you. He will take care of us. He will give us enough.

VII. Churches should rethink adopting this contemporary plan that we hear about today because;

A. Number one, it reinforces the modern worshippers’ man-centered, self-serving view of worship. True worship is in its very essence God centered and not man centered.

1. It means that worship must primarily be to God about God and for God, and even when teaching and admonishing one another, it is bringing glory to God in its purpose.
2. This will happen only when a person looks beyond their own personal taste and interest and focuses on God and His holiness and His power and wisdom. Unfortunately, as long as churches continue to emphasize a personal payoff, then they'll be unable to worship God.
3. A lot of churches have abandoned doctrine. They want to keep it light—nothing controversial from the world’s point of view. They want everybody to go home happy… We want people to go home happy too, but going home happy because they're following the Lord, not because they followed a plan that originated in the mind of man.

B. Number two, the contemporary plan tends to diminish the sense of awe and reverence that should be present in an encounter with God. Those who choose to come into His presence must do so with reverence and awe and godly fear. We must not enter the presence of God casually. We conduct ourselves as those who are fit for the gospel. The worship itself is our holy ground.
C. Satan made the argument that man has to be bribed to worship. Job proved him wrong. The contemporary plan generally reflects a lack of confidence in the power of the gospel. If a church believes, the contemporary plan is the only way, the church has clearly lost confidence in the power of the gospel itself. That belief is not simply unbiblical; it is anti biblical.


We need to continue to preach that same message that was given to us. I hope you'll go back to the Bible for the plan of salvation and look and see what people did when that first gospel sermon was preached on the day Pentecost, when they said, men and brethren, what shall we do?

Peter didn't say, there's nothing to do. He told them something to do; to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins in the name of Jesus Christ and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those who gladly received his word did so.

I hope you'll be among those people who gladly received the word, and you'll become a New Testament Christian like they did. Then you can truly say you have that “old time religion” that we need and find in the Bible.

If you're subject to our Lord's invitation today, will you please come as we stand and sing the song that's been selected for your encouragement?

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Reference Sermon by: Richard Blackford


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