By Robert Religion
I don’t like this new-fangled religion that focuses on selfish desires rather than God and His will. I don’t like this make-believe church that has “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…” (Romans 1:23, 25) I just don’t like this contemporary religion that says, “Prophesy to us smooth things. Tell us things that allow us to serve our own desires rather than His.” I don’t like this mythical “Christianity” that prays, “Not thy will but mine be done.” As for me – Give me that old time religion! That religion that still focuses on Him and His worthiness!
“It makes me love everybody.”
John said, “Every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” (I John 5:1) We will never be able to truly “esteem others better than ourselves” until we first truly “esteem Him better than ourselves.” It is literally impossible for us to obey the second greatest commandment to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” until we first obey the greatest of all commands which is to “love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.” This “agape” love we are to have for one another is only attainable as it is “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 5:5) Right relationship with one another can only flow from right relationship with Him. We cannot do this in our own strength! “The fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22) “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us…If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar…” (I John 4:12, 20) He is a liar because that is impossible. If one truly loves God and puts Him first, the fruit of that intimate relationship will be the love of God being shed abroad and perfected in his heart. As Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If God were your Father, ye would love me…” (John 8:42)
Again, John wrote, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning…” (I John 2:7) That’s what I desire! I want that old time, “from the beginning”, religion that makes me love everybody!
“It was good for Paul and Silas…”
Paul wrote that “the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: …he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh… if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ” (II Corinthians 5:9, 14-17) Here Paul was describing the great change that had come over him since he had started reciprocating back to God that great love the Lord had for him. He confessed, “I’m a changed man! I’m no longer that self-serving, arrogant and egotistical guy I used to be. When I truly started putting Jesus first in my life, something dramatic happened to me. I literally became a new creation, a new man. Since I’ve made it my sole goal to please Him, I no longer look at others the way I used to. Now I truly love them and want to see them all reconciled to God. When I put Him first in my life it resulted in my desire to also put others before myself.”
This was a big part of the success of the ministry of the Early Church and of Paul in particular. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. (Acts 16:25-28) When Paul and Silas kept their primary focus on the Lord and His worthiness it resulted in their being able to truly love this jailer who had so despitefully abused them. As a direct result of their intense and steadfast love for God, this prison guard and his entire family were saved. I like that! What I don’t like is this new-fangled religion that focuses on love of self. As for me, give me that old-time religion. It was good for Paul and Silas! And it’s good enough for me!
“It will take us all to heaven…”
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:15-17) In God’s view, to “hate” one’s brother simply means to prefer oneself before him. This violation of God’s love is certain evidence that the Lord is not first in our lives and thus will preclude our attaining eternal life. But when we obey the first and great commandment and love God with all of our hearts and when we truly seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and prove our love by our faithful and obedient choices in regards to prayer, fasting, faithfulness to church, etc. the results will be phenomenal. When we simplify and narrow our focus to truly loving and pleasing Him – everything else in His will – will fall into place. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
The old song, “Give Me that Old Time Religion,” illustrates well God’s will for His people. When I truly love Him and give Him Lordship of my life, it will result in my becoming like Jesus. “It will make me love everybody.” Further, it will make us effective in what God has called us to do – like those of the Early Church era. “It was good for Paul and Silas.” It worked for them and it will work for us. And, finally, we cannot and will not be saved unless we lay this to heart and live it out. For only by our loving obedience to His will and Word will we be prepared when He soon returns for His church. Only this Bible-based old time religion “will take us all to heaven!” So – give me that old time religion! It’s good enough for me!
From, “Indiana Apostolic Trumpet”/June 2009/ Page 3, by Robert Stroup