"New and Improved!" "New Super Giant Extra Maximum King Size!" "Fresher Than the Leading Competitor!" Soon marketers will have to create new words in order to grab our attention and sell their products. Hopefully, we can see beyond the hype and investigate their claims for ourselves.
We seem to have a fetish for, or at the least, a passing interest in, anything that's new. Newness indicates betterness. Politicians promise a new way of doing things in Washington. Detergent makers have a new way to make clothes cleaner in the washing machine. And each new religion promises a new way to wash sins away, usually by either ritual or pretending they don't exist.
Like mushrooms in the spring, new religions and isms pop up seemingly overnight. Even among Evangelicals, new ways of "doing church" propel authors up the bestseller lists with astonishing regularity. Like the loaves and fishes, books revealing the "real" Jesus, based on the newest research, multiply on our talk shows.
"New" isn't always better. Something that is well-preserved may not be new, but it can be fresh. Mummified seeds, hundreds of years old, have been found that can still germinate. God's Word, thousands of years old, is still able to bring a soul to life. "Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21, NKJV).
"Give Me That Old Time Religion" is a simple, classic song. Here are some lines from it:
Give me that old time religion
And it's good enough for me.
It was good for our mothers
Makes me love everybody
It has saved our fathers
It will do when I am dying
It will take us all to heaven
Tis the old time religion
And it's good enough for me.
Just what is this "old time religion"? Many will lay claim to it, but despite the Leading Competitors, there is only one Original that cannot be improved upon, and it's found in the Bible.
The Bible begins with, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). You can't go any farther back than that! This same Bible ends with the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21, 22). You can't get any newer than that! The Bible is 100% accurate. You can't improve on that!
The old time religion follows an unbroken line that extends from eternity to eternity, from Adam through Noah through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, through Ruth, David, Solomon, the prophets and apostles, the church, and the new heavens and earth. It is not Catholic, Protestant, Anabaptist, Islamic or Jewish. It has gone by many names and no names, but all who have had faith in God as He revealed His will have been part of the old time religion. In this day and age, "[God's] will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and [Christ] will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).
It was good for our mothers: "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also" (2 Timothy 2:15).
It makes me love everybody: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else" (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
It has saved our fathers: "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning" (1 John 2:13).
It will do when I am dying: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them'" (Revelation 14:13).
It will take us all to heaven: "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:18).
Tis the old time religion: "You, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name" (Isaiah 63:16).
And it's good enough for me: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).
I cringe when I hear that someone has a new explanation of the Bible. I roll my eyes when someone has discovered something new about the "real" Jesus. I'm glad I wasn't around when "new" holy books were discovered. I fear for believers today who are calling for fresh, new interpretations of the Word. Christian media has latched on to the words "new" and "fresh" to promote their latest books and broadcasts. Be careful! "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20, NKJV). When it comes to theology, "if it's new, it ain't true" and vice versa.
Give me that old time religion!
Alan is a freelance devotional writer for Lifestyles Over 50 and the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also the Peer-less Reviewer (General Editor) for Bridgeway Homeschool Academy in Catasauqua, PA, a Christian homeschool academy. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology.
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