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. (Romans 1:16)
Give Me That Old Time Religion
Charles Tillman first published a popular gospel song in 1873: “Give me that old-time religion.” It was taken from a negro spiritual he had heard and became very popular among gospel groups. The tune is very pleasing and expresses a fond sentiment of familial bonding with the mother’s beliefs. Subsequent versions have included the father and sister and “me” as old-time religion. Musically, the song is enjoyable. Sadly, the eternal sentiment is a pattern many have followed to their destruction.
The gospel is the power of God to salvation. Throughout the writings of the New Testament, the Holy Spirit has shown the importance of obeying the will of the Father. The three thousand on Pentecost that were baptized for the remission of their sins challenged the faith of their fathers. As devout Jews, they made a bold stand to accept the guilt of killing the Messiah, the Son of God. Peter showed that the prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He pointed the devout Jews to believe something their fathers denied. A month and a half before Peter preached his sermon, the Jews took the man from Nazareth and killed Him. Now he demanded repentance.
There were thousands upon thousands of Jews in Jerusalem when Peter preached his sermon. Three thousand obeyed the gospel, but many thousands did not. There are many reasons why a man would refuse to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. One reason is that the ‘old-time religion’ was good enough for them. They were not going to give up the religion of their ancestors. The early church faced persecution from the Jews who held tightly to their ‘old-time religion,’ refusing to change their ways.
It saddens the heart to hear of those today who refuse to accept the teaching of scripture because of the ‘old-time religion’ of their parents and grandparents. There is a deep bond shared in the family unit, but that relationship can never measure the bond one has with the word of God. Parents can be wrong. Grandparents can be wrong. If they held to a doctrine against the will of God, it should not determine how a person lives their life. Holding the religious beliefs of anyone does a disservice to the word of God. Many Christians in the early church had to turn away from their families to serve the Lord. What did the parents and grandparents of Saul of Tarsus think when he began to preach Christ crucified? Saul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew the power of salvation was in the word, not in the family.
Jesus died to bring all men to the Father. He shed His blood to redeem the lost. Through the Holy Spirit, the word is given to know the one way, the one truth, and the one life. It is important to carry on the legacy of parents and grandparents. The religion of my parents cannot measure the value of a soul. Love for God must override our love for family. My parents’ religion should never be good enough for me. The gospel of Jesus Christ must be the only ‘religion’ that is good enough for me. Jesus died to save my soul. That faith is rooted in Him, not in parents and grandparents. When someone claims to hold fast to the religion of their parents or grandparents, they take hold of an empty promise. If they are wrong, we will be wrong – for eternity.