Give Me That Old Time Religion

The years following my acceptance of Calvinism were generally peaceful and enjoyable. I only suffered from a few minor bouts of anxiety, none of which caused great concern. My interest in studying the Bible began to increase. Our pastor challenged us to major scriptural memorization, which I took on. I managed to memorize at least half of the book of Philippians. Also during this time, Jehovah’s Witnesses made regular visits to our house – truly an answered prayer. Many times I asked God to send Witnesses and/or Mormons to our house. The first time they knocked on our door, I gladly invited them inside.

Sometime shortly later, my friend Ray decided to contact a few of his Christian friends whom he viewed as open-minded. He sent us a teaching on the Pagan origins of Christmas and Easter. As you know, I already accepted this as historical fact; however no one in my circle, especially my husband, was bothered by it. After all, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:5, ”One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

I will not go into the various interpretations of this verse. That is for another post. But in this context it is being used to show God isn’t concerned with special days of the week or holidays.

Ray also sent links to Bible studies by Mark Biltz. Biltz pastors a Messianic synagogue in Tacoma Washington. There, the doctrines are centered around First Century Christianity – pre Rome, pre Constantine, pre Catholic Church. Just that old time religion.

The Messianic teachings brought me closer to God. I no longer felt alienated by my Sabbath conviction. I became a part of a virtual community of believers and followers of The Way (Acts 24:14).

Inevitably I became more and more concerned with celebrating Christmas. I no longer believed that Paul advocated such white-washed pagan acts of worship. Paul studied under Gamaliel which meant he knew the Torah backwards, forwards, inside, and out. He knew all the words written in Deuteronomy in which God dictated his own exclusive, unique, and eternal form of worship.

Deuteronomy 4:1-8
And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baal-peor, for the LORD your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the LORD your God are all alive today. See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

Deuteronomy 4:39-40
…know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time.

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

Deuteronomy 12:1-4
These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.

Furthermore, Jesus himself confirms that the Torah is to be kept forever, or at least as long as the earth exists. Matthew 5:17-20, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill* them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

*The Greek word here is pleero which means “to fill to the full,” or “to obey as it should be,” as well as “to perform or execute.”

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