What Happened to the Old-Fashion Religion?
This past Sunday millions of people who profess to be followers of Christ met at their respective places of worship. In light of the early body of believers, their worship, their practice of holy living, their evangelistic spirit and the results afforded them by a sovereign God, the question of a necessity would arise, “Where is the faith once delivered to the saints?” What has happened over the period of 2000 plus years that brings us to the sad period that we now see in the professed body of Christ? What happened to the old-fashion religion?
I do not mean the old fashion religion of the past few hundred years, but, rather the real old-fashion religion, the only true worship of God, that was enjoyed and practiced by the Christians of the apostolic period following the life of the incarnate Christ, His death, resurrection and exultation on the throne of God to await the consummation of the kingdom of God. I refer to the period after Pentecost in which the Ekklesia of Christ was empowered to carry out His commission in the world.
I read about the people of God in those days and cannot help but see a startling difference. In the book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 41 through 47 there is an account of the real forefathers of the Lord’s Ekklesia. On the day of Pentecost about three thousand people were brought into the body of Christ and the immediate action of these souls is described in the words, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” We are told of a wonderful love and union of these believers. We are also told of the kinds of lives they lived, the energetic spirit that propelled them into the world to tell of the grace of God manifest through the crucified but risen Christ. We are also told how God blessed them in “…adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” This was going on in spite of the same kind of hostility that prevails in our modern world. So what happened in the two thousand years since?
Do you have any doubt that if those dear souls or the Apostles were to return and visit most of the worship services, see the practice of the present professors of Christ, and our present lack of zeal to preach the pure Gospel which the Apostles preached, that they would be shocked beyond words? Do you have any doubt that the apostle Paul would stand and condemn the modern concepts of ‘worship, practice and service’ with the same zeal as Amos of the Old Testament? Amos was commissioned to preach to Israel, the northern kingdom. He descended on them like a wolf on a flock and condemned them for their lawlessness and greed; lawlessness and greed that deprived them of any desire to worship, serve or practice as God had commanded. Their judgment was pronounced in the phrase, “For three transgressions, yes, for four, I will not turn it back.” How awesome that word ‘it’ is! It expressed the awful wrath of God against those who oppose Him.
Today, the worship, so-called, is too much like the worship of Amos’ day (see Amos 8:4-6). What a contrast to the worship of the early Christians. The Christians of the apostolic period were not enamored with statistics but with being a party to the mighty work of God. They were not interested in entertainment but in the preached Word of God. The modern professed body of believers are more interested that the preaching be accommodating to the whims and practices of their everyday lives. The Christians of the earlier period were concerned that their lives met the standards as taught by the Apostles of Christ. The worship, life-styles and evangelistic spirit of the early Christians was such that it both astonished the heathen world and at the same time angered them, to the point of putting the Christians to death as ‘athiests.’ These early Christians worshipped the one and only true God; the Creator of all things, as He is manifest in and through the person of Jesus Christ. These early Christians were not pragmatists, doing whatever works, but were bound to the teaching of the Word of God. The Bible, not man, was their rule of faith and practice. You may fill up the space of the houses of worship by satisfying the desires of the people, but you will never add one person to the ekklesia of Christ using the methods and tactics of the world. The world offers only a bowl of beans, a cheap substitute for the grace of God.
When the worship of the local body of professed believers is little more than a theatrical performance or that of a circus we can never expect the blessings of God. The word ‘Ichabod’, (the glory has departed) is written on the door of thousands of so-called churches. The responsibility of the Ekklesia of Christ is to give the people what they need, not what they want. When the teachings of the Apostles is preached and practiced, then the Ekklesia will know the power experienced by the early Christians. They will also know the resultant blessings of God in seeing the lost sheep being saved.
So what happened to the old-fashion religion practiced by the Christians of the Apostolic age? Today, the professing church has failed to understand and heed the warning of Christ when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”