How often have we heard within the Independent Baptist world the claim that we are on “the old paths”? Or better yet, have often do we hear of sermons on
Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
in periodicals or at conferences? No matter the preacher, the sermon is usually the same. We must stick to “the old paths.” Since that is a verse of Scripture, that verse, of course, must mean something we ought to know. My question is simple. Could the passage given in the time of Jeremiah mean what we are told it does? Are we hearing a reasonable application of the text?
Well, what are we often told it means? After the admonition to stay on “the old paths”, we are given a list of points to define the old path. The list rarely varies from things like worship styles, or shouting, or clothes, or music, or acceptable entertainment. Strangely, the great fundamental doctrines, except maybe the Blood and the Book, are never mentioned, just these peripheral things. Are we only defined by these things? Are these things what Independent Baptists now are? Sadly, some are starting to think that very thing of us as we become just a caricature instead of what we should be for Jesus Christ.
If this weren’t bad enough, these “old paths” aren’t that old! If you look closely, they resemble the 1950s. In that I have known several people in my life that were pre-1950s, I find it a little laughable that I am asked to follow these “old” ways. If you don’t believe me, just find some pictures from the 1950s and see the resemblance! How did that time period become the standard? How did it become tantamount to the old paths of the Bible?
Do you suppose Jesus might be the better standard to determine “the old paths”? I mean He is both the Ancient of Days and the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Did you know that He often had the charge, in one form or another, leveled at him that He didn’t follow “the old paths”? Those “old paths” of Sabbath regulations, or tithing of something as small as little herbs, or hand washing regulations, and on and on, enraged many against Christ. He ignored them as you would a fly on the wall.
He followed something better, something far older, something truly timeless–His revealed Word. Nothing hatched later and passed off as His Word would ever detract Him from following the real “old paths.” No matter what anyone else says, I think it is time we follow these old paths of love, redemption, truth, and grace. This is “the good way”. This is the way we should walk. This is where we will “find rest for (our) souls”.
Those other paths? While they are called “the old paths”, we find they are at best a detour. Despite what we are told, they will not take us anywhere desirable to go. Even if you want to argue they aren’t actually bad, just remember they won’t take us where we desperately need to go–the arms of Jesus Christ.
I want “the old paths”! I want nothing less than “the old paths”! I just don’t want someone to switch the signs and find we are on the wrong path after all. In many cases in our Independent Baptist world, the signs have been switched. I appeal to you today to look at Jesus, to what His Word actually says, and ask for those “old paths”, and start walking today!
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14 thoughts on “Jesus And The Old Paths (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #4)”
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Spot-on as usual. This series has been a great encouragement to me, as it clearly delineates my thoughts in a far more eloquent manner than I could do it. Keep them coming!
Thanks Marc! You encourage me my friend!
Exactly! The “old paths” that many follow are not OLD ENOUGH. We need to go back 2,000 years, not just 60 or 70. Too often people rally around traditions established within the last 200 years instead of rallying around a timeless and ever relative Jesus Christ. He is what people are starving for.
I grew up in the ABA. Pretty much the same, except this crew is called “Landmark” Baptists in their circles. I appreciate the values, primacy of scripture, timeless lyrics of the hymns, and the sense of community.
But you’ve rightly shed light on the more absurd traditions.
Nowadays they emulate what progressives call the hateful right. It’s the judgmental tone they express their preferences with that turns so many off. The sad thing is, they fall for the same traps of the Pharisees.
Reminds me of a quote, “Sacred cows make the best steaks!”
Mike, I did not realize you had that background. Love your quote!
Amen, amen and amen! Got excited reading this. There is so much power in HIS Word. So thankful for It. Why do we feel like we have a right to add to His precious Word? Knowing HIM, His Word, and His way is what changes us, transforms us — NOT my own philosophy. I think adding our own philosophy is only showing our lack of faith in the transforming power of God’s Word. Thank you so much for sharing this. Such a blessing.
Thanks for your encouraging words!
Great article! This rhetoric is used to justify the criticizing of many who are our brothers in arms!
Thanks! That is exactly what makes it such a problem!
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Just a few verses down God says
“What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,
or sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,
nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.”
The people were being delivered from a long time of bondage. They had been living in Babylon, having been away from the Promised Land and the Temple for 70 years. Part of the reason they were sent into captivity in the first place was because of their rebellion, forsaking the covenant and the law. Not only that, but we see above that they started thinking they had better ideas of how to worship. They wanted to replace what God DID ask for with what God did NOT ask for. God finds no pleasure in our own ways if our ways are replacing His ways, and that is exactly what we find the Pharisees doing, replacing God’s law with their own requirements, and you also see it on the other side with some modern contemporary methods employing, not necessarily the drums and the lights, but rather the pursuit to manipulate worship and conviction. God would have our hearts before our hands. Do you want to incorporate drums? Ok, but do not do so to try to manipulate worship because you’ll end up with a false worship. Do you want to only sign hymns? Ok, but don’t trust that in doing so you’re gaining your own purity, since all the purity we need need to gain God’s approval is gained by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Just a couple examples. The point is, you can replace what God does ask for with what He doesn’t ask for on both the conservative AND contemporary side. Like this article points out, it is important that we trace everything back to the pure revealed Word and not treat our ideas that are loosely based on Scriptural implication as though it is the revealed Word.
That is the most important distinction.