"The Old Paths"
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a radio sermon prepared and delivered by Brother Choate.)
I direct your attention now to a statement made by Jeremiah as he was pleading with the people of Israel: "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."(Jer. 6:16). Please note the Lord's desire for his people, and the attitude expressed in relation to his request. God was pleading, through Jeremiah, for them to return to the old paths, but they replied, "We will not walk there in." Now you may reason, "Those, people were certainly rebellious." And yet, ask yourself this question: "Has man's attitude changed much?" I am sure that if you are, honest you will answer in the negative. Why, think about it! The Lord is still pleading with man to return to the "old paths," but the answer comes loud and clear, "We will not walk therein." Because of man's rebellion down through the ages, he is where he is now: in a lost condition.
In times past many have heard the Lord's will, and at the same time, have rejected it. But what is the Lord going to do about it? Is he going to become disgusted with man and give up? The answer is no, inasmuch as he is long-suffering, for Peter declares: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). Since we are to have the spirit of Christ, we must be as determined, and continually plead for man to return to the old paths.
You may want to know: "What is meant by the Old Paths?" This is simply a term which describes God's ways. Many have wandered off after man. Hence, to plead for the old paths is only to plead for man to return to God's way of doing things. Of course, one can't be popular with man if he makes such a decision and sticks to it. Neither will he be able to follow his opinions, or the opinions of others, when it comes to matters pertaining to religion, but if one loves the Lord he will put him first in everything.
Friends, I am pleading with you to return to Christ as the way, the one and only way. Of course, we hear many people saying that there are many ways, that one way is just as good as another. But what does the Lord have to say about this matter? "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the lif e: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6). Now who is the way? Christ himself. But how many ways are there? Just one. No, he does -not talk about ways, one of the ways, a way, or any thing of the kind. The Lord simply says: "I am the way." Friends, I believe what the Lord had to say about the matter. Do you?
I am pleading with you to return to the gospel of Christ. I am making this plea inasmuch as the majority of people have left the truth of this subject. The gospel has been perverted time and time again, and therefore I say: come back to the gospel that Paul speaks of in writing to the Romans: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Rom. 1:16). Now Paul says that the gospel "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." But what gospel was Paul talking about? The gospel of the great commission, where the Lord said to the apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mk. 16:15,16). Now friends, this is the gospel that is to be preached, and this is the gospel that one must obey in order to be saved. You know, I am just old fashion enough to believe that the Lord meant what he said. What about you?
In relation to the commands of the gospel I am pleading with you to return to the Bible for the truth about repentance. I am making such a plea because the average person thinks of repentance from the standpoint of only feeling sorry for those sins which have been committed. But the Bible teaches that repentance is a complete turning away from sin. In 2 Cor. 7:9,10, Paul says: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation." Christ says: "Except ye repent ye shall perish." (Lk. 13:3). What is it Lord? "Why I say you must repent or perish." In other words, we have a choice. We can repent and live, or fail to repent and perish.
While we are talking of the commands of the gospel, I want to plead with you to accept Bible baptism. You know as well as I do that the average preacher will tell you that baptism isn't important, that one can be saved without it. But what does the Bible say about this? Why Peter says that one, must be baptized to receive the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38). Peter also tells us that baptism saves. (I Pet. 3:21). Then we read where Saul was baptized for the purpos of weashing away his sins. (Acts 22:16). And as we have already quoted, Christ says: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mk. 16:16). Hence, baptism is important. As a matter of fact, baptism is so important that one MUST be baptized in order to be saved. No, I am not saying that baptism only saves, but I am stressing the fact that the Bible teaches that one must be, baptized to be saved from his past sins. Of course, you may reject what the Bible says on the subject, but if you believe God you will have to admit that baptism is essential to salvation.
Along this same line I am pleading with you to accept the one baptism of the Bible. Some talk about sprinkling as being baptism, and others talk about pouring as being baptism. But did you know that neither sprinkling or pouring is real baptism, and that they are not scriptural? Why bless your heart, sprinkling is sprinkling and pouring is pouring, but neither one is scriptural baptism. Baptism is a burial, and in order to be scripturally baptized one must be buried in the water. We have this truth exemplified in the case of the eunuch being baptized. (Acts 8). Furthermore, the apostle Paul says: "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." (Col. 2:12). Friends, for the amount of good it will do, you might as well shake your fist at God as to have some water sprinkled or poured on your head. But if you want to show your respect for him and his will, have enough faith in him to be immersed in water, to come forth from the watery grave to walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6).
Friends, I am pleading with you to return to the one church of the Bible. The world as a whole has gotten so far away from the Bible that when an individual mentions "the church" everyone automatically thinks of some denominational body. But when I speak of the church of the Bible, I have reference to the church which Christ promised to establish and that church which was built on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 33. (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2). But how many did the Lord establish? Only one. That's exactly right. Paul, in speaking of the church as a body, says: "There is one body." (Eph. 4:4). Now you may go on bowing down to these man-made bodies and organizations if you want to, but the day is coming in which you will have to answer for it. Of course, many would have you believe that the church is not important, but that is a lie. The very fact Christ established the church is proof enough that you must be a member of it to be saved. In connection with this read Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:23.
I am pleading with you to return to the Bible for the scriptural name. Some say the name is not important, but I deny that. Why? Because I read that salvation is in a name, the name of Christ. Listen: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12). What is it? Salvation is in the Lord's name. Hence, as the Lord's people we are to wear the name of Christ, both collectively and individually. In other words, we must be members of that church which wears the name of Christ, not only so, but as individuals we are to wear the name Christian. (Rom. 16:16; 1 Pet. 4:16). What about, you? Are you wearing the name of Christ, and the name of Christ only? If you are not, I am pleading with you to return to the Bible for the scriptural name.
I am further pleading with you to return to the Bible for true worship. Yes, there are many kinds of worship, and I realize that there are those who propogate the doctrine that it doesn't matter how you worship just so long as you are honest and sincere, but friends I am denying all of that with this plea for you to return to the Bible for true worship. Christ says: "God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24). Friends, Christ says that we MUST worship this way, that is if we are to please God. But what does true worship demand? That we assemble each first day of the week for the purpose of singing, praying, studying, partaking of the Lord's Supper, and giving as we have been prospered. (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Eph. 5:19; Acts 2:42). Now this is true worship. Be not deceived; return to God's will for the scriptural plan of worship.
Friends, even as the prophet of God in the long ago was pleading with God's people to return to the old paths, I am pleading with you to return to a "thus saith the Lord" in all that you do and say in the name of religion. Not only am I encouraging you to return to the old paths, but the same is true of every faithful gospel preacher, and yea, of every faithful member of the Lord's church. We want to see you saved, but the only way this can be accomplished is for you to heed the advice given, and return to God's way of doing things. In closing, I say along with John: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Rev. 22:14).
Truth Magazine II:1, pp. 1, 16-17