MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (August 30, 2021)

I heard a story once about a young bride who, on the very first Thanksgiving with her new husband, prepared to cook a ham for their dinner. Much to the new husband’s surprise, before putting it into the pan, she took a knife and cut both ends off the ham! He asked her why she did that, and her response was, “Because my mother did it this way.” However, when questioned further, she couldn’t give a deeper explanation for why her mother had done it that way, but declared, “I’m sure it must be very important to the proper cooking of the ham!”

So the bride called her mother and asked about this practice, and the mother said, “I really don’t know; I do it because MY mother (your grandmother) did it that way, but I’m sure it must be very important to the proper cooking of the ham!” So the two of them decided to get to the bottom of the practice, and called the grandmother together and asked her why she cut off the ends of the ham. “Grandma,” they asked, “You have always cut off the ends of the ham before putting in the pan, so we know it must be very important to the proper cooking of the ham that we do this; but we wondered if you could tell us why?” The grandmother chuckled, and said, “Girls, the reason I cut off the ends of the ham before placing it in the pan to cook is because my pan is too small for the whole ham to fit!”

I’m afraid in the modern church we sometimes follow blindly the practices that previous generations implemented without analyzing the biblical basis for these traditions. In Mark 7:1-5, we see the Pharisees questioning Jesus’ disciples as to their hand-washing practices, criticizing them for not following “the tradition of the elders.” (Mark 7:5). Jesus took them to task, however, condemning their attitudes: Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howenbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:6-7).

Jesus went on to excoriate them for neglecting the weightier matters of the Law, such as honoring your father and mother, in favor of meticulously following minor practices implemented by men. He actually says that they have made “the word of God of none effect through [their] traditions.” (Mark 7:13). In other words, you diligently follow traditions that have no basis in the word of God, while you neglect to do the things God has clearly commanded in His word!

Are we sometimes like these Pharisees? Are there traditions in our churches that, while they may be longstanding practices, nonetheless have no basis in the word of God? Just because grandaddy or grandmother did things this way, does not mean they are doing it the correct way!

In the church of God, our only standard of preaching and practice should be the Bible. I am aware of many Baptist churches across the country whose original articles of faith were based on the truths of salvation by grace, and whose practice once was almost identical to that of the First Century church, but which now bear no resemblance to the New Testament worship of the early Christians. Practices that are traditions of men have crept in: age-segregated worship, concerts instead of congregational singing, and preaching of a “gospel” that is focused upon the sinner instead of the Savior. Several generations may have tolerated these kinds of errors in doctrine and practice, but they have no foundation in the word of God!

I am thankful that old school Primitive Baptist churches today still hold to the simple worship and simple message that the First Century church adhered to: preaching the truth, praying, and singing in congregational unity. Zion Primitive Baptist Church – the church I pastor – was constituted in 1847, and the original Articles of Faith remain the Articles of Faith for us today! We STILL believe and preach the same thing they believed and preached in 1847!

But even so, the Articles of Faith of 1847 aren’t the standard by which we measure our church belief and practice: rather, the word of God must be our foundation! I thank God that those dear saints who constituted this church back then looked to the Bible for their foundation as well. And that is why we can still adhere to them today!

Don’t cut the ends of the ham just because mama and grandmother did it! Rather, look to the truth of God’s word, and seek out the old paths wherein is the good way. (Jer. 6:6).

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor