Summary: Why we do the things we do in church, and the lessons we have learned from certain traditions.
LOOKING AT TRADITIONS
The other day I ran into a Scripture that I had not seen before. Paul is describing the things that led him to faith in Jesus Christ. As he describes his religious background, he includes the traditions that he observed.
And “I” profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14).
There are many traditions in our churches—things that we do—that become influential in our salvation.
Today I want to instruct the young about the traditions in our church. I want them to know why we do the things we have done, and I want them to learn some of the lessons we have learned from some of these traditions. Many of the young people (a) don’t appreciate what we do, (b) won’t do what we have done, and (c) don’t understand why we do what we do. I want to use the phrase, “Traditions,” to preach Christ to you.
Now this is an unusual sermon, because most Baptists do not put much stock in traditions. I appreciate the Presbyterians with their great worship traditions, and I appreciate many other traditions, but we Baptists do have some traditions.
I. DRESSING UP TO COME TO CHURCH
There was a day when our generation was taught that Saturday night was the time to take your bath to get ready for church the next morning. Easter was a time to buy new church clothes so we could wear them to church the rest of the year. Sunday morning was a time when we wore our best clothes to church. A saved man who works in construction will buy one or two suits and wear them to church. That’s why women will get a “Sunday goin’ to meetin’” dress, especially for church.
A. THE DAY OF CASUAL WEAR.
We see our emphasis going to casual wear. Many of our executives no longer wear a suit and tie to work. That’s all right, and each business must make its own rules and create its own traditions. Even at Liberty, we have dropped the “tie rule” for classes and Chapel. The main reason we did it was for recruitment, we didn’t want the tie as a barrier for reaching some great potential young people who didn’t understand our tie rule, and didn’t understand what Liberty could do for them.
A. B. BIBLICAL REASONS WHY WE DRESS UP
1. When God was first organizing His people into a nation to follow Him, He invited them to come to Mt. Sinai. God wanted His people to be respectful, clean, and reverent when they came to Him. So, “the Lord God said unto Moses, Go unto the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes and be ready against the third day” (Exodus 19:10-11). Since God is holy and pure, He wanted His people to be as holy and pure as possible when they came to Him. So, they had to wash their clothes, i.e., the Saturday night bath.
CLEAN ON THE OUTSIDE REFLECTS CLEAN
ON THE INSIDE
2. Reverence is reflected in your clothing.
If you are going to see the President of the United States, you would wear your best clothing, and you would make sure that you are clean and proper. Where else would you make sure that you are clean and dressed up?
• On a job interview
• Before a trial judge
• On your first date
• At your wedding ceremony
3. Clothes make a man.
I couldn’t say that clothes make a person, because I found out over the years running camps, leading all type of Christian organizations; that it’s the inner man that makes the difference. But we hear the phrase, “Clothes make the man.” What does that mean? First, the inner man usually reflects his character and excellence by his outer clothes. But in a second step, when you dress up a young person, he will usually act according to the clothes he wears. But not always. Put a tuxedo on a little kid in a wedding, and he still will play and get it dirty.
4. Four rules about clothes.
#1. God accepts you no matter what you wear. God doesn’t look at your clothes, He looks at the sincerity of your heart. Thomas Road Baptist Church will have their doors open to anyone, regardless of what they wear and regardless of how clean they are. The house of God should be open to any and all. However, if you are a child of God, I expect higher standards of you.
#2. Filthy rags are a picture of our lostness, sins, and alienation from God. “All our righteous are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). This means that none of our good works can do anything to save us. No matter how good, it is not good enough for God.