Religious Practice in the Bible?
I have probably always had an inquisitive mind. I like to know how things work, why things are the way they are, and what is the evidence for it?
When I was about 15, I started asking religious questions:
Why do we have acolytes?
Why do we observe lent?
Why do we light an advent wreath?
Why do we recite the Apostles’ Creed that mentions believing in the “holy catholic church”?
Why do we say the Lord’s prayer every Sunday?
Why do we only take the Lord’s Supper once per quarter?
What exactly is a benediction?
In high school I wrote a research paper to address some of these questions, and I discovered many of the traditions were traditions “borrowed” from the Catholics. (I actually still have this paper…but given that it was written in high school, it will stay neatly “tucked away.”)
These initial questions led to even more questions. Oftentimes, when I asked adults why we did certain things, the answer I received was something like, “Well that’s just the way we’ve always done it” or “That’s just our tradition.” I knew these people were sincere—but I also recognized most had little or no knowledge of why they did what they did.
My journey for answers continued, because I knew “traditions” had to be based on something. Traditions don’t just arrive out of thin air. And so, I continued to dig. I wanted to know what was the origin and true meaning of these traditions. For instance, why did preachers in this denomination wear robes and stoles? What purpose did that serve? Add to this, the massive confusion I had regarding other denominations. Why so many?
Every week when I was a child we would drive past all of these various denominations, and I remember feeling this air of superiority, thinking: “Our denomination is better than theirs.” But I knew deep down I didn’t know “why.” For years, something was eating inside me—desperate for the Truth. I wanted to know why are there so many different religious groups if Jesus founded only one? (Matthew 16:18). And, if we really are all Christians, why can’t we get along?
I ended up doing another research paper in college to try and find the answer to this, only to discover most religions were founded by men who sought to change something. Where was the unity Jesus prayed for in the Bible? And why were all these different denominations doing things that are not even mentioned in the Bible?
Eventually, two things happened that forever changed my life. I discovered that God’s Word was inspired—God breathed—and therefore authoritative. I realized that “Truth” is found only in God’s Word (John 17:17). And second, I was led to a man who walked me through the book of Acts and showed me that there really is a New Testament church.
It was like having scales come off my eyes. I finally found the thing I was searching for. I had finally discovered a body of people simply observing things they read about in God’s Word. If you find yourself asking, “Why do we…,” keep asking and keep digging. Don’t accept the answer: “Well, that’s just tradition” or “That’s just the way we have always done it.” The Truth is out there, and your soul will likely not rest or feel at ease until you find it.
Oh yeah, and if I can help walk you through the book of Acts, please send me a private message. I’ll be happy to help remove your scales.