By John Steele Gordon Christmas famously "comes but once a year." In fact, however, it comes twice. The Christmas of the Nativity, the manger and Christ child, the wise men and the star of Bethlehem, "Silent Night" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is one holiday. The Christmas of parties, Santa Claus, evergreens, presents, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Jingle Bells" is quite another.
When Ray Kroc purchased the McDonald brothers’ restaurants he also received the recipes for their most popular items. At the head of the list was McDonald’s French fries.
From the beginning McDonald’s had used only fresh potatoes. Mr. Kroc then taught his managers and employees to follow those recipes exactly. He taught them how to correctly operate the peelers, how to wash and cut the potatoes and to blanch them just so. They would be stored in the cooler until orders came in. Only then did they go into a fryer and immediately out to the customers. The fries were only allowed to stay on a warming table for no more than two minutes. McDonald’s continued doing their signature fries this way until the nineteen nineties. They were widely known as the place to go for fries.
Mr. Kroc died in nineteen eighty-four, and so McDonald’s early days are gone. Those original recipes are gone too, long lost in corporate cost cutting. But there are a few souls around who remember the difference between the original and what you get now. When I was a teenager we would drive from near Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami up to the edge of Carol City in North Miami just to buy some fries at the only McDonald’s in Dade County. There was no substitute.
The same could be said of the Whoppers made at the original Burger King on NW 36th Street. There was simply no match by price or quality. That recipe is gone too. And (sorry!) the Whopper I bought at the original Burger King is not the same as the one I buy now.
But more important things have happened than the changing of burger and fries’ recipes.
Do you know what else is gone?
One important thing is respect for the original recipe for becoming and being known as a Christian. The recipe as it is found in the Word of God.
Oh I know there are a few souls out there who will say the original was lost a long time ago in mistranslations and abridgements from language to language, time over time. And the rest will say what difference does it make? Maybe we’re smarter now than were our ancestors? But maybe we’re just too smart for our own good.
All the text of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, have long been recognized as the best preserved of any works from any place, society or time. That is a considerable complement to the oldest volume known to mankind. The wording and text for the New Testament has been continuously compared by religious scholars and linguists through the thousands of miniscule copies (those with no capitalization, and often an incomplete text) to Codex versions (those capitalized and occasionally a full text). And many fragments of the New Testament date back to the last quarter of the first century Anno Domini. No other volume has as long of an unbroken trace back through time. In fact, no text of any type anywhere has a provenance or pedigree anywhere close. And the Old Testament that was often quoted by Jesus (from the Greek Septuagint) has been verified through comparisons to existing versions also dating to that time. This means that not only are the words of Jesus accurately recorded – but so were those of Moses and those kings, prophets, scribes and herdsmen. And things were accurately copied from all of the various originals, time after time. If the people of old are to be honored for anything it is in their unfailing accuracy of the records they kept.
Peter, the Apostle of Christ, wrote that God “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
Exactly how much is “all”?
And how is it that the tinkerers say all you need to do to be found “in Christ” is to say a prayer and to accept Jesus as your savior. While Peter also wrote this. “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
So, where are the Words of Life: is it better now or was the original accurate enough? Does it matter what is served up to you?
And who had the right to change these recipes? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.”
How many exactly is “no one”?
Peter told his Lord, “You have the words to eternal life.” If that was true then, what do we have now without Christ’s words and his specifications?
Will the outline given to us by others (and does it matter who) have the same effect and impact on the state of our soul as did the original?
Hear: “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.” (NET)
Believe: “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (ESV)
Repent: “No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you will all perish as well.” (NET)
Confess: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (NKJV)
Be immersed: “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” (NIV)
Be faithful: “Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (NET)
That is the original outline – the short form for the basic formula and recipe to start anyone out as a Christian. Has it now been made better through the many modifications and changes, or has it been altered out of existence?
What formula will produce the desired result? Which will produce eternal life today?