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Traditions:  Are you sure about what you believe?

Gary Googe Sep 12

We are clearly warned that we need to beware of the traditional beliefs we hold.

Matthew 15:1-6

1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees [the “religious” leaders of the day], which were of Jerusalem, saying,

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Then He explains the belief He was addressing.

For God commanded, saying, [Exodus 20:12 & Deuteronomy 5:16] Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [Emphasis added]

Here these religious Jews were distorting the teachings of the Mosaic Law to avoid providing financial support to assist family members who needed their help.  They had created a tradition that was in violation of the teaching of the Scriptures.  Has any of that happened in our time? It surely has!

The apostle Paul gives us a similar warning about this kind of thing.

Colossians 2:8

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. [Emphasis added]

On the other hand, we should maintain those traditions that are consistent with sound doctrine.  All traditions are by no means bad.

II Thessalonians 2:15

15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. [Emphasis added]

He is especially speaking of those things he, the apostle Paul, had taught them.

II Thessalonians 3:6

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. [Emphasis added]

Are there traditional beliefs that you hold that should be questioned or rejected? Many years ago, I learned to question nearly everything, especially Bible beliefs.  That came about because I kept discovering that many of the teachings I had grown up believing were wrong.  Such discoveries are always hard to admit.  The older we are and the longer we’ve held the belief makes matters even harder.  But if we won’t admit the mistakes we see in what we’ve believed, we won’t grow spiritually.  Growing in our understanding always involves the process of eliminating and replacing false teaching with true teaching.  A whole lot of that false teaching can be widely-held traditional thinking.  When I was in college one of the books I found that was very helpful in this was a book entitled, Know Why You Believe.  It helped make me realize that I needed to question everything I ever believed about anything, but especially and most importantly about Bible teachings.  I’ve come to realize that many people have become so comfortable in their beliefs, right or wrong, that they really don’t know why they believe certain things.  They just do! Where are you in all this? Are there things you believe that you should question and examine more carefully? If you spend much time on our website, I suspect you’ll come across some things, maybe even many things, that are different from what you’ve believed. If you come across such things, are you willing to take an objective look at them? Most important of all, are you willing to carefully examine the Scriptures in light of what you believe? Many, perhaps even most people, are not willing to do that.  Where do you stand on that? If you are like that, you’re facing a serious problem with your spiritual growth.  I hate to even think about all the things I’ve believed in the past that I now know were wrong.  Can you identify with that? If you can’t, it probably means you haven’t grown very much.  That’s because growing in truth demands the replacement of things we determine to be false with beliefs that are true.  Scripture is clear that as believers we need to always be growing in a correct understanding of God’s Word, the Bible.

II Peter 3:18

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul tells us practically the same thing.

II Timothy 2:15

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]

Is the study of God’s Word an everyday part of your life? Do you realize that you need to be fed spiritually as much or even more than you do physically?

Matthew 4:4

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  [Emphasis added]

Do you realize that if you want God to “speak” to you and direct your life, you must open your Bible and study it? For it is in this manner that God communicates with us today.  It is through such studying that we can acquire norms and standards by which to make our everyday decisions. If you’re waiting for an audible voice from  God in Heaven, it isn’t going to happen.  You’ll never hear that in our time.  There was certainly a time when God did that sort of thing, but not today.  And if you’ve heard people claim that He did, it was a false claim.  If you don’t believe that, you’ll probably have to learn the truth about this the hard way.

II Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect [TELEIOS = brought to maturity], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]

Then we have the wisdom of the proverbs of Scripture commanding us to be serious about our consistent learning of God’s Word.

Proverbs 8:33-35

33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

“Watching daily at my gates” is to do with the way God’s Word was read and taught in the ancient world.  People would congregate daily at certain city gates to hear its teaching.  If you’re to grow spiritually in any generation, you’re going to have to take the initiative to position yourself so that you can get correct Bible teaching consistently.  Motivation for that comes from realizing the long-term, even eternal benefits of it.

35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. [Emphasis added]

Outside of salvation itself, one of the greatest discoveries people make in studying the Bible is when they learn about what is called the right division of Scripture. 

Again, II Timothy 2:15

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]

This represents an extremely important principle.  Even most pastors have no idea about the true meaning of it.  What a shame! And what a loss for those who submit to their teaching! As per the title of my ministry—4Us2UsMinistries. All Scripture is FOR us, but it is not all TO us or ABOUT us.  Until people learn the full meaning of this, they will find themselves knowing and presenting a lot of inaccurate teaching that creates a lot of misunderstanding and confusion.  It is the apostle Paul who is OUR apostle today, not Peter and the other apostles.  Yes, we can benefit from and be blessed by what those others say, but many times they represent a different message, one that was addressed to Israel, not us today.  Even our Lord, in the time of His earthly ministry, was only commissioned to minister to Israel, not the Gentiles.  That means His teaching was addressed to Israel, not us, the Gentiles.

Matthew 15:24

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [Emphasis added]

It was and is the apostle Paul who was commissioned to minister to us, the Gentiles.  It is through his teaching that we find God’s Words that are specifically to us for our time.

Romans 11:12-13

12 Now if the fall of them [Israel] be the riches of the world [Gentiles], and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [Emphasis added]

Most of the church today does not “magnify” Paul’s office.  In fact, they typically claim some of us make too much of him and his teaching.  But the reality is that apart from the apostle Paul we would know nothing about a lot of things.  For instance, we would not know what God accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross.  Peter saw the cross as something shameful [and there’s a sense in which it was], but Paul “gloried” in it.  That’s because the revelation was first given to him as to what God had accomplished there.

Again, II Corinthians 5:21

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

As we’ve noted before, this is why Paul spoke of his message as something that was his.  He put it that way to point out the contrast between his message and that of Peter and the other apostles.

Romans 2:16

16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. [Emphasis added] 

As I noted in one of my other studies of this, why didn’t he simply call it “the gospel”? It is because until it was revealed to him it had been a mystery, that is, a secret.

Romans 16:25

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [Emphasis added]

This comes as such a shock to so many who’ve grown up in a traditional form of Christianity.  They’ll even falsely assume that because they occupy a majority position, they are right.

II Timothy 2:8

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: [Emphasis added]

People can certainly find the historical account of the cross and resurrection of Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, but not what God accomplished through all this in providing for us a way of salvation [our gospel].  Yet it is in the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that many preachers spend most of their time.  Again, the historical record of the crucifixion is in those books, but not what it accomplished.  It was for this reason that Paul said what he said about that event.

Galatians 6:14

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. [Emphasis added]

The list of things that has replaced this message in so many churches is long.  Here are a few of the ones probably most common.

  • Commit your life to Christ.
  • Turn your life over to Jesus.
  • Ask Christ to come into your heart.
  • Repent of your sins and be baptized.

But all such things represent some system of works as the means to one’s salvation.  Doesn’t the apostle Paul tell us our own works cannot provide salvation for us?

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

You will find that most mainline churches proclaim some form of salvation by works.

Romans 4:4-5

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

If the “salvation” a person thinks they have does not line up with these statements in the Pauline Scriptures, I’m afraid salvation is not a reality for them.  They may not choose to believe that, but until they do, they will never get saved.  I’m afraid there are many traditional beliefs that are going to take many people to Hell and the Lake of Fire.  I certainly hope you won’t let yourself be one of them.  If you’ll be sure you’ve put your faith solely in what Christ accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection, you won’t be.  Salvation will immediately become a permanent reality for you.

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