~Mark 7:8-9, 13 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (13) Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
When I think of “tradition,” I think of Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye and his family sing about the Jewish traditions for the home. Some traditions are wonderful! I think of family gatherings and how I’ve incorporated many of my parents’ family traditions into my own family. But what about religious traditions? Today’s Scriptures do not speak highly of some of them.
I was raised and rooted in religious tradition. Some were very good. However, I did not care if those traditions were based on the Bible or not because the Bible was not read in our home. It was a book that sat on the bookshelf and, on occasion, I would open it to look at the pictures. After salvation I noticed that some of these traditions were not according to what was written in the Bible. I had been taught all my life that whatever our church taught was equal to the Scriptures.
I’m sure every church is guilty of adding something to their traditions which they believe is as important as what is written in the Scriptures. I am not well versed in all the various religions out there but I can speak about one. An example of this lies with the Catholic church. The Vatican II council stated that “the living teaching office of the Church” (the latin term for this is magisterium) has the authority to interpret historical documents and make them equal with the Word of God. “It is clear therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred Scripture, and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others.” (“Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” (Dei Verbum), Documents of Vatican II, par. 10, p. 118)
They have elevated sacred tradition to be equal with Scripture and, as a result, taken away from the authority of the Scripture. Scripture would no longer be the only source man would turn to when trying to find truth. Instead, it would be easier to ask a church leader about what to do than to pick up the Bible and read it for themselves.
When one wants to know about repairing a Chevrolet Malibu, one must go to the Chevrolet Malibu manual, not the Toyota Corolla manual. So it stands to reason that if we want to know if something is “scriptural,” we must go to the Scriptures to verify it. One can turn to historical documents but are they in line with Scriptures? Following after tradition is not recorded in God’s Word as being equal to the Word of God. In fact, at times when tradition is mentioned in the New Testament, it correlates it with God’s Word and to what Christ taught! Other times, as in today’s text, it proves otherwise. The verses that referred to the traditions of men were penned with disdain – and warning was given to stay away from those traditions.
~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.
The Apostles did not have all the New Testament at the time they walked this earth and were spreading the Gospel. It was important, therefore, that believers were taught to follow in their footsteps after their testimony in Christ Jesus! They had an overwhelming responsibility to make sure that they taught others what Christ had taught them. They had an overwhelming responsibility to walk blamelessly so that new Christians would be taught correctly – according to what Christ taught them. They were given power from the Holy Spirit to pen the word of God exactly how the Holy Spirit wanted them to write.
~2 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.
Once the Apostles began to penn the Scriptures through epistles and Gospels, they continued to teach that new Christians should hold fast to those “traditions” that they were taught by the Apostles (in word and through their letters). These were traditions that were in line with Christ’s words. These were traditions that today are clearly in God’s Word and were taught by Christ! That is why they were encouraged to follow after them – but only as long as they followed after Christ and His Word. If there were any contradiction, God’s Word was truth and they were to follow that truth!
~2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Some churches speak of tradition and try to combine it with their church’s authority with an end result of man-made traditions accepted as Gospel truth. Unless you have a ruler to draw a straight line, it is impossible to draw a perfectly straight line by hand. Unless you have the true ruler, Jesus Christ and His word, it is impossible for you to have truth. (John 17:17) Even in Old Testament times, people recognized the man of God and what was spoken by him was truth.
~1 Kings 17:24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
Is it any wonder that some churches would make whatever they want as doctrine to be equal to God’s Word? God says that HIS Word is truth. Jesus prayed this prayer to His Heavenly Father on behalf of His disciples.
~John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jesus Christ brought us God’s word, therefore, if we want the truth then turn to the Scriptures, not tradition! Christ is God’s spoken word to us!
~John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Do not follow after tradition UNLESS it follows in line with God’s Word. After all, we will be judged according to what is written in the Scriptures. (John 12:48) If there’s ANY question, believe God’s word for it is tried and proven and is for all eternity. Peter, himself, said:
~1 Peter 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Our church fathers preached the word of God – they penned the word of God so that we may have it as our ruler – to set us straight in our pilgrim path. Don’t be deceived by church traditions – back up what you believe with God’s word. Paul said it best:
~Galatians 1:9-12 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
No one, nothing, can supercede or even make anything equal to what Christ taught. Christ’s words are final. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end!