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“Where Oh Where Can We Go”
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Truth or Tradition
Hebrews 6:1 “So let us get beyond
the teaching of the elementary doctrines of Christ, and let us be
borne along toward what is mature. Let us not be continually laying
again a foundation of repentance from dead works” MNT.
I have a friend who was raised Baptist. His family were pillars
in the movement; an evidence of their commitment was some had been
missionaries in India, but my friend wanted more, he wanted to know
Christ; not just to serve Him. He began his quest by seeking the
BOHS. To ease his frustrations and make better use of sermon time
he would pray for the needy sitting in pews around him. What was
the point of listening to sermons that rehearsed the same Baptist
bias year in and year out?
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already
obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that
I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ
We have here a most solemn warning given to us of entering into
His rest and the glorious liberty of the sons of God. But we have
a massive problem with our traditions when we try to move forward.
This is not limited to just the Baptists either.
Our natural temperaments alongside
our traditional prejudices and sympathies with the way we have been
brought up; and our loyalty to a form of doctrine we learned in
our youth, can often stand in our way. One day we may have to resist
the very thing we once fought for and gave all our energy (and a
lot of money) to propagate, if we are ever to come into a fuller
knowledge of the son of God; to a mature man; and to the measure
of the statue of Christ.
The problem with Christian doctrine is our failure to discern between
the truth of the ‘Word’, and the ‘traditions’
we develop around it. Tradition is an unwritten body of belief handed
down from generation to generation. Traditions are not evil, unless
they conflict with the Word, but they do present a very real problem
to all denominations being their greatest stumbling block. Don’t
fall into the trap of thinking that it won’t happen to us
(I thought that) because you’re on the cutting edge. Traditionally
the “last move” is the first to fight what God wants
to do today, and His strongest antagonist.
Mark 7:9 “And he said unto them,
full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your
own tradition.” “Making the word of God of none effect
through your tradition.”
1 Corinthians 5:6 “Don’t
you know that a little leaven will ferment a whole lump of dough?”
Matthew 16:11, 12. “The leaven
of the Pharisees is wrong doctrine.”
The temptation to ignore truth when confronted by it in favour of
our tradition is very real. Tradition plays a bigger roll than most
of us realize with regard to what we believe. What follows is that
we allow our traditions to shape our theology rather than scripture.
Every move of the Spirit must come under the discipline
of the Word. If you come into the realm of the Spirit which is life
and power, without relating to the intelligence of the Holy Spirit
which is the Word, you are in danger of opening the door to every
moral and corrupt spiritual practice.
Jer 23:29 “Is not My word like
a fire says the Lord; and like a hammer that breaks the rock in
Man can violate any of God’s law to his own satisfaction.
Luke 5:39 “No one after drinking
the old wine seems to want the fresh and the new. The old ways are
best, they say”.
We have an inherent resistance to change. We don’t object
when other people change, but don’t try to change me, just
leave me where I am thank you. Yet visitation brings confrontation,
so if we want God in our lives (and we are honest enough to admit
we are not perfect) then He is going to challenge everything we
do. Everything that God created, and all that is born of the Spirit
is always moving forward into new phases of maturation, and man
is no different. In other words, man was not placed in the garden
to be idle. God had a purpose for him just as He has for everything.
He had one for Adam; one for Israel and He had you in mind before
you were born. God is not dormant, and the man He created was not
to remain static but productive.
John 10:10 “I am come that they
might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”.
I cannot think of anything more soul destroying than static existence.
Like the man who died at 20 twenty, and was buried at 40. He should
have arranged his own funeral, brought himself a lily; dug a hole
and lain down in it. People say to us. “Don’t you get
tired of always being on the move spiritually?” And we think
to ourselves, “Don’t they ever get sick of what they’re
doing, attending a church that lives in the past; religiously embalming
memories of a bygone era when once their movement was vibrant and
fresh”. So we say to them, “Absolutely not, we love
serving God”. A living body is always moving into new phases
of maturation. “He is not here, He is risen,” was the
message the angel gave to those who came to embalm the body of Jesus.
Their intention was pure and noble but the Lord was no longer there.
We all have precious memories that we treasure; we build on solid
foundations of the past, but we must keep moving forward. Find out
where the living body is and join it before it’s too late.
All movements have supposed that because they have received something
from the Lord then this gives them permission to formulate it into
a rule for others who; if they wish to join them must
accept that it is to control everything. They have succumbed to
the temptation to distrust the Word of God and follow tradition,
forgetting that we not only live by what God said, but what He is
saying also. And we are not talking about anything extra Biblical.
The temptation is to dogmatically reject what we may not understand
rather than humbly pray about what we might learn. We don’t
want our religious boat rocked. We would rather be left alone than
confronted. How quickly people forget that their movement was initially
born out of acceptance of truth that replaced their stale tradition.
The temptations are many and varied that oppose any Christian that
wants to serve God with integrity, and none more so than preachers,
for they have the most to lose.
Visitation brings confrontation:
- Seeking a method that will serve our purpose, without seeking
the Lord to find out how He wants us to serve Him
- Feeling comforted in the weaknesses or failures of fellow
servants, rather than prompted to pray for them
- To reject dogmatically what we may not understand, instead
of seeking what we may humbly learn
- To make “position” the ground of our authority,
rather than “being given it” as a stewardship from the
God is more concerned with value than volume.
There is the tendency to gauge fruitfulness by numbers that attend,
rather than by the standard of scripture i.e. Christ like character
Gal 5:22. Other issues do exist, like
doctrinal error, but they are usually less of a problem than imagined.
What can be difficult is to imagine our doctrine will save us from
fanaticism. Doctrines and creeds are safeguards against error, not
fountains for life. They are hedges against heresy, not a basis
for unity. They were put in place to help protect us. They are barriers
beyond which we wander at our own peril. Sadly however they become
barriers through which truth is unable to get passed to go beyond
with Christ. These creeds are cast in iron. I do not know a single
denomination that doesn’t claim the scriptures as their only
source of faith. Yet they are bound to creeds influenced by some
experience that gave birth to their movement, in some cases hundreds
of years ago. In addition their traditions have fostered competition,
division, and created suspicion between themselves.
Ephesians 4:15. That we be no longer
children but grow up into Him in all things.”
We all have areas in ours lives in which we need to grow.
History reveals that God has been restoring truth since the reformation.
Hindsight proves that statement to be correct and God hasn’t
finished yet, so when your position is challenged don’t simply
dismiss the message and attack the messenger, that’s dishonest.
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say,
He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they
say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans
and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”
The Pharisees were continually finding fault with Jesus. He wasn’t
a scribe, and He was not Pharisee. He never took the vow of a Nazarene
like His young brother James had. He was continually in hot water
in the eyes of the religious; to them he was lax about the letter
of the Law and traditions of the elders. In His own home among His
own brothers and sisters He had no recognition or honour. He was
a conundrum, an absolute mystery to them.
“Then the multitude came together again, so that they could
not so much as eat bread. When His own people heard about this,
they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He
is out of His mind”.
Vs 31 “Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing
outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting
around Him; and they said to Him, look, your mother and your brothers
are outside seeking you”. But He answered them, saying, “Who
is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around to the
circle of those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My
mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God the same
is My brother and My sister and mother”.
Looking back we can see that many times the Spirit moved but there
was no teaching priest to give direction and intelligence to what
was happening. The situation is no different today. People who don’t
read history continually repeat it.
Versus Out Of Context
by Chad Stendal
Chad spent thirty years in Columbia as a linguist and bible translator
Two of the principal methods Satan uses to deceive potential believers
are by changing the clear meaning of Biblical terms, and taking
key verses out of context to make the potential convert believe
they are a Christian when they have never truly repented and trusted
Christ with their whole life.
Take the famous salvation verse, “Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shall be saved” Acts
16:31. This verse is often taken out of context and used
to assure potential Christians that if they believe the facts about
Christ (with their mind) they are saved Christians and will pass
the judgment day. What the verse is really saying is that if we
trust and put confidence in Christ through repentance and faith,
we trust right into Christ, and then we shall be saved from the
power of sin right now and not stand ashamed on the judgment day.
How do we know that repentance and faith are included in this account
of the Philippian jailer? We know this from the context. After the
earthquake in Philippi, the trembling jailor wanted to know what
to do to be saved (redeemed from the power of sin now, as well as
from the wrath to come). The jailor must have agreed to be identified
in Christ's death and resurrection or Paul would never have baptized
him. It should be noted that in every conversion in the New Testament,
the new believer was baptized the same day. The apostles were using
water baptism as the decision making moment, much as present day
evangelists use raise your hand and come forward to pray the sinner's
prayer. The Lord placed baptism right at the beginning of the believers'
spiritual life so that the key message of you dead and Christ alive
would be imprinted on the new believer. It is easy to see that the
disciples' method of preaching “repentance towards God and
faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 6: 12), followed
by water baptism where you publicly identify in Christ's death and
resurrection and come out of the water in the power of the Holy
Spirit, would be much more successful than the present method of
raising your hand and praying after the pastor or evangelist.
As a linguist and Bible translator, I was shocked to discover that
most all key Bible terms have had their meaning changed and watered
down over time. Not only have many Bible terms been changed from
their key meaning, but Biblical sounding phrases have entered the
professing believer's vocabulary giving a wrong direction to the
Christian life. One of these is, "We are saved to tell others."
This saying implies that the primary goal in our Christian life
is verbal witnessing. This is an error. The primary goal in our
Christian life is to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus
Christ. We are saved unto good works which God has foreordained
that we should walk in them Ephesians 2:10.
The Lord put it very clearly:
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your
good works and glorify your Father in heaven”. Matthew
In other words, through your God directed good works and words,
you will be able to give “every man an answer for the hope
that is in you with meekness and fear” 1
Joy and friendship will surely lead more people to Christ than the
arm twisting methods often associated with soul winning. I should
note however that sometimes God directs us in a more blunt approach.
Another non-Biblical phrase that many professing Christians accept
without thinking is, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or
sin will keep you from the Bible”. The only thing that will
keep you from sin is faith in Christ so that by the grace (power)
of God your life may be transformed. He is the only one who can
lead the Christian life. The Bible tells us about Christ and exhorts
us to turn everything over to Him and to walk in His Spirit. But
the Bible is not an end in itself. Reading the Bible is a good idea
but doesn't do us any good unless we come to repentance and put
full confidence in the Christ the Bible describes.