Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (2Pe 1:2)
For those interested, I recently posted a brief ministry update on our other site. You can read it by following the link below:
This is pretty much a copy of a comment I left on Ian’s Blog regarding the traditions of men. It can be easy for us who are not part of a traditional institutional church to make a blanket statement that all the traditions of men are wrong. I know I’ve done it in the past. But if we look at the passage of scripture where Jesus speaks about the “traditions of men”, we find that the issue is not as clear cut as just condemning all practices/traditions of men.
If you look at the passage where Jesus rebukes the traditions of men, it is not a blanket statement condemning all the traditions of men, even in a religious setting. Here’s one of the passage:
“And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. “For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
What is Jesus condemning?
1) “teaching as DOCTRINES the precepts of men”
2) “NEGLECTING the COMMANDMENTS of God and keeping and holding the traditions instead – as a higher rule of law the invalidates the commands of God.
3) “invalidating the word of God by man made traditions”.
So the issue at hand when discussing a “tradition/practice” of men is whether or not it’s taught as a doctrine and whether it violates and nullifies the commandments of the Lord. There are going to be traditions and practices that believers do that will and will not do these things.
To make a blanket statement and forbids all practices because we cannot find them in the scripture is to do the same thing that the Pharisee’s did, which was to make commands that God never made. So in someones righteous zeal to do only what the word of God says, they can be a Pharisee in their actions and end up forbidding things that God never forbid.
Here is a tradition or practice of man that is acceptable and does not violate the word of God, yet is condemned by some as evil because it’s a “tradition of man”.
Let’s say our fellowship wants to write down a statement of faith, specifically as the Lord brings us together in unity regarding what we believe regarding both essential and non-essentials. We don’t make it a doctrine/teaching that every believer or fellowship must have a statement of faith. And the statement of faith does not violate or nullify any command of God. This tradition/practice of man is acceptable and does not fall under the condemnation of Jesus words as spoke in Mark 7:6-13.
So the way I see it, we are not simply to judge a person or fellowship because they have a “tradition or practice” of man, but we are to judge the tradition or practice of man to see if it is taught as a doctrine, if it causes people to neglect the commands of God, and if the tradition invalidates the word of God.
I was really blessed by this exhortation from Barnes this morning:
This book, by far, is the best book I’ve ever read on the Gospel. I just finished it and I highly recommend it. I pray that one day I’ll be able to explain the righteousness of God in the gospel, from beginning to end, as clearly and directly as Horatius Bonar has done in this book. The book primarily speaks on the glorious truth of imputed righteousness and all that it relates to in our relationship with God, in our salvation, and how God relates to us. In a way, I feel as if I’ve been reintroduced to Christ and the gospel all over again and in a deeper way; making my heart just want to worship Him even more!
In my own life, even before reading this book, God has been leading me to study righteousness as it relates to the gospel, and to rethink some of what I have believed in light of what Hebrews teaches on the New Covenant. I look forward to posting some of my observations, and maybe some things I’m studying and praying through soon.
If you want to read the above book, you can download it here in a PDF:
Just thought I’d share an experience one of the brothers in our fellowship had the other day. About three or four times a week, myself and one or two of the brothers from our fellowship will go and open air preach at one of the government offices around the city. These are offices where people go to receive government assistance in various forms. They open at 8:00 a.m., but people usually line up in advance starting at about 7:30. So we usually get there at about that time to minister to those waiting in line. We’ll pass out tracts, then one of us will preach the gospel for about 15 min, then a brother will give their testimony, and then we’ll talk to those afterwards who would like to talk or who want more information. This one morning about a week ago I was unable to go because my son was sick with pneumonia. But one of the brother went ahead by himself and preached that morning at one of the offices. I called him later to find out how it went. What he shared with me is a sad commentary that reflects the current state of many “churches” and “pastors” today. He arrived at the place to preach and another ministry pulled up at the same time as him (something we’ve never actually seen happen before). He went over and talk to the people, and the pastor in particular, to find out what they would be doing. They said they were there to give people Starbucks coffee and donuts. He asked if they would be preaching the gospel to the people, to which the pastor replied, “No way!” So this brother told him, “we’ll I’m gonna preach to everyone”. So he proceeded to preach to the gospel. However, in the middle of his preaching, the PASTOR came over to him and asked him if he would stop preaching. The pastor told this brother that he wasn’t there to preach to the people but to just give them coffee and some food and to talk to the people. The amazing thing was, this pastor and those with him weren’t even talking to the people about Jesus! They were just there to do some humanitarian work, some good deed apart from the name of Christ. This pastor did not like the fact that someone was publicly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and he wanted it to stop.
What a sad day that we live in when professed “pastors” seek to shut down the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They think the gospel is a harsh message that people don’t want to hear. Instead of possibly offending people with the truth, they would rather leave out the gospel, and the name of Jesus, and pass out food to people dead in their sins and offer them no hope of reconciliation with God. In seeking to silence the gospel, they are aligning themselves with Satan himself. Satan is the chief opponent of the gospel and the one who seeks to shut down the proclamation of it at every turn. When you look at the life of the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts, you see unconverted Jews, under the power and influence of Satan, seeking to persecute Paul wherever he went to silence him from proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. What this pastor was doing was allowing himself to be a tool of Satan as he tried to stop the gospel from going forth. But what’s the real reason that many “pastors” and “Christan’s” are unwilling to share the gospel of Christ, whether through evangelism or preaching? In addition to many of them simply being false converts it’s because people are ashamed of the words of Jesus Christ. Christians these days love to “do” good works in the name of Christ (even when they don’t share His name), but they don’t really like what Jesus has said. They find His message offensive and think that it will turn people away from God, and are worried that people will think it’s foolishness. And the truth is, it IS an offensive message, and is a foolish one in the eyes of men! (until God opens their eyes to see it’s beauty!)
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1Co 1:21)
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. (Gal 5:11)
God has chose this simple, foolish, offensive message as the means that He uses to save men and reconcile them to Himself. It is the very message that God has called His people to boldly proclaim; that He might use preaching as His means to convince and convict people of the truth and bring them to Christ.
Like I said, it is a sad day when professing believer protest against the preaching of gospel of Jesus Christ because they don’t want to suffer reproach for His name, or are worried about offending people with the truth. Again, they are simply ashamed of the words of Jesus. That has to be the overwhelming testimony of much of Christianity today…they’ll gladly take the name of Jesus, but they are ashamed at his words (at least any of them that might possibly be perceived as negative). They would do well to meditate on and heed the words of Jesus spoken here:
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luk 9:26)
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Mat 10:32-33)
If you are a pastor, and you are reading this, and you find that you yourself don’t like the public preaching of the gospel, and you’re worried of offending people with it’s message, know that you are siding with Satan. You are a tool in his hand. Instead of being a tool of Satan, repent of your fear of man, your disdain for the gospel and it’s offense, and be reconciled to God in your thinking and actions. And be aware that your opposition to the gospel might very well prove that you yourself are still outside of Christ and are in need of salvation.
My advise to those of you who preach who encounter this type of situation (professing Christians who oppose the gospel) is this: First try to politely rebuke them and help the person see their error and the truth about the gospel (who knows, they might get saved!). But if they persist in their opposition to the gospel (especially while taking the name of Christ), don’t hold back; boldly preach the gospel, and boldly EXPOSE the anti-Christ spirit that is operating through these professing Christians who oppose Christ. Rebuke them openly and boldly and don’t give those who side with Satan any room to silence the wonderful, beautiful, and eternal gospel of God. Again, we live in a day when true gospel preaching will be opposed most, and in an increasing measure, by those religious people who take the name of Christ but hate what He’s said. Don’t let opposition to the gospel silence you, let it stoke your fire and create in you a greater zeal to see God glorified through your preaching the gospel!
I’ll close with this scripture. It’s a wonderful picture of one of the last great open air preachers, proclaiming God’s eternal gospel, at the close of this age when God brings this present world in it’s current state to and end.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. (Rev 14:6-7)
To God be the glory!
I wanted to share the testimony of a young man who was recently born again. About a month and a half ago I received a call from my mother in Texas. She was sharing with me how her neighbors son, named Blake who is 19, was trying to get out of his life of drugs and had expressed an interest in Jesus Christ. As we talked about him we decided it would be good if he came out to spend a little time with my family and our fellowship. So a day or two later Blake hopped on a Greyhound bus and came to stay with our family. I was looking forward to ministering to him, believing that God was drawing him and working in his heart. As I began to spend time with Blake it was apparent that he had a serious anger problem. Actually, to call it an anger problem would be an understatement. Blake had a spirit of murder. In fact, it had been a long time since I had seen someone with that much hate in their heart. We (myself, my wife, men from our fellowship), would share the word with him and he would accept a little of it, and then out of nowhere just start resisting everything we said and would start manifesting a spirit of anger. We talked to him about his anger problem and he said he didn’t want to let it go, he didn’t want to give it up. We all became convinced that Blake had a demon, or multiple demons, inside him. On Thursday night, the guys in our fellowship usually gather for prayer. Blake joined us and it started all over again. He began resisting the word and getting really angry. The things he would say didn’t even make any sense! After praying with him, one of the brother finally asked if he was wanted to be delivered, if there was anything that he was holding on to that he was ready to give up. He finally said he was ready to be rid of his anger. As soon as he said that we began commanding the demon to come out of Blake. He fell to the floor and began screaming and dry heaving. Before too long the demon left him. As soon as the demon left Him, he began weeping and crying out to Jesus. Nobody told him what to say, he just began calling on the name of Jesus. Amazingly, the name of Jesus was a name he could barely say before the demon came out. Once the demon came out, he was able to freely call on the name of Jesus to be saved. And that’s exactly what happened. Blake was gloriously born again that day by the power and grace of God. It’s been wonderful to see the Lord’s work in Him as he’s been growing these last few weeks. He has a desire to read the scriptures, to fellowship with believers, and now gets convicted over sin. Of course he’s has his ups and downs, but by the grace of God he continues to follow the Lord and takes joy in what God has done in His life.
A few weeks after his conversion we had the joy of baptizing Blake in the name of Jesus Christ. We were able to use a hot tub at a local camping facility in town. (To see photo’s, click on this link: http://www.preachingjesuschrist.com/2/post/2012/08/blakes-salvation-lordship-salvation-revisited.html )
Before Blake was converted, he had committed a felony in Colorado. After his conversion, the weight of this outstanding issue began to weigh on his conscience. He knew that instead of running from this problem, like he had been, that the right thing to do was to now get this taken care of. After praying about it, Blake decided that he would take a bus to CO and turn himself in, face the consequences, and get the issue taken care of. So I had the privilege of taking Blake to the bus stop and seeing him off to CO to take care of his warrant. Photo here: http://www.preachingjesuschrist.com/2/post/2012/08/blakes-salvation-lordship-salvation-revisited.html
Since this photo, Blake has bonded out of jail and is currently back at our place awaiting his court date. It appears that everything is going to work out ok, and he most likely won’t have to serve and jail time. It’s been wonderful to see the Lord’s work in Blake. I hope that you’ll join with me and continue to pray for this new believer in Jesus Christ.
WHAT ABOUT LORDSHIP SALVATION?
I want to take this opportunity to briefly speak again about the subject of Lordship Salvation. If you are familiar with my blog, your aware that I wrote a post a while back dealing with this very subject. It was a blog that some outright rejected and one that even caused a brother I have done ministry with to break fellowship with me because of what I wrote. However what I wrote was simply the plain teaching of the word of God regarding that nature of salvation. Let me use Blake’s salvation as an example. A Lordship Salvation advocate would say that for someone to be born again, they must fully surrender to the Lordship of Christ, forsake all their sins, be willing to die for Jesus, and make up front commitments to commit to carry their cross daily, commit to daily deny themselves, AND believe that Jesus died for theirs sins and rose from the dead, in order to be saved. That of course is a false teaching that is clearly refuted by looking at the scriptures. The Lordship Salvation advocates error by requiring the fruits of salvation AS a pre-requisite for salvation.
In our dealing with Blake, we explained to him what Christ had done for him in order for him to be saved and reconciled to God. Yet Blake was unable to do this, to truly call on the name of Jesus, until he was delivered from the spirit of murder that was inside him. Once the evil spirit came out of him, by the grace of God, he was able to freely call on the name of Jesus to be saved. Blake did not understand all the implications of Lordship, but he is coming to understand what it means as he stays in God’s word and by the work of the Spirit of Christ that now resides in him. And what is the fruit of his salvation? The commands that Christ gave, and the lifestyle and heart attitude that Christ calls us to is the very thing that Blake wants. By reading the word of God, Blake is coming to know his Savior, and is submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. No, he doesn’t do it perfectly, as none of us have….but He is growing the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and in His daily submission to Christ Lordship.
The damaging thing about Lordship salvation is that is teaches that someone like Blake, must understand all kinds of truths, and make all kinds of commitments, before he could actually be saved….something he, nor any man, is able to do apart from indwelling Spirit of God. Thankfully God’s word does not require what Lordship Salvation advocates say it does. If it did, we’d all be without hope, still in our sins, and unable to receive the salvation that Christ gives to us as a free gift.
If you haven’t read the article I’m talking about, you can read it here:
May the Lord Bless you….