The Traditions of Men?
Tradition is not necessarily bad, and it is not necessarily good. It all depends upon where the tradition comes from, what its original intent was, how it has changed (as in the game of "telephone," what starts out as one message, ends up being a completely different message at the end) and what it all means today, and what, in the very long run, it means at the end. You have "the truth," and then you have "what man believes about the truth." Man's interpretation of the truth, what man puts together in his "two plus two sometimes equals five" mentality.
You have what "God said," and then what "man says about what God said." Most people, especially Christians, cannot differentiate between the two, and are taught that really, they are one and the same. And, even more importantly, they -- Christians, are taught NOT to question the elders, those shepherds who have "done their learnin' and received their Words from the Lord." In the news lately you see angry people ready to storm the courts because Ten Commandments statues are being moved. Why? DO any of these people gathered outside the court house, parading for the TV cameras even KEEP the commandments of God? Most likely they don't, or they feel that they don't have to, that only the Jews must keep the Big 10, or in some cases the people gathered outside the court house, shaking their fists, keep NINE of the Ten, and they shake their heads at one of the commandments and say, "Well THAT one, that's for the Jews of course!" Or they say, "Oh, the fourth? We modified it, made it better!" The fact is, today most people do not believe there is "real truth." That really, all we have is man's beliefs and commentaries and interpretations of vague cosmic principles, that what the Bible actually says, it does not mean, and that REAL truth is received by standing upon the shoulders of giants, the forefathers of our faith.
Or the Bible Alone?
Other people and especially teachers shout the message: "The Bible and the Bible alone," but when you press them on their beliefs what they really mean -- it all comes down to "gimme dat ole time religion, the stuff that was good for mammy and pappy and so its good enough for me!" Which, in other words, is anything but the Bible alone.
People believe that a "church" ought to be a building in a particular shape, or built out of particular materials, or that a certain color or height and weight of people should populate the building. That dogs (or cats) should not be allowed inside. Or that specific color schemes ought to be employed, "to heighten the worship experience." That certain types of music are best, while others are the antithesis to what God wants, or doesn't want, and that you ought to go with Brand X if you REALLY want to heighten your worship "experience." None of which is even hinted at in scripture. These are traditions of men.
The King James Version is the just and only and approved version of the Bible, that God, somewhere around Year 1611 spoke in thunder and lightning and gave His Word to be printed in Jolly Ole English, and man "accepted" this text direct from the Mouth of God, whereas in all actuality the King James Version actually employs the word "Version" for a very good reason, which is that it is one of many versions of the Bible. A Version, an English translation that considered many, many manuscripts -- even the Latin Vulgate, which most "KJV-Only Nuts" will say never, never, never happened -- but it IS true (the word "Lucifer" comes from the Latin Vulgate, it is a Latin Word, and could have only made its way into the KJV if the Vulgate, the Catholic Version of the ancient manuscripts, was considered). It (the KJV) was compiled by a large group of men who argued about wording, took votes, compared the Latin Vulgate to the Greek Septuagint and also weighed the Masoretic text -- and that, wonders upon all wonders, the original "version" of the King James included the Apocrypha: KJV-Only Nuts don't want you to know that fact. Also, what you hold in your hands today, what is called "The King James Version" and often referred to as the "1611 Authorized Version" is NOT, in fact, the 1611 version . . . it has been changed, revised, majorly tweaked, and overall overhauled many, many, many times, and when you read that frontspiece that claims "1611 Version," it is NOT the truth, it is tradition, pure and simple, and if you harken to the "KJV-Only Nuts," you are a pawn of tradition hounds, pure and simple, not that there is anything pure or simple about being a pawn of tradition.
Did Jesus speak English? Many people believe that He did, and that, in fact, maybe He was even British (or second best, American!). People call the KJV the "1611 Bible," but the truth is it has been updated and modified many times. In the original version the of KJV (often called the "Authorized Version" -- and people have repeated this name so many times they have come to believe it means "authorized by God Himself," whereas it actually means that King James authorized it) the Name "Jesus" is absolutely nowhere to be found. Isn't that amazing? That's right, in the original 1611 KJV the Name was transliterated as "Iseuous" and "Iseoua" (making a poor phonetic attempt at Yahshua). Yet people think that KJV-Only or AV-Only is Bible Alone, and that anyone who reads ANY other version of the Bible is a poor lost fool, and will not go to heaven -- this should ring a bell, loudly, throughout your being -- we're dealing with the traditions of men here, and these are the meanest traditions, one Christ would never have supported -- and if they were true? He would have told us about it. Take note, the King James Version is a good Bible, as good as any other Bible, it is acceptable for people to read (and struggle) with the language . . . God CAN speak through the KJV, just as He can speak through any version of the Bible. These are traditions of men.
It is an oxymoron to call "Sunday" the "Sabbath" -- which even a brusque reading of the first two chapters of the Bible will demonstrate. The early Christians, after the crucifixion, did not even hold "the day of the sun" as particularly a special day, whereas all early Christians came together every Sabbath, both Jews and Gentiles, to read the scriptures and fellowship together. Ninety percent of Christian clergy today freely admit that "Sunday" worship is the product of tradition and was never an issue in "Bible times," that early Christians, to a small extent after 100 a.d., began to hold Sunday as a special day, in honor of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, a day of celebration, and that as the years passed the day took on more and more significance (as tradition generally does work), and as a larger and deeper chasm separated the early Christians from the old and tradition-honored religion of Judaism, Christians began to uplift Sunday, to further distance themselves from the Jew as hatred between the two groups intensified. First, the Christians, the smaller group, received the brunt of persecution, the worst form of discrimination -- the Jews felt that Christians were idolaters, worshipping a man instead of Yahweh; but as the numbers shifted, and more and more Gentiles (non-Jews) became Christian, pay-back came along with the swelling ranks. Christians, who began to persecute and hate Jews, and the distinction was attempted to make them different peoples, with different beliefs, following different creeds, and holding different things important, while different things were hated, differences such as Sabbath and Sunday. The irony was that all the first Christians were Jewish, as was their Savior, Yeshua, Yahshua Moshiach, and it was His tradition, His own custom, to keep His Own Holy Day the Sabbath. Yes, Jesus kept the Biblical Sabbath, isn't that amazing? Rarely do techers and pastors want you to know this truth. For hundreds of years, after 100 a.d., Christians kept the Biblical Sabbath, and many began to uphold Sunday as a special day as well -- these people kept BOTH days as special, the Sabbath as a Biblical injunction from God, and Sunday as a special man-made holiday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, much the same way Christmas is kept today (there is no Biblical injunction nor command, and yet people have begun to view Christmas as a "holy" time, so Sunday and Christmas are very similar in that they are man-made traditions based on pagan holidays, pagan worship, pagan practices). As hatred intensified between the tradition-building Christians and the tradition-laced Jews, some church fathers around 200 a.d. began to suppress the Sabbath, calling it a "Jewish day," and lifted higher Sunday as a specific "Christian day," suggesting that Christians still "keeping the Sabbath" were not quite as enlightened as those that had cast off the Sabbath; it was still common to keep Sabbath holy, along with the celebration of Sunday, which they began to call "the Lord's Day," but that the Sabbath should be a day of mourning and fasting, an unpleasant day, whereas Sunday ought to be a day of celebration and feasting. So, naturally, people began to hate the Sabbath, and they couldn't wait for it to be over so that they could have some fun on Sunday -- to this day Sunday is the Funday (for Sabbath keepers and Sunday worshippers alike, Sunday is generally all about self, enjoying yourself, having fun, thinking your own thoughts, speaking your own words, shopping, sports, movies, play, play, and more play). It's very easy to discover the truth about the Sabbath vs. Sunday controversy, because from the Crucifixion to 200 a.d. all Christians kept the Sabbath and it wasn't until after 200 a.d. that many Christians, due to hatred and prejudice to the Jew, began to develop a distaste for God's holy Sabbath day, and began to call Sunday "the Lord's Day." Ironically, in a sloppy attempt to rewrite the "troublesome truth of history," people have anachronistically applied the term "Lord's Day" as mentioned in Revelation, to the day "Sunday," which had never occured in Bible times. Dishonesty, pure and simple (not that there is anything pure or simple about dishonesty -- but, in many cases, dishonesty IS a part of tradition). Will you keep the traditions of the elders, all the while setting aside the unchanging laws of God? Which is more important, man's laws, man's traditions, or the unchanging Word of God? Is there anything wrong with going to church on Sunday? There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that there is anything remotely wrong with going to church on ANY day (you can go to church 7 days a week). Even in the days of the apostles some men viewed certain days higher and more important than other days, but the Bible makes it amply clear that God Himself considers the Sabbath His own day, His special day, His Holy day. So there is nothing wrong with going to church seven days a week. HOWEVER, it IS wrong to call Sunday "the Sabbath," because it is attempting to put "tradition" above and better than God's Word. It is, at worst, an attempt to change times and laws (and you don't want to be numbered with the WHO the Bible describes as wanting to change times and laws -- there are probably 666 reasons why you DON'T want to fall in with this worker of iniquity, called the man of sin, or lift up his unholy day and call it Holy -- ONLY God determines what is holy, and what is unclean, and man has absolutely no right to try and change what God has said). To do so, to change God's Word for man's word, is vanity. It is a vain religion. It is vain worship that God does not recognize as worshipping Him in spirit and truth. It is Tradition, pure and simple, not that there is anything pure or simple about tradition. These are traditions of men.
Fancy Sunday Best.
Expensive, fancy duds is the way to please God. Um, actually, the Bible says nothing about wearing fancy clothes to church. Tradition, again, and again. Why do people wear their best clothes to church? Not to please God, but to please men. Man judges by outward appearance, but God? He judges by the heart. The sad truth is, if someone shows up in what the tradition of the world judges as "casual dress," a whole lot of judgmentalism is gonna go down! God doesn't care too much about your clothes -- but He does care about your heart. The inside, not the outside.
The Little Drummer Boy.
God only appreciates certain kinds of music. This would be pretty hard to prove, employing the Bible alone. The Bible tells us to make a joyful noise, to shout, to employ cymbals and trumpets and even (gasp) DANCE! However, tradition mandates something different. Tradition is habit forming, isn't it? These are traditions of men.
The Big 10.
Written with God's own finger on stone. Called, you got it, The Moral Law. Yet today, the vast majority of Christian churches teach and hold onto only NINE moral commandments. That's right, even the teachers and theologians teach that only nine of God's moral laws apply to Christians, that God snuck one ceremonial rule in there (right in the heart of the moral law) for the Jews in the crowd but meant for nine moral rules to apply to everybody and their little brother. Yet, the Bible teaches, if you keep nine, and break one, you have in all reality broken all ten. Check it out, the Bible actually says this. So, what is it that this vast body of Christianity teaches? That we should keep not one of the Ten Commandments -- but still, let's stick them up in poster form in every court house across the land. That'll teach them pagans, won't it? We're talking "show" and "tell" and not walking the walk. A lot of talking the talk. And THAT is the worst form of tradition -- the tradition of hypocrites.
Makes extravagant sense, don't it do? Oh, those big meanies who want to separate church and state want to remove the "church" from the State court house, by taking down that statue of the Ten Commandments. And people get mad, we're talking MAD. Why? Because that statue of the Ten Commandments has become an idol to these people, and people HATE to have their idols pulled from their greedy little fingers. These people honor God with their mouths only. Other "Christians," by far the less honest -- not only twist the scripture, but they rip it right out of the Bible, and say that it is fine and dandy-doo to REMEMBER a completely OTHER day, one that is not even commanded in the Word, and call that day holy, even though God NEVER designated it as holy. And they lie to you: "Really, you are STILL keeping the Sabbath, you are keeping all 10 commandments, if you keep one eye closed just so, and hold your head at this angle, hold your breath for 32 seconds, and say "I DO believe in spooks, I DO believe in spooks" while tapping your toes together in a particular rhythym that only THEY can teach you. Then they package that for Christian consumption and sell it for $29.95 on every geek channel on the ole TV and on "The Bible Answer Man" show! Wow. But that's TRADITION for you. God says remember, but people, over two millenia, tell you: Shhhh, forget. Don't be a legalist. God says DO, but we say: "You won't surely die." God says REMEMBER. But tradition says FORGET. What will you do? These are the traditions of men.
...you know . . . the Godhead. Of course, "trinity" is a human tradition, the word, even the concept. Now, I'm not saying it is a "bad tradition," or an evil deception, as some say. It started out as a way for man to comprehend "the Lord." The Lord is difficult to comprehend. Even for the best of the best. But "Trinity" is a man-made way of looking at God -- IT IS NOT A BIBLICAL DOCTRINE. Keep that in mind, when people tell you that if you don't believe it you are an "evil cult" -- it reveals quite a lot about the red-faced, spittle-spraying "prophet," doesn't it?
So man devises a way to "look" at God. You know, the Bible distinctly indicates: God is One. And yet, the Bible SEEMS to say: God is Three. Well, which is it? One, or Three? At best, we can say that the idea of "the Trinity" is suggested in the Bible, and sometimes it is suggested powerfully. But still, a grand leap must be made to lift up the Trinity idea as a Biblical law, a commandment, a litmus test, a proving doctrine. Do I think the "Trinity" idea is wrong? No, I don't. Are there pagan beliefs that match the concept of trinity, word for word, blow by blow, stroke after stroke? Yes, there are, but that does not logically indicate that because of similiarities that "trinity" IS pagan, even if the pagan beliefs existed and were articulated long, long before a "Christian" ever verbalized the word or concept "Trinity." The trick is, we have to remember that "trinity" is a tool that MAN created, not God, and it is good, it is valid, as long as we don't try to FORCE it into scripture, as long as we don't make it a law, a dogma, a doctrine, a test. It is from man, not from God. Being from man doesn't necessarily make it bad, but don't buy into the notion that you have to accept the concept or you is a wicked, a evil, a meanie cult member. I like what St. Patrick allegedly said, holding up a three-leaf clover. The Trinity. One clover, three leaves. I like that, it helps my mind grasp what God IS. It is a clear-cut definition? No, I don't think so. It also helps me to think that "God" is a family. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, One God, One Family . . . and immediately MANY people will label me a cult, and why? Because I don't quite match their own personal means of grasping at "God as a concept," my attempt to understand God is different from their attempt. And they've got a lot of spotted goats to cling to, don't they? I personally hold to the Trinity concept, all the while realizing that it is a man-made construct. The "shoulders of giants," again, pure and simple -- not that there is anything pure or simple about giant shoulders. It comes close to making sense to me, the Trinity, but then again the Bible never designates the concept of "Trinity" as a litmus test to judge the validity of Christians or their beliefs. No, the Bible, and especially Jesus, designates FRUITS as the litmus test, but people like Hank Hanegraaff continually go back to his own personal "Trinity Test," and anyone who doesn't adhere to his slightly opaque grasping at the meaning of God, the nature of God -- well, ole Hanky says those folk are false folk, and dey is gonna boin, and like boin foh like eternity in eternal torment and torture. This is a dangerous fruit, pure and simple, not that there is anything pure or simple about dangerous fruit. Keep it clear in your mind, in your very being: the concept of "Trinity" is a man-made construct, and should NEVER be a dogma, or doctrine presented as the "Bible and Bible Alone!" Don't let anyone cloud your mind. It AIN'T "the Bible Alone," it is Bible plus tradition. These are the traditions of men.
Sticklers of the Traditions.
We know their traditions, but it's what we're used to, so don't make waves. If people read the Bible and try to go by it, and only it, what do we call them? CULT, pure and simple (not that there's anything pure or simple about cults). The Bible says to keep the Seventh day holy, but tradition says "to heck with that, keep the first day holy" -- what do we call someone who follows the Bible and not tradition? Cultist (that's tradition for you!). The Bible says we are to give special consideration to the poor, but what does tradition call the poor? Bums. Those guys shouldn't show their frayed jeans in any upstanding church across the country. The Bible tells us about Ten Commandments but what do we call people who refuse to keep only Nine, the ones that keep ALL ten?
Legalist! That's tradition for you. But what did Jesus say?
But in vain they do worship me,
teaching for doctrines
the commandments of men.
Yeppers, the Bible really does say that. Jesus REALLY DID say that, but men? With tradition? Ah, heck, forget all that, it's LAW and we ain't under the LAW, law is bad and grace is good. That's tradition for you. Full of lies and faulty logic. Maybe I should say: "Fool of lies and faulty logic." Something to think about, at least hopefully. Too bad we can't make THINKING a tradition, wouldn't THAT be something? But that's hard, thinking, you know? WHY should we think when we can just turn on the TV or the radio and let someone much smarter than us do all the thinking for us? Are YOU standing on the shoulders of giants? If so, get off, NOW (and you might have to fall some distance), but the Bible says that the righteous man might fall seven times, but he will get back on his feet EVERY time.
The Perfect Church.
I'd love to find a group of people that follow the Bible and the Bible alone, a group that gathers together to read the scriptures on Sabbath (even if it is down by the river, and not in a building -- hey, that's actually Biblical! but I guess that's not supposed to matter, right?), a fellowship that shares what they have with the less fortunate among themselves in addition to those that are not a part of themselves, that does not judge each other, that will not allow politics or man-made rules to water down their wine (this is figurative Bible-speak, you understand, see Isaiah 1). A church that gets all of their teaching out of the Bible, and not out of some man's (or woman's) interpretation of the Bible. I'd be all over a group like that -- I'd beg them to include me in their service. I could be the guy that goes around washing their feet.
Unfortunately, I cannot think of any denomination that is free of tradition. Certainly, the Seventh-day Adventists have made a pretty good attempt at Bible-aloneness -- in some ways they are the best of the best (but there are people in that church, people who teach against EGW and lift up a second, better Bible, and claim that they know more than what the Bible teaches, all the while opposing the long-departed person they claim to follow), and the Messianic Jews might even be a little closer (as small as they are). Unfortunately, the SDAs have carried over too much Baptist and Methodist tradition (it's who the SDAs came out of) and the Messianic Jews put too much stress on Judaism (still teaching, for the most part, that there is a difference between Jew and Gentile, which the Bible denounces -- it's a tradition the Messianic Jews shouldn't have brought over from Judaism, and many demand a strict tradition of the elders, first and foremost, and then let's look at the Bible). But then again, that's tradition for you. The traditions and doctrines and commandments of men. Jesus didn't put a whole lot of stock in those traditions. Ain't that a shame? A church might be great, but that doesn't mean that the people inside the church are all that great. And then again, the church might be complete poo-poo, and yet the people inside . . . solid gold. But you've heard that Seventh-day Adventists are a cult! Right? As we can see, people, with their lazy inability to think, believe a whole lot of things that just aren't true. Are certain groups of SDAs a cult? Yes, unfortunately it IS true. But the Church as a whole is pretty good, just as there are GOOD groups of Baptists, but most people have only met the legalist nutcases that wave guns and crank their noses high above everyone else. Remember, it is a distinct "tradition" of the devil himself, to claim to be an angel of light, and to point at God's people and shriek: "Cult!" Be careful of those that claim to have the Golden Seal of Approval, that know the Kingdom of the Cults through and through, because these tradition-pushers are often the most cultic of them all. They lift up the tradition of the elders far above the Bible even while they are screaming: "Bible Alone!" It should tell you something, and it should do the telling loudly. Be very careful around such groups, legalistic through and through. There are good Presbyterians and good Baptists and good Pentecostals and even good Jehovah's Witnesses and good Mormons and possibly even a good Church of Christ as well, if you look hard. But the fact is, you aren't saved by a group, you are not even SAFE in a group, or because of a group. You are ONLY safe by clinging to Christ. By abiding in Him (and sadlly, most people who call themselves "Christian" have never even heard of "abide in Me," as redundant as Jesus was when He said it), sadly, most "Christians" have never even read the Bible, let alone studied it. But you are not safe by being a Catholic, or by being a Gangsta Rappa fohde Lawd. You aren't safe by sending in your seeds, by speaking positive Deep Thoughts nonsense. You are ONLY safe in Christ. Cling to Him, cry out to Him: "Save me! I am Yours!" Still, we must fellowship with other Christians. If there is a good SDA Church, that's where you'll find me on Sabbath, and if there isn't, I'll look for a Messianic Jewish Church, and if that is not to be found, more and more Yahweh congregations are rising, just here, and just there, tiny groups, many quite good, others leaning to the dangerous fringe, and finally there's always the Seventh-day Baptists, and after them, then we must go to the "Sunday Churches," despite the overwhelming traditions, rituals and man-made laws and doctrines, the placing of the Bible at a very, very distant second or third or even fourth place. They are still "brothers and sisters in Christ," and we should not judge them on the light from God that they have incorporated into their spiritual lives, as small and twisted as it sometimes is. But hey, God never intended for churches to be "perfect." Why? Simple, people are far from perfect. People will NEVER be perfect (despite cultic teaching). People are fallible and they fall and they make mistakes. Churches are made up of people, and where there are people, there are going to be opinions, where there are opinions, there are going to be tastes, where there are tastes there are going to be styles, where there are styles there are going to be habits, where there are habits there are going to be traditions. And, traditions are not necessarily bad -- they're just not HOLY. And they're almost impossible to break, even when they cross over into the unhealthy, the unwise, the unscrupulous, the unmerciful, the judgmental and the proud. There is nothing HOLY about pride, or habit, or collective vote. There is absolutely nothing holy about greed or deception. (Only God can make something holy, to suggest otherwise -- whether you're trying to make a day holy, or a holiday holy, or a form of music or architecture or clothing -- is pure legalism, legalism of the worst kind: attempting to place man-made law above God's holy law.) But we have to keep in mind that God does not respect people (if you think He does, you have to read the Bible to find the truth), and He does not validate man-made traditions (if you think He does, you better check out what Jesus says about traditions, the kind made up by us idiots). Traditions are okay, as long as they don't become dogma, as long as they don't vote their way into doctrine. God does not favor such dogma, neither does He approve of such contrived doctrine. Many of theses foolish, vainglorious "doctrines" are called "doctrines of demons," and you don't want to be kow-towing to THOSE do you? A perfect chuch? Man, I'd love to find it. I'm not going to try and start one, that's for sure. But hey, it's nice to hope, isn't it...? ...maybe I'll bump into YOU there...!
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