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In this Issue

Truth or Tradition
Versus Out Of Context

In Other News

“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 Jesus.

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 pieces?

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 Lord.

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.

Matthew 11:18-19.
“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.
Mark 3:20-21.
“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 5:16.

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 Peter 3:15.
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.

For more material view
Shaun Kearney
en engape!