Are we following tradition or the Scriptures?

             Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written,This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 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.

In addition, he said unto them, ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many suck like things do ye.” Mark 7:6-9, 13.

            In verse 8 there is a sharp contrast made between “the commandment of God” and “the tradition of men.” This same contrast is found again, in verse 9, “the commandment of God” versus “your own tradition.”  Also, it is found in verse 13 where Jesus makes the contrast that they had made “the word of God of none effect.” How? They had passed down their traditions to the people. Jesus quotes from Isaiah and makes the application to them saying that Isaiah was right when he spoke of “you hypocrites.”  Hypocrites are those who“pretend.” They were pretending to honor Jesus but Jesus said that they were giving lip-service, that is to say, they were honoring Him with their words. However, Jesus states, “but their heart is far from me.”  How could this be? Theywere following “traditions!” Their hearts were following the wrong things whereas it should have been following the commandment of God. They were “hypocrites” that is they were “pretenders.” By following their traditions, they were rejecting the commandment of God and making the word of God of none effect. (Verses 9, 13). The word “reject” means, “to render ἄθετον; do away with θετόν τιi. e. something laid down, prescribed, established:…” (Thayer, p. 13). They had set aside, done away with, the commandment of God by following their traditions. The word for “none effect” means, “to render void, deprive of force and authority,…” (Thayer, p. 25). By following their traditions, they rendered the commandment of God void and deprived it of force and authority. The conclusion is that they were condemned because they followed “tradition” instead of “the word of God.”

            Some today are saying that we are “following the traditions of our parents and grandparents in the church of Christ.” That is a strong accusation! If the accusation is true, then that means that our parents and grandparents who taught the same plan of salvation, the same way to worship God and how that it is to be conducted that we still do have set aside, done away with, the commandment of God. It also means that they and we have rendered void and deprived the force and authority of the word of God. Where will our parents and grandparents stand with God on judgment day? It is with sadness that some of the same folks say we are “too judgmental.” By stating that we are, “following the traditions of our parents and grandparents in the church of Christ” is passing judgment upon those who have in times past spoken “as the oracles of God.” 1 Peter 4:11. If what they did and taught us to do is not the commandment of God then they were “hypocrites” that is they were “pretenders.” They have been condemned and if we continue to follow our parent’s and grandparent’s “tradition” we also will be condemned. That is the conclusion of their argument!

            Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”John 7:24. Our Lord also said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.’ John 12:47-48. When speaking to the apostles Jesus said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13. What the apostles taught came from the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit to the apostles. Do we have “book, chapter, and verse,” that is, “commandments of God” / “oracles of God” for what we must do to be saved? Yes! John 12:47; Mark 16:16; Luke24:47; Acts 2:38; 8:37; 22:16. Do we have the same for how we are to worship? Yes! Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24. We are to preach/teach the Word of God, sing without man-made instruments, pray to the Father through Jesus Christ partake of the Lord’s Supper, and give of our means, Acts 2:42; Mark 16:15-16, Colossians 3:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff; 16:1, 2. If there is no “book, chapter, and verse” for it then as Jesus taught, it is a tradition, and it will cost those who follow it their soul.  Bobby D. Gayton