Know Your Bible

VOL. 7                           June 29, 2008                           NO. 23

Hold The Traditions

    Every one of us have some tradition that is a part of our life, even if it is nothing more than squeezing the tube of toothpaste from the bottom! Really, we all live with many traditions every day.

    The word "tradition" with its shades of meaning is at times used with disdain by New Testament Christians. We are warned against the dangers of the religious and philosophical traditions of men (Mk. 7:8,9, 13; Col. 2:8). On the other hand, the gospel of Christ is also described as a "tradition" in the New Testament (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). So, what is the difference?

    Defining words is crucial to understanding any subject. The word translated "tradition" in the New Testament (paradosis) means "giving over, giving up - a giving over which is done by word of mouth or in writing, i.e. tradition by instruction, narrative, precept, etc....objectively, that which is delivered, the substance of a teaching" (Thayer, 481). So, a tradition is something that is handed over or handed down from one to another. For example, we commonly think of traditions as generational, such as parents handing down some family tradition to their children.

    The traditions of men originate in the minds of men and are given over or handed down to others through verbal teaching and/or written words. The Jewish "traditions of the elders", which often conflicted with a "commandment of God", are a case in point (Matt. 15:2,3,6). Religious doctrines and practices that were started by men and handed down to others can never hold equal authority with the word of God (Gal. 1:6-9).

    Hundreds of human religious traditions are practiced today in the name of God. To bind human traditions upon men as necessary in order to please God renders said traditions spiritually worthless and deceitful (Col. 2:8, 20-23). Truly, to do so is to make "void the word of God" (Matt. 15:6).

    There are also traditions that have been delivered to man from God. The Corinthians were praised by the apostle for keeping the traditions "just as I delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2). Since it is "the faith" (gospel) that has been delivered from heaven to man by inspired men, it is apparent that Paul is commending the Corinthian Christians for staying true to the inspired gospel of Christ (Jude 3). The gospel is called "traditions" because they have been given over or handed down from God to man. Truth, the God-given traditions, were transmitted to the world verbally and then in written form (2 Thess. 2:15). We are expected to "stand fast and hold the traditions" of God (2 Thess. 2:15).

    The truth handed over from God to man is the God-approved instruction that contains all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3; cf. Jn. 17:17). So, if we do not live according to the "traditions" received from the apostles (the gospel), our life is described as "disorderly" before men and God (2 Thess. 3:6). God expects us to order our lives after His revealed truth that He has handed down to us through the apostles of Christ Jesus.

    Let us all be careful to walk in the traditions given to us by God in the gospel of Christ. There are no better traditions to hand down to our children than these!

---Joe R. Price


All Talk, No Action

    Why is it that we talk about things for so long before doing them, at times to the exclusion of doing them? To the extent that discussion is part of planning, it is good to talk before doing. Several proverbs commend thinking ahead. "Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory"(11:14). "...the prudent man considers his steps" (14:15). "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty" (21:5). Much time and effort are wasted by failure to adequately plan. However, not all talk is planning.

    Sometimes we talk but don't do because the thing we are talking about is really beyond reach. It is but a dream.

    Fear may be the problem. One might talk about a thing for a while as a means of rousing his courage. Or, his conversation may amount to nothing more than an acknowledgment of what should be done - all the while he knows he is too fearful of failure or opposition to ever try.

    Extended conversation may reflect indecision. Have you ever been in a group where a decision was reached, yet long after that, people were still discussing its merits rather than working toward its implementation? The culprit is indecision; we really aren't committed to the task. Indecision means that nothing is done. It can be as debilitating as poor decisions.

    Talk may be idle boasting. It may stand alone because of laziness or other priorities. Yet somehow, talking about things, especially things we know we ought to do, makes us feel better about them. And therein lies the danger. We can confuse talking about a subject with genuine interest or even progress in that area.

The Remedy

    Talk is no substitute for action. Elders can plan the best possible program of work or study, but if we never get around to doing it, no good will be done. Saying we need to visit the sick does nothing to comfort them. Does merely talking about brethren overtaken in a trespass restore them? Likewise, discussing the importance of spreading the gospel does not save souls.

    Parents, simply threatening unruly children -- "If you do that one more time..." -- accomplishes nothing. No, punishment for bad behavior is what establishes the boundary.

    Some folks talk about making their lives right with God. And talk. And talk. "And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16).

---Frank Himmel

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I'll See You In Bible Class . . .

Because I want more than anything to know the Lord.

"With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!" (Psa. 119:10)

Because I need the spiritual resources to do right.

"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (Psa. 119:11)

Because I must find my way through this passing world.

"I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your command-ments from me! ... Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psa. 119:19,105)

Because I long for strength to cope with life.

"My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me accord-ing to your word!" (Psa. 119:28)

Because I need to refocus on things that matter.

"Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways." (Psa. 119:37)

Because I hope in the precious promises of God.

"This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life... Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me." (Psa. 119:50, 133)

Because I am blessed by the company of my spiritual family.

"I am companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts." (Psa. 119:63)

Because I want to encourage others who care.

"Those who fear you will see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in our word." (Psa. 119:74)

Because I must be prepared to serve.

"I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!" (Psa. 119:125)

Because I value the security of the Lord's guidance.

"Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble." (Psa. 119:165)

---Bill McFarland

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