Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye” (Mark 7:13).
Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees who had once again confronted him for not obeying their traditions. Jesus, of course, rebuked them for holding to the tradition of Man instead of holding God’s Word in higher esteem. Today we also see that Man’s traditions have crept into the preaching and teaching of God’s Word placing non-biblical parameters on the body of Christ. God never intended this to happen.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all Ekklesia’s of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Many manmade traditions have been instituted as Scriptural doctrine over the years and it can be confusing to both Christians and non-Christians. There is only one Author of the Bible and He will teach us His Word if we allow Him to. The confusion comes when a particular group tries to build doctrine upon one Scripture rather than taking the whole of Scripture into account.
For instance, some people contend that speaking, in tongues, is evidence of salvation. Is that biblical? Speaking in tongues is very biblical, but not as proof of salvation. It is only one of many gifts of the Spirit. To confuse things even more, some teach that the gifts stopped during the first century. Why do we listen to Man’s teachings alone without due diligence in searching the Scriptures for ourselves? Because of these confused traditions and teachings many people walk away confused.
We can be sure that people will always allow themselves to be programmed to receive what is being taught, displayed, preached, and viewed. Why? Because it is easier to just let someone else tell you what the Scriptures teach rather than studying them for yourself. Most people have no intention of becoming involved in the actual planning or leading of worship services, thus what is presented to them is sufficient and they hope not too bothersome. Much of what transpires in most assemblies of the saints is not biblical but simply man’s traditions prearranged for convenience sake.
Oh yes, we celebrate it every so often, if we remember. When it is celebrated, it is only offered to those who meet the particular denominations idea of what a Christian is, such as membership in that particular group. In the early days of Christianity there were no Baptists, or Methodists, or any other denomination. They were one body. They were the Ekklesia – the called out body of Christ. When the “church” began (not the Ekklesia, but the church) man began making rules that God never ordained. Thus, there is much confusion.
“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Attending services at a local Christian assembly and worshiping God at that location at a preset hour, on a specific day every week, for a nominal amount of time can be viewed as somewhat holding to the admonition by Paul to keep the assembly decent and orderly. But what is the purpose of all that organization if those in the pews don’t learn anything other than Man’s traditions. Many people feel that an hour in a pew is sufficient regarding their duty as a Christian.
Here’s one for you, many of those people sitting in those pews are not born-again and yet they go through the motions of bowing their heads, joining in singing of hymns, and placing their tithe (another tradition) in the collection plate, all as though those things were allowing them an inside track to God and perhaps a special seat at His right hand.
What about all of the many translations of God’s Word? As we examine the English versions of our Bibles and compare them to the original languages in which the Bible was written we find some conspicuous variations from that of the original languages. In many instances we find that words have been added to our English Bibles, which do not show up in the original manuscripts. Why is this? Perhaps the reason was to try to help us understand more fully the intent of God and His Word. That hardly makes for a plausible excuse.
After all, is our God not capable of giving us all we need to understand or to discern His Word? Of course He is. So why add the extra words? Could it be that the enemy has infiltrated the ranks of those doing the translating? Certainly. From what we see occurring in today’s English translations this is not only plausible, it is unequivocally true. We now have non-gender and politically correct versions that water down God’s meaning. Who cares what God thinks as long as everybody is happy and not offended by truth?
Every born-again follower of Jesus Christ should be relying on God to instruct them in His Word not merely a man. God cannot be corrupted but Man can. The enemy can’t get God to change His Word “…the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:3), but he can and has convinced mankind that the Bible would be better understood if we were to simply add a few words here and there, or conversely remove a few words now and then.
God is fully capable of keeping His Word pure but he will not interfere with those who wish to follow their father, the devil, and do his bidding by adding to or taking away from God’s inerrant Word. The original manuscripts are God-breathed; the English translations of those words are the works of men. Which course are you going to take to get to the original intent of God’s words? Man’s words or God’s? Most of us don’t know Hebrew or Greek, but there are concordances available for help.
For many, many centuries the Ekklesia of Christ has been content with how things were set-up in their congregations. Does anyone understand what has transpired in regard to “doing church?” In the beginning of the age of the Ekklesia of Christ, all believers were given the designation of minister. Now days we sit in a pew and there is only one minister. We listen to his words flow like a lark singing. There’s a joke here and there to lighten the mood so the seriousness of God’s Word doesn’t upset anyone. Most Christians are quite content to listen to the lark sing, especially when it comes to actually being an active part of God’s kingdom.
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
We are programmed to receive the idea that only those who are “ordained” by a denomination are qualified to serve the Lord. Every Christian is ordained of God.
People, we have been dumbed-down to a point that we now just sit and listen to the words of our Pastor while he tells us what the Bible says. Excuse me, but that pastor is merely a man and not God. Why do we take Man’s word for what the Bible proclaims when God is perfectly willing to extend His truth to our minds?
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
By the way, the Scriptures they searched were Old Testament Scriptures. Many denominations omit the Old Testament from being taught. No prophecy or history is taught, let alone the reason why we need a Savior.
“…Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:15-17).
Peter tells us that the unlearned and unstable wrest with the Scriptures unto their own destruction. The Greek word “strebloō”, translated into English as “wrest,” means “to twist, turn awry (skew), to torture, to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures language in a false sense.” Mankind has been twisting and torturing the Scriptures for so many years that the falsehoods that have arisen from all that torture are now accepted as truth and have become Christian traditions – and are not to be assaulted by anyone.
One tradition that has always interested me is the place where most Christians go to worship God. It’s always been a bone of contention with me. If we are to be pilgrims sojourning on this planet spreading the gospel to all of mankind, why are we building these huge expensive buildings to last hundreds of years? Just how biblical is it for Christians to spend enormous amounts of money on large elaborate building projects while many of God’s children (saints) suffer from hunger around the world? A mindset of materialistic comfort has taken over the body of Christ. Plush comfortable buildings are built for a place to go to worship. Interestingly, for the first 200 years as the Ekklesia of Christ was first established it flourished and the meetings of the saints took place in one another’s homes.
As followers of Jesus Christ we should be worshiping Him every day, not just on Sunday. As Christians we should know that our lives are only held together by Christ and thus, every moment we have is His. The problem with going out to a building to meet every Sunday is that when the meeting is over so is the worship. The worshipping and praising of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ—should never end
When we study the Word of God and allow Him to be our teacher, we soon realize that we’ve been taught many traditions of Man in lieu of God’s precepts. If my brethren who desire to be taught the truth will allow their God to instruct them when it comes to the accuracy of interpretation, only then will they challenge these traditions of men as well as wrong doctrine. It’s not difficult to learn from God Himself, it only takes a firm desire, patience, and a willingness to study when others are off playing and conforming themselves to the world.
Are you programmed to receive or are you listening to God?
God bless you all,