What do you mean by traditions? How shall we define the word? There are various and sundry definitions of the word and the summary of these seems to be: “The handing down, delivery, transfer, transmission, giving over, conveyance of a story, beliefs, customs, law, teachings, ordinances, instructions, doctrines, precepts, from one source (God or men) to another, or from generation to generation by word of mouth or written, and the receiving of that which is handed down orally or written.” There are different traditions spoken of in the scriptures. Some are to be followed and others to be rejected. Those precepts that were spoken by the apostles involve God’s truth and they are referred to as traditions. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (II Thessalonians 2:15). Rather than to avoid traditions, Paul admonished brethren at Thessalonica to “hold the traditions”. In the third chapter of this same epistle, brethren were commanded to withdraw from every brother “that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” (II Thessalonians 3:6). “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” (I Corinthians 11:1) This is the reading in the King James Version. There are other versions that use the word “traditions” rather than “ordinances”. Thus, we should be able to recognize that some traditions come from God, and are good and right, and are universally binding.

However, we seem to be living in an era when people speak derogatory of traditions. I am a traditionalist and thoroughly believe that all people must be if they hope to live with God in eternity. The passages that have been related refer to the truth that the apostles spoke as being traditions. God’s people are to hold the traditions that came from inspired men who had the authority of binding and loosing on earth. There are those who profess to be members of the Lord’s church who crave new things and practices that are right in their own eyes. The teaching and traditions that have come from the apostles are not respected and revered as truth from God. The phrase “new hermeneutic” is being used by brethren in regard to the scriptures. Though I may not understand a plausible definition of the phrase, it seems to involve doing whatever you want to do in religion and giving no respect for the truth of the scriptures.

The scriptures reveal that there are traditions which are contrary to God’s law and should not be allowed to govern our activities. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8). We must be concerned about the traditions that we follow. There are traditions of men that lead us from Christ while there are traditions from the apostles that lead us to faithfulness in Christ. Paul spoke of “his being exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14). He came to recognize that such were vain in obtaining salvation in Christ. Peter stated: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (I Peter 1:18-19). That which was delivered from the fathers was not to be recognized as the truth of God’s word. The scriptures reveal traditions that were not inherently wrong, but they are made wrong when they are bound on others or placed above God’s law. We are speaking of many of the traditions that the Pharisees had adopted. “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. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:8-9). The traditions that have originated with men have no right to be bound upon men. They are without God’s authority. (Colossians 3:17) (II Corinthians 5:7) (I Peter 4:11). They have no right to exist and will cause one’s religion to be vain (Matthew 15:9).

The traditions that we are to hold are those practices that have been delivered by the Lord through the apostles. These were taught by word or epistle (II Thessalonians 2:15). Such are not subject to change! They have come from the Lord and are bound upon men forever. Baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), the Lord’s Supper on every first day of the week (Acts 20:7), giving of our means on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-2), singing and making melody in our hearts as the divinely authorized music (Ephesians 5:19), the autonomy of the local church (I Peter 5:1-4)…these are but a few of the things that might be termed traditions regarding the churches of Christ. But where did they originate? Not from men, but from the teaching of the apostles regarding traditions that we are to hold.

When you are doing God’s will and following the pattern of truth, there may be those who label you as a traditionalist. Be thankful that you can be and continue on!

By - Bobby K. Thompson
via the Susquehannah Sentinel 8-14-2005

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