Monday, November 2, 2020

Living Biblically - Traditions

 Does it bother you to be lied to?

·       As a parent or grandparent – you saw them do it, guilt is written all over their face, but when you ask – I didn’t do it.

·       As a spouse – There’s only two of you in the house. A huge slice of pie is missing. You ask: did you get into the pie? – He says: Who, me?

·       As a friend – A trusted friend told you what someone said about you. You confront her – I would never say anything like that about you.

·       How about a nurse – just a little stick.

·       How about a politician – well, that’s pretty much a given. But does it still bother you? One Congressman caught lying about his military service – I didn’t lie; I misspoke.

·       What about fake news. Used to be we’d listen to the news and decide how we felt about what we heard. Today we listen, are told how to feel and have to decide if what we heard is true or not.

Back in the day, being a man of his word was a mark of decency in a person. Someone you could trust. He meant what he said. A handshake was as good as a contract. Those people seem rare today.

We’ve all been lied to. And, typically, after that, that person who lied gets placed in a category of suspicion. You’re just not sure you can trust them again. The foundation upon which the relationship was formed is now damaged.

The foundation is the strength of a relationship as it is in a building. A flaw, like a lie, creates a weak spot that will eventually crumble. When Jesus was telling His followers how they were to build their lives. He said His words were to be the foundation.

Matt 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. 


·       His Word is true. Opinions about it doesn’t change the truth of what it says. In fact, whether we even believe it or not doesn’t change the truth of what it says.

·       His Word is eternal. What God says transcend time. We rely on promises and prophecies made 2000 – 3000 years ago.

·       His Word is unchanging. Circumstances cannot render His word ineffective.

·       His word can be trusted. God doesn’t lie.

Heb 6:16-19 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast

Hope must have a sturdy peg to hang on. That peg is our assurance that what God has said is true.

John 14:2-3 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 

If it were not so, I would have told you applies to the whole of Scripture. Why would Jesus have us commit to something that isn’t true? Or tell us to count on something that might change before we get to the point we need it.

Going to seminary back in the 70s was a great disappointment. I thought I would sit at the feet of brilliant men who had invested in a lifelong study of God’s word and each would pour the content of what they had discovered into my life, giving me proof after proof of not only what to believe but why. Instead, my professors would present a topic or doctrine, and then give several suggestions of common beliefs from what other men have said about it, and then say: pick the one you can best live with.

In my naïve mind, I thought if we all used the same book for our reference, shouldn’t we pretty much all come up with the same basic answer, not just find an opinion that matches what we want to be true? How do you commit your life to some opinion?

I needed there to be established truths, backed up by Scripture, presented with unshakable conviction that I could confidently receive and then pass on to others. I wanted reasons to believe what I believed, not just repeat what I’d heard someone else say. I wanted to be able to show why this is true.

All I could say was so-and-so said this was true and I agree with him.

A parrot can be taught to say that, but who can trust the word of a parrot? I needed absolute truths. We’d ask: Prof, what do you believe. He’d say, what I believe doesn’t matter. What you believe is all that counts. No, what I believe isn’t what counts. What counts is what did God say!

If I ask you who’s your favorite Bible character, I’m asking a subjective question. There’s no right or wrong answer. Some can say Esther, David, Peter and nobody’s wrong, everybody’s right. Your answer is based on how you feel about one person over another. When you teach Scripture subjectively, the answer doesn’t matter.

But if I ask you who wrote the most books of the NT, that’s an objective question with only one correct answer. You can say anyone you want but that doesn’t change the fact that Paul wrote most of the NT. Objective truth is either right or wrong, never both at the same time.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevia says one man’s comments were true. Another man challenges that and contradicted what the first man said. Tevia said that man’s comments were true. A different man said they can’t both be true. Tevia said the last man’s comments were also true. Then he sang, Tradition. It wasn’t Scripture that defined them but tradition told them how to live.

Mark 7:5-9 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'this people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition…thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that." 

Jesus saw it in the leaders of God’s people, minimizing what God said and magnifying what men said about what God said. He then watched it trickling down to the people who were more afraid of disobeying a Pharisee than God.

When the nation was established Moses said: Deut 4:1-2 Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 

Somewhere along the way, the opinions of men took precedence over the established Word of God.

Paul warned about this in Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ

Why did he say Christ and not Jesus? When Paul used the name Jesus, he was speaking of the person and work of Jesus. Using the word Christ, Paul was taking them into the entire scope of God’s original plan from before the foundation of the world. The word Christ comes from the word Cristos. It is the Greek form of the word Mashiach. They are not names, but a title. Jesus Christ, Jesus Messiah. But that title unlocked the great mystery God had only hinted at until the moment Jesus came.

Col 2:1-3 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodiceathat their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

Paul’s word was much more significant than merely encouraging people stay faithful to their beliefs, He was warning them they must hold onto what has always been true because if they rejected Jesus, they were drifting away from the only plan God had set from the beginning that made what was promised possible. They would become like a boat untied from its dock.

In that day boats were not for recreation, only work. If you were a fisherman, that boat represented your life. If it became untied from the dock, your life was drifting away.

The writer of Hebrews shared the same concern: Heb 2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 

How might we drift away from what we have heard? By loosening our grip on what’s true in order to take hold of something else.

So, what we believe is important? Absolutely. If we don’t secure our lives to the truth of God, we will drift away from it. Like the fisherman who failed to secure his boat or the man building his life on sand, we have nothing to support us for life.

Everyday I read articles from voices calling pastors to rethink the foundation of Scripture: “Sure, the Bible is authoritative—but we've misunderstood it for the first 2,000 years of church history. This is what it really means today.” These articles encourage pastors to question the Word of God and change it to fit modern culture.

To change the message, you have to change the God of the message. You’re making Him unreliable, untrustworthy, unfaithful. The foundation Jesus gave is being eroded away.

This year has shown us that to the world we are no longer essential to society. What we believe is an affront to modern culture. We’ve been told that in order to remain viable, the church must change its beliefs, comply or cease to exist. The world doesn’t have final say for the church. God never gave up that position.

We’re called to live based on His Word. To live biblically. We can’t live biblically if the Bible can be overridden by the desires and opinions of men.

So, if that Word is to be the foundation of our lives, we need to settle once and for all: is it trustworthy? Either it is true or it is not. It cannot be partly true and partly fake. And if it is, where’s the guarantee?

The construction industry has codes to follow so everything can be built consistently and correctly. The code (more technically the inspectors who apply the code) guarantees the building is built right. To circumvent those codes produces a building that is substandard and beneath the requirements for passing inspection.

God has established the code of our lives as Believers. We are to build our lives on the truth of His word. To circumvent God’s word creates a substandard live far beneath our privilege as Children of God. That is a guarantee from God.

The prophets would begin their messages with, “Thus saith the Lord.” Why? Because the guarantee of what they were about to say rested on God not them.

Ps 138:2 I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. 

God’s name is the name above all names, His person is above all persons, His thoughts are above all thoughts, His ways are above all ways, and He has magnified His word. To guarantee His word as authentic, He has set His name on His word.

God assures His word is true. If He makes a promise, you can count on it. If He tells you what happened, you can believe it did. If He gives you insight you can rely on it.

So, before we can Live Biblically, we must have absolute confidence the Word of God is the Truth of God. If so, we can then conform our lives to it. If not, we might as well watch our boat drift away or build our lives on the sand of uncertainty.

This is my Bible. I believe every word in it is true. If I ever find in my life what doesn’t agree with what is in this book, I will change.


  1.  Having a God who changes His mind would create mass uncertainty if we were going to pattern our lives by what He said.
  2. We can only rely on what is true and unchangeable.
  3. If we believe that is what the Bible represents to us – the true and unchangeable message of God – we have a solid foundation upon which to build our lives.
  4. That message can become our code for life, when used to Live Biblically.

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