Cecil Hutson Sermon Archive
August 12, 2007 PM
WHEN TRADITION BECOMES LAW
INTRO: The verses comprising our text for tonight's study are important verses ... indeed, crucial verses. "Tradition" is certainly not an ugly word. Customs and traditions, from a religious perspective, may be helpful and useful. But tradition must always be tested by scripture. If tradition violates God's word, it must be put aside. One of the interesting things which happens in the religious world, however, is that scripture is often tested by tradition. And it is a reasonable thing to ask, "What is tradition, and what is Biblical?" Our text for tonight's study presents us with a situation of tradition versus the word of God. One of the interesting things about this encounter of Jesus with the Pharisees and scribes is that almost always such encounters focused on tradition!
THE COMPLAINT OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES
We notice that these scribes & Pharisees were from Jerusalem - 7:1
- remember that in 3:22 a delegation of them came with accusations
- apparently, the "opposition" centered in Jerusalem
We notice that they were "fault finders" - 7:2
- this issue here was not hygiene - it was ritual
- these "hand washings" were prescribed in the rabbinic traditions
Mark gives his readers an explanation - 7:3,4
- notice that it was a "holding to the tradition of the elders"
- the belief was that things bought or touched in the markets might have come in contact with "unclean" people ... Gentiles, for example - and there were many regulations concerning ritual "washings" of various sorts of things
So, the Pharisees & scribes make their complaint to Jesus
- interestingly, they did not complain about Him ... but about His disciples
- their complaint had nothing to do with a violation of the law of Moses
- it had everything to do, however, with "the tradition of the elders" - these oral/written traditions had been passed down for centuries - the Talmud
- We notice that these scribes & Pharisees were from Jerusalem - 7:1
HOW JESUS RESPONDED
First, Jesus quoted Isa 29:13
- notice the last part of that verse - what was the cause of their problem?
- they were religious, but it was a religion of ritual, of human origin
- this was clearly the problem of the scribes/Pharisees
Religion that is vain, empty, meaningless? - 7:7
- here is Jesus' "interpretation" of what Isaiah's words meant
- when tradition is elevated to the position of law, when precepts of human origin become the basis for religion, the religion is vain
- one can be honest, sincere in the pursuit of such ritual and religion ... and be as wrong as were the scribes and Pharisees
Such religion is "laying aside the commandment of God" - 7:8,9
- these people may have the language of religion - the look of religion
- probably, most would deny having done so - the Pharisees would!
- denial, however, cannot change the facts - to leave, to alter, to minimize in any way God's revealed word is laying it aside
Then, Jesus gave them a contemporary illustration of their error - 7:10-13
- He first cites the law of Moses - Ex 20:12& Lev 20:9
- and the very people to whom He cited it would say, "Amen"
- but their tradition had provided a "loophole" for them
- First, Jesus quoted Isa 29:13
- "Corban" was a designation of a gift devoted to God ... but still in ones possession ... still under ones control and use
- if parents had need, under the tradition, such an obligation could be avoided by declaring what might have been used to assist parents to be a gift to God (but remember I. Tim 5:8)
- and this is what they were doing to be free of parental obligations
- this well known practice among the religious Jewish leaders (and others?) made the "word of God of none effect"
- and this delivered tradition was only one of "many such like things"
Clearly, there is a warning here for all time
- certainly, today's religious world is filled with such religious sincerity in the presence of abandonment of the word of God
- written documents "governing" groups authorize practices which are obviously unauthorized by scripture ... yet, scripture may be cited
- my concern, though, is with you and me - that we honor the word of God from our hearts in careful, loving obedience
- but that we do not develop traditions which become laws perhaps superceding the revealed word of God
- in honesty, I try carefully to not to let my opinions get in the way of truth
CLOSE: May I suggest that this is one of the critically important lessons of Jesus for our time and place. The drift away from what scripture authorizes in favor of feelings and opinions, no matter how well meaning, is a very present reality.
Cecil A. Hutson
12 August 2007
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)