Tradition can be a very important thing in our life. Many have a family tradition they hold dear and look forward to each year. One of my favorite traditions is going to my mom’s and eating pork roast and sauerkraut for my birthday. This is by far my favorite meal of the year. Christianity is full of tradition. Most Christians are too quick to blame the Catholic church for holding traditions when they hold too many themselves. Religious tradition is something Jesus dealt with throughout his earthly ministry.
Mat 15:1-3 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Jesus knew they were holding their tradition on equal ground or even higher than scripture. Something many do in error today. Unfortunately today, many Christians know the information that has been passed down to them in church but can’t use the Bible to find scriptural support for the things they believe. Jesus was not upset that they washed before eating, he was upset at the importance they put on this act. They were holding their man made tradition over scripture and even rejecting God’s word with their traditions.
Mar 7:7-9 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 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.
They were “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”. This is the result when Christians spiritualize the Bible. In their failure to rightly divide scripture and in their attempt to force things together that God made separate they teach for doctrine the commandments of men. Your church probably teaches you that you must tithe 10% of your income and even goes so far as to say that this must be calculated before taxes. Your church will use Malachi 3:8-10 to teach you this doctrine. Thousands if not millions of churches across the world teach this tradition. They of course have to ignore verse 6 in the context which specifically puts the “sons of Jacob” in view as the people being spoken to, but you have been taught to read yourself into all kinds of context where you don’t belong. Verse 12 in this chapter, and the immediate context, is also ignored which clearly states that someday “all nations” will call Israel blessed. This verse doesn’t fit into the man made theology that most churches follow today which ignores all the promises and prophecies of Israel’s future earthly kingdom. None of these verses line up with church tradition as taught today in denominational churches because they have assumed Israel’s promises and Israel’s prophecies for themselves. Why can they do this so easily? Christians today don’t know why they believe what they say they believe. Christians today blindly follow the theology of their chosen denomination over the Bible rightly divided. Malachi chapter three belongs to the people TO WHOM it was written. You don’t give because you are commanded to in this chapter. In this dispensation we give because we have the privilege to and because of the grace God extended to us. This is a higher standard than 10%. God is interested in your heart. God does have an interest in your giving, and his standard in found in Paul’s epistles. You know, the books in the Bible that are specifically written to the body of Christ in this dispensation. Our motivation is God’s grace not Israel’s tithe. Your giving is a direct indicator of how thankful you are to God for his grace. How are you doing?
In our last blog we talked about the fact that the huge argument in, and the Jerusalem council of Acts chapter 15 is virtually unknown by much of Christianity. How can such an important turning point in history go untaught and left in obscurity? The same way so many other vastly important topics in our Bible get left aside. They don’t fit the agenda. It’s much easier to spend another Sunday preaching on the sin in society than to tackle something that will only stir up debate and questions right? So I guess some might say right division of my King James Bible is an agenda, but at least God specifically directed us to rightly divide, and that makes it His agenda. There’s something else about the Jerusalem council of Acts chapter 15 you might not know, Paul explains the OUTCOME of this argument in Galatians chapter 2. You might say, “I didn’t know that” and I would say, “That doesn’t surprise me”. Why? There are vastly important things in the book of Galatians you were never taught. Just take a quick look at Gal 1:11-12 and you will quickly see why. The Bible clearly and convincingly teaches the truth that Paul’s Gospel is different that the disciples and apostles that came before him, but were back to differing agendas again…. In Gal 2:7-9 Paul clearly lays out the outcome from the Jerusalem council, and it will surprise you. The “all nations” of Jesus’ great commission is SET ASIDE by the council, and it is determined who will go to whom! The GOSPEL OF THE CIRCUMCISION is committed to Peter and his little flock and the GOSPEL OF THE UNCIRCUMCISION is committed to Paul. Can you not see the clarity of this moment? If you have any real desire to understand your Bible as God intended, will you just let the Bible say what it says? I understand this sounds different than what you’ve been taught your whole life. I am asking you to believe your bible OVER the traditional church theology. Does not the Bible ask you to do this? Can you not see the animosity between Peter and Paul in Gal 2:11 when Paul sets Peter in his place? Church tradition tells you to just ignore this section of scripture as your teachers have done. I’m asking you to READ THE BIBLE and let it SAY WHAT IT SAYS! I ask you this: Does it not bother you that most everything Jesus says about salvation is a contradiction to most everything Paul said about salvation? If you say Jesus and Paul don’t contradict, then I can easily prove you don’t know much about what one of these two people taught about salvation. I can even tell you who you don’t know. You probably know plenty about what PAUL teaches about salvation. You probably know LITTLE about what Jesus taught on the subject. You will find required works, enduring to the end, selling all you have, and law keeping are all part of the gospel Jesus taught. This is because Jesus came to Israel, fulfilling the law and offering an earthly kingdom and you were not in the audience of Jesus’ preaching. The “unknown argument” of Acts 15 and the “unknown outcome” of Galatians 2 are just a few of the “untaught subjects” you could understand if you would just be willing to let God say what he says and leave your church tradition out of the equation.
The more I learned about rightly dividing the Bible the more I ran across things that I was unaware of in scripture. Not obscure and relatively unimportant things, but obvious and very important events or instructions in scripture. Many people learn some of these things and become upset with their preacher and the fact that they were never taught these things. The more you learn about your Bible apart from any preconceived agenda the more you learn that your preacher was not hiding things from you but rather he is unaware of these things just as much as you were. One example of a very important event and quite literally a turning point in scripture that I don’t recall ever being taught about is the argument of Acts chapter 15. This event like so many others is not studied, taught, or even considered in week after week of lessons and sermons. I implore you to stop and read this chapter now. In this chapter you notice what I will call “The Unknown Argument”. Members from the church at Jerusalem have went behind the Apostle Paul and are telling Paul’s converts they must be circumcised and follow the law of Moses to be saved. Already this doesn’t fit your denominational agenda because you probably trace yourself back to the “New Testament” church. Well, that new testament church is requiring LAW KEEPING to be saved. Paul has quite the argument with these law keepers to the extent that it is decided that Paul must come to Jerusalem to discuss the subject with the apostles and elders. Once in Jerusalem the heated argument continues and from the passage it seems no end is in sight. Paul is explaining HIS gospel to the little flock back at Jerusalem and of course Paul’s gospel is DIFFERENT from the gospel Jesus, Peter, and the disciples were preaching. This is painfully obvious from the context but once again this does not fit into most churches man made theology. When there seems no end to the strife Peter (Who is no longer in charge at Jerusalem) finally speaks up of a strange event in his past, the Holy Ghost falling on Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. Peter finally figures out the obvious, and says the following words in Vs 11, “But we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they” Peter understands that the Kingdom program to Israel has been set aside and Paul is preaching what God is doing now. Paul is preaching his gospel of the GRACE OF GOD. Did you notice the “we” and “they” in verse 11? Peter knows what almost no church in your town knows that there were TWO gospels and the one he and the church at Jerusalem was preaching is over and Paul’s gospel of grace was the only gospel at this point. I challenge you to find Peter anywhere in scripture after this point. This argument in Acts 15, that you have probably never understood correctly is just one of the many proofs that during the Acts transitional period the little flock of Israel, the believing Jews, were still following the law and requiring works while Paul’s gospel of grace was coming to the forefront. You will NEVER understand your Bible until you separate what God separates! The gospel of the earthly kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God are DIFFERENT! Christians today fight stubbornly to keep the traditions they were taught and read right past the obvious the Holy Spirit left them in scripture. What about you? Believing the Bible over church tradition is a hard thing.
Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul