Is it Tradition or is it Biblical?

April 20, 2011

“Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!’ Jesus replied, ‘And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?'” – Matthew 15:1-3

Sometimes we have to get outside of our own traditions to notice some of the legalisms we have embraced. During our seminary days, my wife and I were serving as missionaries at a Scottish Baptist church. I soon noticed that there was no specific time at the end of the sermon for people to “walk the aisle” to make a decision to join the church or to accept Christ. I went to the pastor and expressed my concern. “This is not good,” I told him. “Why are you not doing this?” He looked at me with that rather condescending smile that Englishmen specialize in and said, “Well, Bryant, would you show me in the Bible where it says you’ve got to ‘walk the aisle’ to become a Christian or join a church?” And then he added, “Bryant, would you do a little study and see how the Bible teaches us to make a public confession of our faith in Jesus Christ? The only thing you’ll see is baptism.”

So often we elevate tradition to the level of the Bible. Tradition can be meaningful, but when we elevate it to the level of the Bible, we make it idolatry and ignore the 2nd commandment. Let’s be sure that in following Christ, the Bible is our ultimate authority on how to live for Him.