A tradition is a body of precepts orally passed on from generation to generation in unbroken succession. Truth is that which is free from error or falsehood and is embodied in written precepts--the Bible--God's Holy Word.
Romans 3:4a: "God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar." We are warned against the tradition of men in Col. 2:8. "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." "Spoil" has the idea of kidnapping and means to lead away from the truth and become subject to one's sway (tradition).
The word "tradition" is used 11 times in the Bible, ten of which are used in a bad sense and only one is used in a good sense. Jesus asked the Pharisees in Mat. 15:13, "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God (truth) by your tradition?" Then in Mat. 15:6, He said, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God (truth) of none effect by your tradition?" The Pharisees were following tradition which was past on orally from generation to generation by men and they rejected the truth of God's Word which was given by inspiration (God breathed, II Tim. 3:16).
Now the question and title of this article, TRADITION OR TRUTH--WHICH WILL YOU FOLLOW? I will try to help you answer that question by breaking down tradition in various areas in this article and articles to come.
Area #1--The Way of Salvation.
1. Tradition says: A sinner does not find the narrow way until he is saved. What does the Bible (truth) say?
Mat. 7:14 says, "Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." "Life" comes at the instance of being saved and this verse states plainly that the narrow way leads to that life. No one will ever be saved on the broad way because that only has a gate which leads to destruction. (Mat. 7:13: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.") Therefore, one must turn to the narrow way before he will ever be saved. It takes a work of the Holy Spirit for one to turn to the narrow way. Peter told those in Acts 1:40 to "save yourselves from this untoward (wicked) generation." This requires turning from the broad way to the narrow way that leads unto life (salvation). Many call their turning to the narrow way their salvation experience but they have not entered the strait gate which is where life is encountered. It is sad to say but few ever find the narrow way and even fewer enter the strait gate--are saved. Let me say "the way" after one is saved is a narrow way also, but one must turn from the broad way to the narrow way before he is saved. Will you follow tradition or will you follow truth--God's Word?
2. Tradition says: A sinner does not seek God until he is saved. What does the Bible (truth) say?
Rom. 3:11b says, "There is none that seeketh after God." This is true of all men when they are in their darkness without any illumination of the Holy Spirit--while they are in their "without strength" condition (no consciousness of God) of Rom. 5:5: "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." But before sinners can be saved they must be enlightened or awakened to their condition and need and when they are, they will seek the Lord for salvation. In fact one must do more than "seek" to be saved. Jesus said in Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate (place where one is saved): for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." This Scripture plainly teaches that a lost sinner seeks but if he is not willing to strive to overcome the obstacles that the flesh, world (mankind, preachers included), and the devil places in front of him, he will not be saved. A lost sinner must seek the Lord to be saved. Isa. 55:6: "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near." It is also true that a saved person must seek the Lord. Tradition says no lost sinner seeks the Lord using Rom. 3:11. They use this verse without rightly dividing the Word but Luke 13:24 plainly states that many lost sinners seek the Lord for salvation but were not able to be saved, the reason being--they were not willing to pay the price. An example of this is the rich young ruler in Mark 10 who came seeking the Lord for salvation but he was not willing to meet the Lord's condition--repentance. Will you follow tradition or will you follow truth--God's Word?
3. Tradition says: God does not show a lost sinner anything. What does the Bible (truth) say?
The parable of the sower in Mat. 13 reveals that those who received seed on the good ground, who are the only ones who were saved, had understanding. Mat. 13:23: "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." This understanding came as a result of the Holy Spirit teaching the lost sinner in the narrow way that leads to the strait gate. Psa. 25:8: "Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way." I know there is a contextual meaning of this verse, but the Word of God states in II Tim. 3:16 that, "All scripture is profitable for doctrine." According to this verse we can use this Scripture for doctrine as long as we do not violate the principle of the Scripture. Therefore, a lost sinner must have some understanding about sin, self, and the Saviour to be saved. I am not referring to understanding the entire Bible for not one of us has that even if he has been saved 80 years. Will you follow tradition or will you follow truth--God's Word?
4. Tradition says: A sinner has only to believe to be saved. What does the Bible (truth) say?
It is true that Paul told the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Believing is not all that Paul preached for Acts 20:21 ("Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.") shows he preached repentance as well as faith (believing). "The devils (demons) also believe, and tremble," (James 2:19) and they are not saved. John 8:30 reveals that many Jews believed on Jesus but they were not saved because Jesus said of them in John 8:44, "Ye are of your father the devil." One must repent as well as believe to be saved. And this requires a completed work of Holy Ghost conviction of "sin, righteousness, and judgment" (John 16:8) for one to be enabled to repent and believe unto salvation. In this day of "easy believism" many are making false professions because the work of Holy Ghost conviction has not been completed. But just because they believed some things about the Bible does not mean they are saved. They must repent. Luke 13:3: "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Will you follow tradition or will you follow the truth--God's Word?
Abraham is a good example for you to follow for he followed truth instead of tradition in all four of these points. He left the Ur of the Chaldees seeking a city (Heb. 11:10: "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.") which is equivalent to salvation. He left his idols behind and traveled the narrow way that leads to salvation. He had some understanding which came only as the promise was enlarged and revealed to him. He left his country by faith (Heb. 11:9: "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.") but it was not saving faith for he was not saved until Gen. 15:6 ("And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.") which was nine years after he was in the land of Canaan. This is proved by three Scriptures in the N.T. (Rom. 4:3: "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Gal. 3:6: "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." James 2:23: "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.") When exposed to this truth most have a tendency to reject it because this teaching goes against their tradition. Now I ask you which are you following--TRADITION OR TRUTH? I do not know about you but I want to follow and embrace truth even if it means I have to throw away a lot of my outlines.
If you want more information concerning the principle of Abraham's salvation which follows truth, write, e-mail, or call us and we will send you some articles we have already written in more specific detail.
May the Lord show me truth and give me grace to embrace it, preach it, and practice it for His glory.
THE PERSUADER - January-March, 2001