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.
Article written in Jan.-March paper.
Area #2-- The Call to Preach.
There are many areas that we could deal with on this subject but I feel strongly, and have for some time, to deal with the tradition concerning God calling a lost man to preach.
1. Tradition says that God does not call lost men to preach. But what does the Bible (truth) say?
I wrote a book several years ago entitled Spiritual Crutches with one of the crutches being a person's call to preach (order the book to read that article). In that book I showed how that God had called Samuel and Jeremiah before they were saved. Many rejected their example for us today because they were in the Old Testament. I also showed how Judas Iscariot had a call to preach while lost in the New Testament. And many rejected that example for us today saying Judas was an exception due to his being chosen to betray our Lord. Some also said his call came before Jesus' death on the cross; therefore, it is not an example for today.
Now I would like to give you a New Testament Bible example, one after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension. That example is Paul the apostle, one who recognized his call to preach before he was saved. To establish this fact we will use his own testimony found in the book of Acts--God's inspired Word.
First, in Acts 26 we see where he testified to King Agrippa concerning his call to preach. Second, in Acts 22 we see where he testified to the multitude in Jerusalem concerning his salvation. As we look at these two chapters I beg you not to let tradition close your mind to the truth found in God's Word.
First, in Acts 20:12-18 Paul, testifying to King Agrippa, states that the Lord spoke to him stating in verses 15b-18 these words: "And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee form the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receiver forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." This was when the Lord met him on the road to Damascus. It is clear that at this encounter that the Lord revealed to Paul and he also recognized that he was to be a minister sent to the Gentiles to preach the gospel. Thus, Paul was called to preach when the Lord met him on the road to Damascus.
Second, in Acts 22 we see where Paul testified to the multitude in Jerusalem concerning his salvation experience. He told the multitude some of what happened on the road to Damascus and then what happened in Damascus three days later on the street called Straight when a man by the name of Ananias came and spoke to him. This is recorded in verses 13b-16: “Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” It is clear from verse 16 that Paul's sin had not been washed away--that he had never called on the name of the Lord for salvation; thus, he was not saved when Ananias came to him in Damascus on the street called Straight. Paul had called Jesus, Lord on the road to Damascus but that was just a title of respect. (For more details concerning this order the article written in the Feb-March, 1996 issue of the Persuader.)
Thus we conclude from the Bible that Paul was called to preach on the road to Damascus and saved three days later in Damascus on the street called Straight. Notice in Acts 22 that Ananias even mentioned of Paul's being a chosen vessel and witness before he told him to call on the name of the Lord so that he might be saved. So we see from the Bible God can call a lost man to preach and he recognizes that calling even before he is saved. I know this is not the norm but it can happen even though tradition says otherwise. Will you follow tradition or will you follow truth--God's Word?
2. Tradition says I would not be concerned about my salvation if I knew I was called to preach. What does the Bible (truth) say?
The Bible says “examine yourself, whether you be in the faith” not whether you are called to preach. (II Cor. 13:5)
The Bible also says to “make your calling and election sure” in II Peter 1:10. This is referring to salvation not a call to preach.
Also in I John 5:13 the Bible states, "These things have I written unto you. . . that ye may know that ye have eternal life." This refers to having the Son, not a call to preach. (I John 5:12: He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.)
I talked with a man a few years ago at Camp Zion who was basing his salvation on his call to preach. After sharing some things with him the Holy Spirit showed him he was lost. Three days later he called me and said he just got saved. I met him about a year later and asked him where he was preaching. He said, "You know I was never called to preach." The devil, flesh, and tradition had propped him up on a spiritual crutch of a call to preach, when in fact it was never there.
From this example it lets me know that it is dangerous to follow the tradition that says, "I would not be concerned about my salvation if I knew I was called to preach." You see a lost man is so blinded (II Cor. 4:3-4: But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.) and his heart is so deceived (Jer. 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) that he is not able to sift properly everything he experiences.
When exposed to these truths (written in this article) most have a tendency to reject them 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 and practice truth even if it means I have to throw away a lot of my outlines.
May the Lord show me truth and give me grace to embrace it, preach it, and practice it for His glory.
THE PERSUADER - April-June, 2001