Monday, September 12, 2016
Most people recognize that their church believes and practices things which the one down the street doesn’t. In the 1800s some churches would not allow anyone to partake of the Lord’s supper if they didn’t possess the church’s communion coin to prove membership. The Campbell father and son believed that if everyone would discard their human traditions which divided nineteenth century Christianity, and accept only the Bible, they could resurrect the unity of the primitive first century church.
When I was immersed in May, 1957, I was impressed with the information that a first century saint, when he located the church, found each was the same in doctrine and practice. I was shocked a month later when I found out we weren’t following that lofty pattern!
Separating ourselves from human tradition is a monumental task. If you don’t recognize it, you can’t reject it! If you think a practice or teaching is biblical, you will defend it with your last breath. The more biblical it appears only solidifies its support. One may claim to follow the Bible, but the origin of his accepted standard may have found birth in his grandparent’s generation rather than in the apostles’!
Even in the first century, in less than two decades the saved developed two different biblical paths to follow! One was made up of those who were zealous for the Law and the other of those who were not (Acts 21:20, 24; Acts 15:23-29; 21:25). This divine solution was not accepted by all, therefore problems soon developed (Romans 14). The Jewish tradition had some who wanted to make their practice binding upon Gentile saints. Paul warned against such (Galatians 1:6-9; 5:1-4). A different gospel developed and was being taught in less than 35 years after the Acts 2 beginning! Those Jewish saints that demanded Gentile disciples follow the Jewish practice and teaching, lost grace (Galatians 5:4)! How is it possible to fall when one is following sixteen hundred years of biblical teaching and practice? How? By rejecting one small inspired letter (Acts 15:23-29)! It was not wrong for them to practice and follow the Jewish way, but they must not bind it upon Gentile saints. When Jewish saints were banned from Rome and the church was left with only a Gentile membership, their return in a few years caused problems. It seems, from Romans 14 that some Gentile members wanted to bind their way upon the returning Jewish saints! Rather than segregate into two congregations, one Jewish and the other Gentile, Paul wanted them to respect the differences of the other and be one assembly. How do you do that? There seems to always be some that don’t trust God’s solution! When human desire takes precedent over God’s will, the problems created affect future generations (Genesis 3:1-19).
What human traditions have become our brass serpent (Numbers 21:9; 2 Kings 18:4)?