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Tradition vs. Truth

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
July 3, 2022 7:00 pm

Tradition vs. Truth

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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July 3, 2022 7:00 pm

Join us as we worship our Triune God- For more information about Grace Church, please visit www.graceharrisburg.org.

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Problems with you turn with me if you were to Mark chapter 7 will be starting out verses one through six.

Now the Pharisees gathered to hammer some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, I saw that some of his disciples late with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed, the Pharisees, all the Jews did not eat unless they wash their hands holding to the tradition of the elders and would like come from the marketplace. I do not eat unless they wash in their many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots, copper vessels, donning couches in the Pharisees and scribes ask him one year disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but he with the file hands. He said to them, well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from there with me as we get our Lord in prayer.

Heavenly father I pray for Sarah Ellie good Karen Simpson Judy swag guard Rita Haynes Karen Starcher they'll need the touch of our great physician you we pray father for their healing. I thank you for the birth of Adrian Lewis. We continue to pray for complete healing for Kiva. We pray for complete healing for Nicole Lois.

Father, we look into the powerful passage of Scripture today. This passage should make us tremble.

We see a group of religious zealots who are so caught up in their traditions and rituals. They deceive themselves into believing that they're in a right relationship with God. Lord help us to see both the value of tradition, but also the danger in tradition give us understanding that I traditions must line up with the word of God. If they don't, they must be rejected. Help us to realize that being loving does not mean compromising. Help us to care enough of the souls of the ungodly, that we will give them the truth without compromise. It is the precious holy name of Jesus that we pray.

Amen. You may be seated in the musical fiddler on the roof. The Russian Jewish father, Terry watches as all of these changes are taking place all around him, and he thinks that they are are just challenging his very life he has a statement that he believes that is that tradition gives stability. So in the musical he shouts out insolvent and he says this.

How do we keep our balance answer tradition, while the things that we do it in the church are because of tradition, the times that we meet our tradition.

The structure of our church building tradition. They are the those of the way that we do ministry in the way that that we do services tradition the style of music. The structure of the service itself.

The instruments that we use all that is just tradition is just tradition. Did you realize that they are pipe organ was not used in the church in America until 1704 and the Puritans followed it like crazy. Most of us would agree with Teddy. The Russian Jewish father who cried out and said the us without our tradition our lives to be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof now before I go on, it needs to be said all there are traditions are not bad.

In fact, a thing becomes a tradition because it worked AL or it was light or it was just the right thing to do. I love the statement that Jeremiah said back in Jeremiah 6 verse 16 when he said I ask for the old pass where the good way is, and walk in it that you might might find rest and your souls was Jeremiah talking about is looking back to the.

The reign of David and and Hezekiah Josiah, who were good godly teens who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.

And Jeremiah was just hungry for those good old days. I do that myself with with the with the Puritans with the traditions that they had.

I love their Puritan work ethic. I love the fact that they had had such a strong powerful commitment spiritually in an emotionally and and even physically. I love their traditions, but I have to be careful not to put the word of the traditions over and above the word of God force the word of God and only the word of God that we can completely trust is the word of God that has power so word of God has authority for we look at the era of the tradition of the Pharisees's look at what's right with traditions. I guess primarily what we might say is this, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Sometimes you need it.

You don't need to reinvent the wheel and we can certainly benefit from that which is tried-and-true so very quickly.

Let me share with you three benefits of good traditions number one traditions exert an enormous pool on our emotions.

Traditions connect us in profound ways to our past and they they help us with nostalgia and and bring security in our life. Sometimes about three years ago I got a telephone call from the interim pastor personnel church in in Charlotte, North Carolina, and he called me and that was a church that I used to go to when I was a kid and he called me and said Doug.

He said the church is closing its doors and he said would I have one final church service and invite all the former members of personnel, church. We want you to come and and and we would like you to preach that service would you do it and I said yes I would ask church that I was raised up in. It's also church that seen he was raised up in Cindy was born while her mom and dad breath at church. I've often told Cindy when her mom brought her in for that first day I was six years old and I walked over to look down in that bassinet nothing while she still be good-looking.

I said man I will marry that girl that I didn't really know at that point time that I was going marry Cindy, but you know what God you and God brought us together and I praise God for that.

So I have known Cindy all her life.

When I arrived at the church building. Cindy and I got there that morning and it was just amazing how all these memories just came rushing back in. There was a smell in that church was a very good smile. Then there was not the will of the pews. They were wooden and hard as a brick and there was stained glass windows that I remember looking at is a key on it and just being amazed at how beautiful they were all those things just came rushing back on the I remember when I thought as a kid.

This place is different is not like at home.

It's not like it at school. It's not like in a grocery store. This is the place that I come to worship God.

I would've been upset if all that stuff was gone because it connected me to good things from my past.

The reason we act so strongly to those who violate our traditions is because traditions attach themselves more to our emotions than they do to our intellect. Good traditions make us feel good.

Try planning a wedding service without tradition and see how that goes for you that will not work out very well. I number two traditions define our comfort zone and they give us a sense of belonging. You don't believe that is true, the gutter Clemson football game and you get there about a guess here about the same time you park your car first thing you do is you go downtown about 45 stores and you go downtown and you have to buy Clemson T-shirt and the newest bumper sticker and then you come back to the to the car to tailgate and what's that that's eat your lunch until you get it all out.

Everybody's the same thing fried chicken egg beans and deviled eggs and and then you got to go over to the stadium you got to get there at least 1/2 hour before the game because you came ES the team running down the the heel and touching a rock.

Everybody just going absolutely crazy when he got a guy that's right there beside you, and he's never been a Clemson football game. He drank anything about Clemson and he says what a stupid tradition. This is a dumb thing to do you come up with some other gimmick is just done work you might get tarred and feathered. If you're there with a bunch of Clemson people, folks, church traditions can be just as entrenched. I got saved my last year Clemson and after graduation came back Charlotte and on the recommendation of Chip Sloan. We went to Calvary Baptist Church and join that church.

The music minister at that time St. Carol Belanger is about 70 years old and Carolyn became very close friends very quickly left this man to death will after couple years I went on to seminary I finish seminary when and why or why was in seminary, I pastored Olive Grove Baptist Church for two years and then I moved onto to Southside Baptist Church in Charlotte and when I got back to Southside Southside was without a music minister and so Carol had resigned retired from Calvary Baptist Church as their music minister. I called them up securely going to help me out. I need you to come and be our music minister. He said I'll be glad to anything and man, what a wonderful, glorious job he did.

And not only that, but I would preach revivals about twice a year and when I go off to revolves he go with me and he would lead the music out when we went to Canada I went five times at the Canada preach revivals they are and couple times Carol went with me every time he go to a new place with me.

Carol would sing a solo sing. The King is coming of never heard anybody sing it like him. I made it just blessed everybody socks off when he sang that song few years ago Carol Dodd preach his funeral service and after I finished preaching. They did a recording of Carol Dillinger plant are singing the song. The King is coming.

There was not a dry they are. Every time I see a member of Carol's family today or to see a friend of Carol's will always say the same thing.

Nobody could sing.

The King is coming like Carol Dillinger that's a tradition brothers and sisters, and it's a good tradition. It makes us feel good. Thirdly, tradition may be helpful in doing ministry. Most of our church traditions were started by good godly people who were zealously trying to live out their Christian life.

We have precedent for this in Scripture. In Joshua chapter 4 verses four through seven. The Scripture says this so Joshua called together the 12 men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe and said to them, go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder. According to the number of the tribes of the Israelites to serve as a sign among you in the future when your children ask you one of these stones mean, tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord when it crossed the Jordan, the waters the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever quietly erect the stones.

They are as a reminder to them to bring something to their remembrance to help them to remember that it was God who brought them out of Egypt that it was God who brought them into the promised land that it was God who opened up the Jordan River and not only would they remember it within they could pass it down from one generation to the next to the next to the neck to their children their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren, so it could continue to be passed down. Hebrews chapter 13 verse eight says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever, but as God's people need to be connected to our past, and Harry readers book on on the revitalization called for members to flames. Harry had a section and there we were sharing the importance of the church being connected to its past list of what Harry said the way the church worships.

For example, can either connected to the past or effectively separate from history we join our sales was saying to the ages when we recite historic confessions of faith like the ancient apostles Creed or the Westminster catechism from Puritan England and there are many great OEMs that God's people assigned for generation after generation. These should not be jettisoned from our worship.

Just because people may be unfamiliar with their music style or lyrical depth. Nothing good comes easy with a little time and work.

People can learn to enjoy older music will only go to the other extreme and imply that no good music has been written since the 19th century. Of course we should maintain some kind of balance between the past and the present, God is the God of today is the God of the ages and those aspects of his nature should be reflected in our worship good worship does not engage in the arrogance of modernity which disconnects from the past nor does it participate in idolatry of traditionalism which lives in the past. Rather, we should began with the great classical worship that one time was contemporary and is now become tried-and-true and then build on it being ready to absorb that which is excellent in the present good worship is offered in spirit and in truth honors Christ and facilitates the praise of God's people and the communication of the gospel to the lost is connected to the past without living in the past contextualized in the present without accommodating the present in setting a pattern to shape the future instead of becoming dated in the future. Thus, it becomes an example of our overall philosophy of ministry art. With that said, I got about three points that I will share with you today .1 is the interrogation look with me at verses 135 no one Pharisees gathered him some of the scribes who come from Jerusalem, I saw that some of the disciples light with hands that were to file that is unwashed. The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly holding to the tradition of the elders and they come from the marketplace.

They do not eat unless they wash and there are many other traditions they observed such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches. The Pharisees and scribes asking him why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands and where are we in this point of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus is 32 years old. He is been in the public ministry now for two years. He is preach the thousands of people he is.

He has preach the word he has healed the sick, he is cast out demons. He is raise the dead.

He is fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish. His popularity is out the roof is skyrocketed and the people are tried to make him become their political King, and Jesus rejected that well is this is his popularity was skyrocketed or skyrocketing that there were the Jewish religious leaders back in Jerusalem who are very concerned about this.

I didn't like it because they thought it was really going to have an effect on them and it was and so they decided to send the contingent of Jewish scribes and scholars back down from Jerusalem to Galway in order that they might try to find something that Jesus was doing wrong so they could major all mad and they could try to destroy the ministry of Christ Jesus had never seen so they couldn't accuse him of sexual misconduct or laundering money or or just doing anything that was wrong because Jesus is never done anything that was wrong. Jesus had never seen so they couldn't accuse them of that letting go there so they went instead to their oral tradition. What was the oral tradition. Oral tradition started way back during the Babylonian captivity where they started making these little rules and regulations, and they kept up with them and they did that for a number of centuries until it got down to the second century BC and I put those all is rules and the regulations into a booklet called the Mishnah and then for two more hundred years they Make in more of these little rules and regulations and they put that another little book called the Gemara and then about a zero. At that point in time in history that took the Kamara in the Mishnah and they put them together they formed it to a book that is called the Jewish town mood. Now the Jewish town mood is called the fence around the law. What does that mean that means inside the fence. There's the 10 Commandments and all these rules. All these regulations that were given in this town mood which is huge, huge book all of that were little rules and regulations that if you would keep them. They said then that would keep you from keeping the big laws that were inside the fence so it was all these pages, broken up into six sections or six subjects and the subjects were agriculture, festivals, women, civil and criminal law are sacred things and and and and ritual purity.

This was called the tradition of the elders. The Pharisees measured everyone by their appearance in an observance and obedience to the tradition of the elders so this formal delegation of Pharisees and scribes got down into Galilee. They started checking out what Jesus and the disciples were doing and they said this is where will getting there, not Sarah.

They are not ceremonially washing their hands. This had nothing to do with hygiene and say your wash your hands keep the germs off so you won't get sick and get disease and have anything to do with it. This had to do handwashing had to do what with the means to obtain favor with God is what it was all about the listen to the reasoning from the Mishnah. The Mishnah said that when you went to sleep at night. There was a certain demon whose name was shipped and shipped out when you went to sleep would go over in your bed and sit on your hands and because of that when he got up the next morning. If you were going to breakfast and even ceremonially wash your hands. This chapter would still based on the hand, and when you took your fork brought it up to your mouth.

That demon could jump in your mouth and you be demon possessed. While, but even more important. Handwashing ceremonial handwashing was looked on as being salvific. This is what the Talmage said whoever is firmly implanted in the land of Israel who speaks the holy language deletes its food in purity as required by handwashing rituals and recites the Shema morning and evening is assured of life in the world to come. The Pharisees were saying. A person can't be saved without ceremonial handwashing assay so Pharisees interrogated Jesus.

Listen to what they said joint while Yeary you will your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders. But they eat their bread with impure hands. That question was not asked out of curiosity was asked out of outrage, they were furious at these disciples. These followers of Jesus took something that they thought was so important, and the disciples didn't think it was important at all. I would even do it like that takes us to point to the indictment, versus 69 and he said to them, well that Isaiah prophesied you hypocrites, as it is written, this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me in vain to they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men you leave the commandment of God and hold to the traditions of men. He said to them, you have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish her tradition, but since is the son of God speaking and he didn't hold anything back. He said rightly did Isaiah say about you you nothing but hypocrites.

It's not a way to win friends and influence people's but Jesus knew that what was going on here what they were doing was wrong and that they had to be dealt with. They needed to be corrected.

How important is that folks there are those in the church the day who believe that Christians need to keep their mouth shut about subjects like sexual perversion and stringent terrorism and and same-sex marriage and abortion. I say just keep your mouth shut about this because if you don't, you're being judgmental and you're being unloving. I want you know that is not unloving and being judgmental to tell somebody the truth you need to say it, in love, but it needs to be absolute truth we give an example what if you knew that on this particular road there was a big curve and that the bridge just called out right around the curve and you knew that if you went around there because are no signs telling you about it if you went around that curve and you are going to fast you go ride off into the river and you could be drowned. Would it be wrong for you to tell somebody it's on that road. Be very careful they are, because you might get killed if you go around that curve too fast because you might not be able to stop but we need to be very careful, we need to understand that to be silent about truth is oftentimes to be sinful. This is what first very first time that Jesus use the word hypocrite in the Gospels very first time. What is hypocrisy. It's playacting is pretending it's putting on a show. Somehow, the stall said this traditions have a none seen downside tradition stick because they were because people can keep them. Often traditions are followed mechanically and mindlessly over time.

The distinction between the truth of God our traditions becomes blurred and we tend to cling more tenaciously to our human traditions than we do to the holy Scripture is truly given example what in the apostles Creed is there is not a good thing yet is a good thing because it's a good thing because it's right theology is a declaration of what we believe is the people of God of what the Scripture says about how to live about who we are, but who we belong to all these good things in its correct theology is a very good thing. But I will be honest with you for years after my conversion that took place one is 21 years old.

For years I had no use at all for the quoting of the apostles Creed I will have anything to do with it we tell you why, because when I was before my conversion. I went to a church run. Never heard the gospel.

I went to a church where I never heard about my need to repent of sin. I went to a church run never heard that that God commands his people to walk holy before them and they quoted the apostles Creed every Sunday, and I knew when I got saved there just going through the motions and just say, in the words. This doesn't mean anything to the heart in that church and I went to a Baptist Church. After attainment of Christ heard the gospel every week.

I was called to repentance is called a holy walk with the Lord in that church never quoted recited the apostles Creed sausage well they don't do it only do it either. And what did I do through the baby out with the bathwater. I said to myself I don't want anything to do with this dad formal lifeless, boring ritual, I was wrong as I could be because folks the apostles Creed is feel the greatest theology in the world. It tells us who we are as children of God.

It tells us who Jesus is. It tells us who the Holy Spirit is. It tells us who who who God the father is a glorious thing when true children of God, corporately and publicly with zest and zeal proclaim their faith with boldness. That's a good thing and it stays good until it becomes just kind of arrived, going through the motions thing and if it's that it ceases to be powerful but traditions are easier to bathing God's truth.

Traditions can be accomplished by got power, but following God's holy word can only be accomplished the spirit power when traditions become automatic.

It's easy to lose your intimacy with the Lord. RC Sproul said the following alcohol I can say about this is a million pieces. If you really want to get a feel for your doctrine of God, look at your worship, far more than what we confess with our lives, how we worship God chose what we really believe about his character. If we worship the God of the Bible, we can never worship him in a cavalier manner. Worship can never be an exercise in entertainment.

We will walk through the sanctuary doors. We understand that we are coming into the presence of the God of the universe who is searching for people to worship him, worship him in spirit and in truth that's how we understand God. Our worship will have an element of gravitas of holiness of reverence of adoration the fun and games will end in the parking lot so what's wrong with the Pharisees.

They had never been transformed on the inside. Their relationship with God was surface and superficial. They believe that God would save them according to their works in their attempts at pleasing God.

On the outside they were religious but on the inside. They were barren and empty and deceived and wicked. So what's the message for us. I think Paul had it in second Corinthians chapter 13 verse five when when Paul is speaking to professing Christians and he says examine yourself to see if you're in the faith. Paul knew that when he gave that command to examine yourself to see if you're in the faith to be talking to a lot of people who claim to be Christians but really want. They knew the rituals they knew the traditions they knew the songs they knew the creeds they didn't know Christ.

They did not know Christ budget was Jesus. He said not every one that saith the Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven is like Doug. How can I know how can I no doubt in my heart that when I die that I'm going to go to be with the Lord and I will be with the Lord forever and ever.

How can I really really really know that how can I know it. Here's how you could know what is a been true faith in what Jesus did on the cross and through his resurrection, had you had you repented of your sins and trusting Christ as your Lord and Savior as you turn from your sin if you surrendered your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and you said yourself I'm not gonna save myself by by my attempts at trying to be good and my tips at trying to please the Lord.

The only way that I'm going to be safe is to trust in what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross of Calvary and through the power of his resurrection.

If you're here this morning and you can't say that then I'm in a I'm a not say this with all my heart stop and they'll stop a pastor on the way out and say please counsel me. Please give me the Scripture. I've got to know that I belong to Jesus and that Jesus belongs to me and Bobby and overdramatic. I am not. This is not a ballgame that we saw yesterday. This is not novel that we read sometime, but this is the most important thing in your life do you belong to the Lord, you know what's can happen to you when you die .3.

The illustration versus template 13 for Moses said.

Honor your father and your mother. Whoever reviles father mother must surely die. But you say, if a man tells his father, mother, whatever you would have gain from me is Corbin that is given to God, and you no longer permit him to do anything for his father, mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down in many such things you do. The Pharisees started a tradition that stated that if a person would would commit his inheritance that money than he had when he died. If you committed to the Lord's work, then he was free to do what he wanted with his money here enough help anybody else. Specifically, his aged parents took his parents were dying.

Just let them go and and get out on the street and dial player that Webb would be okay and everybody would look on that is being fine because all my money's going to the Lord's work have to worry about my aged mom and dad, man, how heartless I remember several years ago when Amelia Turner was caring for her aged parents really like the flowers and Ray and Lisa flowers and in their last months of their life had progressive dementia and end Amelia put them into a nursing home is wonderful nursing home. They got three good meals a day like they got snacks during the day. They had fellowship with other friends that would layer and Amelia was there every single day in the last days of both Ray and Lisa's life.

They were certain they were not cognizant enough that they would even know whether Amelia had come to be with them or not of anyone anyway.

Ami was there every single day ministering to her mom and dad loving on them, not because she had to because she wanted to because she belong to Jesus and she knew that this was the right thing to do.

I thought what a difference between that kind of Christian love and the stinking selfishness of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees type carbon which means all my money that I've got when I die is going right to the Lord's work to be used to take care of the priest and the refurbish the synagogue in the Bob books and ink and all that stuff and that gives me the right not to have to worry about my aged parents go on straightening die really didn't matter, but we must determine what is Scripture and what is what is tradition one tradition in modern-day evangelical churches that is almost sacrosanct is the altar call. I've had people tell me this church than doing altar call to have people get saved in your church and I felt like that's interesting. How did people get safe. Verse 1800 years of the Christian faith because altar call didn't come about till little bit after 1800 and altar call came about. It was formulated by Amanda preacher's name was Charles Finney. He was a stark Arminian he believed totally in the free will of man he believed that the way you got say that God did you have to be in it. All that you had to do was you had to be persuaded that this was right and then you make the decision based on the persuasion of what was taught by the preacher that was doing it so preacher just needed to be good persuaders. That was it. I gave an altar call, and the altar call was primarily manipulation we read you what Charles Finney said on his deathbed he said I fear that many of the conversions that took place in my ministry were mine and not Christ. I feel that one of the reasons that few people feel so strongly about altar call is because are not doing personal evangelism in the early church. They did personal evangelism but it was in the marketplace.

I did it when they were at work they did it when they were at school. He did it when they were at the grocery store that they did it have in the world sharing the gospel with people, then they bring them back to their church services primarily for the believers, the church service was world or place that you can go you could worship God, and that you would be taught how to live the Christian life and you would be tall with the Bible has to say about God, about you and about how you are to live. So what is Scripture teaches. It teaches us that our outward appearance can be phony and deceptive. But God looks at the heart. God looks at the heart but be careful to follow the word and not follow just tradition a man and man is pray only father. Today we have seen two extremes. We have seen the value of tradition and the danger of tradition, there those in our society who believe that if it's not new, modern or novel should be thrown in scrappy is not true.

Jeremias had asked for the old pass with a good way is we should love the traditions that line up with God's word and keep us on the right road, help us not to be so close minded that we do things just for tradition's sake. Father, forgive us when we just go through the motions of religious ritual by what we do in this church fill our hearts with joy as we seek to glorify you forts in the precious holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen


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