As promised this paper is a continuation of last month’s issue. This piece will explore an idea that was named briefly then passed over to follow the main theme of that aforementioned article. At this time, notice with me the idea that…
The New Testament Is The Only Guide In Faith And Practice For A Christian
As far as I know, all that claim Christianity as their religion recognize Christianity as being founded in that volume. Christianity did not exist during the days of the Patriarchs or the time of Moses and the prophets that followed. During the time that Israel stood as the chosen people of God (who championed their cause), Christianity did not exist. It did not come into existence by means of the Koran, and was long established before the Book of Mormon. Were every creed book, manual, prayer book and all the writings of men removed from the earth (may God hasten the day), Christianity would exist and continue to spread throughout the world. While some wearing the name Christian follow these and other works, Christianity does not depend upon them, in fact the New Testament does not sanction the following of any work other than itself to lead men to the forgiveness of past sins, the manner of pleasing God in this life and obtaining Heaven in the next world.
The New Testament Has Everything Men Need
“All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Tim. 3:16-17). The American Standard Version renders the seventeenth verse, “that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.” Thinking about the meaning as we compare the King James and the American Standard Versions, one can see that there is nothing left that a man has need of, as to add or to subtract from the volume distorts its perfection or obscures the completed rendition of God’s will. Why a man or group of men would write a book as a religious guide for others has always appeared to be a fruitless endeavor to me. And, why anyone would follow a man or group of men in religious matters is forever a mystery to me. Surely God has (had) the ability to deliver His will in an intelligent manner for men. Surely, He could (did) present His will in a fashion that men are able to comprehend. Surely He does (did) not need the aid of inferior creatures to aid Him in such an endeavor. Surely He has (had) such a command of language that the very best words to present His thoughts and ideas were selected for the purpose He has (had) in mind. Surely mere men cannot (could not) make an improvement on His work.
God Forbids Adding To His Word
In the last chapter of the New Testament it is written, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18). It is of no small consequence to add to the revelation made known in this book. You may wish to read through the Revelation as given to John to refresh your mind of the terrible things found therein. A man may worship God on a regular basis, be morally upright, think of himself as honest, obey the laws of the land, treat his family kindly and help his neighbor at every necessity, giving cause to his friends and enemies alike to speak of him as “a good man.” Yet, if he adds to the word of God there shall be no escape from the suffering he will be due when this life has ebbed away. To proclaim this warning to others means that one is spoken of as too narrow-minded.
God Forbids Subtracting From His Word
In the verse following the last one mentioned the Apostle John wrote, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things that are written in the book of life” (Rev 22:19). If there is a subtracting from the revelation of God then one has immediately expressed his opinion that God has said too much, asked too much or presented information that is not needed for the purposes He has intended. In my lifetime I have heard people speak against those that have been so bold as to subtract from the Book and yet in the face of plain passages declare that they are not going to obey them. Is that any less than taking a cutting instrument and physically removing words from God’s Book? I recall reading of a king in olden times that had a portion of the Word of God brought before him. He was much displeased with the passage so he removed it from his presence. “And it came to pass, when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.” (Jer. 36:23). The history of our day could have this epitaph, ‘The people were selective of which words of God they would follow.” However, when this truth is put out for others to consider the charge is made: you are too narrow-minded.
God Does Not Allow His Word To Be Altered
To do so perverts the Gospel into something entirely different, in the language of the Apostle it becomes “another gospel.” This is not a new practice, as it became prominent in New Testament times with a stronghold in Galatia. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert he gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:6-9). The thing foremost in the Apostles mind is apparent as he points the finger of inspiration in a ridiculing manner toward the teachers who mingled the Law of Moses with the Gospel. Paramount in the conglomeration was circumcision, a question which was long before settled in Jerusalem, when some had gone forth teaching, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1). The Galatians who followed after this teaching were said to have accepted “another gospel.” As sad and amazing as it is their tribe is not dead yet as there remains in our own time those who desire to bind the Law of Moses upon those who have named the name of Christ, and have created (like those among the Galatians), “another gospel.” I speak of those who have adopted the Seventh Day Sabbath of the Moses’ Law as the day of worship for Christian people. Such should hang their heads in shame for lowering the New Testament while exalting the teaching of Ellen G. White, Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong, and those who have come after them. Mingling the Law that came by Moses with the Gospel of Christ is condemned in Acts, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Hebrews especially and mentioned in some other places. Adding to theses groups of Sabbatarians is another renegade group who in no uncertain terns proclaim that they have a NEW GOSPEL. I speak of those who peddle their Book of Mormon without shame of face as “the fullness of the gospel.” These may beguile the unsuspecting in this world but the Apostle’s words blast like a trumpet to these false teachers, “let him be accursed.” Notwithstanding the need for this lesson to be shouted from the housetops in our day, just as was done in the days of the Apostles, those rejecting it show their displeasure by retorting you are too narrow-minded.
God Does Not Wink At Traditions That Replace His Word
There is a comfort zone in doing things that are familiar—things that have been practiced and approved by those before us. This makes it hard for us to surrender traditions, even when we learn that they are reproachful in God’s eyes. Our Lord like a flash of lightening with sledgehammer force demonstrated what He thought of traditions when they effect the Father’s will. “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the traditions of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.” (Mk. 7:5-8). These claimed to honor God because they spoke well of Him, yet Jesus called them hypocrites because their practice was deficient. They trusted in the practice of tradition in the place of doctrine, that is the teaching of God’s word. Anytime we think we are worshipping God in an acceptable fashion by inserting traditions instead of obeying the will of the Heavenly Father, our efforts are vain, void or without merit. I might insert here: the advocates of following ones conscience as a means of worshipping the Lord is cast out by Jesus. It matters little what our forefathers have taught us, if our practice is not named in Scripture, if we lack a commandment of God for what we do, the engagement is empty. Hear further the Lord’s decisive statement, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition.” (Vs. 9). The Lord does not speak of an order to our worship (as God is not the author of confusion), but the promotion of a tradition that set aside the truth God has given. Think about the things that men do religiously by tradition! Using prayer cloths, counting beads, bowing before altars, making a sign of a cross, playing mechanical instruments in worship, dividing the assembly into classes for teaching, women speaking out in worship, etc. etc. These all (and likely you can think of others), are based and practiced because of tradition without a consideration of what God has said regarding such matters. To speak out against the practice of traditions means that one runs the risk of being reproached by many professioners of godliness as being too narrow-minded.
How long will it be until men take seriously the remarks of the prophet, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9). Until we have this attitude, we will be dissuaded when others speak of us as a bigot or one who is too narrow-minded.
(More with the next issue)
Barney Owens 1310
Often the joys of yesterday create the tears of today