The Traditions Of Men Or The Truth Of God’s Word
By Nathaniel A. Urshan
“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. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:8-10).
FROM the remarkable Book of Colossians comes a very outstanding admonition of the Apostle Paul regarding the matter of tradition. He declared that we should not be spoiled through philosophy or vain deceit, after the traditions of men.
What I’m proposing to you is the seriousness of so-called scholarly tradition of men and its menace to the truth. There is a difference between the tradition of man and the truth. The Apostle Paul brought that into view clearly in the verses of the text. He wrote that the philosophy of man, that is, man’s mental assessment about life, his mental gyrations about things that pertain to life, his adoption of some kind of code of ethics, is not sufficient to satisfy the inner, spiritual desire of man.
Many of the philosophers have declared that life has an inevitable fate. A person is born, he lives, and then he dies. This cycle, they contend, is the total experience of humanity. They readily dismiss the belief in a life beyond the grave. Moreover, they contend that if there is a heaven or hell a person has no ability to change the direction of where he is going.
Of course, this kind of philosophy has been adopted by many, many people. For instance, the Epicureans taught that life was an inevitable fate and that no one could change the kind of situation in which he existed. Therefore, a person may as well eat, drink, and be merry! Why not? He might as well have a fling, might as well have a swinging time. That is what the Epicureans taught because they thought life ended at death.
I want you to know that the Bible warns us that we must not be deceived by the philosophy of men. It also teaches us that we are not to be deceived by vain deceit after the traditions of man.
There is an arrogance that often goes along with a lot of learning, but it should not be. Many people who after adopting concepts, changed them later because truth supplanted the existence of some of the doctrines that they had adopted. It is a wise man who, after he has seen that there is something better for him, leaves the old rut of error in which he has traveled to accept the great blessing of scriptural revelation that God gives him. We must not get lost in vain deceit—from arrogant thinking, from those ideas that elevate themselves against the truth of God.
If you will read the verse of our text very carefully, you will notice that the traditions of men were taken from “the rudiments of the world ‘ and not after Christ. I am saying to you today that this vain deceit is an empty pride. I am also saying to you that the tradition of man can lead you in the wrong direction. There is a way that seems right to man but the ends thereof are the ways of death.
We sometimes think that our religion sounds so reasonable that it cannot possibly be wrong Yet, when we examine the Word of the Lord, we find that it is not “after Christ” but is “after the rudiments of the world” The thinking is not Christ centered but world-centered.
In Luke’s Gospel, chapter five, is the story of the miraculous catch of fish. The Apostle Peter and his companions had toiled all night at fishing without success. When you toil all night and not catch any fish, it is a sensible thing to stop and consider.
The next morning Jesus came on the scene. Jesus Himself entered that situation. After using Peter’s boat as a pulpit to teach the multitude, he said to Peter, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets” (Luke 5:4).
Simon Peter expressed something to the Lord that is rather interesting. He told the Lord that they had toiled all night and caught nothing. But something caused him to go against his professional knowledge. Whether he saw something in the face of the Lord or not,
something inspired him. In the middle of his sentence, Simon Peter changed his trend of thought He said, “Nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” Simon Peter did a wise thing.
What you have done previously may not be successful. But when Jesus comes on the scene, He changes the whole matter. His presence is the difference! The presence of the Lord Jesus Christ can change our thinking. We should echo what Simon Peter declared, “Nevertheless at thy word!”
We must not be foolish to step out on some kind of revelation without having the backing of the Word of God. Truth does not depend upon dreams and visions that have no scriptural support, but upon the good, old-fashioned rugged, down to earth, basic truth of the Word of God. The wonderful revelation of truth is given to us in the precious book, the Bible.
Some people are telling us today, by their tradition, that the days of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost are over. They will tell you that those days died with the apostles. But they did not get their notion out of the Bible. Acts 2:39 declares:
“For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
If you look at this verse carefully, you will notice that the promise of the Holy Ghost was for the generation in which it was spoken. The promise was also for the next generation; the verse teaches that the children can receive this same experience of salvation. The next phrase made the promise possible for the whole Gentile world: “to all that are afar off” Then the verse makes the promise of the Spirit available to individuals, to “as many as the Lord our God shall call”
No person can convince a solid Bible reader that the Holy Ghost is not for us today. We refuse to yield to Philistine philosophy and scholarship that tries to discredit the baptism of the Holy Ghost in the lives of people today.
The story is told of the little boy who told a preacher about people receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. The preacher replied, “Son, that is not for you.”
The little boy responded, “You are too late. I just got the Spirit yesterday”
Thank God that He has poured out the Holy Ghost on hungry, seeking souls. God has manifested the glory of His presence upon the lives of people through the centuries since the Day of Pentecost. He has never been without a witness of truth, but you will have to leave the traditions of men to find and follow after the truth. You must be as wise as Simon Peter, who willingly obeyed the Lord against his worldly knowledge. If you are willing to hear the Word of the Lord today, you can find the beautiful truth that is revealed through the Word of God.
Recently a young man was baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When he was buried in the name of Jesus, he came out of the water speaking with other tongues. He was baptized scripturally, for baptizing in the name of Jesus is the record and teaching of the Bible.
On the Day of Pentecost Simon Peter answered the question of the Israelites who were deeply convicted from his preaching and from the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. They asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Simon Peter answered, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). His answer was not in error, but rather he expounded the truth that echoed throughout the era of the apostles and is still believed and obeyed by people today. His answer gave the means by which people could receive the Holy Ghost.
In Acts 8, Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ. His evangelistic preaching was successful, so he called for Peter and John to come. In Samaria, the two apostles examined the situation. They found that the people had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but they had not received the Holy Ghost. Therefore, Peter and John laid hands on them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. And they received! And what a demonstration!
Simon, the sorcerer, wanted to buy the power exhibited by the apostles. This man, who was given over to witchcraft, wanted to possess the gift of the demonstration of the power of God.
Some people contend that since it is not stated that the people spoke in tongues in the Samaritan revival that speaking in tongues did not occur. But most scholars would disagree. They refer to the accepted sign of speaking in tongues in Acts 2,10, and 19. Moreover, Simon saw a definite sign on each person who received the Holy Ghost—and such a sign was a demonstration of power. It was not a matter of speculation; there was no quiet moment without a visible sign. Simon could lay hands on people, but he wanted power to give the Holy Ghost with the demonstration.
You have to look at the Bible with a right attitude. Get rid of some-of your ideas that come from a poor comprehension of Scripture. When Simon Peter at the household of Cornelius preached on the name of Jesus and on the fact that through that name a person receives remission of sins, the Holy Ghost fell on Cornelius’ house. He did not hesitate a moment. After that demonstration of the falling of the Holy Ghost, he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
If you have received the Holy Ghost and have spoken with tongues, God’s Word commands you to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You ask, “Is it necessary?” If Simon Peter thought it was necessary for Cornelius’ house, who are you to ascend above the Word of the Lord? If you are so rooted in tradition that you cannot even see the beauty of the position and of the power of the name of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we appeal to you to lay aside traditions and accept the truth of the Scriptures.
When Paul came to Ephesus, he met twelve disciples of John the Baptist. He asked them, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” They said that they had not heard whether there had been such an experience as the Holy Ghost. Then he asked about their water baptism. When he discovered that they had been baptized of John’s baptism and not in the name of Jesus Christ, Paul preached to them Jesus Christ.
When Paul told them that it was necessary for them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, they did not argue or resist. There was no controversy. There was no agitated contention. There was no harassing theology. There was no rebellion or disobedience. The twelve men wholeheartedly submitted to the Word of the Lord. They were baptized again. This time they went into the water of baptism the correct way. They went down in the name of the Lord Jesus. That’s the Bible way.
You are going to accept either tradition or truth. Jesus said the truth shall set you free. Tradition cannot do this.
Truth has been proven through the ages. It sometimes gets shunted aside, but no one can bury truth. It rises from the ashes of unbelief; it comes up through the darkness of the ages. If you thrust it aside it will come back, bringing with it its beautiful doctrine and its beautiful practices.
The liberating truth of the New Testament is able to save you, today—freeing you from dead traditions and chains of tormenting sins. Truth brings unspeakable joy into – the heart that believes and obeys the gospel.
You need not live in sadness of soul. Do not live in the bondage of drug addiction, alcoholism, and all the pleasures of the world that take a man’s life and destroy it by his indulgence. There isa joy unspeakable and full of glory in the presence of the Lord.
The psalmist said it well when he declared, “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). Come-to the right hand of God and you will find that the power of heaven is the Savior, Jesus Christ Himself. Come to Him and let Him take your burden. Then take His yoke and learn of Him; you will find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (See Matthew 11:29-30.)
The Above Material Was Published By The Christian Newspaper, April 2002, Pages 2, 3. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.