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Monday, December 5, 2011

Introduction to Apostolic Traditions

Traditions: What are they?                                                                                                                                                      -something passed down from one to another and generally observed.    (Greek PARADOSIS, Strong’s  # 3862)       
What kinds of traditions are there ?
 (1) Traditions which are obedient to and in keeping with God-given commands.
          (godly, biblical and moral traditions)  These are called “the commandments of the Lord”,  “the  ordinances”,  “the   
         traditions which ye have been taught by word or our (the apostles’) epistle”,  "the traditions received of us (the
        apostles)”, and “the things which thou hast heard of me (Paul) among many witnesses”. Matthew 28:20;  I
        Corinthians 11:1,2;  14:37;  Philippians 4:9; II Thessalonians 2:15;  3:6;  and II Timothy 2:2

 (2) Traditions which are disobedient to and contradictory to God given commands.
          (ungodly,  anti-biblical, and immoral traditions)  These are called your own traditions”, “traditions of men”, 
        “traditions of the fathers” or “traditions of the elders”. Matthew 15:2,3,6;  Mark 7:3,5,8,9,13; Galatians 1:14; 
         Colossians 2:8; I Peter 1:18

 (3) Traditions which are neither obedient to nor disobedient to God-given commands.
          (neutral, non-biblical and amoral traditions)  For example, meeting regularly on a Tuesday night for Bible study,
         having receptions after weddings and funerals, or serving coffee and cookies when the saints gather in your home.

Apostolic Traditions: What are they?
  -practices which are:
    (1) commanded by Christ,
              Matthew 28:18)  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in  heaven and in
              earth. 19)   Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the  Father, and of the Son, and
             of the  Holy Ghost: 20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am
            with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
             1 Corinthians 11:1)  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2)  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye
             remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
             1 Corinthians 14:37)  If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things
             that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

    (2) taught by the apostles, to be practiced by us,
             Philippians 4:9)  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and  
            the God of peace shall be with you.
            2 Thessalonians 2:15)  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught,
            whether by word, or our epistle.
            2 Thessalonians 3:6)  Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that  ye withdraw
            yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.   and
    (3) to be taught by us to others.
               2 Timothy 2:2)  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to
                faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Why is keeping them so important?
(1) Our response (obedience or disobedience to the commands of Christ communicated to us by the apostles)
     demonstrates whether or not Christ is our Lord.   Can someone who wilfully ignores and disobeys divine
    commands truly claim that Christ is their Lord?
     Luke 6:46) And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
    Matthew 7:21)  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that
       doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22)  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
      prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23) 
     And  then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart  from  me, ye that work iniquity. 24)  Therefore whosoever
     heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
     25)  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it
      was founded upon a rock. 26)  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not shall be
      likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27)  And the rain descended, and the floods came,
      and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

 (2) Our response (obedience or disobedience to such apostolic traditions) demonstrates the measure  of our a
      cknowledgment of the headship of Christ as members in His body.
      Colossians 1:18)  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that
        in all  things he might have the preeminence.
      Romans 12:4)  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5)  So we,
      being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6)  Having then gifts differing according
      to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7)  Or
      ministry,  let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8)  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he
     that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9) 
     Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10)  Be kindly affectioned
     one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11)  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit;
     serving the Lord; 12)  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13) Distributing to the
     necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14)  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15)  Rejoice with
    them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16)  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high
     things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17)  Recompense to no man evil for
     evil. Provide things honest in  the sight of all men. 18)  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with
    all men. 19)  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is
    mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20)  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so
    doing thou shalt heap coals of  fire on his head. 21)  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

 (3)Our response demonstrates the measure of our love to Christ and of our love for other children of God.  (Both
     are proven by keeping His commandments.)                  
       John 14:15)  If ye love me, keep my commandments.
       John 14:21)   He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall
        be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.                   
     2 Corinthians 5:14)  For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were
       all dead: 15)  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him
       which died for them, and rose again.
    1 John 5:2)  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3) 
       For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
     2 John 1:6)  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.

 (4) Our response (obedience or disobedience) will be an example which will inevitably have an  influence on others
       (for good or evil!)
        1 Timothy 4:11)  These things command and teach. 12)  Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of
        the  believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
        1 Corinthians 16:15)  I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia,
         and  that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16)  That ye  submit yourselves unto such,
         and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

In the next post, I’ll begin a discussion of a number of apostolic traditions which are largely ignored and disobeyed in Christendom today. I encourage my readers to earnestly consider them and to begin to practice those which you may not have practiced before. As always, please feel free to leave your own comments and questions below.

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