Handling Traditions in the Church P4

Who or What is Sovereign in your Church?  

Read Matthew 12: 1-21 and 15: 1-20, as Jesus deals with this Himself! 

The tradition of the Sabbath had a great start and purpose that got skewed; it was supposed to be a symbol of God’s sovereignty and Lordship (Ex. 20:8). It was also meant to be a reminder of the redemption to come for the people under the Law, the redemption that we now have in the work of Christ (Duet. 5:12). The Law had strict guidelines pertaining to the Sabbath—how it was to be observed, and not to be violated. These laws were intended to lead the people to understand and know God as well as to keep the peace and not allow people to corrupt or ignore it. Unfortunately, the religious leaders corrupted it by adding so many countless, additional ordinances that the people were too tied down to the extra laws to ever look up and embrace God’s Lordship. These extra laws became restrictions and, ironically, violated God’s law and intent. Think about it; how often do we do this today? 

Jesus reminded them of this and used Scripture to prove His point just as we are to do. It is ironic that the rules of the Pharisees were very precise, and if someone proved a point using Scripture, they had no recourse but to acquiesce to that point. Jesus obviously won the argument, yet they still plotted! Keep in mind: when you win the day by logic and reason through Scripture, even with kindness and tact, the war may not be over. It takes prayer and patience. Allow the Lord to work and make sure the parties causing the disruptions are being cared for too. 

Jesus’ argument, although sound and righteous, would have been appealing to the Rabbi or true follower of God. However, it may not have swayed a pretentious leader steeped in his pride and traditions. This is the same reason the Gospel influences so few today, or why a wise pastor’s counsel is met with hostility. Jesus’ message is blocked by the inclinations of people and their refusal to surrender to His Lordship. Jesus’ message will only persuade those who are impacted by the Spirit, and where His Will replaces theirs. 

Jesus withdrew from the Synagogue, and a great many people followed Him! Since first century Judaism was so diverse, taking a lot of people away probably did not devastate the Synagogue, as others would join in with those who held the same views as they did. This also happens with some churches today. The Scriptural quote in this passage in Matthew is from Isaiah 42:1-2, and is sometimes called the “Servant Song.” It referred to the nation of Israel when it was written. There are four Servant Songs (Isa. 42:1-9; 49:1-7; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). Israel was God’s servant, yet she failed Him, disobeying by chasing after false gods and immoral practices. God called the people to be restored, while others took the punishment in behalf of the others, so not all would be destroyed (Isa. 44:1-4; 21; 42:18-19; 49:3-7; 52:13-53:12). Our goal in handling any conflict is restoration and learning so people can grow in faith and be better servants. Jesus came as the servant replacement. He is our substitute, and takes God’s wrath in our place (Rom. 1:18‑3:20; 2 Cor. 5:21). He is the ultimate Servant!

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Handling Traditions in the Church P3

Synagogues or Today’s Church: Nothing has Changed 

The leaders of the Synagogues, as church leaders do today, would invite visiting speakers. Jesus was perhaps a visiting speaker in that service when He saw the man in distress. He took that opportunity to serve, as well as to confront their bad traditions and their hypocrisy.  Not all Pharisees were bad; many were pious and used their sect to motivate people to a deeper understanding and application of their faith. 

Synagogues would also host informal dialogues with visiting rabbis; this could be another thing that Jesus was doing. Most Jewish groups in that time did not permit any ministry on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was considered so sacred that the Pentateuch forbade any deviance from its practice. Thus, seeing Jesus gleaning or not washing his hands would have caused quite a concern. They saw Him as dishonoring the faith and Law. However, Jesus was not dishonoring it; He was fulfilling it! The majority group, the Pharisees, did not even allow praying for the sick. Other Pharisees did. The minority groups were also in accord, as the Essenes had even stricter rules, not allowing even an animal to be rescued. However, the Hillelites did allow for some ministry and prayer. This group grew to be the majority after Jesus’ time, up to the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Thus, some of the leaders would use Jesus to help persuade people to their views, while others sought to destroy Him. 

Does this look familiar, as with power plays in your church today? You see, our Lord faced this personally and so will we. Synagogues were also the place each of these various leadership sects would go to debate. Asking counter questions was a classic, rabbinic way to engage in a debate, and is still the norm today. Now, we sit down and discuss, bring people to the Word, and in prayer, seek an equitable solution that honors hard workers and glorifies our Lord. 

How much more was another standard, rabbinic method of analogy. This was to show inconsistency, pretence, and hypocrisy. They did not interpret the Law with any form of logic or consistency, and Jesus pointed this out to them with their own words and law; He used Scripture! Our Lord continues, stretch out your hand; this implies that there is a connection between our faith and Jesus’ healing power. The healing was given, but it also had to be received! The initiative needed to be taken (Eph. 5:14). Just as Grace is given, we still have to act on our faith to receive it. 

By doing what He did, Jesus infuriated the Pharisees and the Herodians so much that they literally planned to kill Him! When your heart is so hard that you block out the Will and desires that God has for you, you start on a path of chaos and destruction that you will not even realize because you will be clouded by your own delusions and pride. We must beware of this so it does not happen to us or to those under our leadership. People who hang on to bad traditions tend to do this; I know I have at times. They had their religion so mixed up and skewed that they saw an act of kindness as a crime.  Those who had political power used it to put people down. To plot against someone would indicate this group of Pharisees did not have the power to carry out their wishes and had to go behind closed doors. Otherwise, they would have brought Jesus into the courts and charged Him directly.

Outlining the Bible?

Outlining the Bible is the primary means to prepare one to teach the precepts of Scripture in a clear and logical way. This is designed for the pastor, Bible study leader, or curriculum writer to learn how to examine the text and then draw out what is there in a logical and systematic way. In this way, we can develop well crafted sermons and studies that are personally edifying and impacting to our congregation. This form of study can even be used by a mature Christian wanting more out of the Word for personal edification. Outlining will enable one to “exegete” and then write out what the Bible is saying. 

I developed this curriculum for you to use from over twenty years of research. I sought out the principles and resources that a good “sermonizer” uses to teach.

Why is one preacher bad and another good when they come from the same seminary and denomination? From my original mentorship under Francis Schaeffer, study under Ray Stedman, and interviewing hundreds of excellent Bible teachers including Charles Swindoll and R.C. Sproul for my book, Into Thy Word, it has been my quest to see what “secrets” and means can best be utilized to learn and then teach His Word. I discovered that an outline is essential, after a good inductive and or exegetical study, to lay out what we are to learn and then to teach. By the way, every good preacher is first a learner before they become a teacher! Being a learner, doing an inductive approach, and then outlining are the common denominators of what a good Bible-centered pastor does to prepare. There are no shortcuts to good Biblical messaging. We need, your congregation needs the right essential elements and tools to produce sermons. Outlining is essential for a Bible teacher use to prepare their lesson. Outlining will be your primary means of producing quality, Bible-centered lessons, talks, sermons, or even research papers. 

http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=31442&columnid=3801

Handling Traditions in the Church P2

Jesus is Cornered about Traditions 

The Pharisees loved their traditions and sought to attack Jesus for not following them; they even accused Him of being a fake for not doing so. Yet, He cleverly thwarted the attempt of the religious leaders to prove He was a fake by turning it into a testimony of His deity. Yet, they continued to harass Him, not giving up. They followed Jesus, trying to snag Him again and again. And finally, the opportunity came. Jesus once again disobeyed one of their traditions. In their eyes, He did the unthinkable: He ate some food on the Sabbath and then helped a man in distress! They had their Jewish faith all mixed up and backwards, seeking to protect the Sabbath by adding more regulations to it, as well as showing more concern about traditions than about their fellow man. 

Because of this prevailing attitude, they refused to minister to or care for a brother in need. A handicapped man was in need, and the love and care he needed was not given. Instead, the bitter medicine of chastisement and condemnation was dispensed. Jesus made it clear that mercy and love are important, and that they would honor God rather than pretentious sacrifice or false, pious attitudes that clouded the Truth. In spite of all that Jesus did to prove who He was, and why He was there, the religious leaders hardened their hearts and refused to listen or even look up to see the wonders at their doorstep! They even accused our Lord of the very evil they were doing (Mark 3:1-6)!  

The question that this passage asks in the form of the example from our Lord is, “Do you use people, or do you serve them?” Remember, Jesus was God, who came to this earth to serve! If your church has a program that upholds its leaders and not Him, there is a problem! 

Jesus went into their Synagogue, and performed a “terrible crime” by showing them their true position concerning the Sabbath—of which they were in denial. In the Old Testament, there was no prohibition to healing on the Sabbath, and it was always lawful to do good deeds. Yet, the religious leaders felt otherwise. This was the “going-ons” of the Church of their day. A synagogue was the central religious institution for the Jews. These houses of worship came out of the period of the exile by the Babylonians. They provided a place where Jews could study the Scriptures and worship God. Prior to the exile, they would take pilgrimages to the Tent Meeting/Temple in Jerusalem, and the Levites would be in their towns, homes, and clans, teaching and ministering. Most of Levites dispersed into the general population and their priestly sect no longer served a function, so elderly men took up that role and started schools of apprenticeship to train younger men to serve. This is where the Rabbis, Pharisees, and Sadducees came from. These synagogues were built in any town where there were at least ten, married Jewish men to form a congregation. This was their church and besides the names and cultural issues, not much has changed (Acts 13:15; 14:1; 17:2; 18:4).

Handling Traditions in the Church P1

Read Matthew 12: 1-21 and 15: 1-20, as Jesus deals with this Himself!

Does your home church have traditions that are so honored, the purpose of your church is skewed or people are not being led in the right direction? How about a Christmas pageant with all the planning, personality conflicts, and stress where Jesus is forgotten about even though He is the One Who the activity is supposed to be about? Perhaps there is a person who wants to command and control and “lord it” over others, or maybe someone—or multiple some ones—are trying to keep something alive that does not make sense, or are not willing to allow positive feedback or help from others and thus the process of mutual faith and cooperation is absent. We have all been there or will be soon, so let’s see what our Lord says about this so we can be better prepared and handle this right. 

Does your home church have traditions in which you like to participate? Do these traditions provide comfort to you or others? If so, why? And, is that bad? Why, or why not? 

Consider this: in just about every church, there are good traditions and bad ones. The job of the capable leader is to lead the people to do what is good, keeping the good ones rolling, always seeking to improve, and being capable to also lead them away from bad programming or reform it back to being good and effectual for the church and the glory of our Lord.