Google+ 12/19/12 Tradition!

2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

 

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught,

Whether by word or our epistle.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father,

Who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,  comfort your hearts

And establish you in every good word and work.  

 

Traditions!  How we misunderstand what Paul is speaking about in our Scripture lesson today.  This is Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, which was written soon after the first, while Paul was still in Corinth.  Paul had become increasingly concerned about the progress of this little church to the north of Corinth.  As we glean from Paul's first letter, this church has shown such promise, but now the misunderstanding of Christ's second coming is causing the church to move in unhealthy directions.  Due to the unrest in the church, many quit their jobs, were leading undisciplined lives, and being busybodies and beggars, living off those of their number that were still gainfully employed.  Paul knows that the ultimate source of these problems lays in Satan (3:3), and Paul has confidence in the Lord that He will protect them.  I explain all this to lay the groundwork for our Scripture, beginning in verse 15.  When Paul mentions traditions, he is not speaking about shallow social customs that have been established by man to detract from God's word.  In the original language of the Bible, "tradition" literally means "a giving over by word of mouth of writing."  In our Scripture passage today, "tradition" refers to teachings handed down from one person to another.  In the early church, good tradition was the primary means of Christian instruction (Luke 1:2).  False tradition ends up in heresy or apostasy.  One of the perfect examples in Scripture of this different interpretation of tradition lays with the religious leaders of Jesus' day.  These leaders put the traditions of man above the Word of God (Matthew 15:1-9).  Luke, on the other hand, sifted through existing records, interviewed witnesses, and wrote an inspired record to instruct Theophilus in the faith (Luke 1:1-4).  So, what are we to learn, in this very special season of the year, from Paul's 2nd letter to the church at Thessalonica?  As Christians, we need to sit under the preaching of God's word.  If the content of this preaching conflicts with Scripture, the teaching of men must be disregarded in favor of the certain and absolute truth of the Bible.  Traditions are not in and of themselves, wrong.  It is only when they oppose the Word of God, we should abandon these traditions, quickly.  Examine your heart and your traditions.  Use Scripture as the measuring stick.  If your traditions conflict with Scripture, do what Paul says and abandon them.  Some cultural customs literally oppose the Scripture message completely and must be turned away from if we are to be in fellowship with God. Don't stop there.  Examine the traditions of your Local New Testament Church, using the same measuring stick.  Often churches do things for the simple reason that "we have always done it that way."  That may be fine, if the tradition honors God.  If it conflicts with Scripture and honors man, we must depart from it.  Remember that false tradition always ends in heresy or apostasy.  Do you want that for your church?  Do you want to be a part of that?  I don't.  I want to be Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof and be able to sing loudly to God in my life and my church, "Tradition!"