Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 10, 1949
NUMBER 27, PAGE 4,5b

Keepers Of Tradition

Hoyt Bailey, Wichita, Kansas

There was a great difference between human traditions and the word of God during the days of Christ. Keepers of tradition asked Jesus, "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? ...And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition." (Matt. 15:1-6)

The inspired scripture still differs from human tradition, both ancient and modern. Human tradition would place man at the head of the church, but the scripture places Christ at the head of the church. God put all things under the feet of Christ, "and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23) Human tradition would place man as a representative head, the scripture continues to exalt Christ as the only head of his church. "And Christ 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." (Col 1:18-19)

The Moral Man

Human tradition would promise salvation to the good moral man, to one who paid his debts, lived a sober life, and kept out of the affairs of others. The scripture demands more than a man's being merely moral God has decreed that all must obey him as well as be moral, or in addition to being civic or social minded. Cornelius was a good moral man and more; he was a "devout" man, and one that "feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always... a righteous man... well reported of by all the nation of the Jews." (Acts 10) Those good traits were not enough to please God within themselves alone. Cornelius was instructed to send for a preacher who would tell him words whereby he and all his house should be saved. (Acts 11:14) Cornelius did not question the judgment of God, but sent immediately for Peter, and, when Peter came, obeyed everything that God directed him to do. He did not refuse to obey. When commanded to be baptized, he did not try to assume or argue that baptism was "non-essential", or any way unnecessary. He obeyed.

Equality Of Religions

Human tradition would make one religion as good as another, one faith as good as another, one church as good as another, one baptism as good as another, and one life as good as another. But false religion can never be as good as true religion. Had it made no difference about religions, had one religion been as good as another, surely the Lord would not have died in behalf of New Testament religion. If it makes no difference which religion one professes, then Christ died in vain. If one religion is as good as another, why does the New Testament teach that one is to practice pure and undefiled religion? (Jas. 1:27) Why does the Lord warn against vain religions? Why did Paul sever his former connections with the Jews' religion? Why did the Samaritans give up their former religious connection to become New Testament Christians? Why did the eunuch leave his former religious practices to become united with Christ in baptism? Why did Lydia and her household give up the Jews' religion and accept New Testament Christianity?

One faith is not as good as another faith. Faith in human tradition is not as good as faith in the word of God. Faith in an idol is not as good as faith in the living God. Faith in some human, religious scheme is not as good as faith in the Lord's plan of saving man. Counterfeit dollars are not as good as dollars issued by the treasury department of the United States. Counterfeit faith is not as good as faith founded on the last will and testament of Jesus Christ.

All Churches Alike

If one church is as good as another, why did the Lord destroy the old Jewish church? Why did Jesus build his own church? Only human tradition teaches that one church is as good as another. The church built by Jesus is better than the old Jewish church. The church Jesus built is better than any church that was ever built by man. Jesus built his church that all who will become members of it might be saved. He adds the saved to his church. He did not build his church for a select few, but his invitation is extended to everyone. No one can study the New Testament and conclude that one church is as good as another. Such an idea is only a human tradition; it is not the word of God.

Concerning Baptism

Human tradition teaches that one baptism is as good as another. The Bible acquaints us with the baptism unto Moses, the baptism of John, the baptism of suffering, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of fire, and the baptism in water for the remission of sins. These baptisms did not have the same design, nor were they all intended for the same persons. All of these baptisms except the baptism in water for the remission of sins and the baptism of fire have served their purpose. There is now not a plurality of baptisms; because Paul plainly declares there is one baptism. Eph. 4:4) The one baptism administered by man is water baptism for the remission of sins. Jesus Christ will administer the baptism of fire. No intelligent person can conclude that it is as good to be baptized in fire as it is to be baptized in order to be saved from the fire! The idea of one baptism being as good as another is not found in the inspired writings. The New Testament teaches one baptism; human traditions try to get people to accept substitutes.

The Life We Live

Human tradition would try to exalt a life of sin to the level of a life of righteousness. Many people have the idea that once they have "accepted Christ", they can live any sort of life they may choose and still be acceptable in God's sight. No spiritually minded man can conclude that a drunkard's life is as good as a sober life. One informed in the scriptures will not say that a drunkard, a fornicator, or a liar has the same hope of heaven that a righteous man has. In fact, he has no hope unless he repents. An ungodly person cannot be proud of his ungodliness when he comes face to face with the Lord, Those who have lived pure, humble, faithful lives in the Lord's service will never have cause for regret. Individuals should not go through life with the deluded impression that impurity is as good as purity, that ungodliness is as good as godliness, that wrong is as good as right, nor that error is as good as truth.

In short, no man should ever for one moment think that human tradition is as good as the inspired word of God.