Thursday, May 3, 2012

What's Not In The Bible

Mark 7:13 “... making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.”

The American church has a lot of pet doctrines. They seem to be teachings that people are adamant about. But sadly, many of them have no scriptural support. They probably began as exaggerated and dramatized story-telling - but many of them have become entrenched dogma in American churches.

Some of these are silly and harmless:
“Paul got knocked off his donkey on the way to Damascus.” - I challenge you to find a donkey in that story!
“For forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites only ate manna! Can you imagine how tired they were of it?” - Well, if you read Exodus through Deuteronomy you’ll find out they were still raising livestock while they were being fed manna. Manna was there to replace the crops they couldn’t grow; but it wasn’t the only thing they ate.
“The walls of Jericho were so thick that they had chariot races at the top!” - Not only will you find the lack of chariot races in the book of Joshua, you’ll also find the glaring lack of any chariot in Jericho when it’s described! Actually, the fact that Jericho spent so much resources on a defensive structure probably meant they lacked any real type of offense. As near as I can tell, this particular teaching started from a Carman song!
These teachings are essentially harmless, as long as you remember that they’re man-made embellishments. If you start pushing them as hard doctrine, you may get into trouble.

But some of the other pet teachings are more serious. They have formed the foundation of several false and flawed doctrines:

“Lucifer rebelled sometime between the first and second verses of Genesis. That’s why the world was covered in water in Genesis 1:2”  - I would respond this way: Show me! Show me in scripture where Lucifer led a rebellion from earth into Heaven and the world was flooded before the creation week. If that’s what happened, how do you explain God saying that everything He made was “very good”? How could creation have been good if Lucifer (something He created) was already in rebellion and millions of a “pre-Adam” race were dead and buried? This false teaching is at the heart of “old-earth creation” and it begins to redefine what you think God calls good.

Jesus went into Hell after He died and fought with the Devil. He beat him and took his keys away.” - An exciting message? Sure. But Jesus did NOT go to Hell! He didn’t have to...the cross was enough! Just read Jesus’ own words. Jesus Himself told the repentant thief, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Isn’t that enough to convince you that Jesus didn’t go from the cross into Hell? Colossians 2:13-15 makes it very clear that Jesus victory over the devil’s kingdom was on the cross! “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The one pet doctrine that I hear most often is this: “First and Second Timothy and Titus are the Pastoral Epistles. Paul is teaching these two men how to be pastors.”

I would be more inclined to believe this teaching if the word pastor was mentioned once, in any of the three books. But it’s not. You may be surprised to hear this, but nowhere in the New Testament is the office of pastor mentioned! This whole “good little pastor” teaching is entirely man-made!

However, in all three epistles, you do see the office of apostle mentioned. All three start with, “Paul, an apostle” - and then are addressed to Timothy or Titus “a true (or beloved) son.” Do you see it? Paul (an apostle) took these men under his wing to mentor them in his office! It wasn’t Pastor Timothy or Pastor Titus, it was the apostle Timothy and the apostle Titus!

Look at what Paul told Timothy in chapter 3 of his first letter. He instructed him in how to appoint deacons and bishops (in today’s terminology, that would be senior pastors). Who did Paul think Timothy was? In 1 Timothy 5, Paul went on to instruct this young church leader how to distribute payment to the church leaders and how to handle correcting them. Surely Timothy was more than what we call a pastor!

Titus was also following in the apostle Paul’s footsteps. Paul left this young apostle in the island nation of Crete to set the new churches in order. Paul started these churches and then Titus was responsible for setting up the leadership. Let me repeat that. Titus went from church to church, in each Cretan city to appoint people into leadership positions. Does that sound like he was a “good little pastor” to you?

Clearly, Timothy and Titus were more than what we’ve made them into. These were young men who had an apostolic call on their lives. Paul had seen that calling and took them with him to train them in their gift. As they served with Paul, they were faithful to work in his ministry. Paul brags on Timothy’s faithfulness in Philippians 2:22: “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” Because of Timothy and Titus’ faithfulness to his ministry, Paul helped them into their own place. Timothy was placed in a position of authority in Ephesus and Titus in Crete.

We need to be diligent when we read and study God’s Word. We cannot allow our traditions to interpret what we see in its pages! Instead, we should be letting what we see in God’s Word change our man-made traditions!

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