Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXIV: Serving God With Adherence To Scripture Above Man's Tradition And Program
(Mark 7:1-13)
  1. Introduction
    1. In religious circles, there are hosts of traditions and programs that do not find their origin in Scripture, but are observed nonetheless. Christmas, Easter and Good Friday are such traditional observances, and such programs, among many others, include youth groups, mens and womens fellowships and Christian schools.
    2. Jesus Himself yielded to heeding some traditions: Though it has no Biblical basis of origin, Jesus celebrated the Hebrew feast of Hanukkah which is near our Christmas time, Ryrie Study Bible, King James Version, ftn. to John 10:22. Though God never instituted a wedding feast, Jesus honored the feast by supplying wine from water in His first recorded miracle in John 2:1-11.
    3. However, He did not heed all traditions and programs, and His reasons for doing so apply to us as follows:
  2. Serving God With Adherence To Scripture Above Man's Tradition and Program, Mark 7:1-13.
    1. Jesus' observance of man-made religious traditions and programs was limited to those that were not elevated to the stature of God's Scriptural institutions, Mark 7:1-7.
      1. On one occasion, the Pharisees questioned why Jesus' disciples did not observe the elders' traditions of eating with washed hands, Mark 7:1-5.
      2. This tradition was not part of Scripture, but was a tradition held lofty by the elders so that a devout Jew was considered in SIN if he did not wash his hands before eating, Bib. Know. Com., N. T., p. 132-133.
      3. Jesus objected to taking a human tradition and elevating it to the level of determining one's righteousness in following it itself, for that made man's tradition as binding as God's words, Mk. 7:6-7.
    2. Christ's observance of man-made religious traditions and programs was limited to those that did not supplant the intent or commands of Scripture, Mark 7:8a:
      1. Jesus went on to complain that the Pharisees laid aside the commandments of God in favor of keeping the traditions of men in their place, Mark 7:8a.
      2. That was unacceptable to Him, and should be also to us.
    3. Christ's observance of man-made religious traditions and programs was limited to those that did not reject Scripture to keep the man-made traditions or programs, Mark 7:8b-13:
      1. Jesus strongly stated that the Pharisees actually rejected God's Word to keep a tradition, Mk. 7:9.
      2. To illustrate, He reviewed Moses' command for one to honor his parents, and that he who cursed his parents was to be put to death, Mk. 7:10 with Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16; Ex. 20:17.
      3. In effect, the Jews rejected this order by the use of a tradition: (1) If a man told his aged parents that his money was "Corban," or a "gift" pledged to God, man's tradition taught that he was not to give the money to his parents for their support, but to give it to the temple, Ibid., Ryrie, ftn. to Mk. 7:11. (2) However, this practice caused one to fail to honor his parents by meeting their needs in their old age, and so caused him to disobey God's command about honoring his parents, 7:12-13!
Lesson: Extrabiblical religious traditions and programs are acceptable only when they allow the believer to prefer, honor and heed the teaching of Scripture above man's traditions and programs.

Illustrations: (1) There are various traditions used to observe communion that are Scripturally acceptable: some use original matzeh bread, others leavened bread; some let only ordained ministers serve it while others allow believers to serve thems elves. On the other hand, there are traditions surrounding communion that are Biblically unacceptable: serving communion to little children in children's church just to make them sit orderly in church or letting the audience serve itself the elements without explaining its need for proper spiritual self examination are practices that in correctly leave people open to divine discipline in violation of 1 Cor. 11:28-32! (2) Using Christmas to promote a spirit of matialism in children by lavishing them with excessive toys violates 1 John 2:15-17. Conversely, using Christmas to meet genuin e needs through giving gifts to needy believers obeys 1 John 3:16-18, making that practice acceptable before God.