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traditional versus modern buildings October 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 2:1-28; Matthew 9:1-17; Luke 5:17-39; Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5

Change versus Tradition

Who gave you the authority to change the way we have always done things? What right do you have? These questions imply that tradition trumps authority. We are comfortable with the way we have always done things - it works for us. We don't like change; we like comfort and predictability. Those in new leadership face stiff challenges at times, fighting for needed changes because of traditions. In saying this we might come to believe that all traditions are bad. This is not true; some traditions are good and helpful. How can we tell if change or a tradition is good or bad? Today's lesson may help us with this question.

In Jesus' day the Romans governed the provinces of Judea, Galilee, and the surrounding areas of Israel. The two primary religious groups, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, along with the Herodians (a political party loyal to Herod) kept the local people, the Jews, in line. They were responsible for handling the civic and religious cases of their own group. The Romans oversaw the general order of the provinces and executed malicious criminals. Jesus was a new leader on the scene. He was popular with the common people because of his miracles and teachings. The religious leaders and Herodians kept a close eye on him.

One day, as they were listening to his teaching, they heard Jesus say something shocking. He told a paralytic that his sins were forgiven (Mark 2:1-10). “Blasphemy!” exclaimed the teachers of the Mosaic Law. “Only God can forgive sins. By what authority do you have to forgive sins?” Jesus said and proved he had the authority by healing the man (apparently his sins led to his paralysis). “When the crowd saw this [the miracle healing], they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men,” (Matthew 9:8 NIV). Do you need your sins forgiven? Your answer is not more religion - it is a relationship with Christ that saves you. God offers you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life through his Son, Jesus (more...). Leaders who want to change the status quo must first establish their authority to do so. This does not mean they have to work miracles, but somehow people must come to recognize them as authorities.

Both change and tradition should be based on the right motivations. Is tradition needed? Is change necessary? The Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses did not question their own practices, but they questioned Jesus's practice of eating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” (Luke 5:31 –32, NIV). In other words, his mission was not to minister to those who were devout (like the religious leaders who did not want their reputations sullied) but to save sinners. To do that Jesus had to mingle with them. If we want to save sinners from sin and hell we must be friendly and mingle with them. We must get out of our religious circles from time to time to save the lost.

“Why do we do as we do?” is a question that all of us need to be ready to answer. 1Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (NIV). At first Jesus did answer with patience and respect. Later, however, when the religious leaders were on the attack and no longer interested in what Jesus had to say, he rebuked them and their traditions.

Change and tradition, especially in religious circles, should be based on Biblical authority. Jesus' authority was from God. In the same instance of the healing of the paralytic man, he made reference to Hosea 6:6 from the Scriptures, (which the teachers of the law should have been known): “For I [God] desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings,” (NIV). This does not imply that God does not want us to gather together for worship in churches or other assemblies, but mercy, grace, justice, and respect for God trump religious practices. In making a decision to change religious practices, therefore, we must determine if we have the Biblical authority to do it. Are the changes consistent with God's Word and character as found in the Scriptures? Are our religious practices more important than sacrifices we might make to help a neighbor or stranger who is in trouble? We must temper tradition with truth, understanding and mercy.

Lessons to live by:

  • Do you need your sins forgiven? Your answer is not more religion - it is a relationship with Christ that saves you. God offers you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life through his Son, Jesus (more...).
  • When making choices as to whether to stick with traditions or make changes people must recognize our authority. We must be respectable.
  • Change or traditions should be done for the right motivations. Will our actions bring glory to God?
  • Change and traditions, especially in religious circles, must be based on Biblical authority.* Biblical authority does not refer only to the Law of God but also the character of God.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)

*Disclaimer: Major changes and traditions, not minor insignificant preferences, are the thrust of this Bible study.

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