Church Traditional vs. Church Triumphant

Mark 7: 1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat  bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.  5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" 6 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men ó the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do."
9 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 13 ... making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."

In every generation, there have been various ways (rituals Ė the mourners bench) and means used to secure the attention of that they may be shown the truth, and then led into a saving knowledge and true relationship with the Lord.

In fact, God started showing people the truth back at the beginning (with a ritual). When Adam and Eve sinned, instead of running to God for forgiveness, they hid and began to fashion a garment for themselves out of fig leaves. Fig leaves in the Bible represent every effort by man to make himself fit for the presence of God.

Right after Adam made an attempt to cover himself with the efforts of his own hands...God showed him the truth...the only way of salvation..  

In Genesis 3:21 We have the 1st mention in the Bible of an acceptable covering for mans sin. The Lord God made garments of skin, for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

There are three things suggested in this verse.

1.  Salvation must be the work of God and not man, it is God who makes the coats of skin.  Adam had no part in it.
2.  Godí plan, is through the death of a substitute the penalty or result of sin had already been spoken, it is death, and since God can not cross His word, the death penalty must be paid. God has always loved man, and wanted him to be in fellowship. He provided a substitute, an innocent, guilt free sacrifice which was probably a lamb, and He takes its life.  
All this is implied by the fact that God took the skin of an animal, taking the skin would naturally involve the death of the animal.
3.  Salvation must be by the shedding of blood, for it says in Leviticus 17:17 that the life is in the blood. In order to pay the penalty for sin and restore life to the sinner, innocent blood must be shed. Again in Hebrews 9:22 we are told that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

Here, then, in the 3rd chapter of Genesis, at the beginning, we are shown manís way and Godís way.

Man sought to cover himself and be fit for the presence of God by the work of his own hands  Those fig leaves represent every effort of mankind to justify himself.  They represent a claim without reality, a profession with out possession, a form of Godliness but denying the power there of.

But God said it is not of works (1), it is a gift (2) it is by the shedding of innocent blood.

When Israel left Egypt, God impressed this great truth by giving them the tabernacle ritual and later the temple worship. It was a ritual of substitution, blood, and sacrifice.  A ritual which was to point them to God's lamb which was to come.  A shadow of the real thing, but not the substance.

But Israel started worshiping the ritual.  They took the ritual, made it into tradition and started worshiping the form instead of worshiping God. Then when Godís lamb did come they didnít recognize Him. Their tradition got in the way.

Man is a creature of habit, he loves form.  He doesnít like things to change too quickly and he clings to the way he has always done it. But God doesnít seem to care if something has never been tried before. His concern is directed toward getting His desire for mankind accomplished.

The Bible indicates that God has always had a lot of problems with man and his traditions.  Just take a look at the Jews.  They loved their temple, their sacrifices and their Sabbath and Jesus ran up against the whole stubborn lot of them.

Did you see that?!!  WHY HE HEALED ON THE SABBATH. At every turn, Jesus tried to show them the truth... But they kept getting hung up on His methods.  Because He wasnít traditional.  He kept doing things like touching lepers, raising the dead, hanging out with sinners, and whipping money changers.

 First it scared them.  Then it made them angry. You see, their religion was basically very quiet very peaceful and very solemn, and this Jesus person, had the whole place in an uproar at least once a week.  HE DISTURBED THEM.  He didnít look traditional, talk traditional, or act traditional.

So they rejected His message, they rejected His miracles, and finally, they rejected Him.

 They chose the shadow of tradition, instead of the substance of God.

The nation of Israel was cursed for the same reason that the fig tree in Mark 11 was cursed. Israel had a lot of leaves, but no fruit.

 They prided themselves on their religious perfection.  They tithed, not only of their money, but of their goods, even down to the spices they used for cooking. They boasted of their law keeping and their traditions.

 Paul said, (Romans 10:3) that being ignorant of Godís righteousness they went about to establish their own.

Their leaders were so religious, that when Jesus was tried in the Gentile court of Pilot, they would not enter for fear they would defile themselves and all the while they were crying out for the blood of Godís own Son.  They hugged close to themselves all the rituals and traditions, their garments of fig leaves, and they rejected God.

Human nature has not changed much since then.  Our forefathers accepted Godís plan of salvation and His ordinances of baptism and communion.  Then as a means to point people toward God, we incorporated ritual.  The scripture reading, 3 songs, the Lordís prayer and maybe the Apostles creed.

  NOW PAY ATTENTION HERE, I DON'T WANT YOU TO LEAVE CHURCH AND SAY.  MARY SAID ITS BAD TO SAY THE APOSTLES CREED AND THE LORDíS PAYER.  THATíS NOT WHAT I AM SAYING.  I am NOT saying ritual is bad, in fact, if it is a celebration of being born anew by the spirit of God, it is good..

 But if you have not been born again, then ritual becomes for you, nothing but fig leaves, no fruit.

 The rejection of Godís remedy for sin in favor of, "I try to live a good life, I donít cheat on my taxes, commit adultery or rob banks and I go to church."  This will leave you in the awful position of standing before God, with a lot of fig leaves and no fruit.

 If you were to search your Bible from Genesis to maps you would find that Jesus never cursed a harlot or a thief or a murderer.  He had only tender compassion for the sinner, but when it came to the self-righteous Pharisees and Scribes, who were all dressed up in their fig leaves of legality and religion, it was another story.

 He called them a generation of vipers, white graves, clean on the outside, but on the inside, full of dead men's bones and corruption.

The only thing Jesus ever cursed was a fig tree, that had a lot of leaves but no fruit.  Do you know that the bible compares our lives to trees.  If Jesus stood before you this moment and examined the tree that is your life would He find the fruit of salvation or would He find nothing but leaves. 

It is good to be a Church member, but church membership wonít save you.

It is good to be baptized, but baptism wonít save you.

It is good to live a moral life, but morality wonít save you.

It is good to give, but giving wonít save you.

Salvation is a gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast. It is by the shed blood of the Lamb of God.

It was to Nicodemus, a very religious man that Jesus said, "you must be born again." Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was earnest and sincere. He had done all he knew to do, but he was NOT BORN AGAIN.

Manís way is by works. Godís way is by faith. Manís way is fig leaves. Godís way is the blood of the lamb, Jesus.

 The prophet spoke and said, "There is a way that seems right to man, but the ends there of are the ways of death."

 Jesus spoke and said, "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me." John 14:6

 For a long time, the church has been the Church traditional instead of the Church triumphant.  Lately into the staid halls of religion there has come a steady stream of folks with a message from God of redemption and joy.  Jeremiah 33:11, where there is restoration there is joy.

 We donít 1ook traditional, we sometime wear casual clothing to religious meetings, we donít act traditional, sour lemon faces have changed to smiles and we donít talk traditional now and then we hear, "Hey man, let me tell you about Jesus."  And we donít really care if its never been done that way before.

 What we do care about is the message of truth, Jesus our savior, Jesus our baptizer, Jesus our healer, and Jesus our soon coming king.

 We must make sure we donít make the same mistake that the Jews did.  Donít get hung up on methods and miss the message and the miracles of God.

 We need to choose the commandments of God rather than the traditions of man. BE BORN AGAIN. Christianity is not inherited or passed down from one generation to the next. It is not enough to know of God in a second hand way.  It must be a personal, one on one relationship.

 Romans 10:9-10 Believe with your heart, confess with your mouth....