Saturday, January 4, 2020 -
Today we once again met outside for our Bible study, but because of the cold, damp weather, there were only four of us. We studied the first 12 verses of Matthew 16, where the Pharisees once again test Jesus by asking Him for a sign, even though Christ had already performed so many miracles in their midst.
Christ then goes on to discuss the “leaven” of the Pharisees – their false teaching of tradition and legalism. Jesus tells us to be in an attitude of looking out and being watchful of such leaven, what He describes in Luke 12:1 as hypocrisy. Often even today manmade tradition which does not have any basis in Scripture can be substituted as truth. How often we think that they are rooted in Scripture when in fact there is no basis for them in Scripture.
Take for instance the tradition of building elaborate buildings (or any sort of building) to meet in, or having a paid pastor, or church membership roles, or reciting a prayer of salvation. All of these may perhaps be culturally justified in our modern age, but they are traditions not modeled in Scripture, and there are legitimate reasons to reexamine whether such traditions which have permeated the genuine church – comprised of those who have truly repented of their sin and made Christ Lord of their lives – are having negative consequences.
For example, by no longer meeting in homes as the early church did, where many in the body participated in edifying and helping each other to examine the Scriptures and grow together in Christ, are we being deflected from the unity and closeness of the church as God intends that we find in the New Testament? Is the money being spent on physical buildings in which to meet, or pastors that teach us as well (as fill the other roles required of the local body of believers that they should be volunteering to do), taking away the real purpose of our giving which is found in the New Testament – which is to assist the needy the widows, and the orphans among us, and to share the good news of Christ? One must wonder, if all of the money we’ve spent on paying pastors to do what we ourselves should be doing, or buildings for us to meet in while we should be meeting in our houses, would the Great Commission already have been fulfilled?
And how can we justify denominationalism when we find passages such as I Corinthians 1:11-13?
Today I encouraged the men to examine the Scriptures for themselves and to use God’s word alone as a guide for truth. For the leaven of the Pharisees, legalism, and hypocrisy can just as easily permeate the church today as it had the Hebrew culture during Christ’s time. I encourage you, too, to give this some deep thought. I am not encouraging you to necessarily leave your church, but at the very least become involved in a small group where you study God’s Word together, hold one another accountable, pray for one another, and meet one another’s needs – physically, spiritually, and financially, and to use it as a springboard to grow and share your faith with others. That is what the church is all about!