On Traditions ---- An Inspiration from Acts 8

---By Joseph Wang

Traditions are either religious ordinances or man-made customs, as established historic practices handing down by ancestors from generations to generations, such as customs, habits, morality, ethics, thought, belief, faith, ways of doing things, arts, systems, institutions, etc. Some may possess certain social factors with special characteristics and values, others may have "spiritual" wealth or traditional culture, again some may be the national philosophy of life, and others may be considered as the rules of the hardship and simplicity, and so on.

Generally speaking, everyone, more or less, would like to keep his own traditions. However, we must be very clear about them. Traditions may be good, or very good, or even next to the best, but they can never be the best. The best in this entire universe is none other but the Lord Jesus, the pre-eminent One, having the first place in all things (Col 2:9; 1:18). No one and nothing can possibly match Him.

In following the Lord Jesus, all of us should set aside our traditions, care only His presence, the present Christ, and keep His commandment (cf Matt 15:2). Otherwise, the traditions will be stumbling blocks to our pursuing Him. In the four gospel books He had broken the traditions many times. For instance, He allowed His disciples to pick ears and eat on Sabbath (Matt 12:1-8); healed the sick ones on Sabbath (Matt 12:9-14); defended His disciples for not washing hands before meals (Matt 15:2); and so forth. As His disciples, we must learn and understand the significance and the value of breaking the traditions.

Acts 8 recorded two striking things by Philip. One was his successful gospel-preaching among the Samaritans, and the other was to get an Ethiopian eunuch saved in God's salvation. Both events were forbidden by the Jewish traditions, yet, Philip broke both.

History tells us that Samaritans had inter-married and assimilated with the Gentiles, and the Jews afterward never recognized them as being part of the Jewish people. No business and no communication were between these two peoples for many generations. It had become a serious tradition among the Jews.

According to Deuteronomy 23:1, "he who has been wounded in the testicles or has the male organ cut off shall not enter the congregation of Jehovah." This means that eunuchs will not be allowed to receive the salvation, and the Jews had firmly kept this ordinance, eventually as a tradition for a long time.

Without the tradition-breaking acts, gospel would not be able to spread to Samaritans and Ethiopia, needless to say to the uttermost part of the earth. And the charge of the Lord Jesus in Acts 1:8 would not be possibly fulfilled. But praise Him, there were such timely acts of tradition-breaking, it was so wonderful.

Today we may face the similar situation as the so-called Christmas approaching. We all know that the Christmas is absolutely not from the Bible, just a man-made tradition. Yet some of us may still observe it, in the name of the Lord Jesus, as His birthday to amuse ourselves in our flesh. What do you think the reaction of the Lord Jesus would be toward this?

We need to have visions and revelations from the Lord today. We must hold Christ as the Head and the words of God must be respected and regarded above all and any other things. Traditions are nothing. We should not pay any more attention to those, nor linger over even yesterday's enjoyment from the Christ. Rather, we should keep running the race to advance, and follow the present Christ as close as possible, because He is always new and advance all the time. Amen.

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