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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

7/7/10 Mark 7:1-8 The Bible Versus the Experts

1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles. ) 5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?" 6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions."

"Experts Say..."  Who are the experts?  Who are the authorities?  If someone has a Phd. and lives far away, does that give them more authority than time proven scripture?  A year ago I was in a conference on John Calvin, and the lead speaker had said that it was time to interpret scriptures in the light of our superior expertise, and not just take scriptures for what they say.  In other words, our new "traditions" are better than scripture.  This is (ironically) what Calvin spoke against.  Adding to or taking away from scripture by our  "expertise" gives authority to experts who may not believe or may be writing things out of pride, and dilutes the power of God's Word. If we "know better" than the scriptures, then the scriptures have become a rubber knife- not a sharp, two-edged sword that convicts us (Heb. 4:16).  One of the reasons for the Protestant Reformation is that the Church of that time had elevated tradition to the same status as the scripture.  The watchword of the Reformation was "sola scriptura." 
In this passage, the Pharisees had elevated their tradition above the scriptures- letting go of the commands of God in order to follow mere human rules.  Let us not do this in our day, even if the new tradition-makers, the experts, tell us to do so.

Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear your word clearly.  Holy Spirit, convict me, lead me, guide me through your Word.

John Calvin abridged: It was always the will of God, that He should be worshipped according to the rule laid down in his word, and therefore no addition to his Law can be endured.  Now as he permits believers to have outward ceremonies, by which they can exercise their faith, this does not mean that He allows them to mix these ceremonies with His own word as if religion consisted in them. Whenever we are so eager to keep human laws so that we pay less attention to keeping God's own law, we are transgressing the law of God.  Whenever holiness is said to consist in anything else than in observing God's Law, people are led to believe that the law may be violated without danger. 

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