In a couple of related articles (222) (223) we have been asking the question, "Where shall we find the content of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ?" Typically, there are three answers given to this question: the Bible; tradition; and church dogma. Interestingly, two of the three enslave men to superstition and ignorance. In the Bible, Jesus reserved some of His harshest judgment for those who claimed their traditions spoke for God. It is this area that we wish to address today.
Why do men prefer tradition to the Bible? Is it because the Bible is unclear? Or is it because men prefer tradition? It is not because the Bible is unclear. That raises this question: why do people prefer to languish in tradition rather than luxuriate in Truth?
The Bible says of itself that it is the "sword of the Spirit" that penetrates to the thoughts and intents of the heart, and that it has a living quality to it that makes it speak with power to every generation. And herein is the reason men prefer tradition: tradition is dead and deadening and men who wish to play religion while living for their own agenda prefer to wallow in the death of the dead because it allows them to be religiously satisfied without ever coming into the presence of God. The Bible is very clear that men are terrified of God and flee from Him at every opportunity. The proof of the truth of this is that we live in a culture that has had extraordinary exposure to the teachings of the Bible for over 200 years and yet the vast majority of the people in this culture cannot give a cogent analysis of the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, which constitutes the clearest presentation of the gospel of God found in the Bible.
If people are this ignorant of God's Word after living in a Bible-saturated environment for all of their lifetime, the only answer to why that is so is "tradition". Ignore the Bible and go through the motions of tradition. That's the best way to keep a safe distance from God while assuaging the religious impulse. That way we can be religious and still be safe from God's penetrating presence.
So, the Gospel is found in the Word of God. It is not found in authoritative "churches" which claim some kind of infallibility from God, nor is it found in traditions that may have once had some legitimacy.
My reader, ask yourself: Why do I not spend as much time really studying the Word of God as I do eating? Is your body more important than your soul? Or is it simply that God's Word has no appeal? And if God's Word has no appeal, how can we claim that God is satisfied with us when we do not even want to hear from Him? We pray because we think God wants to hear from us, but we will not submit to His Word because we do not want to hear from Him. How foolish of us! Not even God wants to be in on a one-sided conversation.