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An Ancient Problem

Don Martin

Everywhere you turn, there are people who claim to have truth. We are surrounded by hundreds of religious denominations and doctrines. Does truth exist, and if so, then where can it be found? Who can you trust? Who will you believe? Your parents? Your pastor or preacher? Who is the authority to whom we can turn? Or, does such an authority even exist?

The Solution During Jeremiah’s Time

The Jewish people during the time of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah faced the same problem. People had long believed the teaching and traditions of men, their peers and equals. Surely the direct, inspired answer that God gave to the prophet Jeremiah is applicable today when we face the same problem. What was the answer then?

Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls”. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

But, is this not even as we would expect? If we are searching to find God’s truth, then we must go back, beyond the point of contamination, to the source. It was the oldest way, the first and good way, which was given by God.

The Solution During Jesus’ Time

Unfortunately, this was not the only time in history that people become lost to the "good way". After hundreds of years of prophetic silence, the Jews of Jesus time had also established the traditions and teachings of men as authority. Hear the words of Jesus when He was accused of violating these human-ordained traditions:

“He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4“For God commanded, saying, ‘Honour your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” 6‘then he need not honour his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honour Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.

9And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

10When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 12Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14“Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Matthew 15:3-14


Why was Jesus so hard on these people? Who were these people that He rebuked so strongly in front of the multitudes?  Read verse 1 of the same chapter.

“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying…” Matthew 15:1

It was the Pharisees and scribes, who were supposed to be the religious leaders, that received this rebuke. Jesus’ rebuke was harsh because they had not only neglected their duty, but had also set up their opinions and traditions above God’s Word. Thus, they were causing not only their own downfall but also the downfall of others, who had put their trust in the teachings of men rather than God. Moreover, their jealousy and prejudice prevented them from recognising the fulfilment of the law that they had proclaimed to exalt.

Who is the authority? To whom should we listen? Hear the words of the apostle Peter:

“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” John 6:68

The Solution During Our Time

So, who are we? We are a group of people from all races, all ages, all classes, and all descents who believe that these same answers apply to the same problem which exists today. We are trying to find the "old paths, the good way". We are trying to follow the commandments of God, seeking to remove the traditions of men.

Therefore, we turn to Jesus Christ, who was God come down in the flesh (John 1:1-14). He alone is the authority. In addition, we adhere to words of his ambassadors, the apostles and prophets, who spoke word-for-word the message which was given them by Christ through the Holy Spirit. Consequently, we make it our goal as the apostle Peter himself said:

“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:11

Therefore, we only speak and act where the Bible has taught. Are we perfect in this? Have we finished? Are we the experts? Obviously not, "for we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), "for we all stumble in many things" (James 3:2), and finally, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). Therefore, we confess our sins and God’s authority in effort to do God’s will in God’s way. Only then will the glory go to God. This is who we are, students in search of truth.

 

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