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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Is Your Church the Right Church?- Part III

3. Are there rigid, man-made rules?

There are some things that Bible does not outline step by step for us. We are given the room to decide and to try things. For instance, there is not outline of the duties of a deacon in the Bible. The QUALIFICATIONS for a deacon are there, but not what he does. So the job description of a deacon may be different in every church in the world. The hard and fast rules are easy, but the decisions in which the Lord gives us our free will can be harder to navigate. Because of that, some churches have established traditions or rules that are based completely in man's opinions, but which can be adhered to just as though they were Biblical commands. We call it legalism, but that implies that it is based in The Law, and often these are not backed by the law at all (at least not in word- sometimes in theory, but again by stretching and implying). There is no way I can know or list all of them, but here a few very common examples of the way traditions have replaced God's Word.

Wearing only dresses. Ahh! But I am a dresses-only wearer, so am I a hypocrite? I have been convicted to wear dresses only because they are feminine and they are not the things that pertain to a man (or shouldn't anyway) but the reason there is still so much debate over it is that the Bible NEVER tells the church what to wear, except that it be modest. So women who wear pants aren't sinning because they are wearing pants. They may be sinning because of the desire to have men look at them, or by trying to be like the world, or many other possibilities. They may also be inadvertantly causing another to sin by showing off areas of the body that are only for the pleasure of the husband. But what we put on is not regulated by the Bible. If the pants are long enough, loose enough, and of a print that you can't tell they are actually pants, who would even know? "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things" Acts 15:28

Not eating meat. Some churches will say that we were not meant to eat meat at all, others will refrain from it at a certain time to purify or consecrate themselves. In Genesis 1:29-30, God did create man to live a vegetarian life because there was no death yet. After the fall, and then Noah's time on the ark, God declared meat suitable to eat (Genesis 9:3). Had He not meant this, He wouldn't have spent so much time laying out what was clean and unclean. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." 1 Timothy 4:1-3

Not Marrying. See verse above. God created marriage and sex and said it was good. This was all before the sin which lead to death. The Proverbs are full of sayings about how having a wife is a blessing, the Song of Solomon is an erotic love poem between a man and his betrothed/wife. So we have all this scripture condoning it, and people will take the one verse by Paul about not being married to mean that we should abstain from marriage, or that the 'holiest' people should not marry. Or the fact that Jesus is never spoken of as being married. He was the bridegroom of the church. He had committed his life (and death) to the people who would follow him. Sharing that passion would be impossibly unfair to any mortal woman. (Matthew 25) "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." Genesis 2:18

Asking intercession from anyone other than the Trinity. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" 1 Timothy 2:5 I have gotten so many emails lately about praying to my 'angels', and in probably every check out line in every grocery store you can find guardian angel pins. Then there are the statues of different people that are an object of devotion to many different religious groups. These are not only a silly waste of time, they go DIRECTLY against the scriptures. The Bible says clearly that the angels are not above God, so they should not rob God of the praise and prayer rightly due him. And as for a statue of anyone who was ever on this earth, it is a waste of time. We are praying to a sinner. "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 That included Mary, any of the early apostles, and anyone who has lived since the creation of the world. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" Acts 4:12 Jesus was the only one righteous. If you don't believe His words, you cannot say you are a Christian. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" John 14:6

Go to Part IV

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