Bible Before Tradition

BibleThere’s an idea floating around that there is no ultimate truth; that truth is only what someone makes it to be, and that truth is different for each person.  Surely each person’s experiences, thought patterns, way of learning and processing, etc., are different, so that what may be true for one person in these areas is not true for another.

But there is an ultimate truth – truth that is true no matter the person, place, time, or situation.  And there is a Book where we can learn this ultimate truth.  Thus, the Second Principle of Bible Study is to accept that:


The Bible is our ultimate authority;

The Bible is the ultimate standard of truth.

Unless we truly believe the Bible is the standard of truth and therefore our measure ov living, our hearts will not be open to learning God’s message for us, nor will we follow it when He reveals it to us.

A brief history . . .

Back in the Dark Ages people were not literate as we mostly are today.  Printing presses were nonexistent until around 1450 when Johannes Gutenberg figured out how to use moveable type, so the only books or parts of books to be had were handwritten copies.  Obviously, very few people held copies of Scripture, and these were mostly hidden, as in many areas it was illegal to own a portion of the Bible.  People depended on the church to tell them what was truth.

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg in 1517, and a friend removed them to print and distribute them throughout Germany, the Reformation began.  Bible truth started to become known.  People began to realize that not all they had been taught came from Scripture.  The battle cry for the Reformation became “Sola Scriptura” – Latin for “Scripture alone.”

Currently . . .

“The Bible and the Bible alone” must be the battle cry of us as Christians, also, and of anyone who wants to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Any source of authority that tries to undermine or go against what Scripture teaches, must be abandoned if we are serious about following God.

Last time we talked about a couple sources of authority and truth.  Let’s add another:

In New Testament times one source of authority that threatened to usurp the Bible was tradition.  Speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus tells them they have made His commandments of no effect by their strict adherence to tradition.

“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God’– ‘then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition,”  Matthew 15:5, 6.

Does this mean all tradition is wrong?  No, of course not!  Families develop traditions for special days, for working together, for meals.  Communities have traditions.  So do schools, churches, and most anywhere there is people.  Tradition can preserve the ways of the past and keep practices going throughout many generations.  Tradition can be the means to preserve one’s history and heritage, and to bond people together.  But any tradition that usurps or goes against the authority of the Bible does not have a place in the life of a Christian.

Here’s a thought:  Is what you believe simply the way you’ve always been taught (tradition) or does it honestly come from the Bible?  It’s not a bad idea once in awhile to take a look at our beliefs and traditions to make sure they match up with Scripture.

Paul warns Timothy against the traditions of men, and to avoid false “knowledge” that goes against God:

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ,” Colossians 2:8.

“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. . . .” 1 Timothy 6:20-21.

The bottom line is:

The Bible is the standard against which all teaching and doctrine must be tested.  All other sources of knowledge must be tested here.  Our response must be one of complete surrender to the ultimate authority of the Bible, even if it goes against what we’ve always “known.”

Let me finish with a quote from a scholar friend of mine:  “Scripture thus provides the framework, the divine perspective, the foundational principles, for every branch of knowledge and experience.  All additional knowledge and experience, or revelation, must build upon and remain faithful to, the all-sufficient foundation of Scripture.”  R. Davidson.

Please leave a comment and give your thoughts!

Want to read the first two blogs in this series?  Click the links here:
The First Principle of Bible Study
The Bible is Our Authority

Interested in learning more about Psalms and how they apply to your life?   Check out my individual Bible lessons on selected Psalms.



About Pastor Sherry

Hi, I'm Pastor Sherry! I'm a Ministry and Spiritual Life Coach, and am committed to helping you Reach For The Summit of your relationship with God. This includes developing or transforming your personal devotional life as well as breaking through barriers such as Unloving, Fear, Bitterness, that are preventing you from the kind of connection with God that you seek. I'd love to connect with you on Facebook (Pastor Sherry, Reach For The Summit), LinkedIn (Pastor Sherry), and Twitter (PastorSherry1). To receive my monthly newsletter, please sign in to the opt-in box at the top of this page!
This entry was posted in The Bible and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Bible Before Tradition

  1. All your post are really very informative and popular, so all your visitors will get good info by this post.
    Candice Michelle recently posted..בני ברוך

  2. TracyAnn0312 says:

    I do agree with what you have said. It is good to read bible first before doing traditions because it can guide you in times that you are doing traditional things.

  3. Amy Hagerup says:

    Pastor Sherry, This is a good treatise on the authority of the Bible over tradition. I was wondering if you would bring up what Jesus said to the Pharisees and you did. Also, I think it is very important that we line up our current traditions with scripture – hold them to the plumbline of God’s Word. Thanks for this. Blessings, Amy
    Amy Hagerup recently posted..Lesson on Trust: When Trust Intersects with Pain

    • Hi Amy, Thanks for visiting my blog! I think we (humans) get comfortable with “the way we do things” and forget that sometimes it doesn’t have a basis in the Bible — yet we fight to keep it going! Nothing wrong with (most) traditions unless we treat them as biblicaL when they aren’t. God bless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge