Regulative principle

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Puritan Board Freshman
"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (Matt. 15:1-3).

The Pharisees were the respected religious leaders of the Jewish people. They believed that they had the liberty to add to the commandments of God. The law of God did contain various ceremonial washings to signify the unclean becoming clean. The Pharisees simply added other washings to emphasize and "perfect" the law of Moses. There is no express commandment forbidding these ceremonial additions, except the regulative principle (e.g., Deut. 4:2; 12:31). These additions have no warrant from the Word of God.

Jesus Christ is the champion of the regulative principle. He strongly rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for adding to God's law. What happens when sinful men add rules and regulations to God's law? Eventually man-made tradition replaces or sets aside God's law. "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition" (Matt. 15:6). The ancient Christian church added its own rules and ceremonies to the worship of God and degenerated into the pagan and idolatrous Roman Catholic Church. If we do not draw the line regarding worship where God draws the line, then, as history proves, the church will eventually degenerate into little better than a bizarre pagan cult. Christ's rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees applies today to practically every (so called) branch of the Christian church. "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:8-9).

Paul, in his epistle to the Colossians, concurs with the Old Testament's teaching on worship. Paul condemns those who seek to impose Judaical food laws and holy days upon the church (Col. 2:16). Because the ceremonials laws were "shadows" that pointed to the "substance"--Jesus Christ--they are done away with. They are no longer authorized and therefore are forbidden. Paul's warning regarding human philosophy is the backdrop of his condemnation of false worship and man-made laws (legalism): "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8).

Paul condemns manmade doctrines and commandments: "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh" (Col. 2:20-23). Paul says that adding to God's Word is a mere vain display of "will worship and humility." It is "will-worship" religion instead of worship-according-to-God's-will religion. Manmade laws take away the liberty we have in Christ. God's moral law is perfect; it does not need additions. Manmade rules and regulations are "not in any honour" to the believer.

taken from The Regulative Principle of Worship and Christmas by Brian Schwertley
The Regulative Principle of Worship and Christmas
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