Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NKJV)
Those who stand victoriously with Jesus Christ are “called, chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). This relationship with Christ is precisely what the apostle Paul began to lay out for why he gave thanks to the Lord for his brethren (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Today’s verse concludes his point with an exhortation to be faithful by standing fast and holding the apostolic traditions. We are not faithful to the Lord when we fail to seize and retain the teachings of His apostles. Their teaching (first spoken, then written) is the doctrine of Christ in which we must stand fast and not go beyond (2 John 9). It is the “pattern of sound words” from the apostles that is our standard of faithfulness (2 Timothy 1:13). To relinquish it for the creedal confessions men developed through the centuries (and the diverse doctrines they generated) is to abandon faithfulness to the “word of the truth of the gospel” that the apostles preached under Christ’s authority (Colossians 1:5-6; Matthew 28:18-20). Who ever said “church traditions” establish truth? Not the Lord Jesus, and not His apostles. Neither do we. Let us not be Catholic or Protestant, but simply Christians like followers of Jesus were in the New Testament. Like them, let us be faithful to Jesus by standing fast in the teachings of His apostles. Called by the gospel, we are chosen by God for salvation in Christ, and faithful to apostolic traditions.
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Colossians 2:20–22, NKJV)
Christian live for Christ and not according to the principles of the world that oppose Christ. Since we are alive in Christ we must not turn back to those things that produce spiritual death (Colossians 2:12-13). The futility and sinfulness of the commands and doctrines of men is firmly established in today’s verse. Yet, century after century heavier and heavier burdens have been laid on believers, demanding that creeds, confessions or catechisms be followed to define and determine their faithfulness to God. The religious regulations of men have no standing before the God of the Universe. Christ the King has approved no doctrine beyond what is written in His New Testament (1 Corinthians 4:6; Jude 3; 2 John 9). The gospel calls souls back to the Bible, not to being regulated by the commandments and doctrines of men. If what you believe and do cannot be found in the gospel of Christ, it is not of Christ. Lay all such things aside or you will perish with them.
12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:12-13, NKJV)
The rhetorical questions answer themselves (verse 13). Christ is not divided. Paul was not crucified for you. You were not baptized in the name of Paul. Therefore, Christians cannot be “of” men, and also be “of Christ.” Christ is not divided into a multitude of different churches with opposing creeds, confessions, and catechisms. The writers and endorsers of creeds and confessions were not crucified for you. Neither were you baptized in their names. As an example, consider the Apostles’ Creed. The apostles did not die for our sins, nor were we baptized in their names. Why should we pledge allegiance to a creed that bears their name (which they neither wrote nor approved in the first place)? Yet, many will identify you as a heretic if you do not do so. Such a demand is divisive to its core. The Scriptures answer all pertinent doctrinal issues; we care not for the creeds, because they are unnecessary. Creed writers were not crucified for us, Christ was (1 Cor. 15:3). Jesus Christ is the One in whom we are baptized, not churches that were formed under the guidelines of human creeds (Matt. 28:19). In Christ, we unite. In creeds, we divide. Which do you choose?
21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:21–23, NKJV)
People have long taken pride in the creeds they write and the confessions they profess. The traditions of men often and quickly become “the commandments and doctrines of men” that are elevated above the commands of God (Mark 7:1-13). Binding the religious conventions and innovations of men as if they are the will of the Almighty is an utterly futile and fruitless exercise. Worship must be according to truth, not what pleases us (Jno. 4:24). Lives must be holy, not merely adapt to current social norms (1 Pet. 1:15-16). The church is not our plaything, it is the temple of God and must not house idolatrous worship. The traditions of men will never be an adequate substitute for the commandments of God. All who wish to please God will approach Him with humble obedient faith, careful to offer Him the service that obeys His word (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5; Matt. 7:21-23).