How tradition leads us away from God’s Word



A Call to Repentance by

Gary Ray Branscome


Do not add to his words, lest he reprove you, and you are found to be a liar. // all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Proverbs 30:6 // Revelation 21:8


          There was a time when Baptists placed great importance on Scripture, and refused to allow man made traditions to be taught as doctrine. In those days they were eager to hear God’s Word, and carried their Bibles to church so they could make certain that what was taught was the Word of God. However, that is not true today. Now, I will admit that many Baptists think it is true. They may even want to argue with me. But, they are not looking at the facts. Gradually, over the centuries, Satan has been leading them further and further from God’s Word, and they do not even seem to know that it is happening. 

          This is nothing new. Satan gradually led the churches founded by the Apostles away from God’s Word, just as he had led the Jews away from God’s Word before them. However, in the past those who were being led astray realized that explanations of Scripture, interpretations, and any other ideas not actually stated in Scripture itself were traditions, and they put great value on those traditions (Mark 7:8-13). In contrast, modern Baptists seem totally oblivious to the fact that such interpretations are traditions. In fact, on more than one occasion I have pointed out that a particular explanation or interpretation did not come from Scripture only to be told, “Well that is what the Bible means”, or “Well that is what I believe”. Therefore, let me just say this. If you want to believe something that is not in the Bible that is your business. However, have the honesty to admit that it is an opinion or tradition and don’t go around trying to pass it off as God’s Word, for that is lying in God’s name (Deuteronomy 18:20).


          Before giving examples let me make it clear that there will be Baptists who reject some or all of the unscriptural ideas that I hold up as “Baptist Tradition”. This is because Baptists are not all the same, and there are differences in opinion. For that reason, I have tried to choose examples that are widely accepted.   


My first example is the so called, “gap theory”. If you do not know what that is, it is the totally unscriptural idea that there were millions of years between the time that God “created the heaven and the earth,” and the time that it “was without form, and void” (Genesis 1:1-2). It should be obvious that the Bible says no such thing! However, instead of recognizing it as unscriptural, those who hold this view have gone on to fabricate a complete fairy-tale about how the world was originally populated by Satan and his angels but became “without form and void” after Satan rebelled and it was destroyed with a flood. Now, it should be obvious that the Bible says no such thing! I called it a fairy tale because it is a complete fabrication dreamed up by someone with an over active imagination. However, the very fact that it is not in the Bible should tell you that it is an addition to God’s Word. And, if you do not see such additions to God’s Word as serious let me remind you that, because God has forbidden addition to His word, those who teach it are in rebellion against God (Psalm 107:11).

All such additions to God’s Word are “private interpretations,” and should be rejected as the traditions of men. Moreover, because they are traditions, they can only be perpetuated as long as Christians allow such ideas to be taught, or remain silent about “Bibles” that pervert the Word of God by presenting such nonsense as fact in their footnotes. [i.e. The Scofield Bible, and Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible.]


My second example has to do with what the Book of Revelation says about the final judgment. I am talking about what some call the “Great White Throne judgment”. Please look up the description of that judgment which extends from chapter 20:11 to chapter 21:8. The words, “the dead, small and great” (Rev. 20:12) tell us that all who have died will be present, both those whose tears are wiped away (Rev. 21:4) and those cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8). No one is excluded. Furthermore, the words, “whoever was not found written in the book of life,” (Rev. 20:15) make it clear that some who are there will have there names written in the book of life, and some will not.  That is what the Bible says, and that is what God wants us to teach. However, someone who did not fully understand the gospel read the words, “everyone was judged according to their works,” and decided that what the Bible says about everyone being present must not be true or salvation would depend on works. Now, the reason I said that they did not understand the gospel is because God does not impute any sin to those who trust in Christ. As it is written, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:8, Psalm 32:2). Just as Abraham’s faith was “imputed to him for righteousness,” when we trust in Christ, believing that His sacrifice is the atonement for our sins, our faith is counted as righteousness (Gal. 3:3). That is the Biblical explanation for why those who trust in Christ will not be condemned when they are judged (Rom. 8:1).

However, those who do not understand this are adamant in their claim that believers will not be present at the final judgment, even though the Bible says otherwise. Not only is their claim a total fabrication, if they would just look at what the Bible says they would see that it tells us what happens to both those who are not written down in the “book of life” (Rev. 20:15) and those who are (Rev. 21:2-3). That fact alone makes it clear that both are present. Nevertheless, those who claim that believers will not be present cannot read this section of Scripture without making the “Word of God of no effect” by contradicting and explaining away all of the verses that do not agree with their tradition, and that is just what Christ condemned the Pharisees for doing (Mark 7:13).


Now, if the people who hold this view would allow Scripture to interpret itself they would find that the words, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” plainly tell us that we will “all” be present at the final judgment. Please look up 2Corthians 5:10-11. Nevertheless, in order to get around this passage, those who reject what the Bible says about believers being judged make up another story about there being two different judgments, one for believers and one for unbelievers. Again, I must point out that the Bible says no such thing. If you read these verses in context you will find that Paul does not say this is a different judgment, nor does he attempt to describe the judgment, he simply reminds us that we will be judged.

Furthermore, making up this fairy story about two different judgments does not get them off the hook for the Bible plainly says that they will be judged. They cannot get around that fact. Therefore, they make up another story about this judgment being a place of reward, but not punishment. Again, not only does the Bible say no such thing, but that claim contradicts the plain words of the text! The words which say, “whether good or evil” and “the terror of the Lord” (2Cor. 5:10-11). But, they do not seem to care about what the Bible says.

    [Note: The “mercy seat” on the Ark of the Covenant is never called the “bema seat” in Scripture. That is just something else they have made up.]


Before going on I want to stress the fact that all such “explanations’ or “interpretations” that do not come from Scripture are additions to the Word of God. And, because God has forbidden us to add to His Word we know that they are from the devil.


Along this same line, those who deny that believers will be present at the last judgment also claim that Christ will raise those who trust in Him from the dead long before the end of the world.  Then, in order to justify this claim they usually quote the words, “the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). However, the Bible says nothing about this taking place before the last day. In fact, if they would simply allow Scripture to interpret itself they would find that it explicitly says (in five different places) that Christ will raise up believers on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54, John 11:24), and, that the judgment will take place on that same day (John 12:48). However, here again, instead of submitting to God’s Word they make up another story, this time about the last day not really being a day at all, but a long period of time. Perhaps you have heard it said that if a person tells one lie they will have to tell others to cover it up. Well this is a clear example of that. If Christ said that He would raise us up on the last day then that is what He wants us to believe and teach. And, I see no difference between those who deny what the Bible says about the final judgment and those who deny what it say about the virgin birth, Christ’s resurrection, or anything else. God wants us to believe and teach what His Word says, not made up traditions!


I have hardly scratched the surface. There are many other traditions being passed off as Scripture. Because the Book of Revelation says nothing about multiple physical resurrections, or believers being caught up to heaven before the last day, the advocates of that view have created a number of unscriptural interpretations in an attempt to make it say what they want to hear (1Timothy 4:3). For example: In the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation Christ addresses seven actual churches. These are churches that actually existed in Asia Minor at that time. And, He had a message for each church. Moreover, the words, “We have not written anything to you, other than what you read,” tell us that there is no hidden meaning (2Corinthians 1:13). The words mean just what they say, nothing more.

Nevertheless, in order to make the text say what it never was intended to say, they claim that those seven churches just stand for “The church Age,” and that the rapture will take place when that age ends, long before the last day. Again I remind you that the Bible says no such thing! The Bible says nothing about a “church age,” and it says nothing about Christ raising up believers before the last day. That is just a myth dreamed up by someone with an overactive imagination! Then, having created a mythical “church age,” they claim that the rapture coincides with the words, “Come up here,” at the beginning of chapter four (Rev. 4:1). Again, the Bible says no such thing. It is just something someone dreamed up. Yet this fairy–tale tradition is passed off as fact while plain statements of Scripture (Such as the Biblical account of creation) are often explained away (2Timothy 4:4).

[NOTE: When we allow Scripture to interpret itself, the words, “In whom… you were also raised up with him through faith in the working of God, who has raised him from the dead. And he has made you, who were dead in your sins… alive together with him, having forgiven all of your sins… If you have risen with Christ, seek those things that are above, where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand,” tell us that the first resurrection (spoken of in Revelation 20:4-6) — the resurrection that exempts us from the second death — is not a physical resurrection, but a resurrection from being spiritually “dead in your sins” to new life in Christ.]  




God’s Word is not hard to understand! If it was it could never be a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). And, because it is not hard to understand, the meaning God wants us to get out of His Word is nothing “other than what you read” (2Corinthians 1:13). In Romans 2:28-29 Paul sets forth the doctrine of Spiritual Israel. In Romans 3:9-20 he sets forth the doctrine of universal Condemnation. In Romans 3:20-28 the doctrine of Justification by faith. In Romans 4:1-25 the doctrine of Imputed righteousness. In Romans 5:6-11 the doctrine of the atonement. In Romans 5:12-21 the doctrine of the fall and redemption. What God wants taught is just that clear. If you come across a verse that you do not understand, instead making up some explanation interpret that passage to agree with the doctrine taught in passages so clear that they need no interpretation. Those who make up stories and explain away what the Bible says when it does not agree with their own ideas are in rebellion against God (Psalm 107:11), have a spirit of error (1John 4:6), and make His Word of no effect by their traditions (Mark 7:13).