Going by the Book

By Gordon J. Pennock

We regard it our duty to constantly exhort brethren to neither inject nor accept into our teaching, worship, work or organization anything for which clear authorization cannot be found in the Bible. This may not be the way to get the church on the “band-wagon” nor “in step” with the many innovations which are cropping up among brethren, but in the light of the following scriptures, it will keep us “in step” with the Lord. Let us note:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you.” (Dent. 4:2.)

“What thing soever I command you, that shall ye observe to do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Dent. 12:32.)

“Add not to his words, Lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6.)

“That . . . ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written.” (1 Cor. 4:6.)

“Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9.)

“I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18, 19.)

Surely, any one of these passages would be sufficient to establish our point, but perhaps the preponderance of evidence so repeatedly stated might convince one who might otherwise be skeptical. The summarized conclusion to be learned from them is that no additions or subtractions, substitutions or supplements may be made without corrupting, destroying and thus rendering ineffective one’s response to that which includes, but is not limited to, that which God has revealed. Any change whatsoever implies that God did not know what He wanted men to do, as well as the presumption that man, by his wisdom may improve upon the wisdom of God. Such attitudes and actions are sinful.

The sin of thus corrupting and contaminating God’s word is illustrated by the following: Several years ago a leading oil company used the following advertising slogan to encourage motorists to change the crank-case oil in their automobiles frequently: “3 quarts dirty oil 1 quart clean oil = 4 quarts dirty oil.” Some old-time country preachers used to make the same point by saying, “Sweet milk, plus sour milk, equals sour milk.” Who can deny the logic in such illustrations!

Let us therefore not ask, “Where has the Bible` forbidden this doctrine or that practice?” Let us rather ask, “where has it been authorized?” For a matter to be sinful does not mean that it must be specifically forbidden. It must be “according to the pattern” (Heb. 8:5)!

Truth Magazine XIX: 16, p. 242
February 27, 1975