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Summary: Grace on trial.. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

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Dealing with tradition

Reading: Acts chapter 15 verse 1-35


A very poor holy man lived in a remote part of China.

• Every day before his time of meditation in order to show his devotion,

• He put a dish of butter up on the window sill as an offering to God,

• One day his cat came in and ate the butter.

• So to remedy this,

• He began tying the cat to the bedpost each day before the quiet time.

• This man became a well known who was revered for his piety;

• So much so that soon others joined him and became his disciples;

• And worshipped as he did.

• Generations later, long after the holy man was dead,

• His followers placed an offering of butter on the window sill during their time of prayer.

• Furthermore, each disciple went out and bought a cat;

• In order to tie it to the bedpost!

Question: What is tradition?

Answer: "That which is handed down from generation to generation."

• Traditions can be both good and bad;

• Often they can provide a sense of stability and normalcy


• At the Tower of London every afternoon at exactly 4:00 PM;

• There is a traditional ceremony that takes place.

• The Beefeaters, British royalty’s ceremonial guards,

• Come out of the tower and feed the raven on the front lawn.

• There is a legend that says;

• As long as the ravens are fed, London would never fall to her enemies.

• During WW 2, when London was being bombed by the German Luftwaffe,

• The ravens were frightened away.

• Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave a secret order to the Beefeaters;

• He told them to secretly clip the wings of the remaining ravens so they couldn’t fly.

• Question: Why?

• Answer: To provide a sense of stability and normalcy to Londoners in a troubled time.

I guess we like traditions:

• But often they can provide a sense of permanence, a solid standard.

• Most of us like the familiar, the norm.

• Ill: How many of you always try to sit in the seat that you are now in?

• So some traditions can be good, but some traditions can also be bad;


• In our culture arranged marriages are deemed to be wrong!

• We have grown up with the tradition that male & female are free to find their own partner.

• But to many people around the world (large groups in this country);

• Arranged marriages are the norm! It’s their tradition!

• So traditions can be both good and bad;

• Because often they can provide a sense of permanence a solid standard.

In Acts chapter 15 we face a conflict:

• A conflict of ideas, the old and the new.

• Do we stick to what we have always known (tradition) or do we accept new ways!


• In 1786,

• William Carey a shoemaker/pastor from Northamptonshire,

• Was burdened by the needs of the worlds people,

• He stood before a counsel of representatives at a ministerial meeting in Northampton,

• He explained his burden to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

• He was rebuked by the eminent Dr. Ryland who said to him,

• "Young man, sit &down! When God pleases to convert the heathen,

• He will do it without your aid or mine!"

• Carey refused to accept that advice and so he followed his heart and his Bible,

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