George Booker
A New Creation

43. “Rules” Alone are Not the Answer

It should be stressed once again, as at the first of this manual, that our faith is not one of rules and regulations, nor of bondage, nor of any presumed “salvation by works”. Our faith, not our works, is reckoned by God for righteousness. We have become “a new creation” in Christ through the mercy and forgiveness that his sacrifice made possible.

“Rules”, no matter how rigidly enforced, will not make us pleasing to God. Surely the example of the Pharisees as to their keeping of the law will teach us this:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you.... you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you.... you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matt. 23:23-28).

The points discussed in this manual — matters like money, entertainment, smoking, drinking, dress, and the like — are not to be understood as so many Christadelphian/Pharisaical laws. They are only (and we are repeating) guidelines by which every individual should test his or her own thoughts and deeds. It may be very well for a believer to make rules for himself — and as rigid and uncompromising as he pleases; but it is quite another thing to make such rules in non-essential matters for his brethren. In essential things there must be unity; in doubtful things, however, there must be liberty. And in all things there must be love!

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