In Vain Do They Worship Me

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 11
The words of our Lord Jesus as found in Matt. 9:88But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. (Matthew 9:8) have come forcibly to mind since the Roman Catholic Church announced, on November 1st, the dogma of the Assumption. Our Lord, quoting from Isaiah, said of the Jewish leaders, "In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
When He was here on earth the Jews were zealously observing many teachings and commandments of men while they slighted the plain Word of God. They were very careful to not transgress the tradition of the elders, but their very tradition transgressed the commandment of God (Matt. 15:2, 32Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (Matthew 15:2‑3)).
And so it is with large segments of Christendom today. Church rules, church teachings, and church dogmas are carefully adhered to while the Word of God is ignored. Who gave any man, or any group of men, the right to add to God's infallible Word? We have in the Word of God the whole revealed mind of God; nothing can be added to that, and nothing taken away. Since that Word was completed there has not been any further revelation to supplement it, nor is there going to be. God has recorded the past, told us of the present, and revealed the future. He has given us "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:33According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3)); nothing else is needed. The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration, said, "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill [or, to complete] the word of God." Col. 1:2525Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; (Colossians 1:25). It was given unto him to unfold "the mystery" and to give all that we are to have about the Church.
Furthermore, God in His Word has made no provisions for men to make additions to it, but rather takes us back to the beginning when speaking of the last days. Whenever error comes in, the resource of the saints of God is "that which was from the beginning." The Apostle John warns the saints of the dangers of the "last time" and refers them to the truth "from the beginning." (See both his first and second epistles.) The Apostle Peter, in view of his decease, warned of coming dangers and spoke about the saints having "these things always in remembrance" (2 Pet. 1:1515Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. (2 Peter 1:15))—not something to be revealed by some person at a later date. Jude in view of the last days exhorted the saints that they should "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints." Jude 33Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 3). The Apostle Paul, in view of his departure, told the elders of Ephesus that men would arise speaking perverse things, and grievous wolves would enter in, but the all-sufficient resource for them would be, "God, and the word of His grace" (Acts 20:17-3217And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:17‑32)). And in the last epistle he wrote he foretold of the last days of Christendom with their appalling moral conditions which make perilous, or difficult times, but he held up the "holy Scriptures" as something that would remain stable, always trustworthy, and useful: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:16, 1716All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16‑17).
And what is this new dogma,
this precept of men that was introduced with great pomp and ceremony, and by papal decree made binding on all Catholics everywhere? It is that the virgin Mary after her death was taken bodily into heaven and her body "saw no corruption." And now if any Catholic "presumes to think otherwise" he is branded as a heretic, as one who has departed from the faith. Such is the pressure that is applied to the acceptance of a commandment of men.
This dogma is another step in ascribing to Mary that which alone belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone as a man down here among men was without sin, and He alone was raised from the dead without seeing corruption. Of Him, and of Him only, did the 16th Psalm speak: "For Thou wilt not leave My soul in Sheol, neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to see corruption." v. 10, N. Trans. The Apostle Peter confirmed this when speaking by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). On that memorable occasion Peter expounded the Scriptures to show that the Lord Jesus was delivered by the "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," and that God raised Him from the dead without seeing corruption, according to the word spoken by the mouth of David and recorded in the 16th Psalm. He proved that David had not been speaking about himself, for he was dead and buried, and his sepulcher was still there; David saw corruption, but he "being a prophet,... spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell [hades], neither did His flesh see corruption." vv. 30, 31. The Apostle Paul rehearsed the same thing at Antioch in Pisidia: "Wherefore He saith also in another Psalm, Thou shalt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption." Acts 13:35-3735Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. (Acts 13:35‑37). In all this there is no room for Mary, or any other person, to share the singular glory that belongs to Christ. To affirm that it was true of Mary is to "consent not to wholesome words...
and the doctrine which is according to godliness."
Many legends, dreams, visions, speculations, and myths have been interwoven with this false assumption, and many unscriptural notions have become correlative; for instance, this has led to the reference to Mary reigning as the "Queen of Heaven."
Perhaps it is significant that the only place where we find the expression "the queen of heaven" in Scripture is in the book of Jeremiah (chaps. 7 and 44) where we have Israel indicted for the gross idolatry of worshiping this false deity. All became involved in it-"The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven." Chap. 7:18. In Israel's day this probably referred to the moon, but, alas, in Christendom it is Mary.
In Scripture we never read of a queen reigning in heaven, nor really of a queen in heaven. The New Testament reveals that the Church (that body of believers from Pentecost to the rapture) is to be "the bride, the Lamb's wife." Mary will be a part of that Church, a part of the Bride, for she found a Savior in the Lord Jesus, and was present among the disciples in Acts 1, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit to baptize all believers into "one body," which also came to pass a few days later, on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.
In Rev. 19 where the marriage of the Lamb is prophetically recorded, there are only two companies of believers, the Bride herself (the Church of this dispensation) and the guests, "they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (the saints of other ages, as John the Baptist said of himself that he was "the friend of the Bridegroom"). No special place is here found for Mary; she will have a blessed portion as a part of that Church arrayed in fine linen.
Figuratively in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus" sometimes represents Israel. She was present in Cana of Galilee at the marriage feast where Jesus turned the water into wine ( John 2), but that scene is prophetic in character, symbolizing the wondrous time that is coming during the Millennium when the Lord shall bless Israel and give them the wine of joy which they have so long lacked.
Let us stand on the firm ground of the unalterable Word of God which lives and abides forever, remembering that "Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Pro. 30:5, 65Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5‑6).