When a pharmacist receives a “script” from the doctor he knows he cannot change the medicine the doctor specifically prescribed. Whether or not the pharmacist thinks he can improve upon the doctor’s prescription, or thinks changing the prescription would make the patient feel better, the fact remains that the pharmacist is obligated to fill the prescription exactly as the doctor gave it. The silence of the doctor does not permit the pharmacist to add to or take away from the prescription.
In a similar way, when God expresses His desires by giving specific instructions, He expects His people to do exactly as He commanded. Human beings are not to add to, subtract from or change what He has specifically instructed. Neither is it is necessary for God to list all the changes people may invent, or to forbid them by stating: “You must not do this or that!” If the scripture contained every single thing God did not approve it would be such a large book we would be unable to carry it! The very nature of specific instructions means that whatever is not authorized by Scripture is not permitted. This is the significance of specific instructions.
According to Leviticus 10:1-2 two priests were put to death because they offered fire on their censers which was “not authorized.” God had authorized the divine source for holy fire on the altar, but when these priests obtained fire from another source God destroyed them. God did not prohibit priests to get fire from another source, but when they offered “unauthorized fire” they displeased God. We should learn from this Biblical example that when God specifies what He wants, all changes, additions and subtractions are forbidden by His silence.
In 1 Chronicles 13:7-10, the Israelites put the Ark of the Covenant on a “new cart” to transport it into Jerusalem. God had not forbidden a “new cart,” but it was a change in what He had specifically commanded. The project ended in disaster! King David said: “It was because the Levities, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of Him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” Only when the Levites carried the Ark of the Covenant with poles resting on their shoulders as God commanded did the mission meet with God’s blessing and success.
Everything taught and practiced in God’s name must be authorized by scripture. Today Christians need to ask if the things practiced in religion truly please God. Are we honoring His specific instructions? Since He has specified immersion as the mode of baptism, grape juice and unleavened bread as the food of communion, elders in each congregation as the form of church government, singing as the music of worship and Jesus as the mediator in prayer, by what authority does anyone change, add to or subtract from what God has authorized? If one of God’s specific instructions can be changed, they can all be changed! God’s silence prohibits all innovations and changes; it does not permit us to ignore His directions.