Rough Draft. The flow needs to be worked on.
August 22, 2017
The five planks of the reformation are:
By Grace Alone (Sola Gratia)
Through Faith Alone (Sola Fide)
In Christ Alone (Sola Christus)
According to Scripture Alone (Sola Sciptura)
For God’s Glory Alone (Sola Deo Gloria)
Today we are going to talk about one of them. Sola Scriptura. Only Scripture.
How does the Bible begin to shape our understanding about the nature of God? Why do we believe the Bible is a true and accurate? After all it contains 66 books written over approximately 1400 years, by 40 different authors. It can’t be true. It is inconsistent. It contains contradictions. It’s hard to understand.
The Bible does have 66 books, written over 1400 years, by 40 authors. It is ONE story written by the Holy Spirit. It is the story of a trustworthy God, revealing himself, in a Trustworthy manner.
Author Michael C. Horton said it best: “The character of God is at stake in the character of Scripture. Why is Scripture in-errant? Because we know that God does not lie.”
The in-errancy of Scripture then, rests with the nature and Character of God. Who is the author of Truth?
1 Timothy 3:16-17 tell us: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (NASB)
But the word inspired in Greek is: theopneustos. Theo meaning God, and pneustos meaning breathed. Literally, God Breathed. As Dr. James White said: “The Bible is the only God breathed possession of the Church.”
II. Why Sola Scriptura is important.
What sparked the Reformation? What made a difference in the life of an insignificant monk, nearly 500 years ago? It wasn’t sudden wealth. It wasn’t a man. It was an encounter with the truth. The power of Scripture comes not merelyfrom what is written, but it comes from the experiential encounter with the truth.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Heb 4:12-13 NASB
This isolated monk, though well educated, was cutoff from the world. He was pious. He was penitent, but he was still mired in the guilt and shame of sin. Nothing he could do, would ever please God. And he was absolutely right.
He was reminded of that passage from Isaiah: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isa 65:6 KJV)
Nothing he did of himself, would appease the wrath and anger of a just God. He was doomed. Condemned to walk the earth as a vagabond. Heaven wasn’t a goal. The justice of God demanded a sacrifice, an atonement, which he could never make. Atonement means a payment in full, that is acceptable to the offended party. How could man ever do this? The answer: he cannot.
But Christ. The Monk read the words, that transformed his life:
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Rom 1:17 KJV
This was the answer Martin Luther had been looking for. The Gateway to Heaven had at last been opened. The answer did not lie with anything he could do. The answer lay with what Christ had already did. God is both the just, and the justifier. A truth encounter.
But what is imputation? Justification? Righteousness? These are terms that we hear often, but few have understanding of its meaning. Let’s explore for a moment.
Imputation means we inherit (not exchange) the righteousness of Christ. Christ’s righteous standing before God, is given to us, as a free gift.
Righteousness. righteousness: (dikaiosone) — Righteousness involves much more than imputation and is NOT an exchange.
We receive righteousness as a gift without any trade in or exchange. We not only receive right standing, but a new heart that gives us the ability to not only do the right things, but to do them to God’s glory rather than our own credit. With an attitude of love and service that does not look for reward either now or in eternity. This righteousness is selflessness. Both law and grace define righteousness; and grace cannot be revealed or understood apart from the law. Paul carefully and systematically lays out these distinctions through the book. Defining righteousness is what this study is all about. Tim Poelstra
Justification. It is a legal term. It does NOT mean just as if I had never sinned. I like Chuck Swindoll’s definition: “Justification means that God declares me righteous and holy before Him, EVEN though I am still in a sinning state.”
It is again repeated in Hebrews: The just shall live my faith. (Heb 10:38)
III. Internal Evidence
There is an old saying,
The New is in the Old Contained;
The Old is in the New Explained.
Let’s look at a passage of Scripture in the Old Testament that points to Christ, from Psalm 22:
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
17 I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
18 They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
Now let’s go to the New Testament:
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” Matt 27:46 NASB
So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” John 19:32-37 NASB
He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:20 KJV
And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. Matt 27:35 (NASB)
Internally consistent, even though these writings are 1,000 years apart.
What about this:
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, But the righteous man shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17 NASB)
Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith. (Habakuk 2:4 NASB)
Internally self consistent and in-errant. The old and the new testament validate each other.
The New is in the Old Contained;
The Old is in the New Explained.
There is consistency, because God’s honesty and trustworthiness are at stake.
IV. Accountability to the Truth
Now that we know the truth of Scripture, we are all fully accountable, not only to God, but to each other, as to how we handle the ultimate source of Truth. No one escapes accountability. Romans 14 and Isaiah tells us, no one escapes judgement before God.
Are you ready to be judged by the King of the Universe? Have you accepted and applied the truth to your life, or are you still a stranger?
An important aspect of avoiding temptation, is accountability. Small groups provide a safe environment, so that we can obtain the support, help and prayer that we need.
Right now you are asking, what is accountability? Why, then, criticise your brother’s actions, why try to make him look small? We shall all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ. It is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’. (Romans 14:10-12 JB Phillips)
It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actions.
Well where is this written? Again, Paul quotes from the old Testament:
I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. (Isa 45:23 NASB)
I like this from Chuck Swindoll on accountability:
What do we mean by accountability? In the simplest terms, it is answering the hard questions. Accountability includes opening one’s life to a few carefully selected, trusted, loyal confidants who speak the truth—who have the right to examine, to question, to appraise, and to give counsel.
People who are accountable usually have four qualities:
Vulnerability—capable of being wounded, shown to be wrong, even admitting it before being confronted.
Teachability-–a willingness to learn, being quick to hear and respond to reproof, being open to counsel.
Availability—accessible, touchable, able to be interrupted.
Honesty—committed to the truth regardless of how much it hurts, a willingness to admit the truth no matter how difficult or humiliating the admission may be. Hating all that is phony or false.
That’s a tough list! As I look back over those four qualities, I am more than ever aware of why accountability is resisted by the majority. Those with fragile egos can’t handle it. And prima donna types won’t tolerate it. They have a greater desire to look good and make a stunning impression than anything else. I mean, “the very idea of someone probing into my life!”
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting for a moment that accountability gives the general public carte blanche access to any and all areas of one’s private life. If you will glance back a few lines you will notice I referred to “a few carefully selected, trusted, loyal confidants.” They are the ones who have earned the right to come alongside and, when it seems appropriate and necessary, ask the hard questions, to serve in an advisory capacity, bringing perspective and wisdom where such may be lacking.
In our society, where privacy is a reward of promotion and a life of virtual secrecy is the prerogative of most leaders, a lack of accountability is considered the norm. This is true despite the fact that unaccountability is both unwise and unbiblical, not to mention downright perilous!
Today we need others to hold us accountable. Sometimes an objective opinion will reveal a blind spot. Sometimes we may simply need a sounding board to help keep us on target. Just remember—not one of us is an island. We need one another.
V. The Role of Sola Scriptura today
Remember that 2 Timothy is Paul’s Swan Song. He knew he was about to die. So he penned these final words to his young protégé Timothy, from the cell of the Mamertine Prison, in Rome. It was dark. Dank. Foul smelling. A rat infested dungeon. He wrote by candlelight. Words take on a different meaning, when me understand the context in which they were written. We do not see Paul complaining. We see him focused on the task of reminding Timothy, what his duties and responsibilites were.
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Tim 4:1-5 NASB
It is the job of the preacher to take the truth of God’s Word, and deliver it to your ears. It is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit, to take the truth of Scripture, from your ears, to your heart. You cannot separate the Word of God, from the Spirit of God..
In today’s world, we find many false teachers. And Paul warns Timothy again (see 1 Tim 4:1) about false teachers.
Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. 1 Tim 4:1-2 NASB
We find many false teachers today: Joel Osteen, Beth Moore, Pat Robertson, Mormons, Catholics, Joyce Meyer. The list goes on.
Who was the first to challenge the Truth? Satan. We see the story unfold in Genesis Chapter 3. The doctrine of demons, must fully be met, with the doctrine of truth.
Why did the Catholic Church push so hard against Luther? Was the truth at stake? You betcha! Luther, in writing the 95 theses, challenged the authority of the Papacy (is that even scriptural?) and indulgences. I especially like # 47: “Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, not a commandment.” That hit them where the pocketbook was.
What happens when you exchange the truth for lie (Romans 1:25) ? Romans 1 gives us a window:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
How many of you saw the Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017? Do you need further proof of God’s invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature? You are without excuse.
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-31)
That is a very accurate description of the world we live in today. That was penned by the Apostle Paul, over 2000 years ago.
One of the greatest influences on the reformation, was Luther’s tedious translation of the Bible into the language of the people, and subsequent distribution by Gutenberg’s printing press. The Truth was no longer sequestered and held hostage by the Catholic Church, even as they continue to do, today. There is no replacement for having the Truth, the Word of God, in your own language.
You want to argue doctrine? Theology? Traditions? Sola Scriptura. Now we can separate truth from lies. We have a reliable source. The Bible.
Dr White writes: “Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith, the sole instrument of Justification, to the Glory of God alone by Christ alone.”
Justification by faith was the gateway for Luther. As a church, we must proclaim it loudly for all to hear.
for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION “– 2 Cor 6:2
Maybe the words I have spoken have reached your heart. It is not something I did. It is the Holy Spirit, taking the message from your ears, to your heart.
If God has spoken to you today and you would like to discuss send me a message.