October 31st 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On that day in history, Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, which called into question the Roman Catholic Church’s practice of selling “indulgences”. This single act is credited with igniting the flame that became the wild fire of reformation.
Among the teachings of the reformers, 5 pillars emerged: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory). These “Sola’s”, like Luther’s “95 Theses” were direct responses to corruptions introduced by the Roman Catholic Church.
This month at CBC, we will be looking at each of the Sola’s individually on Sunday mornings. In order to keep these truths on our minds, we will feature articles based on the sermon from the previous Sunday.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) does not mean Solo Scriptura (Scripture Only). What’s intended is perhaps better stated as Summa Scriptura (Scripture Above All Others). It’s not that Scripture is the only means of sanctification in the life of the believer, but it is the foundation upon which everything else stands.
Why Believe the Scriptures?
Why is everything built on the Scriptures? Why do we start there? Or, perhaps even more importantly, how do we know it’s true? The Bible is true because it has been authenticated through deduction and demonstration.
1.) It’s authenticity can be deduced.
- Scripture is God-breathed.
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Scripture differentiates between man’s words and God’s words.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. -2 Peter 1:21
- God’s words are true.
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. -John 17:17
2.) It’s authenticity was demonstrated.
- Miracles authenticated the words of Scripture.
23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 But that you may know that zthe Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, aglorifying God. -Luke 5:23-25
3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. -Acts 14:3
- Men authenticated the words of Scripture by appealing to it.
14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” -Galatians 2:14
What Do You Believe About the Scriptures?
So, the Scriptures are the very words of God and have been authenticated, but do you believe them? As a Christian, you may be quick to affirm the veracity of the Bible, but what do you believe about them? Are they sure and sufficient? Does everything in your life fall under them?
It’s able to make you wise for salvation. (2 Timothy 3:15) It is also something to delight in. The Bible is perfect, pure, true, and righteous altogether. Our great temptation, as Christians, is not to doubt the truth of the Bible but to doubt the goodness of it. In the Garden, when the serpent asked, “Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1), he was challenging the goodness of God’s commands. He wasn’t questioning the words themselves, but the reason for saying them.
The same is true for us today. We are tempted to view God’s laws as restrictions keeping us from good things. God is a sort of “angry parent” who withholds everything until heaven. In reality, He is keeping us from things that prevent our flourishing. His laws show us what is best.
What does the psalmist say? Oh how I love your…. songs? No. “Oh how I love your law!” Do you delight in God’s Law? Do you see it as the pathway to a life full of joy and contentment? Will there be hardships? Yes. Persecution? Yes. But, will it be best? Yes! God’s commands are not to restrict or slow your progress. They are to expedite your flourishing and enjoyment.
-(sermon by) Daniel Gillespie