Contend Earnestly: Sola Scriptura: Part I

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sola Scriptura: Part I

As we jump into our study of the Five Solas of the Reformation we start at where we find our foundation. If we find these Solas starting at the Reformation let us take a look again at some quotes of the fathers of the Reformation:

My conscience is captive to the Word of God, I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither honest nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.

Martin Luther (as he stood at the Diet of Worms)

Holy Scripture is the permanent authority for every Christian, and the rule of faith and of all human perfection, then it became of prime importance to have the scriptures in the language of the people. For as much as the bible contains Christ, that is all that is necessary for salvation, it is necessary for all men, nor for priests alone. It alone is the supreme law that is to rule Church, State, and Christian life, without human tradition and statutes.

John Wyclif

We, those who adhere to Sola Scriptura, stand on the shoulders of these giants of faith. Before we get into our teaching of this great Sola, let us first define it:
We find no where else to guide our lives, our knowledge of God or His plan for our lives. Not in tradition, not in man, not in creation, not in ourselves, not in reason, but our full and complete rule of faith only comes from Sola Scriptura.
Also, it is important to know that Sola Scriptura is NOT Scripture with no fellowship or teaching from anyone else, which is the belief of Solo Scriptura Don’t get the two confused. But we stand with the Berean’s instead and believe as they:
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so
Acts 17:11

Like Wyclif and the Bereans, I believe that Scripture alone is our guide and rule of faith, only explained and expounded on by men, but not of men nor of traditions solely.

I believe that many say they believe in this doctrine but don’t fully live this out. To understand Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Soli Deo Gloria fully; you must believe this doctrine first and then practice it. Any time we state, “this is the way I see it” we are abandoning Scripture alone. Your beliefs of everything pertaining to life and godliness should reflect sound exegesis and exposition of the Holy Scriptures and them alone.

Only when I truly started to do this did I turn from the belief of free will and reason, to bondage of the will and God’s truth. But we will get into that when going through Sola Gratia. So let us look at our study on this great subject that was so critical in the protestant reformation.

A Little on the Canon of Scripture

I will not be exhaustive here so bear with me. If you have additional questions regarding the canon of Scripture I am more than willing to discuss further through comments or email. The first thing to understand is simply this:
Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
Psalm 119:89

What is great about this passage is that when we think of forever as humans we think of only the future. But, this Hebrew word means for eternity past and eternity future. We need to understand the importance of God’s word as it has forever in eternity past and future has been settled, or better put, appointed or established.

This is why David could say that in Psalm 139 that his days were already numbered and that God knew his words before they were said. God is eternal and so is His word and neither Him nor His word can be moved or changed.

If God’s word is forever settled in heaven then it is only acceptable for His people to understand that if it has already been settled God does not react to man’s disobedience, as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses would contend. They both reinterpret “man’s mistakes” in the word because of man’s error. Both contend that they were told by God that we had it all wrong and needed a better interpretation.

The Mormons take it a step further and came out with a completely new revelation with the Book of Mormon. I would contend that if these cults are true this means that no one has been saved since the days of the apostles and therefore God needed to “react” to man’s sin; this cannot and does not happen. Because, forever God’s word has been preordained in Heaven.

As far as the Canon of Scripture the first to “formally” put together a list, and I use that word, formally, loosely, was Athanasius in 367. This list was then complimented by Jerome and Augustine putting their stamp of approval on the matter. Done so as almost a, “of course” statements by the two. Jerome, who translated what Catholics use in the Latin Vulgate (405 AD), said that the 66 books were inspired, yet, the Apocrypha, while helpful, were only to be used for history and were not inspired.

This list was not formally refuted until the Council of Trent in 1545 by the Roman Catholics to refute the Reformers. The reason is because the Apocrypha is the only source that contains such things as purgatory, penance, indulgences, praying for the dead, etc. And those references are vague at their very best.

Just a quick sidenote, 1 Maccabees 9:27 and 14:41 state that there were no prophets at the time that these revolts were happening, that is why it is known as the period of silence by God between the time of Malachi and John the Baptist.

Hebrews 1:1,2 sum up my beliefs on the issue:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Hebrews 1:1,2

And when he speaks of the last times (or last days), he intimates that there is no longer any reason to expect any new revelation; for it was not a word in part that Christ brought, but the final conclusion. It is in this sense that the Apostles take the last times and the last days. And Paul means the same when he says, “Upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11.) If God then has spoken now for the last time, it is right to advance thus far; so also when you come to Christ, you ought not to go farther: and these two things it is very needful for us to know.
John Calvin


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