Contend Earnestly: Sola Scriptura: Part II

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sola Scriptura: Part II

God’s View of His Word

The first thing we must understand is that we should strive to be like God. We are told in Leviticus 19:2 be holy, for I the Lord your God is holy, 1 John 2:6 says to walk in the same manner that He walked.

So in the area of His Word we must also regard it as important as He does. So let us take a look at how important God’s word is to Him so that we can follow in His steps.

The most important passage that I have seen in this area is Psalm 138:2c.

For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.

As we take a look at this small part of Scripture hidden almost behind the great 139th Psalm, which speaks of God’s omniscience and omnipresence, we see this phrase: God has magnified His word according to all His name.

Let’s break this down:

God has magnified, or made great or has promoted, His word, according, which means to make above, to all Your name. The word name, to the Jews, meant not just how to identify their family but meant their entire essence, it was who they were, it meant their reputation or their glory.

So, God puts His word some sort of equality with His own essence and glory, making His word supreme and most important so that it is not ashamed by men. If God does this of His word how much should we also make the word of God so important.

God also has some warnings according to His word:

Deut 4:2 says not to add or subtract from His word; Deut 18:20 and Zechariah 13:3 say that if a prophet acts presumptuously or who says something that the Lord has not commanded; he shall die.

Because of this and because of the unity of the Godhead, when Christ came, He must also do the same if these things are true. He is the Word that became flesh, and Christ also is said to have come not for peace but with a sword, which is the same Greek word also spoken of in Hebrews 4:12, when the word of God is said to be sharper than any two edged sword. We also see Christ putting this in practice.

And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Luke 24:25-27

Christ also refuted the temptation by the devil only by Scripture. He spoke of His death and resurrection by the story of Jonah, and spoke of who He was many a times by Scripture, especially when He read in the synagogue from Isaiah 61 to proclaim who He was. Christ actually uses their traditions to refute them when He uses the term: “you have heard it said” all through the Sermon on the Mount.

The Apostles View of the Word

Let’s take a look at 2 Peter 1:16-21

Notice first that Peter is saying that even though He saw the living Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration that the word of God is still more sure than even that. Or can also be interpreted: We have the even more sure prophetic word. The statement “more sure” means literally to be more stable and firm. Peter is stating that seeing Christ is nothing compared to the word of God.

Peter is also saying that experience, even in seeing Christ in His glorified state, does not match the Word of God. Peter did not say, we have man’s wisdom, man’s revelation, man’s tradition or anything else made more sure; no, only the word of God is made more sure. Very important to understand. Peter is relying only on God’s word and It alone.

Then we see in verse 21 that that no prophecy was by an act of human will but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

This same word for “moved” is the same word used in 2 Timothy 4:13 when Paul tells Timothy to “bring the cloak which I left” The Holy Spirit did the same to these writers. He moved them. Understand that these men weren’t just dummies taking orders, nor were they just told what to write as a scribe would be told. We will never fully understand how this actually took place but we can have confidence that every single word that was penned by these men were made sure and breathed by God.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Galatians 1:8,9

Notice that the Gospel has been received, not will receive or will receive more fully, but this is past tense, you received. If the canon is not closed, if there is revelation apart from God’s holy word, how can you adhere to this text of Scripture?

The God-breathed Text

Finally, let’s look at the clincher: 2 Tim 3:16,17

As we read this text it is vital to know some background.

Who wrote 2 Timothy? Paul
To whom? Timothy in 66ad great fire was 64 a.d
What is Paul’s relationship to Timothy? His elder and mentor, led Timothy to Christ
Is the date important? During Nero’s reign (54-66 ad)
Timing? Last epistle of Paul before he died
What is the book’s theme? Handbook for the soldier of Christ; Fighting against heretical teachers and standing firm in the faith
What is the prior verses speaking of? The delusion of hater’s of God
What is the succeeding verses speaking of? Preaching the word
Main subject of verses 16 and 17: Scripture (Peter calls Paul’s letters scripture: 2 Peter 3:15,16)
What parts of scripture? All Scripture: Both Old and New Testaments (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Peter 3:16) Notice that Paul uses this illustration in 1 Tim and now we look in 2 Tim when he says, all Scripture…Paul knew what they were writing was Scripture. Inspired: only use in NT, means divinely breathed into, so then ties the OT with the NT when the prophets would say, “God spoke to me saying…” also can be seen in Jeremiah 1:9 when God said that He put the words in Jeremiah’s mouth
Teach: edify the church, doctrine
Reproof: only used one other time in NT, means to correct error and to convict a sinner
Correction: (only use in NT) bring back those who are backsliding
Training in righteousness: sanctification after justification
Man of God: Used only one other time in NT and that was in 1 Tim 6:11
Adequate: means perfect or complete (only use in NT)
Equipped: means to be equipped fully or thoroughly (only used one other time in NT)
Every: literally means all, any, every, the whole
Good work: same as used in Mark 10:18 when Jesus calls God the Father “good” and same as used in James 1:17 when James says that every good gift comes from above

In the end as we see these verses, Scripture is mentioned to refute haters of God and is Paul’s last instruction to Timothy as the way to run the church as we found in teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

Think of this: Scripture does everything according to Paul. It really shows the pattern of the person who is unsaved all the way to the life of the saved. (follow along with me in 2 Timothy 3:16,17)Scripture teaches doctrine, then it rebukes sin, then it corrects sin in those lives and then, once saved, it instructs to righteousness. Why? So that we as men would be perfect (remember be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect in Matthew 5:48), and thoroughly equipped or maybe better put, the only way to be equipped fully, for every single good work for God.

It is the only way that he mentions that makes the man of God perfect to do God’s good work. Romans 8:8 says no one in the flesh can please God. So how does Paul now tell us how we can do good, how can we live good and how will we be equipped to do good?

He only mentions Scripture, he doesn’t mention tradition, he doesn’t mention experience, he doesn’t mention cultural changes, he doesn’t mention a pope, and he doesn’t mention marketing schemes: he mentions Scripture.

What is Timothy told to do with this Scripture in the next chapter? Preach it in season and out of season! We must understand how special this passage of Scripture is, for so many words are used here that are hardly used elsewhere, I think this is important and intended to continue to draw attention to the detail not only of this part of Scripture but to Scripture itself.

I cannot help but draw our attention back to the great reformers words when Luther said:

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)

Where is your confidence? Where are your convictions? How do you answer those questions posed by men seeking knowledge? Do you rely on your own attempts to describe an infinite God by a foolish man? Or do you rely solely on the inspired word that was forever ordained in heaven by the Creator Himself.

This Sola stands between you and a study that will enrich you deeply. If you adhere to Sola Scriptura we have a common ground to move forward to the next four Solas. If you do not, I am afraid that the gap that has grown between you and I has grown to a width too far for me to cross.

When someone asks how can an axe head float, how can a man walk on water, how can a dead man come to life, how can a few loaves become a thousand? I simply ask: How can a finite creature question his infinite Creator.

May you be able to say the same.


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