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Sola Scriptura #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
March 18, 2024 12:00 am

Sola Scriptura #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in The Truth Pulpit. That is a very comforting hymn for us to sing, God Will Take Care of You, and it leads quite naturally into the series that we're doing. If you consider it from this perspective, how do you know that? How do you know that God will take care of you? And immediately, we see that we must have an authority by which those assuring promises are conveyed to our heart. We must know that based on what God has said about himself, and to know where he has spoken. We have looked at how do we know that God exists, so we know that there is a God who exists, and we need to know something about him.

And we have seen how God has spoken in the 66 books of the Bible. And that assurance that we need as we go through the trials of life must be grounded on truth. It must be grounded on things that we are persuaded of, and that we can entrust our lives to. The apostle Paul said, I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day, the day of judgment, when he stands before God. Well, beloved, if you just think for a little bit, you realize that if we are going to actually have a real assurance, a real confidence of well-being as we go through life in this cursed world, and as we walk through difficulties, we must know whether that assurance is real or whether we are just trying to live a fallacy based on sentiment that really has no grounding in the way that things really are. And so it is very essential for us to understand why we look to scripture and why we look to scripture alone for the revelation of God and the comfort and assurance that we need as we walk through life to say nothing about the more essential eternal issues of the eternal well-being of our soul.

And so I am grateful for David and Catherine leading us in music here this evening as it leads so naturally into the important things that we need to discuss. We are coming to the conclusion of our series, How to Know the Bible is True. Tonight's message on sola scriptura, Sunday's message will be the final message in that series.

And then Nathaniel and I are planning for next Tuesday to do a Q&A, an interview to work out some of the pastoral and the practical aspects of where we are this far in our overall series on building a Christian mind. Tonight we want to look at sola scriptura. And sola scriptura is a cornerstone doctrine of the Reformation. As you know, as we've taught in the past, the Reformation, which kind of the early light of it started in the 13th, 14th century with men like John Wycliffe, but came to full flower in the 16th century under the teaching of Martin Luther and John Calvin and Ulrich Wingley and others of those great men, John Knox in Scotland. And the Reformation rescued biblical Christianity.

It delivered biblical Christianity from the dark ages that had been introduced by the Catholic Church. And the Reformation theology is often summarized in five Latin terms. Sola scriptura, scripture alone. Sola gratia, grace alone. Sola fide, faith alone. Solus Christus, Christ alone.

Soli deo gloria, to the glory of God alone. And those are, you know, those are great doctrines of scripture. We stand on hallowed ground when we consider these things. And we've taught on those in the past.

If you want to look them up online, you can do so and find the fuller teaching. But those doctrines are the beliefs that shaped Reformation theology. That scripture alone is the authority by which we know the revelation of God, not the traditions of men or the councils and declarations of men on earth. Sola gratia, that we are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, that God's grace alone is what empowers us to believe. And that Christ is received by faith alone, not by works that we do. We are justified by receiving Christ by faith, not by faith plus works. Works do not erase our guilt. Works do not deliver us from the power of sin. It comes through Christ alone, by faith alone, by grace alone. And this is all to the glory of God alone. Salvation, biblical salvation, redounds only to the glory of God.

Man cannot take credit for any aspect of it. Now, I suppose I should say the various forms of sola in those five points are the Latin term for alone. They highlight the exclusivity of each article of faith against Catholic additions that contradicted the gospel. And beloved, you need to understand, if you get nothing else out of the message tonight, is that the word alone is essential to understand. People are happy for us in one sense to believe the Bible. That's fine for you to believe the Bible. Where they take offense is when we say it's the Bible alone, that there are no other books, that there is no other place where God has revealed himself, either in the past or today.

The exclusivity of the message is what offends. When you think about Christ, you know, you can believe in Christ and nobody will trouble you too much. It's when you insist that they also must believe in Christ or they will be condemned to hell, that Jesus said, no one comes to the Father except through me. It's when you say Christ alone that the battle is engaged and that the conflict comes to the fore. And it's when you say faith alone, not faith plus works, not faith plus sacraments, not faith plus charity or any things like that are the means by which we receive Christ.

The word alone is what engages the battle. And that is certainly true on the authority of Scripture. Now, our church, as many of you know, and if you are a member, you had to read through our Confession of Faith, the 1689 Baptist Confession, the Second London Confession of 1689. And in that confession, we find the doctrines, the beliefs that all members of Truth Community Church must continually maintain.

And you find the beliefs, stated differently, that people must publicly confess and assent to if they are to become members of Truth Community Church. And so it's a very important document, and it sets forth what we understand the Bible to teach. In that confession, as we deal with the matter of Scripture alone, we read this, chapter 1, verse 6. And this should be familiar to all of us, this doctrine, this truth.

And it's a kind of a lengthy quote, so bear with me. But when it comes to the Bible, we believe and we teach, as Scripture does, this. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture, unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit or traditions of men, end quote. Everything that God has to say is set forth in Scripture. And it is sufficient for His glory, for man's salvation, to lead us to faith, to teach us and to equip us to walk through life in all of its difficulties, all of its challenges, all of the adversities that we go through. Everything is contained in the Bible and in the Bible alone, and nothing is to be added to it.

At another point, the Confession reads this. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of counsels, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, in other words, we find our final answer in this place, that supreme judge can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which our Scripture so delivered our faith is finally resolved. What it's saying is, is that when we have questions about what the truth is, we go to the Bible and we go to the Bible alone. When we hear the teaching of men, that teaching is to be examined by the standard of Scripture and Scripture alone.

If something contradicts Scripture, it is by definition false. And the fact that everything is set down in Scripture means that there will never be a time during the church age in which some new revelation will be added. We don't have to wonder if somehow canonical books were left out of the Scripture. No, Scripture is complete.

Nothing is missing. We don't have to wonder if somebody comes and says, I am a prophet from God and I have a word from God for you today. We don't have to wonder at all if that's true or not.

It's not. God has spoken and he has said all that he has to say in Scripture, and nothing is to be added to it, whether by new revelation of the Spirit or by traditions of men. And so this greatly simplifies understanding truth and where truth is to be found. We don't have to root around in obscure books and in obscure writings of ancient writers in order to find maybe something that we've missed. It's all right there easily revealed and plainly revealed in the Bible. And so this becomes a benchmark for assurance and a benchmark for discernment, and it simplifies things in a way that is consistent with this.

Think about it this way. If God exists, and he does, and if God is good, and he is, then isn't it obvious that he would make the way plain by which his will could be known? That he would not confuse us with contradictory revelations after the Bible was completed?

Isn't that obvious? Isn't it obvious that he wouldn't undermine his own testimony in the Word of God by giving subsequent revelations to crackpots who claim that they have a word from God that goes beyond what he has obviously already said? God is not the author of confusion. God is the author of peace. He's the author of clarity, and Scripture is clear.

And so this is a most fundamental doctrine for us to understand. And religions that add to the authority of the Bible with documents that they claim are of parallel authority, parallel revelation to the 66 books of the Bible, beloved, they're not the true gospel. It's a different religion because it's based on a different authority. And we receive Christianity based on the authority of God. If someone suggests a different authority, they are by definition suggesting a different religion altogether. And a different religion is not the religion of the Bible. It's not the religion of Christ. It's not the gospel of Christ.

It's not the truth of Christ. So we just need to be really clear and definitive on this. And this is ground that we must hold. We cannot yield this ground at all and make room for other things like people receiving visions.

I've mentioned this in the past. There's a whole realm of people saying Muslims are being saved by visions of Jesus appearing to them at the foot of their bed. This is not to be believed. This is not to be followed because God, faith, saving faith, Scripture says, saving faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ, by the written Word of God. This is where God has spoken. And we must hold to this and not be distracted by appearances that look like angels.

Scripture says, you know, that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. And so the Bible is our authority. What I want to do is establish this exclusivity of Scripture tonight by looking at three different aspects of matters. First of all, we want to consider the authority of Scripture, the authority of Scripture.

And with the introduction that we've seen so far, authority, the term authority in this context means this. It means that the Bible alone is the standard by which all truth claims are to be measured. The Bible alone is the standard by which all truth claims are to be measured. You could put it this way.

And I love the simplicity of these things. Scripture alone is to determine what we believe and what we do. Scripture alone is to determine what we believe and what we do. And so if it's in Scripture, we believe it. If it's affirmed by Scripture, we believe it. If it's outside of Scripture, our conscience is not bound by it. And the authority of Scripture comes from its very nature. Why is Scripture authoritative? If you want to put a subpoint here under your notes, under that first heading, Scripture is authoritative exclusively because subpoint A, Scripture is inspired. Scripture is inspired by God. We could ask this question. Where did the Bible come from?

You ever wonder about that? You know, we pull it off our shelf and we have a complete unit, one book of 66 books. Well, where did the Bible come from?

What is its ultimate source? Did godly men come up with ideas and write down their perspectives, their human insights into the human condition? Or is the Bible something more than that? Turn to a passage we've often turned to, 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 16. 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 16. And the translation of the English standard version is a happy one.

It is a good one. Verse 16, all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. When we talk about the inspiration of Scripture, we're drawing from this text.

The idea of breathed out means that the Bible originated from a divine activity. God in his infinite mind, in his omniscient wisdom, breathed out Scripture. The Bible proceeds from God, not from man. And that's why we rightly call it the Word of God. It came from, if we can put it this way, it came from within God and he sent it forth from his own mind. And so we rightly call it the Word of God. And so inspiration is infinitely more than saying that the human authors were poetically gifted or that they had some kind of insight, human insight, that went beyond their contemporaries. No, what the doctrine of inspiration says is that God, follow me here, God by his omniscient and omnipotent power, God worked through the human authors to say exactly what he wanted to be said. And God did this as a means of revealing himself and revealing his will to mankind.

It was a voluntary act of self-disclosure. The things that, the things about the knowledge of God, the attributes of God, the essence of God, the person of Christ, these are things that man could not arrive at in his own judgment and his own speculations. If we were to know the things of God, the character of God and the nature of the Gospel, God had to make it known to us. He had to reveal it to us because we could not find those things on our own. And so we understand that the Bible came from an activity of God.

How did that happen? How did God work in order to make it happen? Well, look at, turn a little further back in your Bibles past Hebrews to the book of 2 Peter. After James, you'll find the letters of Peter. And in 2 Peter 1 verses 20 and 21, we get an idea of how the process worked. We'll start in verse 19 where the apostle Peter said, we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Knowing this, first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.

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. Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. And in a process that we can understand at some level, but the fullness of how the process worked somewhat beyond our mind, we can understand this, is that God, the Holy Spirit, moved on these men. He had operative motion in their minds and in their heart in such a way that he carried them along as they wrote the words of Scripture, guiding them, directing them, protecting them from writing anything that was erroneous or misleading so that the truth of God was set forth by them in their writings in its pure and undiluted and undiminished effect. This word that men were carried along by the Holy Spirit, it's the same verb that describes a ship being carried along by the wind. You can see it in Acts, chapter 27, verse 15.

We won't turn there. But the idea of the wind filling the sails of a ship and directing it by the power of the wind so that the ship is moving by a power being sent upon it gives us a picture of what was happening when these men were writing the words of Scripture. The power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit himself came upon them as they picked up pen to write, and they were carried along by the Holy Spirit as they wrote.

What does that mean and what's the consequence of that? Beloved, this, we're dealing with matters of most consequential essence here. The final determining influence as the Bible was being written was the person of God, the Holy Spirit. It was the Spirit of God who had the final determination on what was being written. He so worked in the minds of these men, he so directed and influenced their thoughts and emotions as they were writing, that he determined the final outcome of what they said.

Why is that important? Well, beloved, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. God is true. God cannot lie so that when we say that the Holy Spirit determined the outcome of these writings, what we're saying is, is that by definition, everything that they affirm must be true because they come from God himself, not simply from the opinions of men. Now, it's often objected to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture, which we'll look at in a moment. How could mere mortal men write things that were completely true and without error? The argument goes, isn't it obvious that since it came from a human and humans are subject to error, that the human writing of the Bible was subject to error as well? Well, there's a dual authorship that goes on in Scripture. Yes, yes, Scripture came by the hand of men, but they were not writing in their own wisdom or according to their own limitations.

They were chosen by God, set apart by God, and acted upon by God so that what they wrote was guided and determined by God so that the outcome was what he wanted, overriding their propensity to mistakes to make sure that nothing inaccurate was written down in the process. And so we know that Scripture is true, coming back to our original statements in this long series. Jesus Christ authenticates Scripture to us.

Part of the process is that he sent his Spirit upon his disciples, and the Spirit guided them into the truth. Look back at John chapter 15 with me. John chapter 15. Jesus himself promised this process. In John chapter 15 verse 26, he alludes to the Holy Spirit, and he says, When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

And you also will bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning. Now look over at chapter 16 verse 13. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, will guide you into all of the truth, so that when the writers of Scripture began their work, the Holy Spirit had providentially prepared them. The Holy Spirit was working in their minds. He was guiding it so that what they wrote was ultimately, finally, the very word of God himself. It was the Spirit giving them what they needed to say and making sure that they said it truly. That's the outworking and the essence of what we mean when we say Scripture is inspired. It is breathed out by God. The Spirit came in his power and carried the writers along so that what they wrote was the very word of God.

Now, that's of great importance to us. It means that when we go to Scripture, we can trust it. You can trust the Bible. You can know that what you read in Scripture is true. When it speaks to you about the way of salvation being found through faith in Christ alone, it tells you not to trust in your own works, not to trust in your own righteousness, but to trust in Christ alone for salvation.

You can trust that completely. When God says whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have eternal life, you can rely on that. You can rely on that because it is based on a promise contained in the word of God which comes from God himself and God cannot lie.

So that this becomes a cornerstone on which you build all of life and all of your hope. The determinative influence was the Holy Spirit. Now, for your second subpoint here, as we read about and we consider the authority of Scripture, Scripture is inspired.

It comes from God through the work of the Holy Spirit on the human author. Secondly, we can say this about the authority of Scripture, that Scripture is inerrant. Scripture is inerrant.

The inerrancy of Scripture simply means that the Bible is without error in everything that it affirms. And if God is true, and he is, and if the Spirit of God directed the men as they wrote the pages of Scripture, and he did, then there's a consequence to that, beloved. If the Holy Spirit supervised the very words of Scripture, we can be confident that it will be free from all error. John 17 verse 17 says, Your word is truth. There is no mixture of error in the Bible.

And this has very practical and far-reaching ramifications. Scripture never affirms anything that is contrary to fact. Scripture never records something that is untrue, inaccurate, or false. Whether it speaks to spiritual realities, to matters of morals, or matters of history, or matters of science, Scripture is incapable of teaching error. It is incapable of misleading us, because it comes from the God of truth. And so Scripture is without error, and it is trustworthy in whole and in parts, in its parts. Collectively, it cannot mislead us. Its individual parts cannot mislead us. The Bible originated with God, and he used a process that guaranteed their absolute accuracy.

Now, what does that mean in practical matters? There are some, there are many actually, that say, well, yes, we can trust the Bible when it teaches matters of faith, when it teaches matters of morals, but the possibility is therefore to be wrong and mistaken and to have errors in other matters of science or such matters, matters of history. And so that you can trust it when it teaches you the gospel, but you can't be so confident when it comes to matters of history, matters of science. Now, at a superficial level, that may sound tempting.

It sounds like you can have your cake and eat it too. You can have the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you can also have the atheistic model of evolution to explain the origins of the universe or to explain other matters of what we observe in the world around us. That sounds tempting, but, beloved, it's deadly poison, and you cannot go there and be faithful to Christ and to be true to Scripture, because here, a couple of reasons for that. First of all, to say that Scripture could be wrong in matters of history, consider the consequences of that, beloved. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a proclamation about what God did in history, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was buried and he was raised on the third day. Those are matters of historical fact. There is no gospel apart from that historical fact. Well, if you have a Bible that can err in history, you are suddenly throwing an 8.0 earthquake on the very foundations of the gospel. The gospel and the history that gave rise to the gospel cannot be separated.

To inject error into history is to inject error into the hope for our soul. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit, and here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, thank you for joining us here on today's broadcast of The Truth Pulpit, where we love to be teaching God's people God's Word.

And I just want to send a special invitation to you. If you're ever in the Midwest area, come to see us at Truth Community Church. We're on the east side of Cincinnati, Ohio.

We're easy to find, easy to get to. We have services at 9 a.m. on Sunday and 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday evening for our midweek study. You can also find us on our live stream at thetruthpulpit.com.

That's thetruthpulpit.com. We would love to see you. And if you do happen to be able to visit us in person, do this if you would. Come and introduce yourself to me personally. Fight your way through the people and tell me that you listen on The Truth Pulpit and that you're here visiting. I would love to give you a word of personal greeting. So hopefully we'll see you one day in person at Truth Community Church.

You can find our location and service times at thetruthpulpit.com. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-18 04:44:12 / 2024-03-18 04:55:02 / 11

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