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September 18, 2020 12:01 am
Because God alone has absolute authority, only His Word can be the highest authority in the church. Today, R.C. Sproul considers how the authority of Scripture plays out in our everyday lives as Christians.
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God gave us the Bible is holy and inspired word for a purpose for our edification for our reproof, for our correction for our instruction, that we may be fully equipped to be men and women of God, but the crisis in our day is not simply over the issue of whether the Bible is infallible or inerrant or inspired crisis in our day is what tenant receives cooler making them reference to a passage that is found in second Timothy chapter 3, which is 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. We learn a great deal of those two verses about the importance of Scripture that it's trustworthy and without error. But we also learned that it has the following is RC a few years ago I was lecturing at the Philadelphia conference on reformed theology in Philadelphia and the topic for that session was the authority of Scripture and after the evening service where I have lectured on the subject of biblical authority. I was delighted to see coming up to me afterwards a friend whom I hadn't seen since we were in college together many years before and this fellow after college went to the mission field.
He became a minister, and so on. And we had met regularly as college students we met every night for 1/2 an hour of Bible study and prayer together and I lost touch with them over the years and so excited to see him. We went out to eat mast about families and all that sort of thing and then he was a little bit embarrassed and he said to Mason. I want you to know that since we were together in college.
He said I change my view completely on Scripture and subordinating Charlie, he said well I don't believe in the inspiration of the Bible anymore is that I've been to seminary and I've studied this nine.
Now I'm aware of all the critical theories and so I don't accept that view of the infallibility or inerrancy of Scripture, like I once did, and assessable. What do you still believe Charlie from those days and he smiled and so I still believe that Jesus is my Savior and my Lord, so I'm delighted to hear that, but my question for you. Charlie is how does Jesus exorcise his Lordship over you and he supported municipal award is somebody who has authority to issue commands to give you marching orders to require you to do this or to do that and now you can't appeal to Scripture is the source for your marching orders. Where do you get them all. He said I see what you mean.
He said well I believe that Christ speaks to us now through the church so I see which church he said the Presbyterian Church is in which Presbyterian Church, the one in Chicago, the one in Philadelphia wanted Pittsburgh.
The First Presbyterian Church Sec. church third furniture church which one they should all know not the local Presbyterian Church.
But when the church comes together in general assembly. That's where we hear the voice of Christ in us, in which general assembly, the one that last year voted one way a particular issue and reverse that this year is Christ changed his mind and Charlie began to feel the weight of the problem and I said we've come a long way. We've just finished the circle from the Reformation.
This is what the 16th-century debate was all about. In the final analysis is the authority of Christ vested in the church and in the teachings of the church or in the apostolic word that we find in sacred Scripture and so that was the discussion that I had with my friend now in the 16th century. As I've already mentioned the issue of Sola Scrip Torah arose and we saw that the term Sola means that the Scripture alone is the ultimate authoritative special revelation of God and that the church does not have authority of an equal footing with the sacred Scripture know when the Roman Catholic Church responded to the Reformation in the middle of the 16th century at their ecumenical Council of Trent Trent in the fourth session spoke directly to this question of the relationship of the authority of the church and the authority of Scripture. And as I mentioned in an earlier session, Ron confessed her confidence in the inspiration and authority of the Bible that the Bible came through the Holy Ghost Dick Tonn today. As I said the Holy Spirit dictating but in addition to that, Roman. The fourth session of Trent speaks of God's revealing himself through the sacred Scriptures, and that the tradition of the church now how are we to understand the statement that God's revelation comes to us through the Bible and tradition. Somebody said to me, where do you find the truth of God RC I said well you can find the truth of God in Scripture or in the Westminster confession of faith because I believe that the Westminster confession of faith faithfully reproduces the teaching of sacred Scripture, but I don't believe the confession is inspired or infallible or inerrant, but I do believe that you can find the truth of God in places outside of the Bible you can find it in sound books on theology insofar as they are so but they are not the original source of that special revelation by any means, so maybe what we have here when trending for session said that the truth of God is contained in both the sacred Scripture and the tradition that all that is being said by this innocuous statement is something that can do what I just said about Protestant creeds and confessions and traditions. I don't think that is the case, I think that what we see here in the Roman Catholic Church is what we call a do well. Source theory of special revelation where the church has two sources of special revelation, one of which is Scripture and the other of which is the tradition of the church putting the church on an equal footing of authority with the Bible itself now, a fascinating study has come about in our day.
With respect to the statements at the Council of Trent because the fourth session of Trent was dismissed abruptly because of the outbreak of war on the continent and as a result of that some of the records were misplaced and confused about what actually went on at the Council and we know now through the research of an Anglican scholar by the name of Palmer that the first draft of the fourth session of the Council of Trent contained not these words. Scripture and tradition, but they had two Latin words in the text part of parts from that is, if you would translate these exactly they would be saying that the truth of God is contained partly in Scripture and partly in tradition there there would be no question that you have two sources of divine revelation, one in Scripture one in the tradition, however, when that original draft was presented to the assembly to priests who were delegates there protested one's name was brand-new to see all the other fellow's name was not Gianni. Don asked me why I remember their names.
I just happen through with. In any case. Nunzio and Maki on tape rose up and protested the wording saying that that language would destroy the sufficiency and the uniqueness of sacred Scripture, as they were fighting for the Reformation principle of Sola Scrip Torah now. There, the record ends with respect to the discussion and the debate we don't know how the rest of the assembly argued in response to these two men, but we do know that in the final draft.
These words were no longer there and in their place was the word at which simply means and now the question is this, that the church respond to this protest and consciously reject a dual source theory did the church make this change simply for literary reasons or intentionally is what we call a studied ambiguity to leave the question open for further reflection, we don't know the answer to that strictly from the record of the 16th-century, but we do know the answer to it from subsequent decrease in decisions of the church, most recently being in who Bonnie interests in the four decade of the 40s by Pope Pius in which there it is spelled out without any ambiguity that the church embraces two distinct sources of special revelation. So for Rome. They can appeal both to the tradition of the church and to the Bible for their doctrine. That's what makes ecumenical dialogue so difficult because you come to a different view of a particular doctrine and the Protestants want to establish their doctrine strictly on the authority of the Bible and Romo say well we don't have to just stick with the Bible, we can look at this church counsel or this papal encyclical and we can see that the tradition of the church establishes this particular doctrine like the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the bodily Assumption of Mary and the haven't issues like that you can't find anywhere in the Scriptures, they can establish on the basis of their appeal to tradition and then when you get engaged in these discussions and you say will wait a minute I'm from Missouri on the soul scriptorium is going to have to show me from Scripture alone and not by appeals to the authority of the church. They will respond immediately by saying don't you understand that the Bible that you are retreating to in the Bible you're appealing to as your only authority of special revelation gets its authority from the church and without the authority of the church you don't have biblical authority and then they will immediately begin to discuss this historical sorting and selecting process for the establishment of the Canon which I went over in our last session, and the reasoning goes something like this since it's by the church's decision that certain books are formally canonized.
Therefore, the authority of the Bible is subject to the authority of the church and in the very real sense derives its abiding authority from the even greater authority of the church itself while course, we reject that really for biblical reasons for theological reasons and also for historical reasons. Again we go back to the origin of authority and we understand that when the principle of Sola Scrip Torah was uttered by the reformers. The reason why they were restricting binding authority to the Scriptures, because they were convinced that the Scriptures are the word of God and that it is God alone who can bind the conscience and the God alone has absolute authority and that's why they restricted the authority to the Scripture because they said herein we find the word of God will of course Roman Catholic Church were so yes, of course, we believe that God alone is the ultimate authority, but he has delegated that authority to the church because after all, Christ build his church on Peter. He said on this rock I will build my church, and Peter passed on that authority to future generations so that Peter still is ruling in the chair of St. Peter in the embodiment of the Pope who is the Vicar of Christ on earth.
And so the church is the continuing incarnation and there is what's called apostolic succession that apostolic authority continues beyond the first century beyond Peter beyond Paul and is invested then in every generation in the church and most specifically with the Pope.
Now that's a course open to dispute whether or not the Bible clearly affirms such apostolic succession and is certainly not a matter of a settled controversy as to exactly what was meant by Jesus at the Caesarea Philippi confession when he said on this rock I will build my church, but one thing we do know is that there was a delegation process that Christ is the delegated apostle par Exelon's as we mentioned before, is that I speak nothing on my own authority, but only on the authority of the one who sent me, and so that Christ claimed to speak with nothing less than the authority of God.
And when the church embraces Christ as Lord the church says we recognize Christ authority over us and that his authority as the head of the church is certainly superior to any other part of the church and also we see Christ delegating his authority to his apostles, saying those who receive you receive me. Those who reject you reject me, which is the argument that our nearest was set fond of using against the heretics of his day, but when we look at the historical question here is where I think it becomes rather clear because when the church finalized the formal list of books that we call the Canon in that process. The church used a Latin term that I think is critical to this discussion and it is the term rice up a moose which being translated means we receive.
That is, at the time of the establishment of the Canon formally and officially an ecclesiastical at that time in church history, the church was not so arrogant as to claim that the church was creating the can, or that the Canon received its authority from the authority of the church but rather what the church was saying at that point is we are recognizing and receiving and embracing these books as the books that have the binding authority over us. It would be like if God were to appear to me today and I said or how I know that your God, and he said to me, like you said to Moses, put your hand in your pocket and I did and I pulled it out and it was leprous. He said okay put it in there again and you pull it out and it's not recent, take this piece of chalk and throw it on the ground and not do that and turns into a snake, then God would say to me, are you satisfied. I would say yes. Unsatisfied teeth convinced me that you are the Almighty God. Well, if I come to that conviction and I bile now before the authority of my maker does my acquiescence to his authority in any way. Give him any authority that he didn't already have, of course, not all I'm doing is recognizing the authority that's already there and bowing before it, and that's exactly what the church did during the period of the early centuries when she was involved with an acquiescence and discussion of formalizing the text of Scripture. So the church is always subordinate to the authority of the Bible.
This doesn't mean that the church has no authority state government has authority. Parents have authority but those authorities or authorities that God has delegated that do not have the absolute authority that goes with his own word, so whatever authority we have in the church which we are to respect and obey as much as we possibly can.
As an authority that is subordinate to the authority of Scripture itself.
Now having gone over quickly and briefly. This portion of our study of systematic theology were we began really with the doctrine of revelation and of looked in the last few sessions at the concept of Scripture. I want us to understand that we are still speaking in a very real sense, in the abstract were talking about the nature of Scripture, the origin of Scripture, the authority of Scripture. Relationship of biblical authority to ecclesiastical authority and all of those related issues. The scope of the Canon and so but if we have a perfectly accurate concept in our minds about the nature of the Bible and if we are perfectly orthodox in our confession of its authority, and of the scope of the Canon and all of these things that we've been talking about but have no mastery of the content of sacred Scripture, what have we gained again Scripture is given to us not merely as an abstract doctrine, but it comes to us as God's divine word that is designed for our edification for our conversion for our reproof, for correction, for our instruction, that we may be fully equipped to be men and women of God, but the crisis in our day is not simply a crisis over the issue of whether the Bible is infallible or inerrant or inspired crisis in our day is what tenant and even seminary.
We spent so much time looking at the academic issues of what we call prolegomena the dating the culture, language and all that that we can make it through seminary without ever really coming to grips with the content of sacred Scripture with what we call a mastery of the English Bible. In other words I'm saying to vote. You know what's in the Bible this series that were doing now on.
Systematic theology is ambitious and so far is that a cover so many issues. The longest series, we're done up until this point this out series called us to glory, which was an attempt to address this very point. My passion, I think, far more important than studying systematic theology is that the people of God in our day come to a knowledge of this content of Scripture. And that's what we try to provide for people in a biblical overview, beginning with creation and going all the way to the end of the New Testament. The only other thing I want to say before we finish this segment of systematic theology is even if we deal with the content have a sound doctrine of the nature of Scripture were still left with a very sticky question of how can I be a responsible interpreter of the Bible and Raven was wrong with her infallible collection of infallible books and infallible teaching of the infallible Bible is still sooner or later it has come down to you and you're not infallible and are not infallible and at some point I may twist and distort the Scripture. So we also need to learn something about the basic principles of biblical interpretation not going to cover that in this course we have ancillary materials for you. My book knowing Scripture is written for Lehman to give you the fundamental consumables of how to interpret the Bible in a way not need to into this understanding for misinterpretation distortion of the word all week here on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul has been laying a foundation for the importance of Scripture. We've learned about its inerrancy, its infallibility, how we ended up with the 66 books in the Bible and today we learned about its authority. We hope you been able to glisten all of the messages this week, but in case you haven't and you like to have the entire series were making it available to you in 60 messages on eight DVDs. This is part of RC sweeping overview of systematic theology, a series we call foundations covers many theological topics including sin, salvation Revelation miracles and the end times, but there's much more in this series and we invite you to request it with your gift of any amount you can call us at 800-435-4343 you can also make your request online and Renewing Your Mind.or I like for you to know the impact of your financial support to look at your ministries. It allows us to continue producing teaching material.
Like we heard today. It's reaching people all over the world is like for you to listen to a gentleman by the name of Slavic back in 2003 when I was a church member and now very legalistic church in Ukraine because of that fact. I was fighting with the depression. But in God's providence. There was one book that I found in the church's library in the basement, preserved by God for me and that book was chosen by God are seasonal.
It has changed my life forever.
I have never heard biblical reformed theology before so I moved to America and started to grow under Ligonier ministries teaching. I was so hungry I wanted to know biblical God and then resistible desire started to grow in the and I said to myself I want my Christian brothers and sisters in Ukraine to hear Dr. scroll so I started to translate video messages of Dr. scroll into Russian language on weekly basis and send it to Ukraine. I want my Christians in Ukraine to know who God is. I just can't let my Christian brothers and sisters in Ukraine to live in theological darkness. Thank you Ligonier ministries for not only have you transported my life that you are transforming the lives of Christians in Ukraine today. What an encouragement that is to us. Later ministries and I'm sure it is to those of you who is faithfully supported us over the years. We are so grateful well as you trace the timeline of RC's 50 years in ministry. You'll notice several hallmarks for his bold stand on the inerrancy fallibility of Scripture certainly was one of them another hallmark, though, will be our focus next week here on Renewing Your Mind. We hope you'll join us for his series fear and trembling the trauma of God's holiness