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November 1, 2021 2:00 am
Do something a little bit different than our normal sermon rather than preaching expositional.
He threw a particular passage of Scripture and preach topically on a subject that is very central to who Grace church is to what we're all about. In fact, this topic gives us the defining principles not only of Grace Church, but in fact of Protestantism as a whole, and I would go so far as to say the subject matter before us contains even the defining essence of the gospel itself and the topic of course is the five solos of the Reformation that you may not be familiar with the five solos, but if you've been around Grace Church ringlike of time and they have certainly come up in the teaching and preaching and in the worship and perhaps in informal conversations in the hallways.
These five principles are so central to the life of our body. Here Grace that they really can't be avoided, but sometimes a subject can be so central it can be such a given that we don't consciously notice it.
I suspect not many of us have ever inspected the foundations of our homes, we just sort of take it for granted that there's something down there holding everything up Alawite.
We seem to only take notice of foundations when there's an obvious problem and I think core doctrines like the five solos that we look at tonight might benefit in that category. We do sometimes assume them, but perhaps don't give adequate conscious thought to what they mean and and what their implications are almost to do that tonight for a few moments while the world is out celebrating Halloween really think about the Protestant Reformation on this 504th anniversary of of that significant historical time.
Five solos are Scripture alone.
Grace alone faith alone in Christ alone and all to the glory of God alone. These five principles were at the core of the Protestant Reformation. These truths are what the church fought for and recut recovered those many years ago and all five of them are found in the text that I'm to use dynamism as a launchpad pad tonight at Ephesians chapter 2 verses eight through 10 in your familiar with this passage, she turn there if you want to, but let's read this this wonderful passage of Scripture together tonight and you see if you can find these five solos as we read Ephesians 2839 is as for by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Spray or you have faithfully preserved your church and the gospel by which your church is redeemed. Thank you for the spiritual fathers that have gone before us. Thank you for giving Martin Luther the courage to stand up for truth when it was being obscured and denied.
Thank you for the intellectual powers that you gave to the likes of John Calvin enabling him to articulated and systematize your words to make its meaning so clear to us.
Thank you for the boldness that you put into John Knox boldness that defied tyrants who would have quelled the gospel.
Had they had the power to do so or you have given wonderful gifts to your church or its preservation and knowledge, and joy. Now, may we be faithful in defending and upholding the message. The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our generation. May these truths come alive in us and they are children's children still hold to these principles without wavering we pray these things through Christ who alone gives us access to your grace by faith we pray and offer your glory. A man at the time of the Protestant Reformation, the language used by theologians was Latin. This enabled scholars from different countries, different backgrounds languages to communicate universally with each other words so law is the Latin word for alone and it is that word more than any other that distinguished Protestant principles from Roman Catholic dogma.
Roman Catholic dogma dogma held to the same categories. They believed that Scripture was authoritative. They believed that salvation was of grace through faith in Christ. But where they differed from the reformers was in regard to the soul law for Rome. These theological categories didn't need us. So law didn't even alone. They needed an act which is the Latin word for and it wasn't Scripture alone. It was for Rome. Scripture and the authority of the Pope wasn't grace alone.
It was grace and merits wasn't faith alone. It was faith and works of the Christ alone. It was Christ and indulgences and sacraments and prayer to the saints and Marion confession to a priest and on and on it went.
As they added to the core truths of the gospel of a boatload of baggage that simply wasn't taught in Scripture.
Stephen Lawson made the point that the Protestant Reformation was really a battle over at and so law over the word and in the word alone was too small little words make all the difference in the world and really at the core of the entire dispute was the first solo which has been referred to as the formal principle of the Reformation.
It's the principle of Sola script tomorrow Scripture alone. This principle is the foundation for all the others because it addresses the source of truth itself. Where does truth come from, how do we know what we know our answer to this question determines our answer to every other doctrine that we claim to hold as Christians.
Now the Protestant Reformation was a protest, hence the name Protestant, so these core principles are our best understood in light of what they were reacting against with regard to Sola script cure of the dispute to the protest had to do primarily with the relationship between Scripture and other sources of religious and ecclesiastical authority. Rome had begun teaching that the authoritative source for all things pertaining to mission faith and practice was a combination of Scripture and tradition and the teachings of the bishops and the Pope's had not always been the view of of the Roman Catholic Church as the Middle Ages came to an end. The notion that divine in errant revelation could be found not only in Scripture, but also in church tradition and in a ecclesiastical precedent and in the high office bearers of the church had had become the common view the reformers challenge that consensus by returning to the view of the early church view that limited divine revelation to the 66 books of the old and new Testaments, Scripture and Scripture alone was recognized by the Protestants as the ultimate authority on all matters of Christian faith and practice. Now notice that I said ultimate authority. I didn't say only authority and neither did our Protestant forbearers is as important, the reformers recognize that if Scripture is infallibly important and authoritative, then there must be other legitimate sources of authority in the Christian life because Scripture itself acknowledges such authorities. For example, the Bible commands us to honor our father and mother, we read that this morning Scripture commands us to obey our masters to submit to the elders of the church so I cannot claim fidelity to Scripture while simultaneously dismissing the various authorities that Scripture itself subject me to. Furthermore, Scripture commands us to preach Scripture to proclaim its meaning and its demands to all people of this brings up an important implication, the command to preach the word of God implies that the Bible doesn't preach itself. It doesn't read itself. It doesn't interpret itself. There is a subjective human interaction. It must take place when it comes to rightly dividing the word of truth, rightly interpreting the teachings of Scripture and since this is the case that it means there is an inescapable relationship between the authorities to the authority of Scripture and the interpretive work of the church. I don't mean that the church determines the meaning of Scripture. What I mean is that spirit indwelt believers are called upon by the word of God to study and understand and proclaim the right meaning of Scripture and soldiers.
There is an unavoidable link between Scripture is the ultimate authority and the church as a subservient authority you can't get around that connection the doctrine of Sola Scripture doesn't deny this reality. It it readily acknowledges that Scripture must be interpreted and preached by the church.
What the reformers insisted upon and and where the reformers parted ways with Rome was in their conviction that divine revelation resides in Scripture alone, and if it resides in Scripture alone then only Scripture is infallible only Scripture is inerrant only Scripture is perfectly sufficient and only Scripture is authoritative in any ultimate sense of the word now in response to this Protestant assertion of the superiority and exclusivity of Scripture. Rome really double down on its insistence that tradition, and ecclesiastical precedent are in some way infallible and thus authoritative. In fact, that trend has only gotten stronger with the passing of time within the last 150 years or so the Roman Catholic Church has has begun to us ascribed more and more authority to bishops and popes going so far as to declare Vatican II in the 1960s, the infallibility of the Pope know it's interesting and somewhat amusing is that Rome limits the popes infallibility to certain criteria which means the Pope is only sort of infallible relate may have to make disqualification because subsequent popes have contradicted prior popes.
Previous decrees have been reversed by later degrees. And so, at best, the church can only claim limited infallibility. The problem is infallibility by definition is absolute right you can't be sort of infallible anymore than you can be somewhat present or slightly female or mostly dead some things are simply black-and-white right some things are absolute and infallibility in ability to be wrong is one of those things if you claim infallibility. You must be 100% right 100% of the time.
Anything less than that is called fallibility.
Now I would Rome make such a claim, why would the Catholic Church want to claim infallibility for its Pope or for its traditions. The answer is probably obvious like all of us sons and daughters of Adam.
They want autonomy self rule.
They want to reserve for themselves rather than God the right to have the final say in his what I want us to recognize tonight. The desire to make ourselves our own standard of truth and goodness and beauty is an ever present danger that resides in the heart of all sinful men, not just the Catholic ones, even during the Reformation there were Protestants who took the principle of Sola Scripture.
A further and they should have, and in so doing made themselves the autonomous determiners of truth. Now interestingly Rome predicted this would happen. And sadly, modern evangelicals have often validated Rome's prediction.
This extreme occurs never in individual Christian disregards the Orthodox creeds of past centuries, whenever a Christian exalts his or her private interpretation of Scripture above the godly teaching of men who have been gifted and trained and called to teach and preach the word of God to the church or whenever a person claims to have received a direct revelation from God that originates outside of the Bible. All of these are denials of the principal Sola Scripture in the daylight Rome. Our attempts to replace the authority of Scripture with some sort of autonomous standard of truth John 1717 asserts that Scripture is truth.
First Timothy 315 asserts that the church is the pillar and buttress of that truth. This means that there is, as Keith Matheson put it, a necessary relationship between the spirit inspired word of God and the spirit indwelt people of God to assert that Scripture is the only inspired and inherently infallible authority and that it is the final and supreme norm does not in any way, rule out the necessity or reality of secondary authorities.
The church is one such authority. The church is the human agency with the God-given authority and ability to speak God's truth and that doesn't mean that individual Christian should not read and study Scripture for themselves should read and study and know the Bible on our own, but we should never do so in an individualistic way, in a way that it ignores the tremendous record of Orthodox teaching that is been preserved for the church in its creeds and confessions of the men past and present that God has raised up to instruct his people. Yes, these men are fallible. Yes, creeds and confessions can air but these imperfect means are God's means of conveying his infallible truth to his church, so we want to avoid both the Romish sort of autonomy which elevates tradition and clergy above Scripture, but also avoid the evangelical sort of autonomy which elevates the individual above Scripture. So Scripture that is the foundation upon which anything else rests those move onto the next three solos. I promise I won't say as much about them as a dissent about Sola Scripture is in a panic. Upon this foundation of Scripture alone rests the edifice of the gospel.
The next three solos that flow from this foundation are Sola Graziano soul of the day and so loose increased use of security to these one by one. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. First, the principal Sola Grazie a grace alone has to do with the grounds of salvation. The basis by which salvation saves in 1524 Dutch theologian by the name of Erasmus wrote a book entitled the freedom of the will, in which Erasmus asserted the doctrine that it certainly was not new.
The doctrine that fallen man has within himself the ability to choose or reject the free offer of the gospel. Erasmus wrote that the deciding factor in whether a person gets saved or not is his volition. His will. That's the ultimate deciding factor will Martin Luther and the Protestant reformers were having none of that. So after years delay.
Luther responded with the book of his own called instead of the freedom of the will, the bondage of the will, in the introduction to the book Luther explained why he was so long in responding to Rasmussen's argument.
He said that he was simply giving Erasmus opportunity to come up with some better arguments because the points he had initially presented were so poor Luther was a unique character to say the least. He went on to describe Rasmussen's arguments in favor of free will as human excrement served on platters of silver and gold is a Luther was a very delicate, sensitive sort of fella never really sure what he really believed. At any rate, Luther went on to address the matter of human will and he demonstrated the persons will along with every other aspect of a person's being is in bondage to the persons sin nature at every person since the fall of the human race and the sand has a nature that renders him incapable of choosing Christ or exercising saving faith or loving God or accepting the gospel until something from outside of that person produces a radical miraculous change of nature within the person. In other words, Luther said if God doesn't give saving grace.
Salvation will not and cannot occur.
John says in John one, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God are reborn again unto eternal life. Paul says in Ephesians 2, you were dead in trespasses and sins but God, being rich in mercy, made us alive by grace. The doctrine of Sola Grazie. It is a rejection of any notion of man's inherent goodness and it centers salvation from start to finish squarely in the sovereign grace of the sovereign God for Rome.
God's grace cooperating with man's will produces salvation for Protestantism, God's grace alone produces salvation by radically changing the very nature of man's will and I don't misunderstand me. There is a volitional aspects of salvation, we must choose Christ Presbyterians. It's okay to say that choose you this day whom you will serve. It's in the Bible we must choose Christ, but the distinction which the reformers reclaimed is that it isn't grace that enables us to make that choice, not choice that enables grace to say this brings us to Sola vide since we don't have screens is F IDE faith alone, faith is referred to as the instrumental cause of salvation graces the grounds, but faith is the means. It's the tool with the instrument God uses to unite the center to salvation. Roman Catholic Church didn't deny that faith was essential. Again, the dispute was whether faith was the sole instrument and for Rome it wasn't. There was an and there was an act fact there were several ends. Faith and baptism faith and the Eucharist, faith and penance faith and absolution from a priest reformer said no, salvation is by grace through faith.
Because as soon as you add something to faith. You've introduced a reason for man to boast in his salvation. Sinclair Ferguson asks the question, why should faith be the instrument of cause of our justification is answer is this because in its very nature, faith is active in receiving Christ, but noncontributory in relation to the justification we receive. It has no constructive energy. It is complete reliance on another it is Christ directed not self-directed and Christ reliance not self reliant.
Faith involves the abandoning not the congratulating of self, so faith is not a work faith is not the coin that we put in the vending machine to get salvation. Faith is the desist sting of work gets the recognition that I have nothing worthy in myself that I can contribute to alleviate my guilt and merit righteousness before God. Faith means I cease from working and instead rests entirely in someone else in the work of another. Now, to be sure faith without works is dead. Neither Catholics and Protestants deny the necessity of good works in the Christian life. The difference, though, as I understand it is this Rome makes the claim that faith and good works lead to justification. Protestants affirm that faith alone leads to justification and justification inevitably leads to good works. Rome good works are part of the cause of justification for the Protestant justification is the cause of good works. So salvation is by grace alone, and it must of necessity also be through faith alone through that one instrumental cause that involve action on the part of the center but without an ounce of self reliant merits. This brings us to the fourth Sola which is so loose increased use. I don't know Latin. I don't know why this Sola changes ascending here but it does.
Maybe some of you smart, classically trained youth can can let me know so loose increased use salvation is by grace through faith, but faith must have an object not I get so annoyed at Ed signs and memes that are trending these days.
The just say the word believe as if that word all by itself means something significant I want to say, believe, and what belief doesn't happen without a context, it must have an object, it must be directed toward an object. Belief in self belief and power belief in wealth but not belief in belief in this it needs an object for Rome coming out of Middle Ages the object of faith was Christ and the absolution of a priest or faith and Mary the co-redemptive wrists or faith, and the surplus of righteousness that had been merited by saints and martyrs of the past for many modern-day professors of faith. It's not faith in Christ and something else as it was for Rome's faith in Christ or something else. Many believe that salvation will be granted to those who perhaps have never heard the gospel and never heard of Jesus Christ. They they claim that a primitive native of some remote places never been evangelized will go to heaven when he died simply because God can't hold the person accountable for something he doesn't know nobody they say will be condemned to hell because of their ignorance. Scripture, however, indicates very clearly that nobody is so ignorant of God and the gospel as to be without excuse on judgment day and so this Christ or view just like Rome's Christ and view is just another version of a priceless and therefore worthless faith.
The reformer said Christ is the essential object of saving faith and it is the only object of a truly saving faith. Is there any object in which we can put our faith other than Jesus Christ that will actually say the Bible answers that unequivocally John 336 whoever believes in the son has eternal life. Whoever does not believe the son shall not see life, the wrath of God remains on him.
So salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
RI. This brings us to the final Sola Sola Soli Dayo Gloria the glory be to God alone. Scripture is the foundation upon which the structure of the gospel is built grace and faith in Christ are the substance of that gospel.
With this final Sola is a crowning purpose of it all.
Salvation is granted to sinners like you and me, for the purpose of bringing glory to God and God alone. For by grace you have been saved through faith, not as a result of works, why, so that no one may boast so that God alone gets the glory. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ so that God gets glory and is really is the, the sole of all Sola's is in it if you had to pick one of the five that encompasses all the others. It would have to be this one.
This really is the crowning mark of the rent reform of reformed Protestantism. It's a commitment to view all in history, all of creation. All of life through the lens of God's glory there any number of theological systems and ecclesiastical communions that would affirm that God's glory is the chief end. The primary aim of creation. But what makes reformed Protestantism unique is that it actually does what it claims to affirm it approaches every theological conundrum with the presupposition that whatever maximizes the joy of God is the right answer. When faced with the question of Scriptures authority versus human authority and answers with a resounding affirmation of Scriptures inspiration and infallibility and sufficiency and authority. When asked about sovereign grace versus free will. It affirms under qualified sovereign grace as a grounds of our salvation when sorting out the dispute over faith versus works. It abandons any notion or suggestion of merit and thus who joyfully in favor of self-effacing self-deprecating self mortifying faith when identifying the object of that saving faith. It unhesitatingly looks to Christ alone. The author and finisher of faith. Reform present Protestantism at its best, was in fact a recovery of the biblical gospel, the good news that salvation is all of grace and all for God's glory invokes God in his mercy has has put Grace Church in that stream in that heritage of those who are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in having heavenly places.
He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him and in love he has predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will and all Scripture says to the praise of his glory is a wrap this up tonight. Let me use one final Latin motto from the Reformation and it's this ecclesia a fermata semper reprimand the church reformed always reforming this slogan was intended to convey the reality that although the church had seen wonderful times of reform and revival, and it's in his long and storied history. We must never think that we have arrived that our progress in the faith is sufficient, so long as Christ does not return as long as history marches on, heresies will spring up so we must be vigilant and always fighting the good fight, checking our assumptions and beliefs and behaviors against the word of God and gladly receiving the correction and the chastening of our heavenly father.
Whenever it comes so much progress has been made with brothers and sisters, we are not home yet and so we need to walk circumspectly always keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Always reforming ourselves according to the word of God. Many debates were settled during the process Reformation, but knew bit debates arise all the time and we need to be ready to reform and be reformed by God's word whenever and wherever it's needed.
What might this look like what might be some ways we are perhaps suddenly tempted to compromise in our own historical context. These sweet solos that we hold so dear. Let's think about it for moment Sola Scripture. Are you esteeming Scripture as you want to my reading it meditating on it, studying it, believing it, obeying it, or do you demean the word of God by running. Perhaps the good things, but things that subvert Scriptures place of preeminence things that compete for your allegiance and be you neglect the words of Scripture by giving more weight to the study notes or commentaries may be rely on podcasts in Christian music to fill your mind with truth. Instead of going to the library source. The very words of God, a beer temptation is in the other direction you turn yourself into a theological island dismissing and ignoring the blessing and advantage of 2000 years of church history of godly men gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach and articulate the deep things of God and instead you've made yourself the arbiter of truth Sola Scripture Sola Grazie a you allowed man centered philosophies to infiltrate the way you think about your own human nature. Are you trusting that somewhere deep down inside of you is a little nugget of virtue pre-fall holdout of moral energy that makes you not entirely bankrupt before a holy God, or do you daily. Remind yourself that you are a worm deserves the hellish place of darkness for all eternity. But for the grace of God Sola file in your zeal for the doctrine of justification through faith alone, you perhaps neglected the pursuit of holiness be done with the Roman Catholics of Luther's they said us Protestants would do by neglecting obedience to God's perfect law of you downplay the biblical truth that faith without works is dead or plugged your ears to Scriptures call to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, all in the name of faith alone.
If so, you need a new Reformation of the heart, solos, crease, use the left Christ are you resting in Christ or are you resting in your own virtue may be your refusing to rest in Christ, not because you resting in your own virtue but simply because in pride he would rather wallow in your own guilt that accept the free gift of his forgiveness, faith in your own moral goodness will not save, but neither will faith in your willingness to walk around feeling guilty all the time. Only faith in Christ will say finally silly Dale Gloria is God just your Sunday hobby. Do you view every facet of life as a theater for God's glory how you wash your clothes how you spend your money how you drive your car how you love your spouse and yes how you read your Bible and what you believe about salvation. All of it is a stage on which God's glory ought to be the shining star.
May we bear the name Protestant well may we protest with our confessions and with our lives.
Every attempt by sinful man to rob God of his glory and instead demonstrate an unswerving confidence in the biblical gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ to the glory of God alone is pray father son and Holy Spirit from you and through you and to you are all things you be glory forever a man