Posts Tagged With: Religion

Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura)

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It’s painful and sad to hear a preacher trying to explain away a wrong interpretation of scripture. Mans’ nature has always been to create a God of their own, which fits their lifestyle and beliefs. Falsehood runs rampant throughout communities of people who say they have Christ, and yet Christ does not have them—they trust in something more than the finished work of Christ. Worshipping a God of their own imaginations, they’re inculcated with a wrong theology based in humanistic reasoning. We can never come to know God that way.  

 

I remember several times throughout my 40 years of bible study (intermittently), when I’d read something I did not like. It didn’t fit with my idea of God. The enemy is good at offering us alternative meanings that we’re more comfortable with. But I praise God that I learned how necessary it was for me to humble myself and allow the Spirit to lead me into a proper understanding. The scriptures mean what they say. When the text is didactic, we cannot monkey around with its meaning, such as in the epistles of the New Testament. Where the text is a narrative, giving an historical account, we need to have more discernment from the Spirit. We must be very careful, orayerfully studying with a mind yeilded to the Spirit, before trying to claim a truth drawn from inference out of a historical narrative.  

To the intellectually humble, the Lord will give understanding and spiritual wisdom. Surprisingly, the very concepts we had difficulty accepting will be the same truths which end up blessing us the most. Often, we’ve simply had wrong understandings of them, or did not have the complete picture of that truth and the reason for it. Remember what God said, My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Mine are so much higher than yours—as high as the heavens are above the earth. This is why we MUST allow Him to teach us, rather than trying to reason from our own minds. He is God, we are not. 

 

“…Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2b 

“…Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:10 

 

By Scripture Alone — Sola Scriptura 

What we mean when we say “Scripture Alone” is that here on earth the only thing which has supreme authority over the church is scripture—God’s word. The church is to be in subjection to the scriptures, rather than any member or group within the church usurping its authority—going beyond or subtracting from what has been revealed within it. We do acknowledge that Christ has delegated some authority to His church (to be discussed). The bible not only reveals to us what the truth is, the scriptures are also our Master’s explicit instruction manual. Adamantly proclaiming that the bible is our only supreme authority on earth comes in response to the church’s errors of superseding and adding to scripture.  

 

Scores of heresies have been imaginatively promulgated and thrust upon congregants of various assemblies, compelling them to participate. The veneration of and praying to Saints is idolatry. There’s been the false notion of purgatory and selling of indulgences. There has been the priest’s erroneous use of absolution and forgiving of sins, and a host of other heresies which have wrought much harm to the true church. There was the practice of purchasing deceased loved ones from purgatory, purporting that it would allow them entrance into eternal life in heaven. These are merely a few examples of a plethora of errors which have plagued us. Not to mention the numerous atrocities perpetrated by the church’s use of false authority spanning several centuries. The bible does not support any of these things of which we speak. In fact, many of them are in direct opposition to what God has declared to us in His infallible, authoritative word. 

 

“This concept (Sola Scriptura) came to the fore publicly during Luther’s famous confrontation with the rulers of the state church at the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521.” Dr. R.C. Sproul 

 

Scores of books relate these events and several films depict Martin Luther’s 1521 appearance before this Roman Catholic council. 

 

Martin Luther was a professor of biblical interpretation at the university of Wittenberg. Earlier that same year (1521) he’d been excommunicated by the Pope. His works subsequent to the 95 theses had set off a chain of reform all across Europe. He was then called upon to appear before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire to answer for charges of heresy. Bound by Christ to remain faithful, he refused to recant.  

 

Standing before the papacy, Luther valiantly stated, “Unless I am convinced by sacred scripture or by evident reason, I cannot recant, for my conscience is held captive by the word of God.” He went on to state, “To act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, God help me.” 

 

Sola Scriptura was Luther’s primary thrust or emphasis at this trial before a spiritually illegitimate council, which had blatantly usurped authority over God’s holy word. And as Luther too had earlier pointed out, we know that it is possible for a pope, a pastor, or even a church council to err and make mistakes. Yet the word of God is perfect and does not err.  

 

The only absolutely authoritative written source of Divine revelation is the scripture itself. There is also what we call “General Revelation,” which is drawn from creation, as we see expounded in Romans 1:20 — “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”  

 

Many of the Psalms too espouse this concept of general revelation—things we learn about God by what He has made. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1b 

 

In one of my recent messages, I stated that “Creation in its entirety is designed to reflect the glory of God. By observing the universe, we comprehend a glimpse of His divine; wisdom, love, power and splendor.” 

 

The scriptures are special revelation, rather than general revelation. Primary in the tension between Catholicism and Protestantism, from Luther on down through the years, has been over “Special Revelation.” Protestants proclaim the truth that there is only one source of special revelation, and that being scripture. But the church of Rome espoused the erroneous belief in two sources of special revelation—scripture and church tradition. But Sola Scriptura was not a concept born during the reformation. It was espoused by many church fathers throughout the preceding 1500 years. 

 

“The Scriptures alone are the proper source from which Christian doctrine and morals should be extracted.” Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD) 

 

“I have learned to hold only the holy scripture inerrant.” Augustine 

 

 Rome held the Council of Trent in response to Luther and the Protestant doctrine. This council was spread out over a few years, holding various sessions. It was during the 4th session that the Roman Catholic church erroneously declared the truths of God to be found in both scripture and in the church’s historic traditions. The way it’s stated in the first draft of that session, says “The truth of God is contained partly in scripture and partly in tradition.” In effect this would mean that our doctrine should be drawn half from God and half from man. Granted, the traditions were from the history of the church. But the church is made up of fallible humanity. Redeemed or not, we are still not perfect. Not only is this so, but also: the bible is a perfect and complete revelation and needs no additions—explanation and exposition, yes—additions or subtractions, no. 

 

The bible clearly teaches that the idea which purports mankind can become perfectly sinless in this life, is glaringly false. If you’re not so sure about that, read Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7, which is only one of many references we could offer to demonstrate that what is known in theological circles as the doctrine of perfectionism is erroneous. But that’s an entire issue in itself which can be addressed at another time. 

 

Our focus here is to declare that scripture is our only source of written revelation and the only written authority that can bind absolutely (though it’s not the only authority). During the reformation came the affirmation that the bible was the “Vox Dei” meaning “Voice of God,” or the “Werbum Dei”: the “Word of God.” It is inerrant because it comes to us through God the Holy Spirit’s superintendence. The bible is inspired to the extent that God is its’ author, even though it is transmitted to us through human writers. Human writers, admittedly are fallible. But we believe that God so assisted these particular 40 human individuals so as to accurately transcribe His intended meaning, His words, without flaw. Scripture declares itself to be authoritative. 

 

 In wrapping up this compendium on Scripture Alone, I’d like to affirm that God has given the church on earth authority. It has authority to teach, exhort, rebuke and to discipline, according to scripture. It has the authority and command to preach the Gospel and shine the light it has been given. The church has authority to act as the preservers of the truths found in scripture. It is to act as salt in arresting corruption and in preserving the word of God. It is given authority to speak and pray in Jesus’ name. No, we do not deny that the church has been granted some degree of authority, and yet its authority is always subject to the scrutiny of the word of God, the Bible. And so, we proclaim “Sola Scriptura.” 

 

Please note the articles yet to come on the Five Solas. We will cover: Faith’s relation to works of righteousness, the grace of God, Christ alone is sufficient. And finally an article on the purpose behind it all: the glory of God. Blessings to all!

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Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Church, Reformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reclaiming Truth from Error

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God has always had His faithful remnant—those who hold to the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines given through His holy Apostles. And yet, much of that doctrine, along with the genuine essence of the Good news down through history, has gone through periods of being horrendously obfuscated for many. It was progressively obscured for centuries by the devilish deceptions imposed upon the minds of a great number of professing Christians. Much heresy was perpetuated by the Roman Catholic state church. But praise God! He has raised up genuinely heroic reformers who, though threatened with being ostracized, excommunicated, imprisoned, or even killed, shone the light of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

 

We do not reject or deny the salvation of individuals simply because of what denomination they may be. We hold that God has, and will continue to lead many souls across the threshhold of eternal life in Christ regardless of their denomination. Requisite, however, is the hearing of the truth of the gospel. So long as they are exposed to the scriptures, or have had the Gospel of Christ preached to them, for faith comes through hearing the word of God. 

 

Probably the best-known event which effectually launched those trying years of reformation transpired on October 31, 1517, when in defiance of the hierarchal reign of religious tyranny, Martin Luther valiantly nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle church. There were myriad truths to be reclaimed—truth which had been hazed over by powerful Catholicism. And out of this reforming movement came Protestantism, blazing with luminary, life-giving truth.  

 

Jesus said that He would build His church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. This magnificent promise continues to be a comforting balm of assurance, especially in our society’s current climate. It’s heartening to know our Lord has things well in hand—we need that affirmation. Because, pseudo Christianity is again on the rise, and a plethora of bogus doctrines are promulgated. False gospels abound and antichrists are plentiful. Most of these are nothing new, but merely old heresies packaged a bit differently than they were in the past to better deceive modern day man. Thankfully, God’s word remains flawless, and we strive to defend the faith delivered by our fathers—its precious authenticity, “against the novel opinions of its opponents.” (Augustine)  

 

If we were to condense some of the most dynamic truths recaptured by the reformation and communicated them, at the heart of such a synopsis would surely be the Five Solas; particularly in reference to soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). But equally important is the authority and inerrancy of scripture in juxtaposition with that of the church and its traditions. Sola is the Latin word for “alone.”

 

THE FIVE SOLAS ARE: 

  1. Sola Scriptura:  Scripture Alone: The Bible alone is our highest authority. 
  2. Sola FideFaith Alone: We’re saved through faith alone, apart from works.  
  3. Sola GratiaGrace Alone: We’re saved by God’s grace alone, apart from law. 
  4. Solus ChristusChrist Alone: Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and High Priest, or Mediator. 
  5. Soli Deo GloriaTo the Glory of God Alone: All that we do is for the glory of God alone.  

 

We affirm the faith delivered to us by Jesus’ holy Apostles who teach us that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. We also affirm the inerrancy and supreme authority of scripture. 

 

Taking each of these vital truths individually, for the understanding of everyone, I’ve already given each of them a brief explanation above. To treat them more thoroughly, I’ll be following up with truncated articles to expound each definition with corresponding examples and applications in succeeding posts and links. We will also discuss regeneration by faith alone, and the righteous works which invariably will follow.

 

These truths are vital for selecting which church to join ourselves to. They are vital for understanding how to be saved. Knowing them can aid us in detecting false doctrine and error. This is why I’ve begun with the most important of the “Alones”—Scripture Alone, from which all five are validated.

 

Please subscribe to be notified when the highly important coverage of these topics are posted. May God bless you with His presence and bolster your peace, strength, hope & joy today.

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Church, People, Providence, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Mysterious Ways

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Today I wanted to share with you one of the great poems of old which expresses the poignant thoughts of many of Jesus’ Saints down through the years. I find it evocative,  stirring deep feelings of awe and filled with reverant compulsions to worship our mighty God. Enjoy.

 

 

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm. 

 

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will. 

 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head. 

 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. 

 

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r. 

 

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain. 

 

William Cowper, 1774  

Copyright Public Domain

 

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For those who are truly interested in Christianity, and want to know what the bible teaches about God, about mankind, and about being Saved from our sins, please be sure to catch my upcoming series of posts on “Reclaiming Truth from Error,” In them, I’ll be discussing sound biblical doctrine, which every soul needs to be aware of.

Have a great day, and God Bless You!

 

 

Categories: Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Faith, Poem, Poetry, Providence, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True or False—Continued

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Please do not misunderstand my intent in this message. I love the fact that being a Christian gives me a close relationship with God. My relationship with Christ, who lives within me by His Holy Spirit, is the greatest love interest in my life. Yes, Christianity at its core is based upon our relationship with God. We are intimately united with Christ. We are IN Christ. Yet, within that relationship there are things that God requires of me, just as any Father requires of his children. These things I am to do fervently with great devotion and out of love for Him and reverence for Him. Practicing what God asks of me is religion. Just because an apple has a designation of its own does not mean that it is no longer a fruit. Likewise, because our religion includes the glorious privilege of having an intimate relationship with our Creator, makes it no less a religion. I delight in doing God’s will, and my sweet relationship with Jesus makes doing God’s will as delicious to me as a sweet, crisp apple. God also commands me to have a relationship with the body of Christ, His church. We worship and praise Him together and individually. Also, I am to relate the things of God to the world. I must obey Him and do these things religiously.

While both of the images above have true statements, they each also have a false statement. If you’ve had a relationship with Christ for any length of time, then He has taught you, just as He has taught me: things that are only partially true are meant to deceive. Because they are not completely true, they are false.  Whenever the truth is mixed with a lie, the entire message becomes false. That’s a tactic of the devil: mixing truth with error in order to make it sound plausible.

So let’s see if we can discover what the enemy is hoping to accomplish by getting Christians to deny their religiosity.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ( James 1:26-27 NIV)

In these verses James reminds us that our expression of love towards others, practicing self-control, and striving to live pure lives IS our religion. Yet too often today, Christians hope to fit in with a world which God has commanded that we separate ourselves from. Yes, we are to witness to the world, but we are different and separate from those outside of Christ. There should be a huge distinction perceived through the love we have for one another within the body of Christ.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  John 13:35 KJV

Are we willing to be Christ’s followers, and have we counted the cost? Will we be obedient to Him? If so, then the following will be true of us.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19 NIV

Again, I understand the love which compels you and I to make the gospel as attractive as possible. But God’s word does not need that kind of assistance. People will believe or they will not, and trying to blend in with them does not help our cause. But that’s what the enemy would have us do: attempt to dull the sharpness of the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Now I can already hear someone coming back with something Paul said concerning winning souls. I’ll save that for when someone brings it up.

It is my prayer that your relationship with the Savior of the world will grow closer and more intimate every day. His love is sweeter than any apple. God Bless You!

 

Categories: Church, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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