Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Scripture Alone

Scripture alone, Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, and for the glory of God alone. This series is known as the five solas, because these were originally Latin phrases that each contained the word "sola" meaning "solely" or "alone." It describes what the Protestant Reformers believed. The Latin expressions were Sola Scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. In this post, I'd like to explore the first of the five, which is sola Scriptura, meaning "Scripture alone".

The Bible is replete with exhortations about this.

Invalidating the Word of God
Jesus rebuked the religious people of his day, who had many man-made traditions, which were merely precepts of men that actually nullified the Word of God. Jesus said,"But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God," he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'" (Mat 15:5-9). You see, these leaders atually taught their disciples that when they made a vow to give some money to God, they were no longer obliged to help their own parents, even if they were in need. So by this precept, the leaders nullified the Word which commands us to honor our father and mother.

Live on God's Word
Jesus Himself said to the devil: "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Mat 4:4). So we live on every one of God's Words. Our life depends on it!

We are to long for the Word, not man-made traditions, because it's by the Word that we grow up in our faith: "like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation." (1Pe 2:2)

The Word was God
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (Joh 1:1) Jesus is the Word. The Word is a Person and He is God. We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb 12:2).

Accurately Handle the Word
We are exhorted to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." (2Ti 2:15)

Hold Fast the Word
We are always to be "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." (Tit 1:9)

Held Together by the Word
Jesus upholds all things by His powerful Word. "And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," (Heb 1:3)

It's a Living Word
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb 4:12) This cannot be said of man-made precepts and traditions.

It's All Inspired by God
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2Ti 3:16-17). The word for inspired is theopneustos, which means God-breathed. So all Scripture came from the breath of God that he breathed upon men. It is all profitable and by it we are equipped for good works.

Able to Save Your Soul
The Word is able to save your soul: "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." (Jam 1:21)

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2Ti 3:14-15)

We have been born again through the Word of God, not man-made precepts and traditions: "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." (1Pe 1:23)

Doers of the Word
We are to be doers of the Word, not man-made traditions: "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." (Jam 1:22)

"but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:" (1Jo 2:5)

Source of Faith
Our very faith comes from hearing the Word, not from hearing man's ideas or observing man's traditions. The apostle Paul said: "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom 10:17)

Endures Forever
"BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER." And this is the word which was preached to you." (1Pe 1:25) On the other hand, traditions will pass away, and so will man's words.

Pay Attention to the Word
It's like a lamp shining in a dark place & we do well to pay attention to it: "So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts." (2Pe 1:19)

Word Abides in You
Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (Joh 15:7). He didn't say that church traditions need to abide in us or that man's teaching must abide in us.

"I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." (1Jo 2:14)

Persecuted for the Word
John was persecuted for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus: "I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." (Rev 1:9)

He Who Hears and Understands the Word Bears Fruit
We bear fruit if the word implanted takes root in the good soil of a receptive heart: "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
(Mat 13:23)

Search the Word Daily
The Berean disciples were considered nobler than those in Thessalonica, because they received the Word with all readiness of mind. And they did not just believe it because the apostle said it, but they searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things he taught were really true. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Act 17:10-11)

Voice of the Lord
In the Church today (both Protestant and Catholic), disciples are trained to listen to the voice of man, such as the pastor or the denominational dogma, not the voice of the Lord. But we need to train people to listen to the Lord’s voice instead. Jesus said “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (Joh 10:3-4). We follow Jesus because we know Him personally and we know His voice. We can hear from Him for ourselves, not because everything we know about Him has been filtered through someone else.

Guidance from the Spirit of Truth
Often Church leaders would prefer to control people, and do not want them reading their own Bibles or deciding for themselves what the Bible says. While it is true that teachers are an important gift in the Body, they should not teach people to become dependent upon them for Truth. Instead they should teach people how to read the Word for themselves and understand it through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus assured us that the Holy Spirit would help us hear His voice and understand His Word when He said, "When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." (Joh 16:13a). John the apostle said it like this: “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” (1Jo 2:27)

Focus on the Word
The Psalms are full of references to the Word. From the Psalms we learn that the Word has been tried like silver seven times. The Word is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path. Just read Psalm 119 and you will see there is a heavy emphasis on the Word. Nearly every single verse in that psalm makes reference to the Word of God. We need to meditate on the Word, ponder it, put our hope in it, reach out for it, long for it, and obey it. That's the heart of God.

So I think it is well established that the Word is our sole rule of faith. If we disciples would start reading our Bibles and ask God to show us the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, we would be amazed what the Lord will begin to open our eyes to see in Scripture.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: This post concludes a five part series on the five solas. If you have not read the rest of the series and would like to do so, you may find those parts here:

By Faith Alone, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV
By Grace Alone
In Christ Alone
For the Glory of God Alone

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Bible is the Word of GodThe Scripture Must Be Fulfilled, The Uniqueness of God's WordDeleted Scriptures in the Bible?, Is Obedience Optional?Seeking Glory from God, The Light and the Glory,  and Walking in the Perfect Will of God. You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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