Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Spiritual Depression - A Reality

Lamentations 3:6 "He has set me in dark places Like the dead of long ago."

The mind of man was created with a right knowledge of God and in true righteousness and holiness. But the fall has introduced real and serious problems to men's minds. Not only do we incline toward idolatry and error, but we are not good at being well adjusted to the world any longer. Excessive sadness, depression, and a loss of interest in what used to bring us a sense of well-being and happiness are real phenomena that even the godliest of people now experience. Lamentations is a book of lamenting the terrible sadness Jeremiah felt as he looked over the burning remains of Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it and took the people of Israel into captivity. Jeremiah is known as "the weeping prophet" because no one would listen to him. He was a man who knew terrible sadness that was real and palpable. He felt it in the depths of his God-fearing soul. Lamentations 3:1-20 is practically a clinical definition of spiritual depression from a man who was in fact saved and on his way to heaven. If you read slowly those first twenty verses, you can't help but feel what this poor man felt. The mind of man which was designed to glorify and enjoy God and to be happy and blessed in communing with God now experiences the precise opposite in depression and despair. And we need to understand that when God's people experience real depression and real despair on this level, it is not always their fault. We must never tell such people to "pull themselves together." We must never tell them "just stop it." What do we do when God's people feel this way? Weep with them.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Not everything we weep over is due to our own sinfulness. Sometimes people just get very sad contemplating the horrors around them. Our souls are downcast and we cry out, "Lord, how long?" Spiritual depression and anxiety are real and are often experienced by God's people. And sometimes such feelings can last for a very long time. What's the answer? It's always the same: To remember the mercies and goodness of the LORD. God's fatherly love and tenderness towards His heartbroken children is our anchor while we feel this terrible sadness. There is no fast cure to it. It can go on for months and years. And for some it never entirely goes away and will not be gone until heavenly glory has at last arrived. But let us never patronize those who feel this way by blaming them or calling them to repent. Sometimes, people just get sad. And it is okay. But let us do as Jeremiah does in that same chapter in Lamentations 3:

Lamentations 3:21-33 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. [22] Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. [23] They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. [24] "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" [25] The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. [26] It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord. [27] It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. [28] Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him; [29] Let him put his mouth in the dust--There may yet be hope. [30] Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him, And be full of reproach. [31] For the Lord will not cast off forever. [32] Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies. [33] For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Romans 15:22-33 - Critical Christian Housekeeping

Sometimes it seems that seemingly mundane portions of Scripture don't have much to teach us. I was thoroughly rebuked by studying this wonderful passage this past week and then preaching it to God's people yesterday. Romans 15:22-33.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sola Scriptura: An Essential, Biblical, Patristic, and Historical Christian Truth

Presbyterians are part of the great Reformation heritage which has received from our spiritual fathers the great Westminster Standards. All who subscribe to the Westminster Standards are bound to all 5 Reformation “Solas.” In this article we look at “Sola Scriptura” – Scripture Alone.

Q2: What Rule Has God Given to Direct us How We May Glorify and Enjoy Him? The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.

The great Athanasius of Alexandria in North Africa who lived from AD 297-373 - that great defender of Nicene Orthodoxy wrote these words about Scripture:
These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these, the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.’

Another important church father, Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 318-386) wrote in his Catechetical Lectures:
For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scripture; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, do not give ready assent, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.

1) What Sola Scriptura is NOT (5 things):
When we say we as Christians believe in “Sola Scriptura” here is what we DON’T mean by that:

1. Sola Scriptura is NOT a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. The Bible cannot help you figure out how to program the clock in your car, where you should make an incision to do an appendectomy, or how to cook lasagna.

2. Sola Scriptura is NOT a claim that the Bible contains all RELIGIOUS knowledge. Opponents of Sola Scriptura misrepresent it this way constantly. For example, Roman Catholic writer, Karl Keating, cites John 21:25 which says: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” And then Keating writes: “The Bible actually denies that it is the complete rule of faith. John tells us that not everything concerning Christ’s work is in Scripture (John 21:25), and Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition that is handed down by word of mouth (2 Timothy 2:2, “And these things that you have heard from me… commit these to faithful men…”).

Keating equates the fact that John tells us that not everything Jesus did was written down with the idea that The Bible is incomplete as a rule of faith.

Response: Does the fact that the Bible does not record everything Jesus did mean that The Bible itself is not a complete rule of faith? Obviously not. Think about these Questions: Do we need to know how often Jesus got His hair cut? What was on the menu at mealtime with His disciples? Every single word that ever came off his lips? Do we need to know what color of clothes Jesus liked to wear?

Keating fails to notice that the same writer, John, tells us a little earlier in his gospel the following:

John 20:30-31 [30] And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; [31] but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

The Scripture itself tells us that we do not need to know everything that Jesus did in order to have life in His name. The things that we need to know, God has told us clearly in Scripture.

3. Sola Scriptura is NOT a denial of the authority of the church to teach and preach God’s truth. Opponents of Sola Scriptura often present to us what is known as the fallacy of the false dilemma or a false dichotomy – that is, presenting two options as if they are your only choices. We are told that we have either the Bible OR the church… but never both. It’s either you and your Bible by yourself in the woods – inventing and accepting your own doctrines by yourself without a church to help and guide you OR, you must accept our external authority (the LDS hierarchy, the Pope, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, etc).

I as a pastor have authority to preach, teach, shepherd, and the session administers church discipline – but that authority is subordinate to and derived from the authority of Scripture.

The Church has real authority, but it is not an infallible authority - and it is certainly not a God-Breathed authority that is on par with Scripture.

4. Sola Scriptura is NOT a denial that the Word of God has, at times, been spoken. Opponents of Sola Scriptura will inform us constantly that the apostles preached the Word of God and that what they preached carried the authority of God with it. BUT, a key to our understanding is that in order to practice and believe in Sola Scriptura you have to first have a Scriptura. Prior to the completion of the New Testament, the Word of God was preached and it had God’s authority.

Question: When Jesus was alive and preaching, was the New Testament written yet? NO. So, was the gospel of Jesus Christ as found in the NT we have today first preached by the apostles before it was written down? YES. Here’s the point: Sola Scriptura refers to the normative condition of the Christian church after times in which new Scripture is being given. In other words, it is impossible to practice Sola Scriptura while new Scripture is being given. And yet, opponents of Sola Scriptura point out constantly that “the Word of God was preached before it was written down!” We affirm this. What we deny is that there were essential truths that were only preached and never written down that Rome or any other groups has access to.

5. Sola Scriptura is NOT a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the Church.

2) What Sola Scriptura IS (5 things):

1. Sola Scriptura IS that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the infallible rule of faith for the Church.

The key is this: What is the nature of Scripture? Once it is clear what Scripture is, Sola Scriptura is the only option for a true Christian - because Scripture has no equal in terms of authority unless you are willing to say that the church in and of itself speaks with an absolute, infallible, and God-breathed level of authority.

2 Timothy 3:16 [16] All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, [Theopneustos – “God-breathed.”]

Friends, the only thing in this entire universe that has that adjective properly predicated to it “God-breathed” is Scripture. Scripture alone is God-breathed. There is nothing else that exists in the entire created universe that has that adjective, God-breathed, predicated to it. Nothing.

2 Peter 1:20-21 [says concerning Scripture] … for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The things said in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 about Scripture are never said about “tradition” or the “church.” Tradition is not God-breathed, neither is the church. Scripture alone is God-breathed.

Scripture alone is the standard by which all teachings, writings, sermons, and opinions must be judged. Scripture is subordinate to nothing and may be corrected by nothing – because it alone is God-breathed. It alone speaks with God’s very own authority. We accept it as God’s Word on His say-so and His authority.

Illustration: The Westminster Confession and the catechisms can be amended and changed in the PCA:
1. Approval of the proposed amendment by three-fourths (3/4) of those present and voting in the General Assembly, and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
2. The advice and consent of three-fourths (3/4) of the Presbyteries.
3. The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly by three-fourths (3/4) of those present and voting.

Can we amend the book of Romans? Can we modify the Bible by voting? Obviously not. The Bible is the only God-breathed source of revelation the church has, and it is therefore that by which our own doctrinal statement is judged and can be changed.

Scripture is self-authenticating – It depends on nothing outside of it to give it its own authority. Its authority is self-authenticating. Think about it: If Scripture actually is God’s Word and when we read it we are in fact reading the very words of the living and true God Himself – then what outside of Scripture could possibly validate or authenticate its authority?

Somewhere in France right now is the meter standard. How many of you have a tape measurer or a ruler of some kind that goes all the way up to a meter? The exact length of that tape measurer or ruler is based upon a piece of metal in France called the meter standard. Question: How do we know that the Meter standard is a meter long? See the point? The buck has to stop somewhere.

Nothing outside of Scripture can authorize its authority because God’s authority is the highest authority there is. The meter standard in France cannot be measured by anything else to assure it is a meter long because it is the standard by which all other measures are judged. Because Scripture alone is God-breathed – it alone is God’s Word, and there is no other source from which we can derive God-breathed revelation. Therefore: it is sufficient to function as the infallible rule of faith for the Church. And it alone can inform us how we are to worship the One True and Living God.

2. Sola Scriptura IS that everything one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source. This is not to say that Scriptural truth cannot be summarized in shorter forms such as Creeds, Confessions, or Catechisms, but it is saying that there is no necessary belief or doctrine required for someone to believe to gain entrance to heaven that is not found in the Scriptures.

William Webster, a man raised Roman Catholic who came to know Christ and has gone on to author some of the best books and historical works on the nature and authority of Scripture also wrote an excellent book called: The Church of Rome at the Bar of History in which he penned what is, I believe, one of the greatest paragraphs describing Scripture ever written in all of church history. Webster wrote:

In like manner the terms ‘sufficiency’ or ‘sola scriptura’ sum up the overall teaching of Scripture about itself. Specific scriptural descriptions of the Word of God, which speak of its nature and function, lead us inescapably to this conclusion. The following are some of the words which tell us how God would have us regard His Word. [The Word of God is]: pure – perfect – sure – truth – eternal – forever settled in heaven – it sanctifies – it causes spiritual growth – it is God-breathed – it is authoritative – it gives wisdom unto salvation – it makes the simple wise – it is living and active – it is a guide – it is a fire – a hammer – a seed – the sword of the Spirit – it gives the knowledge of God – it is a lamp to our feet – a light to our path – that which produces reverence for God – it heals – makes free – illuminates – produces faith – regenerates – converts the soul – brings conviction of sin – restrains from sin – is spiritual food – is infallible – inerrant – irrevocable – it searches the heart and mind – produces life – defeats Satan – proves truth – refutes error – is holy – equips for every good work – and is the Word of the living God. It is impossible to find a more convincing argument for the sufficiency of Scripture than these descriptions. And no such language is ever used about tradition in the Scriptures.

Scripture sounds pretty sufficient, doesn’t it?

3. Sola Scriptura is: That which is NOT found in Scripture – either directly or by necessary implication – is NOT binding upon the Christian’s conscience.
WSC 1:6 – “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”

4. Sola Scriptura is: Scripture reveals those things necessary to be saved.
Even young children can understand perfectly the proper relationship between faith in Jesus and works when it comes to being saved and going to heaven – Ephes. 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, [9] not of works, lest anyone should boast. [10] For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

One does not need a theological education to understand the bible it does make sense. God speaks and does so clearly.

5. Sola Scriptura teaches that all traditions that claim authority are subject to the higher authority of Scripture. Turn to Matthew 15:1-9

3) Matthew 15:1-9 - Our blueprint for judging what men say and teach.

Let us walk through this passage and learn from the example of the Lord Jesus when it came to the issue of traditions that men may try to bind to our consciences. Notice how Jesus addresses such claims, but also notice: The blinding power of tradition when it is accepted as divine revelation. What I mean by that is this: This tradition, this Corban rule, so plainly and obviously “made void” the command to honor your father and your mother - but the scribes and Pharisees were not able to see how clearly it did! This illustrates the tremendous danger of rejecting Sola Scriptura.

[1] Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, [2] "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread."

What is “the tradition of the elders?” These are an extra-biblical body of teachings passed down from the great rabbis and Jewish thinkers through the centuries - gathered together and compiled in the Talmud. The Talmud consists of 63 “tractates” and in printed form today consists of more than 6,200 pages of information. Many of the things contained in these writings were considered by the Jews to be “divine” in origin and on par with OT Scripture itself.

The halacha of the Jews was “the fence.” These were rules the Jews had constructed around the OT law in order to prevent them from possibly violating it. They didn’t wash their hands for sanitary reasons, but rather “for fear that the hands had brushed against a Gentile or against something belonging to a Gentile.”

One commentator wrote: “Jesus and his disciples observed the Levitical law but disregarded the rabbinical tradition. Yet they did so, not because human customs as such are to be disregarded, but because the Pharisees considered the tradition as binding the conscience by divine authority, binding it even more severely than the written law of God.”

Jesus is here going to bring up one of these divinely authoritative traditions and show how obviously and plainly it transgresses the fifth commandment in God’s law.

[3] He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' [5] But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God"-- [6] then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.

Here we have hypocrisy personified in the scribes and Pharisees. While they, on the basis of man-made “traditions” pretend to find fault in the sinless Son of God, they themselves, by their traditions, have a very clear violation of a very simple and clear law of God: the 5th commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.”

And here we see the power of human tradition, and the devastating consequences of rejecting Sola Scriptura: Very sadly, once human beings invent, elevate, and accept something outside of Scripture as having divine authority, that “something” outside of Scripture will become their absolute, unquestioned, and dominating authority in their life. More often than not, they will be completely blind to this fact.

Once an authority has been embraced outside of Scripture, what the Scriptures say becomes irrelevant to that person no matter how plainly and obviously it is contradicted by Scripture.

Think about the Pharisees - and their devotion to the law of God, their memorization of it, their desire to follow it down to the minute details. AND YET, by establishing their traditions as authoritative and divine, they would embrace and believe in traditions which so plainly, so obviously, so “right on the face of it” denied that very law they claimed to love and follow. Isn’t that amazing?

In one of those 63 “tractates” in the Talmud, there was one that contained this “Corban” rule - which said what Jesus pointed out in v5-6: “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” [6] then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” [7] Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: [8] 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. [9] And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "

Notice that in the mind of Jesus, when traditions or extra-biblical ideas are elevated to the realm of divine authority, we are no longer worshipping God even if we think we are.

Notice verse 9: It is possible to worship God “in vain.” In other words, it is possible to think you are worshiping God when, in fact, you are worshiping Satan. When we believe doctrines not taught in Scripture, and worship in ways God has not commanded us to, our worship of God becomes “void” and we are not truly drawing near to God. We are only drawing near “with our lips,” but our “hearts are far from” God. Matthew 15:1-9 is Jesus’s blueprint for judging all claims people make for tradition. You judge them all by the Word of God.

4) Answering Comebacks to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura:

1. “Well, that’s just your interpretation.” This is a direct attack on the clarity of Scripture.

Response: What could be more obvious? Interpretation is unavoidable – every form of communication we receive is always interpreted. “David was King of Israel” – what are the possible interpretations of this? Is: “Solomon was king of Israel” a legitimate interpretation of this statement?

We believe in the adequacy of human language to communicate truth. For example, when I tell my children “lights out at 8:30,” it is not an acceptable interpretation of that to think that 9:00 is bedtime. Everyone who talks and writes believe in the adequacy of human language to communicate.

In fact, God believes in the adequacy of human language to communicate truth – which is why Jesus held all of his hearers who had access to the bible accountable for having read and understood it.

The Roman Catholic religions and a thousand cults have insisted for centuries that we all need an infallible interpreter of Scripture – and God supposedly gave that to us in the Church hierarchy.

The problem with this is, of course, one must interpret the pronouncements of any and all infallible interpreters. And what are we to do if we disagree in our interpretations of what our infallible interpreters of Scripture tell us? Do we need an infallible interpreter of the infallible interpreter? God speaks and He does so clearly – so clearly that He expects us to understand and obey Him. Our Lord said over and over to people, “have you not read…” and expected them to have read and understood it.

2. The Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura has resulted in over 25,000 Protestant denominations – Sola Scriptura is an utter failure.

We can simply point out that the principle of “Scripture + an infallible interpreter of Scripture” has resulted in an even greater number of religious cults. This argument is comparing apples and oranges. They are comparing a denomination with a rule of faith.

The reason there are so many Protestant denominations has absolutely nothing to do with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The reason for so many Protestant denominations is not because of Sola Scriptura, it is because of not practicing Sola Scriptura. Every one of us should always be willing to learn, to subject our traditions and interpretations to the scrutiny and review of Scripture. Sadly, few Protestants are willing to do so…  In fact, at times it seems that some “Protestants” are just as dogmatic, close-minded, and unteachable about their traditions as the staunchest of Roman Catholics. We suffer from sloth and laziness and attachment to what we’re comfortable with. Bible study is tough work – it takes a tremendous amount of discernment and discipline – and few in the modern church have the stomach for it. Hence, we remain divided.

However, when you consider the Protestant denominations that have applied the doctrine of Sola Scriptura with the most consistency – like the Post-Reformation Lutheran theologians, Reformed theologians, and Calvinistic Baptist theologians – the degree of unity is astonishing. And in fact, I would make this assertion against any group that claims “Scripture + infallible interpreter of Scripture” results in greater unity among professing “Christians”:

Those churches who love the Word of God, submit to the Word of God, and are willing to be Reformed and corrected by the Word of God are and always have been far more united in their doctrine than any groups that have practiced “Scripture + infallible interpreter.”

The truth of Sola Scriptura is under attack in our day – and few are able to defend it. I have read many stories of Christians converting to “authoritarian” groups – like Rome, like Eastern Orthodoxy, like Mormonism, like the JWs, like the Unification Church, etc.

What do all of these stories have in common? An inability of the Christian to defend the Biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

One key text that is misused often is 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”

Opponents will say, “see, Paul is telling the Thessalonians and us today that we are to hold to everything he taught whether it was spoken orally OR written in Scripture. See, Paul himself pointed to TWO sources of the ‘traditions’ we are to hold to – oral tradition and written tradition. And these are two separate sources of doctrine – each is distinct.” What’s the problem with this understanding? It assumes that what Paul taught them orally while he was with them is different in substance and doctrinal content from what he taught them in writing.

Notice the text of v15 here – there is ONE and ONLY ONE body of truth that was delivered in TWO WAYS, NOT two bodies of doctrine delivered in two ways. The Thessalonians are to hold to “the traditions” – ONE body of teaching, NOT TWO – i.e. the “teachings” Paul taught them whether by word or our epistle. Paul IS NOT referring to TWO SEPARATE AND DISTINCT BODIES OF DOCTRINE, but to ONE BODY OF DOCTRINE delivered in TWO WAYS. What did Paul teach them orally and in writing? “The gospel of Jesus Christ” – that is what Paul is telling them to HOLD FAST to. Not to some mysterious, verbal-only traditions that would never be written down. The way this is misused: I have heard and read Roman Catholic apologists say that this is where Paul actually taught the Thessalonians about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences, the doctrines about Mary, etc. Mormons and other groups use it in the same way.  

Here’s how to challenge opponents of Sola Scriptura. What if I made this claim: I am holding here in my hand a watch that is utterly unique – there is not a watch anywhere in the entire universe that is just like it. How could you disprove that claim? Just show me another watch, right? That is exactly what we are doing with Scripture – we are saying it has no equal, nothing else like it, nothing else that is God-breathed. How can opponents of Sola Scriptura absolutely destroy our doctrine of Sola Scriptura? Show us another source of God-breathed truth – show it to us!

In a debate with noted Jesuit scholar Fr. Mitchell Pacwa on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, Dr. James White asked him this direct question in cross examination – after Pacwa himself had cited 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Father Pacwa, given your denial of Scriptura as the sole source of what Jesus and the apostles taught, can you tell us a single word that Jesus or the apostles said or taught that is not found in the New Testament?” Fr. Pacwa paused for a long time and then said, “No, I cannot, we have not defined anything.”

A good Protestant apologist, Eric Svendsen wrote: “Catholic apologists often cite this passage (John 20:30) as proof of oral tradition not written in Scripture. But if this constitutes proof for non-inscripturated, apostolic oral tradition, then it also provides proof that Rome has not held to that apostolic tradition; for Rome has not preserved any deeds or sayings of Jesus outside of the Scriptures that are considered authoritative and binding…”

You see, denials of Sola Scriptura and the claims made for knowing traditions or teachings the apostles and Christ gave to the church that were never written down always prove to be empty claims. Those who make such claims must be forced to produce these unwritten traditions or withdraw the claim to have them at all. When people cite 2 Thessalonians 2:15 as proof against Sola Scriptura, insist that they show you what these traditions are and what they teach. Another thing you need to know is that the claim to know extra-biblical inspired traditions is not a new claim. The very earliest believers in church history dealt with the exact same claims.    

Here is a quotation written by a Christian - see if you can tell when this may have been written:

Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures…  When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and assert that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of “tradition.” For they allege that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but by oral tradition. [Not from a Protestant writer in the 1500s or 1600s. But from Irenaeus sometime between 182 and 188 AD!]

And yet, it sounds like an argument from today between Protestants and Catholics doesn’t it? There’s nothing new under the sun – Opponents of Sola Scriptura existed even that early on.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 is simply an exhortation to a precious early church to hold fast to the gospel message and the simple truths of the Christian faith – not a command to hold to a mysterious body of extra-Scriptural revelation. Sadly, many continue to misuse this passage. And even more sadly, many are taken in and deceived by those who argue against Sola Scriptura using this passage.

Sola Scriptura is a vital truth. Don’t let anyone take that precious truth from you by smooth words of flattery and deceit. There are many in our day who are enamored by “the infallible fuzzies.” People like to hand over their responsibility for what they believe to others. Authoritarian groups who provide alleged “infallibility” in their hierarchies are a dime a dozen. But remember what the Lord Jesus said about His sheep: John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” The sheep of Christ listen to the voice of Christ, and they hear that voice only in the pages of inspired Scripture. None of us are infallible, but God is. There are many errors men can make – some are more serious than others. But the greatest error men can make is to think themselves incapable of error. We love and practice Sola Scriptura by submitting ourselves, our hearts, our actions, our priorities, and our beliefs to the authority of Scripture and by always having a willingness to be corrected by what it says – because ONLY what Scripture says is what God says.