by A A Hodge
2 Timothy 3:16,17 and the Case for Sola Scriptura
First we need to define the term "Sola Scriptura " It is a latin phrase which was coined by the Reformed Church during 1500's. It means "scripture solely" or the "scripture alone". By these words the faithful Christians of the day were standing up for the Biblical principle that the Holy Scriptures were God's inspired Word, and as such were the sole infallible rule of faith. It was the ultimate Authority for the Church, and not (as some had supposed ) the Roman Church, it's Magisterium, or Pope. Since the Position of the Roman Church and those faithful Christians who Protested it (protest-ant), were mutually exclusive, both obviously could not be correct. If the faithful Christians were going stand for God's Word as the ultimate Authority, then there would have to be a "Reforming" of the Church. A restoring of the the Laws of God which the Church formerly held. Much like when a criminal reforms to obey the law which was always there. These faithful Christians understood they must return to the former reliance upon the authority of the Word of God, and thus, on October 31, 1517, "The Reformation" began when the German Monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Roman Church door in Wittenberg Germany. The Church would lean upon Scripture alone as the ultimate Authority. Sola Scriptura!
Actually, calling it "Sola Scriptura" is a bit of a misnomer, because it is not a doctrine which teaches that we believe that there are not other authorities, nor that they have no value or place. Rather, it means that other authorities must be subordinate to the Word of God. Sola scriptura implies several things. First, that the Scriptures are a direct revelation from God, and as such, are His Authoritative Word. It is also a term which illustrates that the scriptures are all that is necessary for Church faith and practice. Not only that the scriptures are sufficient, but that they also are the ultimate and final court of appeal on all doctrinal matters. Because however good and faithful a Church leader may be in giving his guidance, all the fathers, teachers, popes, and councils are still fallible. The only infallible "source" for truth is the scriptures. Besides God Himself, Only His Word (the Scriptures alone ), is infallible.
The Reformation Doctrine of Sola Scriptura ultimately pointed to a most basic concern of the faithful Church of that day which was expressed in their cry of Soli Deo Gloria, meaning, to God alone be the Glory! This expresses the true Christian perspective that God should receive the Glory and not men, and that this is done by keeping His Word as the final authority. The head of the Church is the infallible Christ, and not a fallible man. And so the Authority of the Church must likewise be His Word, and not the word of men. No matter how faithful, it's still the word of men and thus subordinate to God's word. What is called Sola Scriptura was, and is essential to true Christianity. For it's the difference between God's traditions and ordinances, and man's traditions and ordinances.
What some people call Oral tradition of the Church, is subject to change, development, degeneration, and deviation. There is absolutely no guarantee given by God or Scripture (His Word) that such an oral tradition would be preserved or was even needed. Indeed, 2nd Timothy chapter 3 strongly implies such a thing was not needed.
2nd Timothy 3:16-17
The Old Testament scriptures thoroughly furnished man of that day unto all good works, and Christ continually referenced it to prove truths. Jesus and others read and quoted Scripture (never any oral tradition, except to condemn it ). That's not an insignificant point. And when Satan tested Jesus, Christ made reference to the Authority of scripture to prove his error.
What proceeds out of the mouth of God is God's Word, and His Holy Word is written in the Bible. That is what man lives by. The Word of God, not the words of men, no matter how faithful they may appear. Jesus could have answered any way that He wanted, for He is God and an original and perfect answer He could have spoken afresh at any moment, but He instead pointed to what was already written in the scriptures as the reply to the adversary. I.e., that was the perfect answer! What God had inspired to be written, not the oral tradition of the day, but what had proceedeth from God's mouth and written in His Word. And this deferral to what was written in the scriptures is a lesson for all faithful Christians of what Authority we go to in order to prove truths. And Christ did this not only in answering un-biblical assertions, but also when presented with scripture that were taken out of context. Jesus again defers to "other" scripture which qualified the scripture in question. For example;
In other words, Jesus replies to scripture taken out of context with an additional scripture which clarifies (not denies ) it. So we see the meaning is that, "Yes, God will watch over us, but that doesn't mean that we can test/tempt the Lord God!" The Authority of Scripture clearly delineated by our Lord, even in the face of other scriptures. The Perfect answer by Christ to combat a erroneous understanding of scripture was to quote additional Scripture to shed more light on it's true meaning! I.e., it was authoritative over what man might read and think was right by considering just one passage. Another passage qualified or explains more about the first. in this we bring reconciliation to both truths of these scriptures, denying neither.
Again, Jesus presents scripture, God's Word, to counter Satan's ideas and visions. He says, It is Written! In other words, God says thus and thus! Never, God's Priests say, our leaders say, or oral tradition says! Jesus, our example, says, it is written! This is our example and the posture to take with anyone in order to try the Spirits to see whether they be of God. Compare their words to God's Word, countering their tradition with the authority of God's Word! The same can be said about any debate of doctrines by the Church. The correct principle in faithful Hermeneutics is to always defer to scripture, not to religious leaders or heads of the Church. Just as Jesus demonstrated in His debates with the religious leaders of His day, He appealed to the Scriptures, not to Congregational leaders, traditions or any Ecclesiastical body.
Where was it written? The Scriptures, the Authority which furnished them unto all good works whereby they should have searched and known of Christ. Likewise, the New Testament logically follows that same principle of thoroughly furnishing us unto all Good works. We should understand that once completed, the New Testament scriptures (like the old was ) is the guidebook of truth. It (old and new together) is a completed work, not a work or book in progress, or a incomplete work. We can't add to it or take away from it by oral tradition. The Bible is now one cohesive whole, complete thoroughly furnishing us. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is a doctrine of faithfully following God's word above all other, and it is built upon solid ground.
There are some Roman Catholic church apologists that say that this doctrine was not even heard of until "the reformation" of the 16th century. This of course is an inaccurate and self serving claim, which can be proven false quite easily (even apart from scripture ). Read this quote from the 5th century, 1100 years before the Reformation and see if you can glean who wrote it:
This Mediator (Jesus Christ), having spoken what He judged sufficient first by the prophets, then by His own lips, and afterwards by the apostles, has besides produced the Scripture which is called canonical, which has Paramount Authority, and to which we yield assent in all matters of which we ought not to be ignorant, and yet cannot know of ourselves.
Do you know who authored this affirmation of the principle of Sola Scriptura, the doctrine of ultimate authority of the scriptures? The Author is Saint Augustine. It's a quote taken directly from his book, "City of God" (book 11, Chapter 3). This unambiguous declaration by Augustine is about as definitive a statement for Sola Scriptura as any Protestant declaration I've read. And so we see this Roman catholic argument fails on both fronts. On both Biblical and Historical grounds, it fails miserably. The Word of God both is, and was the Supreme authority of the Church. The Apostles and all the faithful fathers deferred to it. it's not some new thing which Protestants invented.
Can traditions contradict God's completed Word?
Can the Scriptures contradict what some allege is oral "apostolic tradition", and have that tradition still be of God? The answer of course is a resounding, No! God is not the Author of confusion. The undeniable fact is, two infallible God-breathed sources cannot contradict each other. Else one of them is not infallible! That's a fact! Yet God's Scripture and Roman Church traditions constantly contradict each other. This should alert any faithful student of Holy Canon that one is neither infallible, nor of God. Just a few of the myriad of examples..
- The scriptures of God teach that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4,20), and all sin is purged and we are purified in Christ, on the cross. While Roman Catholic traditions teach that sin can be purged later, in a place called Purgatory (place of purifying).
- The Scriptures of God teaches that the office of bishop and presbyter are the same office (Titus 1) but Roman tradition says they are different offices.
- The Scriptures of God teaches that Christ offered His sacrifice once for all (Hebrews 7:27, 9:28,10:10), while Roman Catholic tradition corrects this, claiming that the Priest sacrifices Christ on the altar at mass.
- The Scriptures of God teaches that we should not use vain repetitions in prayers (Matthew 6:7) thinking that we will be heard for our much speaking, while the Roman catholic traditions teach repeating hail Mary's in prayer as penitence, as if God indeed will hear us for our much repetition.
- The Scriptures of God teach that All have sinned except Jesus (Romans 3:10-12, Hebrews 4:15), while the Roman Catholic traditions claim that's not true, as Mary was also sinless.
- The Holy scriptures teaches that all Christians are Saints and Priests (Ephesians 1:1; 1 Peter 2:9), but Roman Catholic tradition has made Saints and Priests special cases and offices within the Christian community, dealt out by their Church.
- The Scriptures of God says that we are not to bow down to statues (Exodus 20:4-5), but the Roman Catholic tradition makes no such claim, nor teaches against this practice.
- The scriptures of God says that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), but Roman Catholic tradition claims Mary is co-mediator with Christ.
- The Scriptures of God says that Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which the Church rests, the foundation stone, and the Head of the Church (Luke 6:48, 1st Peter 2:7-8, Matthew 16:18), But Roman Catholic tradition claims that the foundation Rock of the Church is Pope Peter, and that the pontiff is the head of the Church, an aberration which in effect makes God's Church, a two headed Church!
- The Scriptures of God says that all Christians can and should know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13), but Roman Catholic tradition says that all Christians cannot and should not know that they have eternal life.
The Reformers understood clearly that the words of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Pharisees, applied equally to those of their day:
"..thus you have made the commandment of God of non effect by your traditions!" - Matthew 15:6
Comparing these traditions with God's Word, sadly we also understand that this practice of unrighteousness continues today. You simply cannot have tradition and scripture contradicting each other and both be an infallible teachings of God. It's Confusion! Any Oral traditions passed upon the church is subject to the written Word of God, as it has always been. As it was for the Scribes and Pharisees. To deny this is tortuous of scripture!
Moreover, if there was an ongoing oral tradition (which there is not ), it still would require a standard point of reference to check itself against, such as God speaking from the Mountain, or either the scriptures. True Christians (under God's direction ), realize the danger of Church tradition becoming corrupted by fallible men (as had been the case with the Pharisees, and throughout history), and so faithfulness required and requires a scriptural basis. Christians led by the Spirit of God, understood the need for a Final authoritative checkpoint to which every person must be subject to God. Thus the importance of maintaining God's authoritative Word became of very great concern to them, even as it had previously with the Scribes maintaining the Old Testament books. If we were to totally ignore the facts of history that there was no Roman Church nor Pope making the claims he now does during the first three or four centuries (as the foremost Church historians overwhelmingly attest ) and were to wrongly assume there was such a Church headed by an infallible pope as the Roman Church does, then this could not even begin to explain the importance they placed on maintaining the texts of the New Testament. For indeed there would have been no need to maintain them at all. One would only need to consult the infallible Pope, who, being under God's guidance would know the truth more certainly and accurately than the Apostle's written word. In 2nd Peter 1:19, where Peter said, "we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it", that would be worthless!!
But of course, true Christians do realize that doctrine and oral tradition are indeed subject to change, development, degeneration, and deviation and "therefore" require a standard point of God Breathed reference to check itself against. Scripture supplied and continues to supply this Check! By this only we can try (test) the Spirits to know whether they be of God or not (1st John 4:1 ). How would we do this without the Authority of scripture? Tradition which proclaims what is non-scriptural cannot have absolute Authority; It may have the Authority of age, antiquity or large consent, but it does not have ultimate compulsion or necessity! In short, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that any church, any tradition, or any pope or minister is equal to Scripture! Therefore, scripture is the Final authority to try the spirits with.
Can Tradition be on a Par with God's Word?
Since the Bible "is" the Word of God (as even Roman Catholics whole heartily agree ), then it's only rational and logical to profess that any other authority, cannot either contradict it, nor be on a par with it, nor be above it. I.e., there is no Authority higher than God. For who's Word supersedes God's? And no word is on a par with it. For who's word is as good as God's? Therefore, again logically and rationally speaking, in order for someone's word to be on a par with God's Word, the one speaking it would have to be God, or at the very least equal to God, or have God speak in a voice to him. The Only other alternative is to be "quoting" God from His Word! Neither the Pope, a Priest, nor anyone else is equal to God to have his word be on a par with God's Word, nor is God speaking to anyone from the smoke on the mountain today, or creating new oral scripture from a burning bush. The Bible is Complete, not incomplete. It needs no additions.
This of course is the tangled web in which the Roman Church finds itself by placing tradition on a par with God's Word. For unless something is God's Word, then it cannot be equal to God's Word. And simply saying God gave it is not sufficient for anyone to claim tradition is the Word, just as it wouldn't be for the traditions that the Pharisees held and Jesus condemned saying they made the Word of God of non effect.
True, God breathed His Word through the apostles and placed it in the form of the "Word of God" just as He did Old Testament scripture. But unless God is continuing to write his book (the scriptures) through the Roman Church, then that giving of the law through those who penned scripture has ended. If it has not, then the Pope must rip out the page of Revelation where God says don't add to His word, throw it away, Proclaim the Bible incomplete, and write down every infallible tradition he (supposedly ) receives of God and place it on the pages of the Bible, as it is the Word of God! If tradition was on a par with God's Word, then it would be God's Word. In fact, then there would "again" be no oral tradition, as it would join written ordinances! Again, the tangled web that is woven by this un-biblical dogma.
More than that, tradition can become corrupt in the congregation of God (even as it certainly had with the Pharisees in Jesus' day -mark 7:9 ), and so common sense dictates that it simply cannot and must not be trusted as the ultimate authority, as the Word of God is. It is the words and doctrines of men, often unjustifiable in scripture, and contradictory to it. Not surprisingly, scripture bears out the truth that any tradition or ordinance must be subordinate to the Word. Jesus made it quite clear that we simply cannot hold to any traditions which are not subordinate to scripture, and that teaching such a doctrine is contrary to the gospel of Christ. Consider carefully..
Clearly, and without ambiguity, Jesus is telling them that the tradition of their congregation is subject to the scriptures, and not vice versa. Any Christian doctrine which denies this, considering scriptures such as this one, is ludicrous. Jesus would not have condemned them for their traditions, if the tradition of God's people was on a par with scripture. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now!
This is a solemn declaration that every word of God is tried and pure and that we are not to add to His words, lest we be liars. This law of God is an enduring restriction on God's revelation. Holy men of old who spake as they were inspired of God, wrote scripture. Those scriptures are now complete, it's not an ongoing book anymore. As God's people, under God's care, we have the Authority of God's Word. No other supreme Authorities or institution or object is so circumscribed. Note that in Ecclesiastes, after reflecting on the vanity of life, the Preacher summarizes our basic duty as to, "fear God and keep His commandments" (Eccl. 12:13 ). We must not add to God's Word by claiming traditions are God's Word. We keep His Word alone as the Authority.
Understanding this, we therefore know that those who reject the Scripture today as the only infallible rule of faith and practice, ultimately are subordinating the Word of God to tradition by making congregational tradition and Leadership the interpreter of God's Word. It sets the words of men in the Church (no matter how faithful they may be ) on a par with God's Word, and this is a dangerous and un-biblical thing to do, for every individual is ultimately responsible for what he believes, not the Church, and not his Priest or leader. Each man is judged for his own sin. We are all responsible to study the Bible, not leave that for others to do for us, and indeed Jesus himself said,
No one practicing the Catholic doctrine of Church Authority will be able to stand before God at the judgment and plead, "..the Pope and the Magisterium or my Priest told me to believe in this or that!" There is no such excuse available to men! We are to listen to God's Word, not their word. We therefore should carefully consider which Authority is really infallible, and therefore which one we should follow. God's Word (a given), or our Church tradition.
What is the voice of Christ? Is it Church leadership, a Priest, the Magisterium, or is it the Word of God? Certainly this is the crux of the matter. And the truth is, it is Scripture alone that should be the final Authority in matters of faith, practice, and doctrine of the Church (not the only authority, but the final, or ultimate Authority ).
The Lord Jesus Christ taught us replete with examples of this principle. When the Pharisees argued with Jesus the points of the law of God concerning the Sabbath, did Jesus petition to tradition concerning it? Did he lean to ecumenical counsels? No, He leaned upon the written scriptures. ..as should we!
Again, when they questioned him about the law of God concerning divorce..
Again, as the sadducees questioned Him concerning doctrines of the resurrection. Did Jesus appeal to congregational heads or tradition? No, He appealed to the written Word.
Again, when the man came to Him and asked what they must do to inherit eternal life, did Jesus say, talk to your Priest, get Church absolution, or follow the congregational traditions? No, he once again appealed him to look to the scripture.
You see, that is where they would find the answers! In the scriptures! Again, the Sadducees, denying the doctrine of the resurrection and trying to trap Jesus with a loaded question, tempted him in hopes to snare Him. Jesus could have there on the spot given them a legitimate and awe inspiring answer without an appeal to Scripture. It is not curious that He did not, but instead, as usual, appeals to scripture. He tells them,
Once again, Jesus rejects ecclesiastical tradition of the Sadducees in favor of "Sola Scriptura!" He says (as the Church says today of error), you are wrong because you don't really know the scriptures! In other words, the scriptures is what they should have known that would guide them into the truth, but they didn't know them, thus they were in error! It was not in the Congregational leaders and traditions, Jesus appeals to God's Word!
God, the Perfect teacher, yet He is appealing solely to Scripture to show them that He must do what is written. Sola Scriptura! Again, when the Jewish people sought to Kill Christ (-John 5:18, as they thought that they were God's Chosen People and had Eternal life ), Jesus once again directed them to the real Authority where they would find the truth about the matter.
Why would Jesus be sending them to a non-Authoritative source for truth? ..He wouldn't! He directed them to scripture for the very same reason that the Bereans (acts 17:11 ) appealed to scripture. Because it (not the leaders or tradition of their congregation ) was the ultimate Authority, as it was the infallible Word of God! Reformed Protestantism understands this wisdom most evident in Jesus Teachings!
Roman Catholic Objections?
Most Roman Catholics object to Sola Scriptura from two distinct fronts. They argue that:
(#1) The New Testament references to oral "tradition" (II Thess. 2:15; II Tim. 2:2; II Cor. 11:2) illustrate the unbiblicalness of this teaching, and that
(#2) The Scripture nowhere teaches the doctrine.
Isn't it ironic that in both cases, they appeal to scripture as the "final proof or authority" that their tradition is correct? When it suits their purpose, they can always appeal to scripture (as in the keys of the kingdom, Peter the rock, translations of Mary's other Children, etc., etc.) as the final say, but when it doesn't suit their purpose, curiously, scripture isn't really the final Authority on doctrine.
Nevertheless, the first argument is based on a simplistic and naive understanding of Sola Scriptura in that it presupposes the doctrine means there was never any oral tradition or teaching done. This of course would be ludicrous, as much of the New Testament was oral tradition or teaching of God before it was written down (see the Study on "Traditions of men vs. Traditions of God ). I have yet to find anyone except catholics themselves who believes Sola Scriptura means what they purport, so this argument is the proverbial "Straw Man" argument. Things that Peter was inspired of God to say (oral tradition or ordinances) became the written "Word of God" as they were penned, just as the Old Testament was. But the Bible is Complete today, I.e., there is no book of Pope John, or Pope this or that, like there is a book of Peter or John or jude, etc. Because the Bible is Complete!
In so far as the second argument is concerned, as I've been demonstrating throughout this document, Scripture clearly teaches what has been labled "Sola Scriptura", from the beginning of it to the end. But it requires the Holy Spirit of God to discern this, just as any doctrine of scripture does. To simply say scripture doesn't teach it, despite the mountains of scriptures supporting it, is to stick ones head in the sand. With Jesus proving that what He says is true by directing us to the scriptures, it would seem that the Roman Church and Pope would likewise direct all to the scriptures. Instead, they claim an infallible authority "over" the Word of God itself, alleging that only they can interpret it. What nonsense!
It would seem to me that given the abundance of examples and illustrations of God, that the onus is on the RCC to "disprove" the sufficiency of scripture, rather than on the Church to prove it's sufficiency, because both sides agree scripture "is" the Word of God, and no other Authority is above God!
In order to disprove sufficiency of scripture, one would need to show us exactly where oral tradition differs from Scripture. If it doesn't differ, then what is the need of Oral tradition, and why does God say scripture thoroughly furnished them unto all good works? And If oral tradition is not found taught in the scriptures (because it presumably differs from ), one must then prove that that "oral revelation" which was not found in Scripture, is apostolic. Despite claims of such proof by some, no such proof exists. Therefore, they cannot prove any Oral tradition handed down through tradition of a Church, is of God!
The fact is, the reason that the early Churches of the second century were so diligent in collecting and preserving the New Testament writings of Paul, John, Peter, and others in the first place, was to guard against oral teachings which could not be checked for accuracy once the apostles had all died. I.e., it's God himself inspiring them to preserve His Holy Word, as he did with the Old Testament Scriptures before the first advent of Christ. Sola Scriptura does not mean the rejection of every tradition, Sola Scriptura means that any form of tradition, must be tested by the higher Authority, and that Authority can only be God (and thus God's inspired Holy Word, the Bible ).
False Dichotomy between Scripture and Traditions of God
The Roman church error lies in creating a dichotomy between two things that cannot be separated, and then using that false dichotomy to deny Sola Scriptura.
1 Cor. 11:2
2 Tim. 1:13
2 Tim. 2:1-2
2 Tim. 3:14-17
There is simply nothing in these passages to support the idea of a separate oral tradition different from what was written. In order to deny Sola Scriptura, we must make the erroneous "assumption" that what Paul taught in the presence of many witnesses is different from what he wrote to entire Churches! Is such an idea founded in reality? Of course not! It's rationalization by the Roman church in support of oral tradition, not proof of it.
1st Thessalonians. 2:13
2nd Thessalonians 2:15
There is nothing future about this passage at all. Does Paul say to stand firm and hold fast to traditions that will be delivered? Does Paul say to hold on to interpretations and understandings that have not yet developed? No, this oral teaching which he refers to has already been delivered to the entire Church at Thessalonica. ..Now, what does oral refer to? We first note that the context of the passage is the Gospel and its work among the Thessalonians. The traditions Paul speaks of are not traditions about Mary, Purgatory, Repetitions of hail mary, or Papal infallibility. Instead, the traditions Paul refers to have to do with a single topic, one that is close to his heart. He is encouraging these believers to stand firm--in what? Was it in oral traditions about subjects not found in the New Testament? No, he is exhorting them to stand firm in what he has orally taught them of what is in the gospel. The Old Testament concealed is the New Testament revealed. There is simply nothing in these passages to support the idea of a separate oral tradition different from what was written or what Paul taught.
Note in 2nd Peter 3:2, Peter stresses the consistency of his teaching with that of the prophets, and of the other apostles. The unity of the Old Testament with the apostolic writings is illustrated in passages such as 1st Peter 1:10-12, and 2nd Peter 1:19-21.
One example of what is known as Sola Scriptura is made plain in the Abrahamic covenant. God again reveals Himself, apart from a divine expositor, and pledges Himself to fulfill His covenant (Gen. 15). When Abram seeks confirmation of God's Glorious Promises, the Lord confirms His divine Word by His divine Word!
No Pontiff or magisterium or Sacred Tradition is invoked to verify God's Word. That's an important point not to be missed! The supreme Authority is the Lord's own testimony to His Word. No further appeal is possible. He didn't swear by the Priests, He swore by himself! Nothing else could confirm God's own Word but God Alone! Other than Himself, His Holy Word stands alone as the Supreme Authority. Sola Scriptura! Truly, what other authority is on a Par? ..or Higher? ..or Better? ..from a better platform? ..more Trustworthy? ..infallible? The answer is, None! Which is why Jesus always directed those with questions and objections to His teachings, to the scriptures. Both ancient theology endorses this, as well as the New Testament Church. As in the past, God's people may discern truth by going directly to the Scriptures: As God explained in the parable, when confronted with the question of how they would believe.
God could have very easily said, they have the Church, the Church leaders, the magisterium, but He appealed to the scriptures as their source for Authority they should listen to. Christ even tells us why people get into errors in their doctrines. It's not because they lean unto understanding of the scriptures, but the exact opposite. It's because they do not understand them "because" they don't know them!
Christ did not direct anyone to secondary explications or extra-Scriptural Hebrew traditions (though plentiful) as authoritative norms but He directed them continually to examine the Word of God itself. He says, "read the scriptures, it is written, search the scriptures, have ye not read, as saith the scriptures, that the scriptures might be fulfilled, as saith Isaiah, etc., etc." In the New testament, the exhortation to the Authority of scripture continues, (Rom. 15:4; Eph. 6:17; II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:3). Scripture commends those who examine the written revelation of God ("open minded, and more noble" -Acts 17:11) and illustrates that Christians have the ability to rightly divide and interpret scripture apart from any (supposed) infallible interpreter whether Church or pontiff (2nd Timothy. 2:15; Acts 17:11). Interpretation must come from the Word of God. As a little girl humbly, honestly and simplistically asked,
"how do we know it's REALLY God's Word, if we don't get it from God's Word?"
...and all God's people said, ...A M E N ! Out of the mouth of babes!
For knowing the nature of man, that indeed is a Good Question! Again, note the manner in which Christ refuted error. It was, "God said thus, but you say..." (Matt. 15:4-5; Mark 7:10-11) After Jesus mentioned, "God said," He then quoted Scripture. That was His manner in which He drew a clear, concise contrast between the written Word of God and the teachings of men. Let that be a lesson unto us.
1st Peter 2:21
We can fully understand the frustration of those who think Christians should listen to the Roman Church instead of God, and how it's annoying when we won't bow to that authority. But there is a very clear warning about making man the Authority in the Church in 2nd Thessalonians 2. Man must never "Rule" in the Temple of GOD! Only God can Rule (have Authority) over the Church. And God's Word is the Bible! ..so really, what's to debate?
The fact is, the only way that Man is going to stand with the righteous, overcoming in Christ, is if he has "kept" the Word of God as truth, and the word of man as error. Belief in the Word of God over man's words of tradition is what separates true believers from unbelievers. It's what separates those who can be deceived, from the Elect who can never be deceived into false Gospels. We know what the truth is because we know where the truth is. It's in the written Word from God, not the Church. The Church is the Pillar and ground of the truth, it's not the truth! It is merely the Witness of God's Truth. It bears faithful testimony to God's truth, and that's what makes it the Pillar and ground of the truth! Faithfulness to truth (which is God's Word, not man's word ) makes us as a tree planted by the Rivers of Life. God's Word is true, man's tradition which contradicts it is not! As it is written,
The truth is in God's Word, not in the words of Pontiff J., or Pastor B, or Church tradition Y, or even Tony Warren. The Truth is in God's Word. And if we don't read it in God's Word, then it's not God's Words. In determining which word has the Authority, let God be true, and every man a Liar!
Scripture declares that if you build on a foundation that is not the Word of God, and will not hear God's Word, then you build on a foundation which will crumble when the winds and the rains come (luke 6:47-49). God likens you to a foolish man. That's what God says! Build upon God's Word alone as the supreme Authority and you build upon a Rock! Sola Scriptura! A Firm foundation on the Word of God.
Copyright ©1998 Tony Warren
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