Summary: Taking a look at Sola Scriptura - by Scripture Alone as the foundation for our doctrines of faith ...

Please open your Bibles to Acts 17:1-15 which we will read in a few minutes.

In October of 1517 a man named Martin Luther posted a listing on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany called The Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power of Indulgences.

This was the beginning of what has been called the Protestant Reformation and out of this reformation came five foundational, Biblical, theological truths know as the five Solas.

Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone

Solus Christus, through Christ alone

Sola Fide, by faith alone

Sola Gratia, by grace alone

Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone

Today we’ll be looking at the first of these Solas, Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.

With that in mind let’s go ahead and read: Acts 17:1-15

Acts 17:11

“ Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

Which is the most important part of this verse, “they received the message with great eagerness”, or, they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”?

Do you remember the quote about the Bible by Richard Wurmbrand from several weeks ago?

“God is the Truth. And the Bible is the truth about the Truth.”

Therefore, examining the Scriptures every day to see what is true would be seeking the truth about the “truth about the Truth” or the truth about God.

In the Church of The Nazarene we have sixteen Articles of Faith and all of these Articles of Faith are based on the Bible, the truth about the Truth.

Article 4 is entitled, “The Holy Scriptures” and it states …

We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.

(Luke 24:44-47; John 10:35; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

Let’s rephrase this a little easier to understand …

We believe in the complete and total inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.

We believe that God inspired the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.

We believe that these Scriptures, without error, reveal to us the will of God for our salvation.

We believe that these Scriptures contain everything we need to know to be saved.

We believe that only what is found in Scripture is to be used as a basis for our beliefs. And, we believe that any article of faith or foundational belief which is founded on anything other than Scripture is to be rejected.

Sola Scriptura – by Scripture alone

But, the situation is this … there are always going to be influences in society that are going to want to add to the Scriptures or to supercede the Scriptures or to take away from the Scriptures.

John Wesley, the theologian, was diligent to study to see the truth in Scripture and he also struggled with how to determine whether a church tradition or human reasoning or personal experience was going to harm a person spiritually or not.

As people studied John Wesley’s reasoning they came up with an idea called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral consisting of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.

Here are a few examples of how people have tried to express these ideas in diagrams

(Go back to this verse on the screen)

Acts 17:11

“ Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

In keeping with this Scripture and others one of our instructors explained the Wesleyan quadrilateral this way.

(Using the top of the grand piano or a table set a tripod up on the flat surface.)

The piano represents God’s Holy Word, the truth about the Truth, the truth about God and the foundation on which we stand in our understanding of God and His relentless pursuit of the salvation of humanity.

Each of the legs of this tripod represents tradition, reason or experience as they relate to a person’s spiritual life.

The traditions of my church may be in alignment with the Word of God or they may be in opposition to the Word of God.

Human reasoning may be in alignment with the Word of God or it may be in opposition to the Word of God.

Human experience may be in alignment with the Word of God or it may be in opposition to the Word of God.

Let’s just look at these briefly …

Traditions …

Mark 7:1-13

The word tradition or traditions is used 12 times in the New Testament and in 11 out of 12 cases it is used in a negative light. Something that is a man made rule which is counterproductive to the Word of God and therefore a hindrance to our walk with Christ.

But one time, only one time is it mentioned in a positive light and that is in:

1 Corinthians 11:12 NIV

“I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.” – the apostle Paul

And, this verse has been used by some churches as a “blank check” to add traditions to the church which are in direct opposition to the teaching of the Word of God.

Such as:

Human traditions that take our eyes off of Jesus.

Human traditions that are never even vaguely hinted at in the Word of God.

Human traditions that will give people a false sense of a hope of eternity with the Lord but really leading to destruction.

I’m not talking about the traditions of the church such as, “we use hymnals and not projectors” or, “we hold SS before the worship service and not after” but traditions teach us that we can earn our salvation by good works or that all paths lead to the one true God no matter what religion you choose or don’t choose and no matter how you live your life.

When tradition goes off the edge of the Word of God it falls over and leads to destruction.

(At this point move the tripod so that it falls off the top of the piano)

What about the “leg” of reasoning?

Recently I was talking to Annalise who is Vicki’s niece. She had recently spent some time either in Germany or with some young people from Germany who were on a missions trip with her. We were talking about how the culture we live in affects how we read the Bible.

Now, I have heard this reasoning before regarding the understanding of the Word of God being influence by the church in which we were raised. For instance if you were raised in a Baptist church you would most likely see certain Scriptures as reinforcing the doctrine of eternal security and the ones that supported free will would be shaded in light of your strongly held belief and vise versa if you were raised in the Church of The Nazarene.

That is perfectly understandable and neither of those would drag the “leg” of reasoning off the edge of the foundation of the Word of God.

However, what the young person from Germany was talking about was that engaging in premarital sex was not considered sinful at all in Germany, even in Christian homes.

And because premarital sex was not frowned upon in Germany it was possible for them to read the Word of God through the “lens” of their culture and it was therefore not sinful.

Now, the Bible is pretty clear on this matter. Whether you’re reading the old King James translation which uses the word “fornication” or some of the newer translations that use the phrase “sexual immorality” it is clear that the Lord considers premarital sexual activity to be sinful and harmful to your own spiritual life, the spiritual life of the other person and a sin against the person whom you will eventually marry.

So, we have “reason” which, in this case, is being informed by cultural norms and we have Scripture which stand in direct opposition.

I have to tell you, when she told me that this line of thinking was actually within the Church of The Nazarene in Germany I was stunned. The idea that we would allow the secular culture to nullify the Word of God, the Bible just astonished me.

Answer this question …

"Are we to interpret (or judge) the Scriptures according to the norms of the society in which we live or are we to judge the society in which we live by the truths found in Scripture?"

If we EVER allow the “norms of secular society” to be used to interpret or judge the Scriptures, we might as well just throw our Bibles in the garbage can or pile them in the parking lot and burn them.

Such “reasoning” is from the pit of hell. God help us!

The final let of the tripod is experience. I don’t believe we have time to go into that today but suffice it to say that the same set of principles applies; if it is found in God’s Holy Word it will stand the test, if not, it will fail you in your walk with God.

I love God’s Word. I live the KJV, the NKJV, the NIV, the ESV, the NASB and any other faithfully translated Bible.

Last week I quoted from the International Children’s Bible. Let me read to you the first and last paragraphs of the translation information for the ICB.

"The International Children’s Bible is not a storybook or a paraphrased Bible. It is a translation of God’s Word from the original Hebrew and Greek languages.

It is with great humility and prayerfulness that this Bible is presented to God’s children, young and old. We acknowledge the infallibility of God’s Word and our own human frailty. We pray that God has worked through us as His vessels so that His people might learn His truth for themselves and that it might richly grow in their lives. It is to His glory that this Bible is given."

Thank God for His Holy Word

Thank God for His Holy Spirit who teaches us and brings the Word to life in our hearts

Thank God for humble, faithful Bible translators!

Sola Scriptura – by Scripture Alone

(Read these Lyrics to “Ancient Words” by Lynn DeShazo)

Holy words long preserved - For our walk in this world

They resound with God’s own heart - O let the ancient words impart

Words of life words of hope - Give us strength help us cope

In this world where’er we roam - Ancient words will guide us home

Holy words of our faith - Handed down to this age

Came to us through sacrifice - O heed the faithful words of Christ

Martyr's blood stains each page - They have died for this faith

Hear them cry through the years - Heed these words and hold them dear

Ancient words ever true - Changing me changing you

We have come with open hearts - O let the ancient words impart

© 2001 Integrity's Hosanna! Music - Lynn DeShazo - CCLI License # 1718450

Closing comments and prayer