Summary: Preached on Reformation Sunday this meesage explores the concept of Scripture Alone.
October 28, 2001
On October 31, 1517 a thirty-three year-old monk climbed the steps of church in Wittenberg Germany and nailed a list of 95 theses to the church’s door. Out of that act emerged an historical movement that would be known as the Protestant reformation. That young monk did not create any new truths, but he rediscovered some biblical truths that had been lost by the church for a long time. That is the reason the last Sunday of October has been set aside as reformation Sunday.
For the last few years we have used this Sunday to look at some of the great truths which were rediscovered by Martin Luther. In past years we have examined sola fide - by faith alone. Martin rediscovered the truth that the only human response required for salvation was faith. We have examined sola gratia - by grace alone. Martin rediscovered that salvation was not based upon any human merit but was based only upon the grace of God which he bestows on those who do not in any way deserve it.
This morning we want to look at a third important rediscovery on the part of Luther and those who followed him. You could make an argument that this truth was the most important because it was this truth which was the foundation for the previous two.
It was Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone. Luther lived in an age when many additions had been made to the church in Rome. In particular Luther struggled with the doctrine of purgatory and the indulgences which were being sold in order to free loved ones from purgatory. As he searched the Scriptures, Luther became convinced that the whole practise was unbiblical. However, those who opposed him agreed that purgatory and indulgences were not found in Scripture. However, they believed that the tradition of the church and the authority of the Pope were as equally as the Scriptures. Since the Pope and church tradition said these things were true, then they must be true. Luther challenged this by concluding that the Scripture stood in judgment over the pope and church tradition.
On April 18, 1521 Luther was given the option to renounce his views or to excommunicated by the church. Let me read his response.
"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason. . .I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me. Amen."
1. The Special Stature of Scripture
only Scripture has the special designation of inspiration
Look at the context - there are going to be imposters who will come along (verse 13) - the cure is to devote oneself to the Scriptures and to the Scriptures alone.
Romans 10:17 Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ.
2. Dangers to Scriptures special status.
Contrary authorities to the Scriptures are not limited to the Pope and church tradition. Today we are just as much in danger of setting the Word aside in favour of other sources of authority. Today I want to challenge you not to be led astray by these counterfeits, but to cling to the Bible as our only source of faith and practice.