Sola Scriptura

17 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – December 2004 – Sola Scriptura – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The Cambridge Declaration

THESIS ONE: SOLA SCRIPTURAscantri20040001

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

The above statement is a good reaffirmation of what was originally voiced by Dr. Martin Luther when he, as a Roman Catholic monk, stood before the governing authorities of the Church. The following is a brief summation of that encounter:

Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church and father of the Protestant reformation, was publicly rebuking the Catholic Church for its unbiblical teachings. The Catholic Church threatened Martin Luther with excommunication (and death) if he did not recant. Martin Luther’s reply was “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning – unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, – and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me! Amen!” (1)

What Luther and the reformers who followed his lead were saying was that Holy Scripture alone was the only true and infallible guide for all Christian’s faith and practice. Furthermore, that any traditions within the Church had to have their basis within the context of the Scriptures. Traditions are valid only when they are based on Scripture and are in full agreement with Scripture. Tradition that are in contradiction with the Bible are not of God and are not a valid aspect of the Christian faith. (2)

The Reformation was at its core a fight to get back to the Bible and discard a plethora of manmade doctrines and traditions which had been increasing over the years in the Church. At this point it is helpful to begin by defining our terms so that we understand how the following term “doctrine” is being used.

The word “doctrine” in the Greek is: {did-akh-ay’} Meaning 1) teaching 1a) that which is taught 1b) doctrine, teaching, concerning something 2) the act of teaching instruction 2a) in religious assemblies of the Christians, to speak in the way of teaching, in distinction from other modes of speaking in public. (3)

Doctrine simply means “teaching.”  The question before us is what is the source of the teaching we are adhering to? It is important for us to always remember that according to the Bible there are only three sources of doctrine impacting our lives at any time. Hopefully we are building our lives on the doctrine of God.

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:22

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection: not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,   Hebrew 6:1

Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Titus 2:10

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9

The Bible speaks much of the doctrine of God and of Christ (who is God) and this doctrine is found only within the pages of the Bible, it is not found outside of the Scriptures themselves. As Christians we have no other authoritative source that we can point to and say “this is the Word of the Lord.” The Bible also speaks of the doctrine of men. In the following citation we read of our Lord rebuking the religious leaders of His day:

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to [his] father or [his] mother, [it is] a gift, by whatsoever ever thou mightiest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, [he shall be free]. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:4-9

Manmade religious tradition will always supersede the authority of God’s commandments, it is simply part of our fallen nature to attempt to exalt ourselves above God. Manmade teachings and practices may seem religious and appear to promote the worship of God but this is simply not the case. Jesus reminds the religious leaders and the crowd surrounding him of what the prophet Isaiah said regarding people who attempt to draw near to God with their mouths and endeavor to honor God with their lips, yet their hearts are far from Him! The Apostle Paul addressed the same issue of the danger of false manmade doctrine in his letter to the Church at Colosse:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ… Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Colossians 2:8, 20-22

From the inception of the Church, various false teachers, false prophets and false apostles have tried to supplant the authority of Scripture by adding their own teachings and practices in an attempt to gain power over the spiritual lives of God’s people and to destroy the foundational doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

There is yet one more source of doctrine, which must also be considered and that is the doctrines of devils. This one in particular is often the source of the false doctrines of men:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 1 Timothy 4:1-6

Expressly is used only once in the entire New Testament and here we read of the Holy Spirit stating unequivocally that in the latter times some people shall depart or fall away from the true faith in Christ and His work alone. What causes this apostasy? These individuals give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, that word can also be translated as demons.

How do demons teach? Obviously they speak through people who are open to them.  The examples that Paul cites specifically are doctrines of devils. The first one is the doctrine which forbids marriage. To this day the Roman Catholic Church forbids both its priests and nuns to enter into marriage. The Shaker cult forbade their members to marry and demanded people get divorced who joined their ranks. Other sundry cults and sects have also forbidden marriage among its members. The Bible clearly denotes this as a doctrine of devils. The other area Paul cites concerns dietary regulations. For many years the Roman Catholic Church forbid people to eat meat on Friday (I am not sure if this practice is still being enforced). Many other groups demand strict vegetarianism and some “Hebrew” roots cults demand strict dietary adherence. Obviously, Hasidic and Orthodox Jews still keep the Old Covenant dietary laws too. Any group that demands that their members abstain from eating anything that God has created to be enjoyed is promulgating a doctrine of devils.

The sign of a “good minister” is one who puts his portion of Christ’s flock in remembrance of what the Bible has taught, nourishing or feeding the flock in the words of faith and good doctrine. In verse 13 Paul exhorts Timothy to give himself over to reading, to exhortation and doctrine. Verse 16 he warns this young Pastor to “take heed” of his spiritual well being, the doctrine entrusted to him and to continue in them! I like Robertson’s commentary on this verse:  1 Tim 4:16(6)

Thus we see that according to the Scriptures there are three sources of teaching; God; man; and devils. The realization that Luther came to was that much of what was being presented as the doctrine of God was in fact nothing more than the commandments of men and doctrines of devils. He came to decry the fact that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had elevated its own traditions to a position of either equaling the authority of the Bible or even superseding it. The next quote is from a Roman Catholic web site giving their view of Martin Luther:

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) is to be given the credit for inventing the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Bible Only or Bible Sufficiency). He had separated himself from the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, and thereby so doing lost all authority regarding Church matters. He then turned to the Bible, a book as the sole source of authority. Can a book ever be a sole source of authority?

The above Roman Catholic apologist considers Sola Scriptura a false doctrine and that Luther had the audacity to turn from the traditional authority of the Pope and Roman Catholic traditions and look to the confines of the bible, “a book” the author says, “as the sole source of authority.”  (7)

This article is not about Martin Luther nor is it a polemic against Roman Catholicism (RC) as a religion. What is important to notice is that even to this day RC upholds its traditions as equal in authority with the bible and when the Bible and tradition do not agree it seems that manmade doctrines and those of demons prevail. Let me cite just a few extra-biblical traditions concerning the Virgin Mary within the R.C.C. These are taken directly from their own catechism in use today.

The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue and merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin (CCC491) (8)

 The Bible never teaches any such thing! Mary was chosen by God to be His vessel through whom our Lord was born, but she too was born in sin and shaped in iniquity (see Psl. 51:5).  She needed to have her sins washed away by the blood of Christ just as all who would be saved. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. (CCC493) (9)

No, Mary was a sinner as we all are. If she did not, then the Apostle John is a liar when he says in 1 john 1:10  “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” They teach at the time of her death Mary was taken spiritually and physically into heaven:

The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven… (CCC974) (10)

There is nothing scripturally to base this claim upon. The Bible speaks of Enoch being taken up and Elijah riding off to heaven in a chariot of fire but no mention is made concerning much at all about the life or death of Mary after the resurrection of Jesus.

…the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix (CCC969) (11)

Mary is prayed to which contradicts the plain teaching of the bible when we are told by the Apostle Paul to Timothy in his first letter to him:

For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:5,6

In fact, within the R.C.C. there is a strong movement afoot to see to it that Mary is elevated to an even higher status, to that of being the Co-redemptrix:

The Blessed Virgin Mary is to be called Queen not only on account of her divine motherhood but also because by the will of God she had a great part in the work of our salvation…..In this work of redemption the blessed Virgin Mary was closely associated with her Christ…Just as Christ, because he redeemed us, is by a special title our King and Lord, so too is Blessed Mary, our Queen and our Mistress, because of the unique way in which she co-operated in our redemption. She provided her very substance for his body, she offered him willingly for us, and she took a unique part in our salvation by desiring it, praying for it, and so obtaining it…–Ad Coeli Reginam. (12)

The entire cult of Mary within the R.C.C. is an abomination and a blasphemy. These are not minor issues that we can agree to disagree about. Teaching that Mary played a vital role in our redemption is teaching a doctrine of devils; one which reduces the centrality of Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God who alone bore the sin of the world.

These are only some examples of non-biblical traditions that the R.C.C. practices, such as the infallibility of the Pope when he makes declarations from “Peters” seat in the Vatican. Or the belief in purgatory where the partially saved sinner goes to have the rest of their sins purged away by fire. Not the mention the practice of indulgences which are still being given.

It is easy to understand why the R.C.C. took such a violent stance against Luther and all those reformers who followed him. The R.C.C. knew that if the Bible ever got into the hands of the “common man” in a language they could read and understand that the R.C.C. would lose the stranglehold it had on the souls of millions of people.

The printing of the Bible by Guttenberg in German and Luther pointing people to the Bible as the only rule for faith and practice shook the very foundations of the R.C.C.

The medieval church assumed that Scripture, the church’s tradition, and scholastic theology were identical in content. Any tensions between Scripture and tradition were resolved by the use of the Quadriga, the medieval system of biblical interpretation which recognized four levels to the truth of Scripture: literal, topological, allegorical and anagogical. Great respect for the authority and content of the Scripture could thus coexist with a theology and practice quite different from the Scriptures…When the authorities refused to acknowledge the authority of the apostolic tradition in Scripture over the ecclesiastical tradition, the Reformers loyally continued to assert the apostolic tradition against those who claimed apostolic succession. (13)

In other words when the R.C.C. was faced with their own human traditions which did not agree with a plenary reading of the Scripture they created a system by which they could make the Bible agree (more or less) with their manmade doctrines. The Reformers refused to accept this and stood with Luther asserting that the Scriptures Alone, Sola Scriptura was the only authority to be submitted to when it came to faith and practice within God’s Church. One of the most succinct statements of the sufficiency of Scripture is found in the introduction of the Formula of Concord:

Thus understanding of the significance of the confession is also stated explicitly in the introduction of the Epitome of the Formula of Concord. ‘In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of Old and New Testaments and all other writings is maintained, and Holy Scripture remains the only judge, rule, and norm, according to which as the only touchstone all doctrines should and must be understood and judged as good or evil, right or wrong.” (14)

Today as Evangelicals and Protestants in reading the above statement we might respond, “So what’s the big deal? Of course, the Bible is our only guide.” After all, don’t all Evangelicals and Protestants agree with Paul’s statement to Timothy in:

All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  2 Timothy 3:16

God has revealed Himself to us through His Word and He has given us the Bible as the only concrete source by which we are to measure every spiritual experience, doctrine and practice. The Word of god is an unwavering arbiter on all matters concerning the life of faith.

…the knowledge of god is not therefore at the mercy of human forgetfulness or mystical notions of spirituality. God has given Scripture and the church to connect the once-for-all act in Jesus Christ with the present act of the Holy Spirit, who is the presence and power of the risen Lord. God calls His church into being by the word of the gospel and by His presence as the Holy Spirit equips and empowers His people for His service. To His church He entrusts the Scriptures, the prophetic and apostolic witness to Jesus Christ, the bearer of His word. (15)

In 1860, Charles A. Hodge wrote an article on the value of Sola Scriptura in his book Outlines of Theology, the following comments come from the chapter heading “The Rule of Faith & Practice.” this chapter is written in somewhat of a catechism format with a question stated and then answered. The following citation is from question six and fifteen:

6. What argument do the Scriptures themselves afford in favor of the doctrine that they are the only infallible rule of faith?

1st. The Scriptures always speak in the name of God, and command faith and obedience.

2nd Christ and his apostles always refer to the written Scriptures, then existing, as authority, and to no other rule of faith whatsoever. (Luke 16:29; 10:26; John 5:39; Rom. 4:3; 2Tim 3:15).

3rd The Bereans are commended for bringing all questions, even apostolic teaching, to this test. (Acts 17:11; see also Isa. 8:16).

4th. Christ rebukes the Pharisees for adding to and perverting the Scriptures  (Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:5-8; see also Rev. 22:18, 19, and Deut. 4:2; 12:32 Josh 1:7.

15. What is meant by saying that the Scriptures are the Judge as well as the rule in questions of faith?

‘A rule is a standard of Judgment; a judge is the expounder and applier of that rule to the decision of particular cases,’ The Protestant doctrine is –

1st That the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

2nd  (1) Negatively. That there is no body of men who are either qualified, or authorized, to interpret the Scriptures, or apply their principles to the decision of particular questions, in a sense binding upon the faith of their fellow Christians.

(2) Positively. That Scripture is the only infallible voice in the church, and is to be interpreted, in its own light, and with the gracious help of the Holy Ghost, who is promised to every Christian (1 John 2:20-27), by each individual himself; with the assistance, though not by the authority, of his fellow Christians. Creeds and confessions, as a form, bind only those who voluntarily profess them, and as to matter, they bid only so far as they affirm truly what the Bible teaches, and because the Bible does so teach. (16)

The battle regarding trusting in the sole authority of the scriptures has been going on ever since God’s Word was written down as an eternal record of His truth. This explains the stern warning given in the Bible concerning tampering with its contents:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD.”  Deut. 4:2

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deut. 12:32

Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Prov. 30:5-6

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book. Rev. 22:18,19

Not only is the R.C.C. (and some mainline Protestant denomination) guilty of violating the above texts so is every “Bible-based” cult. Many within the charismatic movement directly violate the above Scriptures also. I have already mentioned several examples in the R.C.C. so I will briefly mention some examples in a few of the cult groups.

The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit, aka the “Moonies” have supplanted the bible with Mr. Moon’s revelation called “The Divine Principle.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka The Mormons, although using the Bible, their main focus of faith and practice is found in “The Book of Mormon,” “The Pearl of Great Price” and “Doctrines and Covenants.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own perversion of the Bible called “The New World Translation” which has been highly redacted to support their ungodly beliefs. The Children of God (now called the Family of Love) uses the “Mo Letters” as their guide. The Church of Christ Science, aka Christian Science, uses Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures.” The Christadelphians use “Key to Understanding the Bible.” All of these cults use the Bible but in reality have placed it below the interpretation and/or further revelations of the founders of the cult. The Bible is in no way the sole authority in any of these cult members lives.

I mentioned some mainline Protestant denominations. As many of our readers know there has been an ongoing battle over the use of “inclusive” language in newer translations of the Bible. This inclusive language is nothing less than deleting certain words and phrases from the original manuscript evidence the church has in its possession. Not only are these apostates subtracting words from the original Greek and Hebrew text, they are adding their own words to these newer paraphrases of what cannot really be considered the Word of God. The United

Methodist Church is one such mainline historic Protestant denominations who seek to be more politically correct and culturally relevant will also join the chorus of those whose fidelity is not to God but to the approval of fallen humanity. This “new” translation of the Bible is called “Today’s New International Version (TNIV) and is being published by the International Bible Society and is a revision of the NIV.

The 26 scholars’ statement was released Feb. 1. Meanwhile, a list of more than 100 “inaccuracies” in the TNIV was compiled by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in a daylong review of the TNIV Jan. 31. A 25-page document listing the translation objections is posted at the organization’s Internet site, www.cbmw.org   (17)

The scholars (18) who examined this latest perversion of God’s Word were no spiritual lightweights nor were they supporters of the “King James Only” debate. Sola Scriptura implies having an accurate translation of the Scripture to begin with! This changing of God’s Word is very dangerous because it will mislead some people into thinking they are standing by the principle of Sola Scriptura, when it is not God’s Word, but man’s they are standing upon. The result will be disastrous for these peoples spiritual lives because they will discover that they have built their spiritual house upon sand and not the true rock of Jesus Christ, the Living Word (see Matthew 7:24-27).

Earlier I mentioned just a few examples of R.C. traditions and doctrines which have taken away from the rightful authority of God’s Word, but within the Protestant Church there are many traditions and practices that also do not bow their knee to God’s Word as final arbiter either.

I will cite just a few that I am personally knowledgeable with the fast growing and pervasive sign-gift movement.

Although Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations pay lip service to adhering to Sola Scriptura in reality they do not. For example, virtually every Pentecostal and Charismatic Church teaches as dogma the experience of being slain in the spirit. (20) There is neither contextual biblical support for this teaching nor any valid biblical example for the experience. This teaching and practice is completely manmade. The same can be said of their definitions for the gift of the word of Knowledge and the gift of the word of wisdom (see 1 Cor. 12:8). The Bible never explains what these gifts were or how they manifested themselves in the life of the early church. The definition for these two gifts were restored to the Church by a man named Howard Carter, a Pentecostal evangelist who claimed God revealed them to him while he was in prison! (21) Mr. Carter also claimed to possess all nine of the sign-gifts. His definitions have become the accepted Pentecostal definitions from the sign-gifts. Over a million professing Christians flew into Toronto to receive the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit in the form of holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, prophetic animal sounds and movements. (22) These so-called manifestations of the Holy Spirit spread rapidly around the world and are generally accepted as being valid demonstrations of God’s power in the midst of His people, Even though there is not one shred of biblical support for any of these spiritual enthusiasms.

When I have confronted those who endorse these practices and ask them to show me in the Bible where they can be found their only response is—”Well, brother you know what the Bible teaches don’t you? And they proceed to cite the following text as support:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. John 21:25   scanbook0001

There answer is that what is occurring now in their revivals (I also failed to mention the alleged manifestations of gold teeth, gold dust, angel feathers and jewels  being manifested in revival services) are simply part of what Jesus did in His earthly ministry but are not recorded in the biblical text. That response is extremely troubling because if one takes that approach to the Bible then you can allow anything to take place and point to John 21:25 as ones biblical support.

This type of response impugns the sufficiency of Scripture. To hold to such a position is to say that God left out things (such as these manifestations) which are needful for Christian growth and a closer more dynamic fellowship with God.

The secondary response given is “look at the good fruit being brought forth in the individuals lives.” Having been totally enmeshed in charismatic extremism for many years I can honestly say that I have yet to see any benefits from these practices in individuals’ lives or that of congregations that have embraced such practices. In fact, I’ve noted quite the opposite in those participating in practices not endorsed by God’s Word. Our ministry produced a book entitled “Fruit Proof,” which is over 100 pages long and consists of eyewitness accounts given by Pentecostal and sign-gift believers who went to revival services to get the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit and instead left oppressed and disheartened. Many congregations have literally been split and the sheep scattered when the local church leaders brought in these new gifts, which turned out to be curses. Good fruit is at best subjective. The Moonie, Mormon or Mohammedan can point to members in their groups whose lives have been transformed by their embracing of the cult or false religions demands.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 3:13,14.

Paul reminds this young pastor to stick to the scriptures which can make one wise unto salvation which is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. He declares that all scripture is given by God and is profitable for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction and (4) instruction in righteousness. That by the faithful proclamation of the Bible those who hear and obey will grow spiritually and be equipped for good works. Then he solemnly charges Timothy before God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ to “preach the word.”  I believe Paul is warning this pastor not to get caught up in the latest fad or gables. (he warned Timothy earlier of this in 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; and then again in 2 Tim. 4:4). Why? Because Paul knew by the Spirit that the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine. Robertson says the following about this text:

2 Ti 4:3 – A time when . One of the (out of season) times. Will not endure ( ). Future middle direct) of ( ). “Will not hold themselves back from” (Col. 3:13). Having itching ears ( ). Present middle (causative) participle of ( ), late and rare form of the Attic ( ) to scratch, to tickle, here only in N.T. “Getting the ears (the hearing, ticked.” The Vulgate: has . Cf. the Athenians (Ac 17:21). Clement of Alexandria tells of speakers tickling the ears of those who want to be tickled. This is the temptation of the merely “popular” preacher, to furnish the latest tickle. (23)

These words of the bible fit so many of today’s Christians. They run from conference to conference, from fad to fad. As a former charismatic extremist I saw this firsthand and was guilty of it too. People went from Toronto to Pensacola seeking the new wind of the Spirit. After that they became “God Chasers” (24) from there they tried implementing the “Prayer of Jabez.” Once Jebez’s prayer grew stale the herd moved onto trying out “Cat and Dog Theology” (I kid you not) and after that failed to satisfy their itch they are now becoming “Purpose Driven”. (25)

The largest church in America is the Lakewood Church in Dallas led by Joel Osteen (you might remember him from a couple of issues ago). Joel stated in the article in Charisma magazine that people are not interested in theology…the knowledge of God. Thirty thousand people with itching ears and a “pastor” who can’t wait to scratch them.

Not only does the Apostle Paul warn the Church about the danger of being carried away from the sure anchor of our souls, the Word of God, the Apostle Peter also warns us:

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves sift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingered not, and their damnation slumbered not. 2 Peter 2:1-3

Teachers abound on both radio and television proclaiming damnable heresies and due to the biblical illiteracy of believers in the Church “many” follow their heretical teachings. Due to the heretics and those who follow them true orthodox Christianity will be (and is) spoken evil of by those outside the faith. All one must do is look back to the scandals of the 1980’s when the PTL scandal was revealed and Jim Bakker was shown to be immoral, then came revelations about Mr. Robert Tilton, Peter Popoff, Larry Lea, Jimmy Swaggart and W.V. Grant. Now recently we learned that Paul Cain is a homosexual and alcoholic and that Paul Crouch, President of TBN, may also have been engaged in homosexual activity. The various healing frauds, often lead to the death of their followers. They have perpetrated false promises on God’s gullible sheep. Over the years, people like Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, A.A. Allen, Hobart Freeman, Jack Coe, William Branham and of course, Mr. Benny Hinn have peddled false hopes and produced no documented miracles.  All of these people have literally made merchandise out of the people of God and over the years bilking them out of over a billion dollars!

Some may say that I have set up a straw-man argument by citing the more notorious peddlers of God’s Word, but this is not the case. All of the above mentioned individual are (or were) leaders within Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal. These people are the “giants’ of this brand of belief and trust me when I say the fruit does not fall from the tree regarding these leaders.

How and why is this occurring today?   The answer is very simple; people have departed from looking to and relying upon the Scriptures alone. The Bible is no longer enough to satisfy their souls. Multitudes want to experience something mystical; they want to receive an impartation of power; they want a personal word from “God” through one of the multitudes of restored prophets and prophetesses. The simple exposition of Scriptures is not enough for this generation which Jesus referred to in His own day (and applies to ours):

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: Matthew 12:39

In the latest issue of the Issues Etc. Journal, Pastor Todd Wilkins authored an article entitled “The Fad Driven Church” in which he gave the following example of a pastor being purposed driven versus biblically led:

Mark Jones has been a pastor at Metropolitan Family Fellowship in Ventura since 2004. ’I feel a little betrayed. I mean, I’ve pretty much based my entire ministry on Warren and Hybel’s stuff, I don’t know what I’m going to do now. And I can’t imagine what I’m going to tell my congregation. It’s not like my congregation is going to put up with just interpreting Scripture every Sunday. That’ll hold their interest for about two seconds. (26)

Many pastors have departed from teaching biblical messages and are relying instead on whatever the latest church growth guru is peddling. Whenever anyone teaches or believes things which are not scripturally sound, i.e. doctrines based upon the context of the scripture they are headed for deceptions. Several very popular preachers have based their ministries outside of the godly confines of the Bible. These people are claiming to have been taken to heaven and/or hell. The Bible warns us of such people:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshy mind, {beguile…: Col. 2:18

Mary K. Baxter initially wrote The Divine Revelation of Hell in which she says that Jesus took her on a personal tour of hell for 40 days. That book sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is now in several languages. People bought into her folly to such a degree Mrs. Baxter went on to pen The Divine Revelation of Heaven and most recently The Divine Revelation of Glory. These books are filled not only with outright lies but they contradict the Bible numerous times. Yet because of her alleged vision and experience she has gained an international following and is seen by many as an expert of the heavenly and hellish realms.

Jessie Duplantis wrote Heaven, Close Encounters of the god Kind, another international best selling book, available in 99% of the Christian bookstores. In his book Jessie denies he complete atoning work of the cross (we have to do some additional works when we get to heaven in order to perfect ourselves). He denies the sufficiency of Scripture and denies its infallibility not to mention teaching pre-incarnation human souls, heaven as a literal planet and a whole host of error and even blasphemy. Yet Mr. Duplantis is a regular teacher on TBN and travels world ide sharing his vision and other Word of Faith heresies.

These are just two examples of people who’ve based much of their ministry on their alleged encounters in the unseen realm; I could cite a dozen more people. My point is simply to demonstrate what occurs when people place their faith in anything or anyone, no matter how persuasive they may be, outside of the Bible.

God’s Word and His Word alone is our only guide for faith and practice. Any dream, vision, doctrine, manifestation or practice must be validated ithin the context of the Bible. If it fails this test than such matters must be avoided, those teaching/practicing them warned and if they persist in them, then it must be taken to the Church and God’s people made aware of the leaven in their midst. ♦

“IT IS WRITTEN”

Sola Scriptura,  Scripture Alone

scansolascroll0001

Copyright © 2004   Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. You can read the entire Cambridge Declaration written on April 20, 1996 by visiting the following web site http://www.reformed.org/documents/cambridge.html

2. Obtained from http://www.gotquestions.org/sola-scriptura.html December 3, 2004 Bold type and underlining added for emphasis

3. White, James R. Scripture Alone Bethany House Publishers 2004

4. Reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p 1999 software

5. Liichow, Robert Blessing or Judgment goes into great detail examining the charismatic Shaker cult and is an excellent resource for any Christian to have who is interested in knowing the origin of today’s revival manifestations.

6. Robertson’s word picture reference obtained from BibleWorks for Windows, release version 4.0.035p. 1999 software

7. Stanley, Bob, May 1, 1999. Obtained from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/sorigin.htm on December 1, 2004

8. Obtained from http://www.reachouttrust.org/article/world/catholic.htm Underlining added for emphasis

9. Ibid. 10. Ibid 11. Ibid

12. Pope Pius XII, Ad Coeli Reginam Underlining added for emphasis.

13. Uanbeck, Warren A. Marburg Revised, A Reexamination of Lutheran and Reformed Tradition. Augsburg Publishing Home, 1966, pg. 16 Underlining added for emphasis

14. Ibid p. 17 Underlining added for emphasis.

15. Ibid p. 19

16. A.A. Hodge Outlines of Theology. Electronic edition obtained from http://www.homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/aahsolascrp.htm

Underlining added for emphasis

17. Obtained from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=12653 on 12/13/04

18. The 26 scholars who have stated their refusal to endorse the TNIV include two Southern Baptist Convention seminary presidents. R. Albert Mohler. Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Semiary and Paige Patterson of South-eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, along with Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Ariz, and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society; Harold O.J. Brown of Reformed Theological Seminary; R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries; John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and Raymond C. Orlund Jr. of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Ga.

19. I prefer to use the term “sign-gift movement” versus the more common phrase “charismatic movement,” when referring to the larger group because all of God’s people are charismatic in that we have all been gifted by the Holy Spirit with differing gifts.

20. DMI offers the only book in print (to our knowledge) that deals exclusively with this and the other practices cited in this article. These books can be purchased from our web site.

21. Truth Matters has dealt with Mr. Carter in past issues. To learn more about this man you can purchase his book entitled “Questions and Answers on Spiritual Gifts

22. These are all historically detailed and biblically refuted in our two books: The two Roots of Today’s Revival” and “Blessing or Judgment.”

23. Robertson’s Word Pictures reference obtained from Bibleworks for windows, release ver. 1999 software.

24. Tommy Tenney wrote the “God Chasers” which became a small industry with follow-up books, tapes, tee-shirts, devotional guides, etc. Few Christians seemed to mind that Tenney is a Oneness Pentecostal who denies the Trinity, believes in salvation through water Baptism in Jesus name only. He can be seen on a regular basis on TBN.

25. Rick Warren has written several books around the theme of being “purpose driven” and these books have also spawned an industry around them. Many struggling churches think using his curriculum will be their salvation and result in a population explosion.

26. Wilkins, Todd Issues, Etc. Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, 2004, p. 4 underlining added for emphasis.

 

 

 

 

 





Sola Christus

15 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – November 2004 – Vol. 9 Issue 10 – Sola Christus –by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

John 1:29  KJV

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 

We are saved by Christ alone! One would imagine that this doctrine need not even be discussed by Christians because it is an “obvious” truth. Sadly, many people who declare themselves to be Christians are blind to this truth and untold numbers do not even believe such a statement to be biblically true.

Not only are people confused by what it means to be redeemed by Christ and Him alone there are currently several perversions of who the biblical Jesus is and what He came to do and what He does now for His people. Ron Rosenbladt cites several examples of these “false Christs” on page two in the following article:

“Solus Christus means there is only one genuine and saving Christ. He is not only sufficient in his bleeding and dying to save us, He is the only Christ. Today’s American culture offers many “Christs” who are not really Christ at all.  Asserting solus Christus means that a Reformation Christian rejects positions in opposition to it as false (“and therefore we condemn…”) will mention just a few of these positions.

1. Christ the psychotherapist   The is an extremely popular position in today’s evangelicalism. This “Christ” is preached as the one who can heal our inner psychological wounds. He can heal broken marriages, aid us in communication with our children, and deal with other dysfunctional situations.

2 Christ our example. Often Christ is preached as a moral example whom we are to emulate. The idea lying behind this view is that our sin is little more than confusion and that we have within us the inner moral wherewithal to do whatever should be done, once we are taught it. The “gospel” of this particular “Christ” is pure law, though few pastors who preach “Christ is you model” seem to recognize this fact.

3. Christ who gives health and wealth  Surprisingly common is the preaching of a “Christ” who always grants health or wealth to those whose faith in him reaches the level it should. Those who have watched the Pentecostal televangelists recognize this “Christ”.

4. Christ the lover   This is popular in certain seminaries where faculties recommend (or even require) students to read the supposed profundities of the mystics. The idea here is not (as it should be) that the student is enabled to critique these writings as examples of man’s perennial attempts to use inner experience as the basis for his justification before God. Rather, the student is encouraged to see the possible application of such writings to the laity in his parish. But as Luther says, mystical experience is just one more counterfeit “ladder to heaven.” Such examples could easily be multiplied.

All of the above views comprise the regular spiritual diet on Christian television and much of religious radio today. Jesus is usually presented as the One who can make your life better, He is touted as “the missing ingredient” to achieving the American dream.  I do not dispute that belonging to Jesus Christ makes the believers life better or that He is truly the missing ingredient (but not to achieving the American dream).

John the Baptist speaking by the Spirit announced to all exactly who Jesus was: “The Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.”  That is precisely what the Gospel message is all about–Jesus Christ the Bearer of the sin of the world. That means I am a sinner, and no matter how hard I try or how long I work at attempting to keep God’s holy Law I fail miserably and I must admit that I am in need of a Redeemer.

Such a message is extremely unpopular in many of today’s pulpitsThe very notion of telling the people that they are sinners in need of redemption is antithetical to church growth!  To remind people that they are sinners and that God is holy might cause psychological damage and somehow impede their escaping the myriad dysfunctions plaguing their lives. In such congregations people are simply not told this basic truth about themselves and about the glorious work of Jesus as our sin-bearer.  In other congregations people are taught that they must add their works to the redeeming work of Christ.

On the one hand (call them “group one) many people are simply not taught that they need redemption and that it has been completely and graciously provided by the Father through the death of His Son on the cross. The simple yet profound message found in the following text is foreign to them:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (KJV) John 3:16-19

The Father loved us enough to give His only begotten Son. He did not send Jesus to condemn us, we already stood condemned by our own wickedness, no He sent Jesus to redeem us from the curse of sin and the bondage of the law.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (KJV) Romans 5:8-10

While we were sinners and enemies of God, Christ died for us! Who were the sinners and enemies? You, me, the whole world. Who died for us? Christ Jesus. It seems plain to me, but it is obscured from the sight of many people.

On the other hand (call them “group two”) we find that people know something of Christ’s death for sinners but His death, in and of itself is insufficient to secure redemption on the basis of faith alone. For these misguided folks it boils down to this: Christ + works = salvation and its maintenance. This version of Christ is as damning as knowing nothing of Him at all. In fact this is another “Jesus” who is presented to people in another “Gospel” that Paul warned the Church against:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any (man) preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (KJV) Galatians 1:6-9

The believers in Galatia were being brought back under the yoke of the law by legalistic Jews. When works are added to the gospel (the Good News of salvation in Christ alone) Paul called it a perversion and those who proclaimed such heresy he declares anathema or damned. The Judizers taught that faith alone in Christ alone was not enough that the keeping of the ceremonial law was necessary to be redeemed. The Bible is clear on this matter:

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And} having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (KJV) Colossians 2:13-15

We were dead in our sins but the Father made us alive with Jesus. He forgave all (past, present and future sins) our trespasses and blotted out every ordinance of the law that was against us and took it away. When? When Christ Jesus died on the cross! How much can a dead person contribute? Absolutely nothing. Jesus triumphed over Satan on the cross (not in hell as the Word of Faith cult teaches):

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  (KJV) 1 John 3:8

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and He did so by taking our place and being our substitute on the cross.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (KJV) 2 Corinthians 5:21

He took our sins and God imputed to our account His righteousness. Our Lord bore the brunt of the curse of the law that rightly belonged to us (see Gal. 3:13) that we might receive God’s blessings through faith.

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins: (KJV) Colossians 1:13,14

We’ve been translated into the eternal kingdom of His dead Son from the former dominion of darkness. How did the Father do this? It was accomplished through the power of the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who took away our sins. We have been redeemed by His blood and by that same blood our sins have been washed away.

And it is by God’s ill that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NRSV) Hebrews 10:10

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (KJV) 1 Peter 1:18,19

We are sanctified by what, our works? No, we are made (declared) holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ on the cross, once, for all. There is no more sacrifice to be made, there is no more work to be completed Jesus has don it all for us.  Brothers and sisters receive the Gospel—

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (KJV) 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Christ died for our sins. He died and was buried and He rose again on the third day. It is Jesus from start to finish; He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (see Heb. 12:2); He is the Alpha and the Omega (see Rev. 1:11). Salvation is of the Lord:

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (KJV) 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

Jesus has done it all, rest in Him and in His work and put no trust in your own feeble attempts to merit the favor of God. I know too many believers who are like the Galatians, they begin by confessing they are saved by the grace of God, but from that point on fall from grace back into a form of “works righteousness”

By wrongly believing they are kept saved by their works. No my dear friends, from start to finish it is Christ and Him alone. Any good works we do are because of Jesus and His working in us by His Spirit. Remember the words of our Master when He said:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (KJV) John 15:4-5

In the end, even our best spiritual works have their origin in Christ and thus He is to receive the ultimate praise for them. This no doubt this is why the elders cast their “earned” crowns down at their Savior’s feet in Rev 4:10. Yes our good works in Christ are rewarded, but this reward too has its basis in the grace of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. To whom alone be the glory and honor forever and forever. Amen!!   ♦

 copyright © 2004  Robert Liichow

 





Sola Gratia – Part One of Five

3 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – Sept. 2004 – Vol. 8 No. 9 -Sola Gratia—Part One of Five

I had recently received a counseling phone call from a sister who had come out of an abusive charismatic congregation and was now ensconced in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Her issues concerned spiritual stability and in talking with her it occurred to me that if she was established doctrinally in five simple “Reformed” truths then most of her questions and issues would be solved (if she remains in her MSLC hopefully her pastor will instill these same truths into her life).

The bedrock of any spiritual life that is truly built on Jesus Christ can be summed up in these profoundly simple doctrines. In fact, I am so convinced that unless one has the truths we shall be considering in the next several issues, imbedded in their hearts they will be ineffective and unfruitful in God’s Kingdom. People who lack these essential truths will be stunted spiritually and remain infants who are prone to be tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of false doctrine that cunning and crafty men (and women) promote. The Apostle Paul warns of this danger in  Ephesians 4:14.

That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

It is my prayer that we will be no more children, but will grow up and achieve the full stature of Christ. Yet for us to do so we MUST make sure our house is built on the rock of the following five truths:

Sola Gratia,   Sola Fide,   Solo Christo,   Solo ScripturaSoli Deo Gloria

These 5 Evangelical truths  heralded after years of spiritual darkness in the Church initially by Martin Luther simply, yet profoundly mean that the Christian is SAVED by GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE, by CHRIST ALONE, according to the SCRIPTURES ALONE, and to GOD ALONE be ALL the GLORY.

Prior to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church emphasized grace, but not grace alone. Roman Catholicism and other religious sects teach that grace requires human cooperation and effort if one is to be saved.

Luther, Melancthon and later Calvin, Knox and other reformers taught and rightly so that biblically, salvation is modernistic, which simply means that a thing has only one cause. In this case Jesus Christ alone is both the Author and Finisher of our Faith as Hebrews 12:2 teaches us.

We’ve already covered the reality of total depravity in a prior issue, so I will not deal with it now. As a reminder let me state that this does not mean that mankind is as bad as he can be, but it does mean that humanity is as bad off as it can be.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that understand, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Romans 3:10-12   (KJV)

The Scriptures are clear that men and women are sinful by nature and cannot do anything to save themselves. Not only are we unable but we are unwilling to come to the light— as our Master says in John 3:19; “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19 (KJV)

The Word of God is equally clear that it is God who saves us by grace alone (Sola Gratia) through faith alone (Sola Fide) on account of the atoning death of Christ alone (Soli Christi).  Let’s consider 2 clear examples of Sola Gratia. Turn and read in your Bibles beginning at John 11

“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 40) Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? … 41) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42) And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44) And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11:14 (KJV)

The example of Lazarus clearly demonstrates the doctrine of sola gratia. There are a great many lessons in this miracle. What I want us to focus on is this simple fact: Lazarus was dead. He could do NOTHING to help in his resurrection—that was the work of God the Son, the Living Word—Spoke to the dead man and He commanded Lazarus to come forth and he who was dead became alive.

This is exactly what occurs in the life of an individual when the Gospel is proclaimed. Like Lazarus we too must be called to life by God through the GOSPEL. This is what is meant by being saved by grace alone. Turn in your Bible to the next example in Ephesians Chapter 2:

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins (just like Jesus did with Lazarus); Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.   For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them   Eph. 2:4-11 Note carefully Paul’s assessment:

1. We were dead, not wounded, not sick, dead (nekro,j, necros)

2. We willingly walked according to this fallen world’s dictates and it’s Dictator the devil.

3. We were all by nature children of wrath and thus rightfully subject to the judgment of a Holy and Righteous God.

If left to ourselves we were all headed for eternal damnation, and deservedly so.

Yet after painting so plainly a picture of depraved humanity when left to its own devices, Paul switches gears and by the INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit pens 2 of the most BEAUTIFUL WORDS in the entire Bible — “But God”. Paul goes on to give the clearest picture of sola gratia in the New Testament.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by GRACE you have been saved. It is vitally important for you to note that it is when we are dead in sins and transgressions that God made us alive with Christ. (1)

Paul’s explanation of sola gratia— “it is by grace you have been saved.”

Those 8 words should bring every Christian to their knees in thankful humility to God because of His undeserved mercy towards us in Christ.

These 8 words should forever slay any remaining vestiges of human pride because Paul makes it repeat himself more emphatically in verses 8 and 9 when he says again “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Salvation is the work of God from start to finish. If you are saved at all it is because God saved you through faith in the work of His Son — even the faith to believe the Gospel does not come from yourselves—it is the gift of God.

Salvation is not of works, lest ANY man should boast. It cannot be made any clearer, yet multitudes of professing Christians wrongly believe that they made “a decision for Christ.”  Many Protestant’s teach that unless we “decide,” or unless we “choose,” or unless we “accept Jesus as our Personal Savior” then God’s grace is useless.

To teach such a thing is a damnable lie. To argue that grace is of no avail to us unless “we do” something first, is to deny SOLA GRATIA ALTOGETHER. To believe in such a manner is to rob God of His Glory.

In closing Paul had to rebuke Peter publicly when Peter played the hypocrite when some Jews came in and Peter separated himself from his gentile brothers—Paul reminded Peter and us all that WORKS have no place in God’s plan of salvation in Gal. 2:16:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified  Gal 2:16 (KJV)

2004 © Rev. Robert Liichow

Next Month Sola Fide