Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: sola scriptura

The Mind-Blowing, Soul-Saving Bible

Greek New Testament

Sometimes people train for a career for years only to get into it and discover it’s not what they want to do. The job which once looked so appealing has turned out to be something different; something not worth the pursuit.

Thankfully, I can say that I’ve never once felt that about pastoral ministry.

Every single week my calling is confirmed by this single fact: I have the privilege of studying the Bible in-depth. Every week I study it. Every week it blows my mind. It never gets old. It is never exhausted.

Paul wrote of the Scriptures:

from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3.15-17)

That means that the Scriptures (1) contain the necessary wisdom for your soul to be saved, and, (2) contain all that is necessary for Christians to live the lives that God calls them to. Scriptures show us how to be saved, and how to live as one who is saved. All-sufficient. We need nothing else.

I’ve sometimes met Christians who are newer to the faith, who talk about how amazing the Bible is as they are discovering it in all its richness. I smile and think to myself, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’ The Bible is an inexhaustible mine of all the riches and treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Search deep, search hard, search long, search in faith and it is certain you will find him on every page.

Sometimes I sit in my office and wonder how in the world it could possibly be that God has blessed me, of all people, with the profound pleasure and duty of studying this glorious book. Since planting GFC Don Mills nothing has impressed me more than the majesty of God’s wisdom and and the magnitude of his grace as I have seen them in the Bible. I feel that I am just beginning to taste the wondrous delights that the Psalmist wrote of in Psalm 119.

In this book, like nowhere else, do we see the over-arching purposes of God for creation, the exacting demands of his justice, the longsuffering nature of his patience and mercy, the unimaginable love of a Father willingly crushing his Son, his passion for the sanctification of his people, and the indescribable holiness that undergirds every thought, word, and action of God. Here is other-worldly wisdom on display in the unfolding narrative of the history of created, fallen, and finally redeemed humanity. Here is sovereignty and power like we could not imagine in the servant who shows his strength in his suffering. Here is our God.

Of course, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that God’s words amaze us. The first thing our God does in history is speak words. And when he sends his Son into the world as his most perfect revelation, he is known as the Word of God. So of course, the words which are breathed-out by the Spirit of God to testify to the revelation of the Father in the Son will be compelling like nothing else ever written. And that’s exactly what this book is.

I wish I had spent more of my first 30 years studying this book. If God grants me more years of life, I pray they will all be spent tenaciously pursuing him where he may be found: in this book.

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** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

Denial of Sola Scriptura Leads to Subjectivism

I’ve got a Greek exam tomorrow, and the passage I’m studying tonight is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I couldn’t help but stop to ponder a few things when I got to these verses:

For truly I say to all of you, until heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one dot will not pass away from the Law, until all has come about.

A couple brief points worth noting here. (1) Jesus uses a cool little word play, ‘pass away’, that is often missed in English translations. (2) Jesus uses a really strong negation to indicate that not a single dot on an ‘i’ or cross on a ‘t’ could pass from Scripture until all heaven and earth are done away with.

So what? Well, I got to thinking this: For those who are willing to accept the basic tenets of verbal plenary inspiration and sola Scriptura these verse indicate that the Word of God is perfect, and sufficient for the needs of humanity until the end of the earth.

These verses will do little, however, to convince someone who is not already persuaded of this position. They will simply make snide remarks about the ‘Matthean community’ which produced this text. Some comments might be made about the Matthean variation from Q here or some Jew-pleasing in this Jew-oriented apologetic book. Either way, they will be unconvinced.

That’s fine, I suppose. They see it as circular logic to argue from Scripture that Scripture is authoritative, sufficient, God-breathed, etc. If that’s the line you want to take, fine, but please realize that the beginning and end of this view is subjectivism, if you want to find any good in the Bible at all.

How’s that, you ask? Well, as long as Jesus is talking about social justice or moral virtues most people are fine with him. When he’s speaking up for women and including them in his ministry people today love him.

When he talks about the need for perfect righteousness, or the reality of hell, they hate him. They say he’s been tampered with, adulterated, his words have been changed by the corrupt church seeking to suppress the historical Jesus who was just too much of a rebel for us to handle.

Hoogly. You can say that only if you take the texts that you want to take and reject the ones you want to reject. You can cite all kinds of Gnostic nonsense, text-critical trash, or church conspiracy claptrap, but in reality all you’ve done is import your own desires for what you want Jesus to be on to the text, and then let than determine which texts are ‘authentic.’

The only people who have any hope of discovering Jesus for who he said he was are those who accept Sola Scriptura. Why? Because then it’s not me deciding what issues I really believe Jesus would speak on, or what he would really say about them. I have to let the text speak. I have to honestly do business with the text that exists and somehow let that form my understanding of who Jesus is.

I start with the Bible and end with the Bible. I let it shape and conform my mind’s image of Jesus. To pick and choose verses and chapters from the gospels and the NT epistles which I will adhere to is to conform the Bible to my understanding.

Even worse, it’s to make my God in my own image.

It’s ultimately subjective.

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