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Dr. James White on Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura is not Solo Scriptura

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.” – C. H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 1.

“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.” – J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today,” JETS 25 (1982): 414

“Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.” – R. C. Sproul

“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.” – Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?”


 

 

“Sola Scriptura” is not the same as “Solo Scriptura”. A proper understanding of “Sola Scriptura” will not lead to an individualistic, “me and my Bible in the woods” approach to Bible interpretation. Because of Christ’s gifts to the Church through the centuries, we have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. –Phil Johnson

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 14

CAMBRIDGE, October 15, 1851.

MY DEAR FATHER, —

I received your most welcome note, and beg pardon if you think me negligent in returning thanks. I have been busily employed every Lord’sday; not at home once yet, nor do I expect to be this year. Last Sunday, I went to a place called Waterbeach, where there is an old-established Church, but not able to support a minister. I have engaged to supply to the end of the month. They had, for twenty years, a minister who went over from Cambridge in the same way as you go to Toilesbury. After that, they tried to have a minister; but as they could not keep him, he has left, and they will have to do as they used to do. There is rail there and back, and it is only six miles.

I am glad you have such good congregations. I feel no doubt there is a great work doing there;—-the fields are ripe unto the harvest, the seed you have sown has yielded plenty of green, let us hope there will be abundance of wheat. Give my love to dear Mother; you have indeed had trials. I always like to see how you bear them. I think I shall never forget that time when Mother and all were so ill. How you were supported and How cheerful you were! You said, in a letter to me,—-—

When troubles, like a gloomy cloud,
Have gathered thick, and thundered loud,
He near my side has always stood;
His lovingkindness, O how good!”

I trust that you are all well, and that the clouds are blown away. I am quite well, I am happy to say. Where is Aunt? It is four months since I have heard anything from her, or about her. We have no settled minister yet, nor do we expect any. I thank you much for your sermon; it will just do for me.

How greatly must I admire the love that could choose me to speak the gospel, and to be the happy recipient of it! I trust my greatest concern is to grow in grace, and to go onward in the blessed course. I feel jealous lest my motive should change, fearing lest I should be my own servant instead of the Lord’s. How soon may we turn aside without knowing it, and begin to seek objects below the sacred office!

Mr. and Mrs. L. are well, and send their respects. Grandfather has asked me to go to Srambourne, but I cannot afford to go his way. With love to you, dear Father, and all at home,

I am.
Your affectionate son,

CHARLES H. SPURGEON

Why Sola Scriptura is Crucial to Evangelicalism

by Dr. R. C. Sproul

“The only source and norm of all Christian knowledge is the Holy Scripture.” This thematic statement introduces De Scriptura Sacra of Heinrich Heppe’s classic work in Reformed dogmatics and provides a succinct expression of the Reformation slogan: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). The two key words that are used to crystallize the sola character of Scripture are source and norm.

The Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura was given the status of the formal cause of the Reformation by Melanchthon and his Lutheran followers. The formal cause was distinguished from the material cause of Sola Fide (by faith alone). Though the chief theological issue of the Reformation was the question of the matter of justification, the controversy touched heavily on the underlying question of authority. As is usually the case in theological controversy, the issue of ultimate authority lurked in the background (though it was by no means hidden or obscure) of Luther’s struggle with Rome over justification. The question of the source of Luther’s doctrine and the normative authority by which it was to be judged was vital to his cause.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Download part of the book ‘Scripture Alone’ as a Pdf.

SOLA SCRIPTURA: The Sufficiency of Scripture

By Dr. Rowland Ward

Part 1

From The Presbyterian Banner: July, 1996.

The following are notes by Dr. Ward for his debate with
Roman Catholic apologist, Mr Patrick Madrid in June, 1996.

 

(A) THE QUESTION: AUTHORITY

Our subject is a large one and we can hardly give adequate coverage in the time allowed, but hopefully the main points can be addressed. For the purpose of this debate the question is not ‘Does Scripture contain in one form or another all that is necessary to salvation? [material sufficiency], for on this I understand Mr Madrid and I are agreed, but ‘Is Scripture a sufficient and final court of appeal in matters of faith or morals?’ [formal sufficiency]. Fundamentally, therefore, we are dealing with the question of authority in regard to the Christian faith.
Roman Catholic position

The Roman Catholic position is that the Church is the custodian of revelation whether in the form of oral teaching or written Scripture and that the Church has an infallible teaching authority or magisterium which is essential in order for us to know both what writings are Scripture and the correct interpretation of their content.
Thus, in the words of Vatican II document Dei Verbum (1965):

“Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. Sacred Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. Thus it comes about that the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scripture alone. Hence both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal feelings of devotion and reverence… Sacred tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit, which is entrusted to the Church… But the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone…Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it…. It is clear, therefore, that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others…'[1]”
Although this is not an infallible declaration it reflects much of what was said by the Council of Trent in 1546, which is regarded as infallible. Today also, in current exegetical work by Roman Catholics, it is abundantly clear that dogma as defined in Sacred Tradition is what binds and not Scripture in its simplicity.

 

The Protestant position

The historic Protestant position does not say that right reason and the historical witness of the believing community are irrelevant to identifying what books are Scripture, any more than it teaches that grammatical knowledge and background information from archaeology or history or the believing community are of no value in assisting in interpreting Scripture correctly. But it affirms that:

1. the Word God spoke through apostles and prophets and intended for the direction of his church is now found only in sacred Scripture,

2. the teaching of Scripture is sufficiently clear on the main things so as to be able to make ordinary people wise for salvation and to equip for every good work,

3. ultimate certainty as to the authority of the Word of God written comes from the witness of the Spirit of God in the believer’s heart, and

4. Scripture is a sufficient and final court of appeal in matters of faith and morals.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Wednesday Word: Butter, Water and Sovereign Grace

What does Sovereign Grace mean? Sovereign Grace is the combination of two of God’s attributes, Sovereignty and Graciousness.

When we say that God is sovereign, we mean that He has total and entire control of all things past, present and future. When we say He has total and entire control, we mean that He is the absolute King. When we say He is the absolute King, we mean that He is in charge. Sovereignty means that no one elected Him to office; that means, no one voted Him in and no one can vote Him out. No one can stop His purposes or forbid Him from acting. He is the absolute and omnipotent ruler of the universe.

Sovereignty means that all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, ‘What are you doing?’ (Daniel 4:35).

But God is not only Sovereign, He is also gracious. When we say that God is gracious, we mean that He gives His favour to those who deserve the exact opposite. Mary found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Luke 1:28). This means that she was chosen to have the undeserved privilege of bearing the Lord. She may indeed have been a godly young woman, but by her own admission, she needed a saviour (Luke 1:47). Only sinners need saviours! She was, therefore, the recipient of God’s grace. As believers, we too are the beneficiaries of God’s grace. The Scriptures boldly declare, “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).

He gives his grace to those whom he wishes to give His grace. Grace is not given to any who deserve grace…if that were the case then salvation wouldn’t be by grace. But when God acts, he does so in His almighty sovereignty. As He saves sinners, he does so by sovereign grace. Here’s something we all must learn, all grace is sovereign. If grace is not sovereign then it is not grace.

John 1:17 tells us that “Grace and truth came by Christ Jesus.” No permission was sought by the Father to send grace in the person of Christ Jesus. Furthermore, no permission is sought by the Lord to save anyone for we read in Acts 15:11, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.”

Sovereignty and grace go together; one is implied in the other. It’s like butter. My good friend, Mark Webb, drew my attention to the fact that, in the States, there is a company that advertises Country Butter. But, he pointed out, there’s no need to say ‘country’ butter since all butter is from the country.

Mark is right! I’ve not yet eaten City Butter. Indeed, in the USA, I’ve not encountered dairy farms or herds of milk cows in the midst of an urban setting. All butter is county butter and all grace is sovereign.

Likewise with water, water is wet. If we are in a restaurant and ask for a glass of water, we have no need to ask the server if the water is wet. All water is wet. I have never yet had a glass of dry water. Likewise, all grace is sovereign. If it’s not sovereign, it’s not grace. Butter is country, water is wet and grace is sovereign.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The heathen error of placing angels on the throne of God refuted (continued)

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Refutation continued.
2. By inferences from other passages. Why God employs the ministry of angels.

11. This danger we will happily avoid, if we consider why it is that Gods instead of acting directly without their agency, is wont to employ it in manifesting his power, providing for the safety of his people, and imparting the gifts of his beneficence. This he certainly does not from necessity, as if he were unable to dispense with them. Whenever he pleases, he passes them by, and performs his own work by a single nod: so far are they from relieving him of any difficulty. Therefore, when he employs them it is as a help to our weakness, that nothing may be wanting to elevate our hopes or strengthen our confidence. It ought, indeed, to be sufficient for us that the Lord declares himself to be our protector. But when we see ourselves beset by so many perils, so many injuries, so many kinds of enemies, such is our frailty and effeminacy, that we might at times be filled with alarm, or driven to despair, did not the Lord proclaim his gracious presence by some means in accordance with our feeble capacities.

For this reason, he not only promises to take care of us, but assures us that he has numberless attendants, to whom he has committed the charge of our safety, that whatever dangers may impend, so long as we are encircled by their protection and guardianship, we are placed beyond all hazard of evil. I admit that after we have a simple assurance of the divine protection, it is improper in us still to look round for help. But since for this our weakness the Lord is pleased, in his infinite goodness and indulgence, to provide, it would ill become us to overlook the favor. Of this we have an example in the servant of Elisha, (2 Kings 6:17,) who, seeing the mountain encompassed by the army of the Assyrians, and no means of escape, was completely overcome with terror, and thought it all over with himself and his master. Then Elisha prayed to God to open the eyes of the servant, who forthwith beheld the mountain filled with horses and chariots of fire; in other words, with a multitude of angels, to whom he and the prophet had been given in charge. Confirmed by the vision he received courage, and could boldly defy the enemy, whose appearance previously filled him with dismay.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 14-Henry Beveridge Translation

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