Tag Archives: Sola Scriptura

“We have Christ, and having Him, we have all” by J.C. Ryle

“Last of all, if it be right to ‘hold fast that which is good,’ (1 Thess. 5:21) let us make sure that we have each laid hold personally upon Christ’s truth for ourselves.

It will not save us to know all controversies and to be able to detect everything which is false. Head knowledge will never bring us to heaven. It will not save us to be able to argue and reason with Roman Catholics or to detect the errors of the Popes’ Bulls.

Let us see that we each lay hold upon Jesus Christ for ourselves, by our own personal faith.

Let us see to it that we each flee for refuge, and lay hold upon the hope set before us in His glorious Gospel.

Let us do this, and all shall be well with us, whatever else may go ill.

Let us do this, and then all things are ours.

The church may fail.
The state may go to ruin.
The foundations of all establishments may be shaken.
The enemies of truth may for a season prevail.

But as for us, all shall be well. We shall have in this world peace, and in the world which is to come, life everlasting; for we shall have Christ, and having Him, we have all.

This is real ‘good,’ lasting good, good in sickness, good in health, good in life, good in death, good in time, and good in eternity.

All other things are but uncertain.
They all wear out.
They fade.
They droop.
They wither.
They decay.

The longer we have them the more worthless we find them, and the more satisfied we become, that everything here below is ‘vanity and vexation of spirit.’

But as for hope in Christ, that is always good. The longer we use it the better it seems. The more we wear it in our hearts the brighter it will look.

It is good when we first have it.
It is better far when we grow older.
It is better still in the day of trial, and the hour of death.

And it will prove best of all in the day of judgment.”

–J.C. Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1874/2016), 60-61.

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“Let us never make ministers Popes” by J.C. Ryle

“If a man’s religion hangs on ministers, whoever they may be, and not on the Word of God, it hangs on a broken reed.

Let us never make ministers Popes.

Let us follow them so far as they follow Christ, but not a hair’s breadth further.

Let us believe whatever they can show us out of the Bible, but not a single word more (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Thess. 5:21).”

–J.C. Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1874/2016), 55.

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“Only one book has its aim the teaching of the ways of mercy” by Charles Spurgeon

“God has written many books, but only one book has had for its aim the teaching of the ways of mercy.

He has written the great book of creation, which it is our duty and our pleasure to read. It is a volume embellished on its surface with starry gems and rainbow colours, and containing in its inner leaves marvels at which the wise may wonder for ages, and yet find a fresh theme for their conjectures.

Nature is the spelling-book of man, in which he may learn his Maker’s name, He hath studded it with embroidery, with gold, with gems. There are doctrines of truth in the mighty stars and there are lessons written on the green earth and in the flowers upspring from the sod.

We read the books of God when we see the storm and tempest, for all things speak as God would have them; and if our ears are open we may hear the voice of God in the rippling of every rill, in the roll of every thunder, in the brightness of every lightning, in the twinkling of every star, in the budding of every flower.

God has written the great book of creation, to teach us what He is—how great, how mighty.

But I read nothing of salvation in creation.

The rocks tell me, ‘Salvation is not in us;’ the winds howl, but they howl not salvation; the waves rush upon the shore, but among the wrecks which they wash up, they reveal no trace of salvation; the fathomless caves of ocean bear pearls, but they bear no pearls of grace; the starry heavens have their flashing meteors, but they have no voices of salvation.

I find salvation written nowhere, till in this volume of my Father’s grace I find His blessed love unfolded towards the great human family, teaching them that they are lost, but that He can save them, and that in saving them He can be ‘just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly.’

Salvation, then, is to be found in the Scriptures, and in the Scriptures only.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Salvation to the Uttermost,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons (vol. 2; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1856), 2: 241.

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“The external word is the instrument, the internal word the aim” by Herman Bavinck

“The difference between Rome and the Reformation in their respective views of tradition consists in this: Rome wanted a tradition that ran on an independent parallel track alongside of Scripture, or rather, Scripture alongside of tradition.

The Reformation recognizes only a tradition that is founded on and flows from Scripture. To the mind of the Reformation, Scripture was an organic principle from which the entire tradition, living on in preaching, confession, liturgy, worship, theology, devotional literature, etc., arises and is nurtured.

It is a pure spring of living water from which all the currents and channels of the religious life are fed and maintained. Such a tradition is grounded in Scripture itself.

After Jesus completed his work, he sent forth the Holy Spirit who, while adding nothing new to the revelation, still guides the church into the truth (John 16:12–15) until it passes through all its diversity and arrives at the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 3:18, 19; 4:13).

In this sense there is a good, true, and glorious tradition. It is the method by which the Holy Spirit causes the truth of Scripture to pass into the consciousness and life of the church. Scripture, after all, is only a means, not the goal.

The goal is that, instructed by Scripture, the church will freely and independently make known “the wonderful deeds of him who called it out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

The external word is the instrument, the internal word the aim. Scripture will have reached its destination when all have been taught by the Lord and are filled with the Holy Spirit.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, Vol. 1, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 493–494.

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“Read Scripture as a divine book” by Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum

“Consider what it means to read Scripture as a divine book— from God to us!

If God wrote every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter and book, then the Bible is unified. The Bible’s sixty-six books really form one book from one Author.

It’s also coherent. If we’re confuses about the meaning of a certain text, we may assume that we’re the ones confused, not God. The Bible coheres with itself and with the world in which its readers live.

It’s complete— the Bible is what God wanted us to have. If it raises questions that it doesn’t completely answer, then that must be on purpose.

And not only is it complete, but it’s also sufficient for what we need.

The Bible is perfect. There’s nothing wrong with it. Every word is good and true.

The Bible is also urgent. If God has spoken to us, then nothing is more important than for us to listen to its message.

All of these truths about Scripture have major implications for how we interpret the Bible.

We should read it with creaturely humility because these words are from our Creator and Lord.

We are to read with expectation. If we look forward to the release of a new novel by a favorite author, how much more should we look forward to reading God’s Word!

We should also read with caution, recognizing that we are inclined to misunderstand what God has written, given our finitude and sinfulness.

That means we should read the Bible patiently to accurately discern what God has said. We cannot assume that what first comes into our minds matches what’s in God’s mind.

We read and we reflect, and once we settle on an interpretation that is faithful to the text and aligned with previous interpretations, we submit to God’s Word.

If we disagree with something the Bible teaches, we assume that our thinking must change, not God’s. We don’t stand over Scripture; we stand under it in submission to God (Isa. 66:1-2).

We are aware of the Bible’s divine authorship, and we are aware of our creaturely position as readers.”

–Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum, Christ From Beginning to End (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 44-45.

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“Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ” by Herman Bavinck

“If Scripture is the account of the revelation of God in Christ, it is bound to arouse the same opposition as Christ himself who came into the world for judgment (κρισις) and is ‘set for the fall and rising of many’ (Luke 2:34).

He brings separation between light and darkness and reveals the thoughts of many hearts. Similarly Scripture is a living and active word, a ‘discerner’ of the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12).

It not only was inspired but is still ‘God-breathed’ and ‘God-breathing.’ Just as there is much that precedes the act of inspiration (all the activity of the Holy Spirit in nature, history, revelation, regeneration), so there is much that follows it as well.

Inspiration is not an isolated event. The Holy Spirit does not, after the act of inspiration, withdraw from Holy Scripture and abandon it to its fate but sustains and animates it and in many ways brings its content to humanity, to its heart and conscience.

By means of Scripture as the word of God, the Holy Spirit continually wars against the thoughts and intentions of the ‘unspiritual’ person (ψυχικος ἀνθρωπος). By itself, therefore, it need not surprise us in the least that Scripture has at all times encountered contradiction and opposition.

Christ bore a cross, and the servant (Scripture) is not greater than its master. Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ. It shares in his defamation and arouses the hostility of sinful humanity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 439-440.

 

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“An ever-continuing battle” by Herman Bavinck

“All believers have the experience that in the best moments of their life they are also most firm in their belief in Scripture. The believer’s confidence in Christ increases along with their confidence in Scripture and, conversely, ignorance of the Scriptures is automatically and proportionately ignorance of Christ.

The connection between sin and error often lies hidden deep below the surface of the conscious life. One can almost never demonstrate this link in others, but it is sometimes revealed to our own inner eye with respect to ourselves.

The battle against the Bible is, in the first place, a revelation of the hostility of the human heart. But that hostility may express itself in various ways. It absolutely does not come to expression only—and perhaps not even most forcefully—in the criticism to which Scripture has been subjected in our time.

Scripture as the word of God encounters opposition and unbelief in every ‘unspiritual’ person. In the days of dead orthodoxy, an unbelieving attitude toward Scripture was in principle as powerful as in our historically-oriented and critical century. The forms change, but the essence remains the same.

Whether hostility against Scripture is expressed in criticism like that of Celsus and Porphyry or whether it is manifest in a dead faith, that hostility in principle is the same. For not the hearers but the doers of the word (James 1:22) are pronounced blessed. ‘The servant who knew his master’s will but did not make ready or act according to his will will receive a severe beating’ (Luke 12:47).

It remains the duty of every person, therefore, first of all to put aside his or her hostility against the word of God and ‘to take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5). Scripture itself everywhere presses this demand.

Only the pure of heart will see God. Rebirth will see the kingdom of God. Self-denial is the condition for being a disciple of Jesus. The wisdom of the world is folly to God. Over against all human beings, Scripture occupies a position so high that, instead of subjecting itself to their criticism, it judges them in all their thoughts and desires.

And this has been the Christian church’s position toward Scripture at all times. According to Chrysostom, humility is the foundation of philosophy. Augustine once said: ‘When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, ‘Delivery’; what was the second rule, ‘Delivery’; what was the third rule, ‘Delivery’; so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third, and always I would answer, ‘Humility.’ ” Calvin cites this statement with approval. And Pascal cries out to humanity: ‘Humble yourself, powerless reason! Be silent, stupid nature!… Listen to God!’

This has been the attitude of the church toward Scripture down the centuries. And the Christian dogmatician may take no other position. For a dogma is not based on the results of any historical-critical research but only on the witness of God, on the self-testimony of Holy Scripture.

A Christian believes, not because everything in life reveals the love of God, but rather despite everything that raises doubt. In Scripture too there is much that raises doubt. All believers know from experience that this is true. Those who engage in biblical criticism frequently talk as if simple church people know nothing about the objections that are advanced against Scripture and are insensitive to the difficulty of continuing to believe in Scripture. But that is a false picture.

Certainly, simple Christians do not know all the obstacles that science raises to belief in Scripture. But they do to a greater or lesser degree know the hard struggle fought both in head and heart against Scripture.

There is not a single Christian who has not in his or her own way learned to know the antithesis between the ‘wisdom of the world’ and ‘the foolishness of God.’ It is one and the same battle, an ever-continuing battle, which has to be waged by all Christians, learned or unlearned, to ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5).

Here on earth no one ever rises above that battle. Throughout the whole domain of faith, there remain ‘crosses’ that have to be overcome. There is no faith without struggle. To believe is to struggle, to struggle against the appearance of things.

As long as people still believe in anything, their belief is challenged from all directions. No modern believer is spared from this either. Concessions weaken believers but do not liberate them. Thus for those who in childlike faith subject themselves to Scripture, there still remain more than enough objections. These need not be disguised. There are intellectual problems in Scripture that cannot be ignored and that will probably never be resolved.

But these difficulties, which Scripture itself presents against its own inspiration, are in large part not recent discoveries of our century. They have been known at all times.

Nevertheless, Jesus and the apostles, Athanasius and Augustine, Thomas and Bonaventure, Luther and Calvin, and Christians of all churches have down the centuries confessed and recognized Scripture as the Word of God. Those who want to delay belief in Scripture till all the objections have been cleared up and all the contradictions have been resolved will never arrive at faith. ‘For who hopes for what he sees?’ (Rom. 8:24).

Jesus calls blessed those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29).”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 440-442.

 

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