Faithlife Sermons

Scripture Alone: The Ultimately Authoritative, Entirely Sufficient Message for Missions

Notes & Transcripts

Intro

aI serve with Rodney Skyles on the board of directors of

Scripture: The Authoritative Message of Missions

Stool Leg or Baobab?

Picture a three-legged stool [TALK ABOUT THIS]
From 1962-1965, the Roman Catholic Church convened a council of Roman Catholic leaders from around the world called The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II. The result of the council was a revised official Roman Catholic statement of faith, which includes the following statement:
From 1962-1965, the Roman Catholic Church convened a council of church leaders from around the world called The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II. The result of the council was a revised official Roman Catholic statement of faith, which remains today the active statement of faith for Roman Catholicism. And that document includes the following statement about church authority:
“It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred Scripture, and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls” (Vatican II).
So, in my notes, I titled this section with two emphasized words: “the” and “authoritative.” Scripture is “the authoritative message of missions.”
So, Scripture, sacred tradition, and the Magisterium (teaching authority) are the three legs of the Roman Catholic stool of authority.
According to them, the authority of Scripture is just one of the legs. If that’s the only leg connected to the stool, the whole stool collapses. It can’t stand by itself. It needs the stabilizing presence of the other two legs.
Now, if you will, keep the wooden stool leg in mind while I introduce you to another piece of wood.
The Baobab in Africa is a functionally fireproof, drought-proof, indestructible behemoth of a tree with a diameter that can reach up to 30ft. That’s a diameter of 30ft, which means baobabs can exceed 90ft in circumference. 90. So, encircling a baobab of this stature would take the wingspan of fifteen 6’ tall men standing finger tip-to-finger tip.
Not only does the baobab stand on its own, for all intents and purposes, it’s impossible to knock it down.
The Baobab tree in Africa is a fireproof, drought-proof, behemoth of a tree with diameters reaching up to 30ft. That’s a diameter of 30ft. Not the circumference. If a Baobab was perfectly round, it would take the finger tip-to-finger tip wingspan of fifteen 6’ men to reach around the tree. Sticking with analogies involving wood, the Bible speaks of its own authority in ways that more closely resemble a baobab stump than a stool leg.
So, to stick with wood metaphors, biblical authority is more like a baobab tree than a single stool leg. Scripture stands on its own—it’s not wobbly. And it stands alone—its authority is equal to no other. No tradition. No bishop. No Pope. God’s Word is the ultimate authority in all matters to which it speaks. Period.

Authority in the Bible

But you shouldn’t take my word for it. Why? Because Scripture alone, not church tradition, not teaching authority (including mine!) is ultimately authoritative in the church. So, what does the Bible says about its own authority?
“The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” (The Westminster Confession of Faith).
Scripture is Authoritative because of its Source
Read with me the first few words of our text this morning.
“all Scripture is breathed out by God.”
More than just an origin statement, this is an authority statement. Where does Scripture originate? Where did it come from? From men? No. All Scripture is breathed out by God. Scripture is breathed out (lit. “aspirated”) by God Himself. Scripture originates in God and, as result, bears the authority of God. So, Scripture is breathed out by God. But what is it not?
“The” is emphasized because there is no other authoritative message of missions. Scripture is not an authoritative message of missions. It is, according to itself, the authoritative message of missions. It stands alone as the ultimate authority.
According to Peter, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” So, Scripture does not originate in man. It originates in God and, as such, bears the authority of God.
According to Peter, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” So, Scripture does not originate in man. It originates in God and, as such, bears the authority of God.
According to Peter, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” So, Scripture does not originate in man. It originates in God and, as such, bears the authority of God.
Scripture is Authoritative Over Tradition & the Magisterium
… Over Pastors
“Authoritative” is emphasized because
… Over Councils
… Over Tradition
says:
Matthew 15:1–9 ESV
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
According to Jesus, the Pharisees and scribes, the religious leaders of the day, had “broken the commandment of God for the sake of [their] tradition.”
So, what does Jesus mean by “tradition?”
παράδοσις (tradition) n. — a specific practice (of long standing) handed down from respected authorities.
So, Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees and scribes is that they were participating in a long-standing tradition that required them to break the commandment of God.
So, what did Jesus have in mind when He referenced the commandment of God?
It’s none other than the Scriptures. How do we know that? Notice exhibits A and B:
is a quotation of and
Matthew 15:4 ESV
For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
is a quotation of
So, Jesus rebukes both the present teaching authority and their tradition for breaking God’s commands for the sake of their tradition and for teaching as doctrines (truths of God) the commandments of mere men.
… Over the Apostles
Matthew 15:4 ESV
For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
So, Jesus rebukes both the present teaching authority and their tradition for breaking God’s commands for the sake of their tradition and for teaching as doctrines (truths of God) the commandments of mere men.
Scripture is Authoritative over the Apostles
Paul’s opening words in are, “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.” How’s that for unique authority over the church? His apostleship was not a merely human appointment. Paul was appointed directly by Christ on the road to Emmaus. So, right out of the gate in Galatians, Paul identifies himself as being one set apart by Christ. Then, just 7 verses later, Paul writes:
Galatians 1:8–9 ESV
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Despite his divine appointment as an apostle, he places himself squarely under the authority of God’s Word. If we or an angel from heaven or anyone—anyone—preaches to you a different gospel, let him be accursed. For Paul, the Word of God is the ultimate authority. It is the standard by which all teachings are measured.

Conclusion on Authority

So, what does the Bible say about its own authority? It teaches in no uncertain terms that it alone is the ultimate authority on all matters to which it speaks.
The Bible isn’t wobbly. It’s not dependent upon anyone or anything else. It finds its source in God and, as result, bears the all of the authority of God. The words in that book are the only words that come to us as the very words of God.
Threats to Protestant Disciple-Making
And I bet almost all of you agree with that statement.
Scripture is more a like baobab than a stool leg.
… Over Ecumenical Councils
Dangers in Disciple-Making

Dangers in Disciple-Making

Biblical Authority and the Message of Missions

Now, you may be asking, “What does this have to do with missions?” The answer: everything.
[TALK ABOUT PRAGMATISM—CHARLES FINNEY, SEEKER-SENSITIVE, ETC)

Scripture: The Sufficient Message of Missions

We look to God’s Word to provide the authoritative purpose of missions.
[TALK ABOUT PERMISSION RATHER THAN PRESUMPTION]
2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We look to God’s Word as the authoritative model of missions.
e look to God’s Word to provide the authoritative nature of missions.
Matthew 28:
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We look to God’s Word as the authoritative message of missions.
Third, we look to God’s Word to provide the authoritative message of missions.
Romans 1:16–17 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Fourth, we look to God’s Word to provide the authoritative message of missions.
4. We look to God’s Word to provide the authoritative model of missions.

Scripture: The Sufficient Message of Missions

So, we look to God’s Word as the authority on missions, but we also look to God’s Word as the transformative power of missions.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV
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 complete, equipped for every good work.
Read

So, What Do We Do?

We devote ourselves to the preached and taught Word. We devote ourselves to fellowship around God’s Word. We devote ourselves individually to God’s Word. As we look to and trust God’s Word to transform us, we labor to draw others into those same environments so that they, too, can be transformed by God’s ultimately authoritative, all-sufficient Word.
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