Faithlife Sermons

The Five Solas—Sola Scriptura - 2

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Christians need a commitment to the Word of God.

Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4
Theme: Christians need a commitment to the Word of God.
Date: 10/27/19 File name: Sola_Scriptura_2019.wpd ID Number:
This coming Thursday is All Hallows Eve — better known as Halloween. After Christmas, it is the most celebrated holiday on the U.S. calendar. Seventy percent of Americans participate in the holiday in some way, and Americans are expected to spend $9 billion on this week’s holiday — including five-hundred million dollars on costumes for their pets. But Thursday is also a Church Holiday ... at least for believers of the Protestant Tradition. This Thursday is also Reformation Day and commemorates the Protestant Reformation movement that began early in the 16th century.
On All Hallows Eve of 1517, an irascible Augustinian Monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 statements to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He was protesting against the sale of indulgences by the Papacy. Pope Leo X was attempting to raise money for the renovation of St. Peter's Basilica was in Rome. Leo decided to solve his cash shortage through the sale of Indulgences — the papal remission of temporal punishment of all sins, and transgressions no matter how egregious. At that time, a Dominican Monk named Johann Tetzel secured the rights to sell indulgences in various parts of Germany. He was a regular P.T. Barnum, traveling through the towns and villages putting on plays, parading banners, offering food and popular music to draw a crowd. He would then begin hawking the papal indulgence. Tetzel even had a theme slogan: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings/ The soul from Purgatory springs.” The selling of indulgences was not unusual in those days, but what made this absolution different was that it included absolution from future sin one might commit. One German nobleman, outraged at the sale of indulgences in his community, asked Tetzel if it were true that the indulgences he was selling gave absolution from future sin. When Tetzel assured him they did, the nobleman purchased one ... then later that day accosted Tetzel, beat him bloody, and robbed him of all his money. The nobleman then informed Tetzel that the attack on him was the sin for which he had purchased the indulgence.
Luther was appalled by the idea that the Church was selling forgiveness from sin and judgment for cash. His protest was meant to be a purely academic event designed to encourage a debate among fellow theologians. It did that and more. It turned out to be the spark that ignited what history has called the Protestant Reformation. It is the dominant historical event of the last 500 years.
The Reformation was a call for authentic Christianity, and attempted to escape the medieval corruption of the Church through renewal and reform. The Reformation’s teaching swirled around a fivefold repetition of the word Sola — Latin for Alone. Those five Solas were Sola Sciptura - SCRIPTURE Alone ... Sola Gratia - GRACE Alone ... Sola Fide - FAITH Alone ... Sola Christus - CHRIST Alone ... and Sola Deo Gloria - for the Glory of GOD Alone. The motto of the Reformation became ecclesia semper reformanda est - which means The Church Always to Be Reformed. The motto reminds us that sin, and worldliness, and theological error are always attempting to creep back into the church, and as such the church must always be on guard and always be reforming.
I want to take about a month to preach on these Five Solas. Since the first one is the key to the other four, we will begin with Sola Scriptura. What does it mean and what are the implications for our lives?


1. historically, Christians have always been known as the people of the Book
2. we consider it a book not just for the theologian or the pastor, but for the layperson as well
a. it is a document that we encourage all church members to own, to read, to study and to bring with them when they come to church
3. when I assert that the Bible is truth without any mixture of error I am essentially saying that the Bible is true
a. there are three words we use to talk about the truthfulness of the Bible
1) the Bible is Inspired
2) the Bible is Infallible
3) the Bible is Authoritative


1. we believe the Bible is inspired because the Scriptures themselves maintain that they are inspired by God alone
“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, KJV 1900)
a. the word inspiration in this verse literally means God-breathed
b. through the guidance of God's Holy Spirit, the writers of the Bible wrote exactly what God wanted us to know
2. this means the Bible does not merely contain the truth of God, it is the truth of God
a. when the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, NIV84) ... that’s true
b. when the Bible says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:21, NIV84) ... that’s true
1) the Bible is completely true from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21
2) and everything in between those two verses is true
3. the Apostle Paul made it clear that the Scripture alone teaches us what is profitable
a. that is what is useful, beneficial, and advantageous for Christian living
b. among those things that are profitable to us from the pages of Scripture are ...
1) teaching — specifically Christian doctrine and especially the doctrine of salvation
2) reproof — specifically conviction of sin and false teachings about Christ
3) correction — specifically setting us aright on how to be saved and make Christ Lord
4) instruction in righteousness — specifically that we learn how to love God and become wholly conformed to the image of His Son
4. the result of all this, Paul concludes, is that the believer will become a mature disciple, fully equipped for worship, holy living, and Christian service


"and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15, ESV)
1. what do I mean by the word infallible?
a. it means that the Scriptures will do what they are designed to do — lead men and women, boys and girls — into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ
b. the word infallibility comes from a Latin word that means “unable to deceive” or “not libel to err”
1) when we say that the Bible is infallible, what we mean is that Scripture tells the truth and never deceives us
2) when Paul the Apostle writes in Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” he means “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
2. throughout history, faithful Christians have agreed that, if God can’t lie, His revelation can’t lie either


ILLUS. Martin Luther’s contemporaries admitted the necessity of the Bible, but it was Luther’s insistence upon its absolute authority which brought him into serious conflict with the established Church of his day. Luther’s insistence on sola Scriptura was revolutionary because it attributed to the Bible sole authority over all things in the Church — authority over Popes, Church Fathers, Traditions and Ecclesiastical Councils, Priests, and laity.
1. the Bible is authoritative for our lives
a. it warns us of dangerous behaviors and guides us safely through life
2. it’s a book that not only teaches us about true faith, but about true practice that grows out of that faith
a. it is the standard by which all doctrine and all Christian experience, and all Church practice must be tested
b. when we say that the Bible is authoritative we are asserting that God has the last say in everything!
“This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1 John 5:2–3, NIV84)


1. we are a people of the Book
2. that's a way of saying that we have no other source of authority for what we believe, or what we do, or how we run the church other than the Bible
ILLUS. J. C. Ryle, the Anglian Bishop of Liverpool, England from 1880-1900, was a paragon of biblical orthodoxy and one of the most important leaders in the entire history of the Church of England in the evangelical tradition. In one of his most important books entitled Knots Untied, he defined the evangelical faith. He began with the first principle, the first leading feature he said of evangelical Christianity, "The absolute supremacy it assigns to Holy Scripture, as the only rule of faith and practice, the only test of truth, and the only judge of controversy."
a. that was clarity at the end of the 19th century rather than the confusion over the authority of Scripture we hear coming out of so many denominations today
3. we either believe that God’s Word is authoritative for our Church and our lives or we don’t
a. much of the modern Church simply gives lip-service to the doctrine of biblical authority
1) the parts we like and agree with we allow to have authority for us
2) the parts we despise and take issue with we ignore
4. folks, let me be blunt ... a lot of Christians make horrible decisions in life because they are unwilling to accept the authority of the Scriptures over their lives
a. we want God’s blessings in our lives, but we don’t want His authority over our lives
b. there is not a single sphere of your life that God doesn’t has an opinion
1) God has an opinion about government and the politicians who run governments, and how we are to treat them
2) God has an opinion about economics and trade, and your vocation within the economy
3) God has an opinion about justice – both social justice and criminal justice
4) God has an opinion about education
5) God has an opinion about raising children
6) God has an opinion about caring for senior citizens
7) God has an opinion about money and investments and stewardship
8) God has an opinion about sex and sexuality, and gender
9) God has an opinion about entertainment, and the arts
10) God even has an opinion about how to eat, and how to drink, and how to dress
ILLUS. Because of his belief that Scriptures Alone where the sole source of authority for the church, the Church threatened Martin Luther with excommunication, and even death as a heretic, if he did not recant. 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 [Bible] passages I have quoted, conscience is 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!"
5. as your pastor, my prayer for you is that your conscience be bound to the authority of the Word of God


1. as Evangelicals in general, and Baptists in particular, we have stubbornly insisted that nothing outside of the Bible can serve as a rule for our faith or for our practice
a. some churches rely on creeds, but we respond with, "What does the Bible say?"
b. some churches depend on traditions, but we respond with, "What does the Bible say?"
c. some churches depend on ecclesiastical authority, but we respond with, "What does the Bible say?"
2. at our church we believe that the Scriptures are only source for faith and practice — they are our final authority
a. but let me give a word of warning to Evangelicals in general, and Southern Baptists in particular ...
b. if we are not careful, we will be tempted to abandon the five solas — not for creeds or tradition or ecclesiastical authority — but for that which is currently popular ... popular culture, popular programs, or popular entertainment
1) popular culture — the idea that if we’re going to reach the culture that we need to find out what the popular culture likes or believes and to pander to them. That usually means soft-peddling biblical authority, putting a Starbucks in your foyer, and promising everyone “their best life now”
2) popular programs — Baptists love programs. If we have an idol, it’s the idol of pragmatism — if it works, if it draws people, it must be biblical. I’ve simply lost track of the number of evangelistic programs, or church-growth programs, or strategic-planing programs that have been developed and marketed to churches with the promise, “Follow our program, and your church will grow.”
3) popular entertainment — this is the ancient “bread and circuses” philosophy. Bread and Circuses” was a figure of speech that referred to the superficial appeasement of the citizens of Rome. In church life, it means to generate public approval by satisfying the most immediate or base requirements of a populace. It boils down to popular entertainment that masquerades as worship.
6. the Reformers were totally committed to the text of the Bible and its exposition as the church’s only source for faith and practice
a. this is my commitment to you


"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4, ESV)


1. that problem is called sin
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, NIV84)
a. we are sinners, and we are sinners by choice
b. we fell with Adam in the Garden, and like Humpty Dumpty no power on Earth can put us back together again
2. in our lostness our mind, our will, and our bodies were all dominated by our fallenness, and in our lostness we relished the sins of the world, the flesh and the devil


“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18, NIV84)
1. the Bible tells us, that a man does not have to wait until he stands before the Father to know whether-or-not he is condemned
a. if you’ve never believed upon the name, Jesus and confessed that he is Savior and Lord, you are under the condemnation of God even now, and His wrath hangs over your head like the “Sword of Damocles”


1. that remedy is the righteousness of God administered though grace when we openly and unashamedly confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." (Romans 10:9-10, ESV)
ILLUS. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.
3. the Church in Martin Luther's day had all but forgotten the mercies of God, and had instead emphasized God's implacable judgments
a. even Jesus Christ was presented as a relentless avenger
4. Martin Luther and the other Reformers rediscovered the great truth of the Gospel
a. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone, for the glory of God alone
ILLUS. Martin Luther writes of a dream he had in which he stood on the day of judgment before God Himself — and Satan was there to accuse him. When Satan opened his books full of accusations, he pointed to transgression after transgression of which Luther was guilty. As the proceedings went on, Luther's heart sunk in despair. Then he remembered the cross of Christ — and turning upon Satan, he said, "There is one entry which you have not made, Satan."
The Devil retorted, "What is that?"
And Luther answered, "It is this — the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sins." And with that answer, the Devil closed his book and fled.
5. today, if you will repent of your sin, if you will believe upon our Christ and his redemptive death on your behalf, if you will pray and confess him as Lord, you will be saved
a. how do I know? Scripture Alone tells me so
We believe that the message of the Bible is the only hope for lost men.
We believe the bible is the only source for faith and practice.
We believe that the bible is truth without any mixture of error.
Luther's motto is has become our motto: Sola Scriptura—Scriptures alone. God's Word will always guide us correctly!
The question for believers this morning is “Do we really believe that God speaks to us through this Book?”
ILLUS. A number of years ago, an article appeared in Christianity Today Magazine. The author was anonymous. The title of his article was, Does God Still Speak? Listen to the first several paragraphs. “Does God still speak? I grew up hearing testimonies about it, but until October 2005, I couldn't say it had ever happened to me.
I'm a middle-aged professor of theology at a well-known Christian university. I've written award-winning books. My name is on Christianity Today's masthead. For years I've taught that God still speaks, but I couldn't testify to it personally. I can only do so now anonymously, for reasons I hope will be clear.
A year after hearing God's voice, I still can't talk or even think about my conversation with God without being overcome with emotion. That's one reason I know it was real; I'm not a person who shows emotion easily. Plus, I'm a skeptic about things supernatural. Not that I don't believe they can happen; I just doubt most miracle stories except the ones in the Bible. I've even been known to criticize publicly what I consider to be overly experiential forms of Christianity. I suppose that makes this story especially ironic.”
It is tempting to read such a testimony, and think "How wonderful. This anonymous author heard the voice of God." Isn't that what we all long for? Notice what the author writes in the first paragraph, "I grew up hearing testimonies about it, but… I couldn't say it had ever happened to me." You walk away with the distinct impression that the living God, speaking to us through the Scriptures, either does not happen, or is somehow an inferior, less exciting, less edifying means of communication. Yes, we have the Bible… We appreciate the Bible… We don't want to minimize the Bible, but wow, what a treasure it would be if God could REALLY speak to me, if only I could hear the voice of God myself.
The good news is that every single one of us who claims the name of Christ, who have been born from above, can hear the voice of God, can hear personally from God, can know God's thoughts today. Do you have a Bible? Open to any page and read, and you will be hearing the voice of God.
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