05 - V. Faith in Scripture
16 June, 2002 AM
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City Mt.
V. The Sufficiency and Full Authority
Of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation
Ps. 19:7; Matt. 5:17-19; 22:37-40; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; 5:46; 17:17; Acts 17:11;
Rom. 15:4; 16:26; 2 Cor. 1:20; Gal. 1:8; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21
The children in a prominent family decided to give their father a book of the family’s history for a father’s day present. They commissioned a professional biographer to do the work, carefully warning him of the family’s “black sheep” problem: Uncle George had been executed in the electric chair for murder. The biographer assured the children, “I can handle that situation so that there will be no embarrassment. I’ll merely say that Uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution. He was attached to his position by the strongest of ties and his death came as a real shock.”
Isn’t it funny how we do try to hide those “black sheep” in our families, but the greatest book ever written does not? The Bible gives us all the good and the bad, the good people and the bad people, those that listen to God and those that do not listen, those that follow Jesus after meeting Him and never seem to falter, and those that deny Him after His arrest – it hides nothing. To me, knowing that these are God’s Words and that they hide nothing, makes the Scriptures very trustworthy.
In the Discipline of the Wesleyan Church, the fifth article of religion is “The Sufficiency and Full Authority of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation”. I want to stop right there with the title – We believe in the Sufficiency of the Scriptures – in other words, we believe in their completeness, nothing needs to be added and nothing needs to be taken away. We believe that they are the complete and full authority of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation. Everything we need to know about Salvation can be found in the Scriptures – mankind does not need to add anything to them – they are complete and trustworthy.
Article five says: We believe that the books of the Old and New Testaments constitute the Holy Scriptures. They are the inspired and infallibly written Word of God, fully inerrant in their original manuscripts and superior to all human authority, and have been transmitted to the present without corruption of any essential doctrine. We believe that they contain all things necessary to salvation; so that whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man or woman that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. Both in the Old and New Testaments life is offered ultimately through Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and humanity. The New Testament, teaches Christians how to fulfill the moral principles of the Old Testament, calling for loving obedience to God made possible by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit.
The canonical books of the Old Testament are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. (These are the only books quoted in the rest of the Bible – these are the only books that Jesus quotes).
The canonical books of the New Testament are: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, 1,2&3rd John, Jude and Revelation. (Discipline)
This article of religion says a lot and I am going to try to get through as much of this as I can. We believe that the books of the Old and New Testaments constitute the Holy Scriptures. They are the inspired and infallibly written Word of God, fully inerrant in their original manuscripts and superior to all human authority, and have been transmitted to the present without corruption of any essential doctrine.
I am not going to go into how the Bible was canonized, or how it was decided which books would be included in our present Bible – that’s a great study, but we don’t have the time – but we are going to look at Scripture that backs up everything else that we believe in this article. The first Scripture we are going to look at is Psalm 19:7, which says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” I like the King James says this better, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Normally when we say the law of the Lord, we are talking about the first five books of the Bible – and here we are told that the first five books are Perfect!! That means they don’t have to be added to or taken away from. But this verse goes on and says that the “testimony of the Lord is sure” – this means that the witness, or the completeness of everything that is written is sure or true, and that if we use it and obey it and apply it to our lives, it can make us wise.
Many people say that this sounds good, but, surly, what we have in written form today is not the same thing that Moses or Isaiah wrote. And in Jesus’ day, there were those that thought He came to do away with what was written in the Old Testament, but that is not the case. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:17-19,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Here again, the NIV says, “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law”, and the King James says, “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law”. What both of these are saying is this, not even the smallest of marks will be deleted from the Law of God – until everything is accomplished. A jot or tittle in Hebrew writing is so small that it looks like a speck on the paper – and yet – it means a great deal and has great meaning.
Now I want to touch on a subject that is very sensitive – we have people who believe that there is a version of the Bible that is greater than another – I want you to keep in mind what this article of religion says, “we believe that the Scriptures – have been transmitted to the present without corruption of any essential doctrine.” The wording may change but the doctrine is the same – the King James is just as right as the NIV as is the NRSV. The only thing that has changed in these versions is the wording – if I were to walk back to the children’s church and ask the oldest kid there what a jot was in the Hebrew writing – first of all they might not even know what Hebrew writing is – but chances are very good that they would not know what a jot was. But if I asked that same child, what the smallest letter in our alphabet was they would have some sort of idea. And if I was to quote to them this passage, and say, “not the least stroke of a pen” they might think about a comma, or maybe the dotting of the “i” without that dot, it might possibly be an “l”. But the method for salvation is the same in the King James, as it is in the New Century Bible an it is in the Greek. So we need to stop getting hung up on the small things – such as wordings and remember the important thing – that “we believe that they (the Scriptures) contain all things necessary to salvation; so that what ever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man or woman that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
What does this mean? It means that if you can not find it in Scripture, don’t tell people that they need to do it to be saved. There is nothing in Scripture that says, you must do good works to be saved and the more good works you, the greater your prize in heaven. What the Scriptures do say is that we will want to do good works because of the Love we have for God, His Son and our fellow mankind. If it is not in the Scriptures, it is not required of us and should not be believed by us to be an article of faith or necessary for salvation.
What we have right here is complete in its current form – it did not have to have Joseph Smith add to it, nor does it say you need to follow Jim Jones and set up a commune way from society – as a matter of fact this Bible tells us that even though we are in this world, we are not of it – we don’t need to hide ourselves – we need to read and trust the words that God has given us.
We believe that in Both in the Old and New Testaments life is offered ultimately through Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and humanity. The New Testament, teaches Christians how to fulfill the moral principles of the Old Testament, calling for loving obedience to God made possible by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament constantly pointed towards Jesus but it wasn’t really until the New Testament writers wrote that we were able to see that. In John 1:45, we have these words, “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’” Jesus even says in John 5:46, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” Jesus even showed His disciples what the Scriptures said about Him, in Luke 24, verse 27 we have these words, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Many times people will say, well, how did the disciples know that Moses was talking about Jesus when he said such and such – this passage tells us that Jesus, Himself told them and explained to them what the Scriptures were saying.
There is much, much more we can learn from this article and from the Scriptures it references, but we just don’t have the time today. We believe that the Scriptures are God inspired – that they are complete – that nothing has changed doctrinally since they were first written down – even with all the different translations – we believe that the Old and New Testaments show that life is offered through Jesus Christ and Him alone, and that they teach us how to live in world that is so corrupt – and live in a way that is pleasing to God and shows others the kind of love He has for us. Romans 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Nothing has changed – that is as true today as it was when Paul wrote it many, many years ago. So go from here today, knowing that our Bible is still the Word of God and that it still speaks to our souls.