Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sola Gratia

Of all of the Solas of the Reformation this one is assuredly the most offensive to the pride of man. The sovereignty of God is, and has been under attack, for as long as man has been sinful. The pride of man wants and feels need to say that he is in control over Creation. God has shown us by his Word that he is the ruler over all Creation and he saves his children by grace alone.
Ephesians 2:1-8

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-
3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved-
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

We are saved by the grace of God alone... this is not of ourselves, but is due merely to the unmerited favor of the Lord. His grace makes us into a new creation capable of giving glory to the Lord. This is completely the work of the Holy Spirit changing our hearts. As demonstrated time and time again throughout Scripture, man when left unto himself never chooses God. One of my favorite arguments against Grace Alone is that anyone who saw the miracles performed in the Bible today would then believe. This could not be more false. Think of the Isrealites in the desert standing before the Red Sea. Think of all the miracles that they had seen performed on their behalf to free them from the Egyptians. What is their reaction? Disbelief and hatred toward God and Moses. So, was God waiting for the sinful "love" of his people to be genuine so that he could save them? May it never be! God tells the Israelites to stand still and see salvation the Lord will perform for them. How were they saved? By the unmerited favor of the Lord. Next, someone may say that wasnt the same type of salvation as the salvation talked about in the NT. Oh, but the book of Exodus is exactly that... a road map of how God by himself and for his glory saves his people from bondage. We continually see the grace of God alone is what saves through his covenants. God is the God of the covenant in that this is how he has chosen to reveal himself to his people. With Abraham, Noah, and David, they are required to do nothing for God to fulfill his promises to them. What about the covenant of the Law? Notice two things. One God saves his people from bondage (sin i.e. Egypt) before he requires their obedience. Secondly, the purpose of the Law as told to us by Paul was never meant to be salvific, but knowing we would fail God's standard he sent Christ in our stead to fulfill the Law for us. So, in all covenants God is the holder and sustainer of our lives, by Himself.
Romans 3 tells us the destestable state of mankind before we are saved. Paul goes on in Romans as his argument builds to chapter 9 to tell us that God choses based upon his will, not upon any forseen merit in us. For if there were any forseen merit in us then it would be deserved, and would no longer be grace, but he in fact chooses us when we there is no reason in us... thus grace... thus Romans 5:8.
The Amazing in Amazing Grace is that we cannot figure out why in the world a Holy God would ever take unto himself... through pain and death, a people who not only are wicked, evil, and hateful... but actively work against him.
Romans 11
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

I realize I did not cover everything in Sola Gratia... this is a blog not a book. Secondly, I would ask that responses to this refer to Sola Gratia and not Sola Fide which will be dealt with, Lord willing, next week. Finally, I trust those things I left out will be fleshed out through discussion in the coming days.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Solus Christus

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:13-18

Christ is the sole meaning of the Bible and the sole reason that the Church exists. From the moment that Adam and Eve sinned we see in Scripture that Christ was coming to redeem. The Covenant promise God makes with Abraham sees its fulfillment in Christ. (John 8:56) Christ is the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17-18) Christ is the King that is sitting on David's throne forever (2 Samuel 7:13) Christ is the fulfiller of making God our God and we his people (Jer 31:33, Ezek 37:27, 2Cor 6:16, Heb 8:10) Christ is the bringer of the Kingdom of God, the 2nd Adam, the Son of God. To Him is ascribed, all power, glory, and majesty forever. He has set us free from our bondage by taking our sins upon his back and conquering sin and death at that moment once and for all. He is our High Priest, but he only had to make one sacrifice not continual like the priests of old, or as some practice today. (Heb 9:23-28) Christ alone is our mediator. NO ONE ELSE! Peter himself declares this (Acts 4:11) In Hebrews 7:23-28 we see that Christ intercedes on our behalf to the Father, who else do we need! No man or woman, saint or sinner, could bring us better intercession than Christ Alone. All believers approach the Lord as we are now his people and he is our God (1Peter 2:4-10) Finally, He alone is whom, we the Church, his bride are founded upon. The bedrock of the Church is not in man or tradition (t or T) but alone in Christ the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16-18). May all glory be to Jesus our Lord and Savior alone, with no one does he share his title, aparabatos.
Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sola Scriptura Pt. II

One brief old comment then on to the new. I have not posted any websites into this discussion, any quotes or lists are from books in my library. I do not want to cheapen this discussion. Now to the real discussion. Traditionalism begins where adding to or removing from the Word of God begins (Deut 4:2) To subtract is to contradict or neglect Scripture's Teaching. To add places human teaching equal to Scripture which belongs to God alone (Isaiah 29:13-14, Matthew 15:8-9). This is a problem not only with Roman Catholicism, but also Islam, Mormanism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and liberal theologians. (RC's I believe are christians while the others are not) This is not to say that no one anywhere at anytime other than the Author's of the Bible have had a correct theology. It is to say that, their teachings should never be held as an equal to the Holy Bible. Augustine, Ireanus, Origen, Jerome, Aquinas (yes Aquinas), Luther, Calvin, Edwards, so on and so forth (there are others) have had wonderful contributions to the Christian faith. They, however, are mere men whose commentary upon the Bible, and help for a Christian life are much appreciated at times, but not held at the equal as God's Word. If we as Protestants held or used their beliefs, without ultimately holding Scripture as our final authority, then we would be no different than the RC's or the Eastern Orthodox which each have separate different traditions they hold equal with the Word of God.
Traditionalism has weakened the rational basis for Christian Theology, in as much as it has replaced exegetical arguments with historical/traditional ones. In Christianity ultimately only Scripture is authoritative.
Sola Scriptura is the cure:
Do not add to what I command you, and do not subtract from it, but keep the commandment of the Lord your God that I give you (Deut 4:2, Deut. 12:32, Joshua 1:7, Prov 30:6, Rev. 22:18-19.
These people draw near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men (Isaiah 29:3 and Jesus quotes this in Matthew 15:8-9)
Scripture does not tell us everything we need to know in life like how to ride a bike or how to build a house. Scripture does tell us everything God wants us to know concerning all things, for His glory, man's salvation, faith and life. So while Scripture does not tell us how to ride the bike it tells us to ride it to the glory of God "in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through him" (Col 3:17) and working at it with all our hearts "as working for the Lord not for men" (Col 3:23)
Some would argue that the Church preceded Scripture, in some senses it did. From Adam to Moses there is no clear written record of revelation, but when God gives his written revelation to Israel it stands as his covenant with his people and that covenant document is to be the highest authority for God's people, the Word of the Living God Himself. Open to any page in Deuteronomy and your likely to find a verse to obey all the commands, testimonies and judgments of the Lord, i.e. God's Law the written Law.
The New Covenenant is subject to the Scripture of the Lord as well (2 Tim 3:16-17). No human wisdom must take precedence over Scripture, by allowing what Scripture forbids or by forbidding what Scripture allows. Thus, the wisdom of men actually makes the yoke of Christ heavy when he in fact made it light. May God enlighten us to his Word, and use us for His Glory. I must thank my former professor Dr. John Frame, for his teaching to me was most inspirational on subjects such as these
Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The 5 Solas

The time has come to remember why we are called protestants, and why we broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. The reformers called into question Roman Catholic teachings based on 5 principles. Each week for the next 5 weeks I will discuss one of the 5 Solas of the reformation. The first is Sola Scriptura. This Sola has been very much in discussion over the last century. With the creation of "higher criticism" causing Scripture to be treated as any other piece of literature, to the defenses created by evangelicals and Roman Catholics to defend against them. The Sola Scriptura mantra of the Reformers was originally used as a defense against the Roman Catholic belief of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterial edict as equals. Luther and Calvin chopped the last two legs of the three legged stool of Roman Catholicism out. What is the reason for this? Do they and in turn modern day Protestants have an authority for doing this? Yes, Scripture itself is our basis for this. 2 Tim 3:16 tells us that Scripture is all we need for correction, reproof and teaching. A Roman Catholic response to this is that the Scripture is no more than another tradition of the Church. This however, elevates tradition to the presupposition or basis for all belief for the Church. This could not be more backwards or man centered, also it fails to separate Scripture from other traditions such as the Koran or the Vedas, when dealing with "higher criticism." The Protestant, God centered belief, is that we believe that not only is the Scripture true, but is our entire rule for life. Our belief is based on four simple words, "Thus saith the LORD." This response is two fold. One it answers the higher criticism arguments by saying that we don't treat Scripture as any other book, because it is God breathed. Second, it answers the Roman Catholic argument because Scripture being God breathed is above man made tradition, and magisterial edict, which bend Scripture to the whims of the day. Furthermore, many traditions, church counsels and magistrates have set down many rules that do not fit with the central theme of Scripture, which is... The triune God exists, created the whole world, and despite the world's rejection of him, Christ was sent in whom all Scripture is fulfilled to his sheep's salvation. There is much more to be said, however, I will now take comments and we shall tackle the other issues as they arise.