Most believers are familiar with Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” For some reason we usually stop our pondering and meditating upon that chapter, oh, right around verse 6 and then jump straight to verse 14. But the chapter does not end there…in verses 7-11 we read, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
“But those verses don’t teach ‘Sola’ or ‘Scriptura’…plus…plus…none of our fathers believed in Sola Scriptura…”
I’ve heard this type of argument, repeatedly, for the last ten years (hey…I’m a young guy…ten years ago I was a teenager!) I have found that some people convince themselves of something simply by repeating it over and over…using a simple mantra as a force field…refusing anything that would endanger their preconceptions to penetrate. It’s as if they stuff their fingers as deeply into their own ears as they can, close their eyes and hum loudly…and then turn around and say they just can’t understand the opposing point of view.
I can remember my first experience with such a person. He was (and still is) a Roman Catholic apologist. We would go back and forth with email bomb after email bomb…for years. Those private email debates ended up turning into a couple publicly moderated debates…with several hundred dollars being raised to support “pro-life” charities in our area. My frustration would come after the following pattern:
He: “You can’t show me one single passage in the Bible that teaches Sola Scriptura!”
Me: Psalm 19:7-11; 119; Proverbs 6:23; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ect…
He: “Those passage don’t teach that!”
Me: I then explain each passage…
He: “You have yet to show me one single passage in Scripture to support you claim!”
Me: “Yes, I just did…”
He: “No you didn’t…”
Me: “Yes I did, dude…”
He: “Well, you don’t have the authority to interpret the Bible anyway!”
On and on…until I got too busy and tired to continue. What can one do?
The next several posts I’d like to lay out several key passages that force us to recognize that “Sola Scriptura” is God’s will for His Church. Let’s take a look at this passage.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” What do these words mean? What does “perfect” mean? First, obviously, this reinforces our understanding that the Scriptures are without error…they are “perfect”. But within the concept of “perfection” is the concept of “completion”. For example, what does a “perfect” circle look like? It’s complete. The Word of God is perfect…it is complete. Each group under the sun that denies Sola Scriptura ultimately denies this concept. In their theology the Bible can not stand alone…no…it must be assisted in communicating it’s information to sinners. It’s the Bible…plus the Pearl of Great Price. It’s the Bible…plus the Awake! magazine. It’s the Bible plus the Pope or plus an ecumenical council. Of course none of those groups care to hear things put into these terms…but they do not believe, at the end of the day, that the Bible alone is sufficient to clearly communicated with a sinner…therefore…as hard as this might sound…they deny its perfection.
“…reviving the soul.” This also rouses a problem for these groups…they do not believe the Bible has such ability apart from their authority or power.
“The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Again…not so fast there Psalmist! You see…they must insert their group here and THEN the statues of the LORD are trustworthy. They simply do not trust the Scriptures to “make” “wise” the “simple” (the simple = you and me). They will protest, “it’s not the Scriptures which are untrustworthy…it’s fallen humanity that is untrustworthy!” And of course that is true. Here is the problem…God the Holy Spirit inspired holy men of old to record His Word…for us! They were not originally intended for sinless, unfallen or glorified humanity! No. God had sinners in mind as the intended readership…to say that humans are unable to understand what God inspired FOR THEM shows lack in God…either a lack of care or a lack of understanding. Nonsense! God knew who He was addressing and He understood their condition (fallen) and is able to “get it right the first time” when addressing them. If Christ can speak to a raging sea “peace be still” adequately He can speak to fallen humanity without the assistance of a mediating third party!
“The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.” Amen…I do no believe anyone appreciates a phrase like this one.
“The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Well…there you go again, Mr. Psalmist! This is phrase here best describes what happens when the Word of God is unleashed…as it was (finally) in the days of the Reformation. There is power in the unadulterated Bible…and God can and does illuminate eyes and opens ears when it is humbly and prayerfully approached. It is at this point that I can already here “then why are there 567 trillion competing and conflicting protestant groups all teaching TOTALLY different things…blah blah blah!” I think I’m most tired with this objection above them all…because it is a straw man…it is totally invalid because the exaggeration is so gross. All true Christians hold to the same core of beliefs…yet there does remain diversity in non-essential issues…just like the first century and a half to the first two centuries of His Church.
"The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
More text next time…