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Claims about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura originating with Martin Luther

Sola Scriptura

It is held by some that “The doctrine of Sola Scriptura originated with Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and started the Protestant ‘Reformation.’[1]  Part of this is true.  Dr. Luther was a 16th-century German monk (of the Augustinian order).  However, the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated Luther for his teachings.

 

Claims about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura originating with Martin Luther

 

A brief examination of the New Testament will demonstrate that the teaching of Sola Scriptura did not originate with Martin Luther.  Though I’m not aware that the phrase Sola Scriptura was used before Luther’s time, the doctrine was in practice before Luther.

Jesus says, for example, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think that you eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).  Here, Jesus was speaking with Jews, the people of His day.  Note that He references the Scriptures, which are the Old Testament writings.  He says that these writings testify of Him.  He says the same elsewhere, too (i.e. Luke 24).

The angel Gabriel, who visited both Zechariah in the temple, concerning the birth of John the baptizer (the forerunner of Christ), through the womb of his wife Elizabeth, and who also visited the virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus the Lord, testified to them of what was to come using the Old Testament.

The preaching of the apostles after Christ’s ascension was the preaching of Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.  Significantly, they claimed that this proclamation, and their teaching, did not derive from tradition, but was founded on the Old Testament.  They were claiming, therefore, that Christ was not only the one prophesied in the Old Testament, but that He had fulfilled those prophecies (i.e. Acts 2ff).

These few examples draw attention to where Gabriel, Jesus, and the early church recognized the origination of true doctrine to come, not from tradition or a human figure (i.e. the pope), but from God alone, through Holy Scripture (the Bible).  This is especially noteworthy, because such a claim equates the Bible with God’s Word.  This means that the denial of the Bible as the only authority is also the denial of God’s Word, from which God makes Himself known to us through Jesus Christ.  And the denial of the Bible, God’s Word, as the only authority for faith and life, leads to the denial of salvation by God’s grace alone, through Christ alone, through faith alone, all three, for these teachings the Holy Scriptures clearly teach.


[1] Peters, 2.

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The Old Testament and Christ

In St. Luke’s Gospel, the 24th Chapter, Jesus once again links His Word and His work to the Old Testament.  Significantly, Jesus once again confesses and testifies that the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in Him.

St. John the Evangelist records Jesus as saying, “You continue to search/examine the Scriptures (Old Testament writings), because you think in them you have eternal life, and those are they which testify about me” (John 5:39, own translation).  Here, Jesus is saying that all the Old Testament is about Him.

Certainly, God does make known how He created the world in six days (Genesis 1), how He delivered His enslaved people from bondage in Egypt under Pharaoh to the Promised land (Exodus 5ff), how He sent prophet after prophet to idolatrous Israel that they repent  (2 Chronicles 24:19) , how  Israel divided into two kingdoms (Judah-South; Israel-North) and was later taken over by ungodly nations, and how God promised deliverance to His people (Ezekiel 34:23; 37:23).

Through the Old Testament Scripture, God reveals the history of the world and His people.  However, the Old Testament is not limited to these histories alone.  The three sections of the Old Testament writings, which Jesus also designates as the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings are  all about Him.  They point to Him.  They find their fulfillment in Him.  They have their completion in Him.

The Law of Moses, also known as the Torah and the Pentateuch, consist of the first five books of the Old Testament.  But even beginning in Genesis (3:15), a deliverer and savior is promised and described.  (See also, for example, Genesis 12:3; 17:2 & Exodus 13:2 w/ Luke 2:21, 22-24; Deuteronomy 18:15-22; Exodus 12 w/ Luke 22:1, 7, 14-23).

These books of the Old Testament may  not explicitly name who the coming savior is, but they do indeed make known what He will do and for whom He will speak, albeit partially, though truly.  For the whole picture, we must also look at the other two sections of the Old Testament writings, the Prophets, and the Writings, and then also look throughout the New Testament to see how Jesus speaks of how He fulfills the Old Testament in the Gospels, and then how the apostles in their letters further reveal  these life-saving truths, centering on Jesus Christ as Savior of the world from sin and eternal death.

Especially in the Prophets, God reveals the coming one.  Read Isaiah 53, for example.  Allusions also abound, as in Daniel 3:25.  Jonah, too, in the belly of the fish for three days and for three nights, typifies Jesus death and burial (Jonah 1:17 w/ Matthew 12:40).  I encourage you also to read and study the Old Testament references given in connection to Luke 1:31-33 (i.e. Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 16:5; Jeremiah 23:5-6 <also Matthew 1:21-23>Writings—2 Samuel 7:12-13, 15-16; Psalm 132:11).

St. Luke, in writing the Acts of the Apostles, also testifies how Christ fulfills the Old Testament (i.e. Acts 3:18 w/ Isaiah 50:6-7 <Luke 9:51>; Zechariah 13:6.  Hosea also speaks of “the third day” (Hosea 6:2).

The Writings, too, witness the coming One (Messiah).  These include Job (Job 19:25) the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Historical Books (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, etc.).  See Psalm 22: 1 w/Matthew 27:46 and Psalm 16:8-11, 68:18, & 110:1 w/ Acts 2:22-36.

The Old Testament together mightily witnesses of the Coming One.  The individual references in the Old Testament do not give the entire picture of the Messiah as do the Gospels, but they do point to Him and in Christ they find their fulfillment.

Both on the road to Emmaus and with His disciples later that Easter Day in Luke 24, Jesus opens the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures, also to us.  His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection on the third day all are spoken of in the Old Testament.  This does not mean, however, that the three sections, the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings, all speak about Jesus in exactly the same way or give similar testimony.  Far from implying any contradiction, which is not a characteristic of Holy Scripture in any sense, this simply suggests complementary testimony within the text.   Jonah and Hosea, for example, speak of three days, but Moses may not.

I might also add that, when reading the Old Testament, reference to Christ might not be immediately clear from the text itself.  However, Christ and the Apostles, then, point to how they are.  This should not be understood as to suggest that the First Testament is in any way deficient in its witness.   Remember, Christ had not appeared until John the Baptist came on the scene, who is sometimes understood as the last of the Old Testament prophets (Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3-5 w/ Luke 3:2-6).  Rather ought we to see the Old Testament Scripture pointing to and centered on the Savior to come and finding its fulfillment in Him who died and rose again from the dead on the third day.

Jesus a number of times foretold His upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection while He was still with His disciples (i.e. Luke 9:21-22; 43-45; 18:31-34).  In the latter two references, Luke indicates that the disciples had not understood  what Jesus was saying.  Therefore, the sorrow of the two disciples on the third day (Luke 24:17) corresponds with the other disciples who were fearful of the Jews after Jesus’ death.  Their sorrow also demonstrates their unbelief and the unbelief of the other disciples concerning Jesus’ word about His resurrection three days after His death. They still hadn’t gotten it, that is, until Jesus opened their understanding (Luke 24:27, 45).  It is the same way with us.  If we fail to see and believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures center on Jesus and are about Him and our salvation in Him, the Bible will continue to remain a closed book.

 “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31).


“1 Timothy 3:2 and Women’s Ordination”

Does 1 Timothy 3:2 support women’s ordination, only declaring that it is not permissible for a bishop (Pastor) to have more than spouse, while not distinguishing between a male/female pastorate?

2006ATP.1 Timothy 3.2, rev.pdf

Hear the Scripture

Moses and the Prophets are a reference to the Old Testament. These testify of Jesus, the very same Jesus made known in the New Testament. Him you are to hear. And Him you are to believe. This the rich man did not do. And this is what the rich man was afraid his brothers would not do. That’s why he wanted Lazarus to go warn his brothers. He wanted to warn them of what was to come if they continued in their unbelief.

But to the rich man did Abraham say, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them and If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.

Jesus says the same to the Pharisees and Scribes of this day. Jesus did rise from the dead. And if you don’t believe the Scriptures, God’s very Word, so will you remain in that unbelief, for Jesus is risen, Alleluia! And yet you still don’t believe.

But thanks be to God, it is through those same Scriptures that God makes your salvation known—Jesus the Christ. That’s all we have. That’s all we’ve got. But that’s all that we need. Amen.

[sermon]

Lk 16.19-31, Pentecost 18, 2010C.pdf

Resources for Bible Study

BibleStudyResources.pdf

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