“Let the nations know that Thy Name is Jehovah; Thou alone art the Most High over all the earth.” How is that prayer fulfilled? When we go outside, do we see God’s Name written on the trees or the clouds? Do we hear the thunder or lightning speaking His Name, or animals praying to Him? No we don’t. The last day is not here yet, and the world pays no attention to God. So how does He answer Psalm 83’s prayer?
Last Sunday we introduced Pre-Lent’s theme, the solas of the Reformation: sola gratia, sola fide, sola Scriptura – by grace alone, by faith alone, by Scripture alone. We learned we are saved by grace alone. Only God’s grace, His loving-kindness, can rescue us from the eternal pangs of hell. Only His grace can rescue us from sin. Only His grace can give us eternal life. His grace is pictured to us so clearly by the crucifix: Christ hanging dead upon His Cross – dead not because Rome killed Him, but because He wanted to die “for us men and for our salvation.”
Today we take up another sola. You might think at first our topic is “by faith alone.” After all, we heard only some of the sown seed produced faith. But that is next Sunday’s focus – for it is by faith alone that we trust that Jesus died and rose for us. It was by faith alone that Bartimaeus was healed and saved, for he believed Jesus could heal him. It is by faith alone that we ever walk with Jesus through this life into death and then into the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Today the focus is not the ground the seed fell on. The seed was going to work. No seed is different from another. Some of it fell on a road and was trampled and eaten. That wasn’t the seed’s fault. Some of it fell on a rock and the plant couldn’t last because it couldn’t make roots to get moisture because it got distracted. Some of it fell among thorn bushes so the new plants got choked with cares and pleasures and riches. Some fell on good ground and the plants grew and produced plenty of fruit.
So what’s the focus? We naturally turn to the size of the results. But that’s not the focus. The size of the results is never God’s focus. He tells us the seed will work. He tells us it will do what He wants it to do. The seed is God’s Word. God’s Word is the center of the Christian life. God’s Word is the focus of everything we do. Today’s focus is sola Scriptura – saved by Scripture alone.
We’ve been writing since time began. Does anyone know how many books have been written throughout history? There’s an old opinion that Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Joseph handed down their histories not just through word of mouth, but through writing. Our teachers can tell you which books they use. Our librarians can tell us how many books are in their collections. Historians will always bemoan the loss of Alexandria’s library. How many books have ever been written? How many more will be written? Yet none of them compare to Sacred Scripture.
How can this be? Humans wrote all these books that fill our libraries. They put quill to parchment, pen to paper, and now we type. They put thought into it, sketched out an outline, scrapped large bits of text. They may have taken a long time, or only a short time. You read with discernment to decide whether they are right or wrong. Is Scripture any different?
It is. Yes, men wrote it. Moses wrote the first 5 books. Joshua, Samuel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, David and Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, the 12 Minor Prophets – they all wrote what they preached and foretold. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Paul, Peter, James, Jude they all wrote what they heard and preached. Over about 1500 years they wrote, and the faithful brought their writings together under the cover of 1 book, The Bible. Did they write their own words, or somebody else’s?
St. Peter answered that question 2 weeks ago for us. He says holy men wrote as they were carried along by the Holy Ghost. We’ve all had to memorize those words of St. Paul to Timothy: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” He says it is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness, so we may be competent and equipped for every good work.
How can this be? God the Father told us on the Mount of Transfiguration: “Listen to Him,” to Jesus. And what does Jesus say about Scripture? St. John tells us that on Maundy Thursday He said to His Apostles: “The Helper, The Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you….He will bear witness about Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning….When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.”
The Apostles and Prophets didn’t just write whatever they felt like writing. They wrote what The Holy Spirit had them write. They used their own perspectives, and St. Luke interviewed people. But they wrote what God the Holy Ghost wanted them to write. Every word is His. Every word is given Him by Jesus, and He received those words from The Father. So Apostles and Prophets wrote not their own word, but The Word of The LORD. The Word of God spoke to them, and they put that Word to paper.
So this word is truth. God cannot lie. So what He has caused to be written for you cannot lie. There are no errors in it. There may be times when we don’t understand it or think we know better, but then we must submit ourselves to God’s gracious will, knowing He is far wiser than we; after all, He was there, not us! We trust God has never lied to us in that book in any matter, and we give thanks.
Why is this so important? If God let a single lie slip into Scripture what would be the big deal? Your salvation would be at stake. If God let a lie into Scripture, how much of it is lies? Perhaps all the passages that say you are forgiven, eternal life is yours, would be wrong. Where could you turn for comfort when you need it? What sort of foundation would that be for your life? Only if God’s Word is completely true can it comfort you in all trials, fears, and needs. Only if it is true can it be the foundation that guides you and keeps you firm in The Faith throughout life.
What is the message of The Scripture? We learn about the history of God’s people from creation up to The Gospel coming to Rome. We’re reminded God is in control. But the chief message of Scripture is Law and Gospel. We are sinners, unable to trust anything we do to be worthy of life eternal – we are worthy of eternal death. We are saved by The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God.
Jesus’ Death and Resurrection – that shows there is no God but Jehovah, Yahveh, The LORD, He Who is and was and is to come, The Savior. This message is proclaimed nowhere else than Sacred Scripture. No preacher would know to preach it if he didn’t get it from Scripture first. By God’s grace you believe because you have heard The Scriptures and The Holy Spirit worked – and still works – through them. Sola Scriptura – by Scripture alone.