Don’t worship the Bible, but read it.
OCTOBER 26, 2023
Don’t worship the Bible, but read it. Let’s talk about it, on this edition of Key Life.
This is Key Life, here to proclaim that God’s not mad at his children. All this week, Pete Alwinson and Justin Holcomb have been teaching us, Pete is an author and the founder of ForgeTruth.com and Justin is a bishop and teacher who has written, co authored or edited more than 20 books.
Thank you Matthew, if you’re just joining us, because I’m so wise, invited Justin Holcomb and Pete Alwinson to join me in this studio, because next Sunday is Reformation Sunday. And we’re talking about the five solas, the alones that are a part of the whole Reformation movement that changed the world. On October the 31st, 1517, Martin Luther, did you guys know that the whole faculty at the university stood behind him when he nailed those to the door? I mean, you think of Luther as kind of a John Wayne guy, and he certainly was that, but the entire faculty stood with him. So, we do need each other, but that’s another subject altogether. We’re talking about this, Christians are saved by grace alone, one, through faith alone, two, in Christ alone, three, as revealed in Scripture alone, four, for the glory of God alone, five. And we’ve looked at the first three and we’re talking about Scripture. Paul said in II Timothy.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof,
it’s the microphone
for correction, and for training in righteousness.
You hear about the ugly American that was in a third world country, and there was a guy sitting under the tree reading the Bible, and the American looked down his nose at him and said, in my country, that book is out of date. And the guy looked up and said, if it were out of date here, you would have been eaten by now. Scripture is relevant for our salvation, but for a lot of other things too. Have you always been there, Justin?
Justin Holcomb: Yeah, I grew up in a Christian home, so I kind of, I always had a high view of Scripture, and it was God’s revealed word to tell us about Jesus and God’s disposition. So, yeah, I have no problems with.
I had, I came by it the hard way.
Justin Holcomb: Yeah.
I went to Boston University, the seminary, and they didn’t believe anything, and I went there for that reason.
Justin Holcomb: If you believe it’s just a classic text, then it’s just like the Iliad, the Odyssey. It’s people talking about their religious experiences, and it’s kind of fun to read, and good information about history.
It’s sure, boy, it’s sure, and I believed that, and then it ruined my ministry. You know, I thought I had all these great ideas, and I presented them, and they yawned at me, and nothing changed. And then I realized there’s a problem and it’s right here.
There’s got to be that base of authority. And so, I grew up in a Christian home too. But in philosophy 101 in college, first day, the professor said, how many of you are Christians? And I raised my hand and I thought, I’m in a secular college. Why did I raise my hand? And he said, in six weeks, I’ll prove to you, God doesn’t exist. And so, I said, game on. And it was really a good thing for me to be pushed on all those levels. And it ended up, you’ve got to do a deep dive. Can I really trust the Bible? Can I? And my conclusion was yes, but you’ve got to study it.
Justin Holcomb: And here’s the thing about the Reformation, at the time, Luther’s point is the Bible alone is our highest authority because there were two books in the Roman Catholic theological ways of thinking. There is the book of Scripture and the book of the tradition, the church. And so, the church was an authority. So like, there’s a little bit of nuance that we’ve been hitting, which is really helpful I think. We did it with faith and works or faith. Everyone believed in faith back then, it was just faith alone was the aha. Everyone believed that the Bible was authoritative then, it’s the Bible alone. And that means a few things, it means that the Bible is not the only authority. It’s the highest authority, but there are other authorities that we, there’s creeds. They’re just not authoritative like the Bible is, like the Nicene Creed is an authoritative text for Christians. If you don’t believe it, you’re not a Christian. So, have fun with that. But Calvin had these categories, the Reformation had these categories. There is magisterial authority, that’s saved only for Scripture. And then there’s ministerial authority. There’s the authority of the church that the church, the authority the church has, the Creeds. There’s other sources for theology. So, it’s not saying it’s the Bible only. There’s no other revelation, there’s general revelation. General revelation reveals about God, that’s Romans 1. So, the key is not some type of like fundamentalists, no creed but the Bible thing. You know, so that’s important, but the kicker of all of this is that Scripture is what reveals to us when it’s rightly interpreted, it’s about Jesus Christ and his role as the God man and our Savior. And that’s the whole point. All 66 books are divinely inspired by God to reveal God’s will to make all things new and to fix the problem of sin. It’s not just that Scripture is authoritative, but it’s like, well, what’s the main point of Scripture is the other conversation Luther was having.
That’s so good.
That is powerful. And so, what happens when you have these other human elements and documents is that human element was rising above the Scriptural. And so, that’s what Luther was really fighting against. He said, Hey listen, councils error, they come up with wrong ideas from Scripture. And so, we must always go back to the magisterial first, otherwise our ministerial authority will override that. And that’s what was happening. And most of the guys in his day and age didn’t want to abide by it, but a lot did. A lot saw that he was right on that point.
Justin Holcomb: Think about what this means today. Again, most of people today that are listening to this are not having issues with thinking that the church is way too authoritative, that’s not our issue in culture right now. But they are doing it with their pastor, their non denominational pastor, their Protestant pastor, their Presbyterian, their Anglican ministers. They’re doing it with all of those people, and they’re giving them more authority than Scripture. My pastor says this. Well, in Scripture, you have the Bereans and Acts. I mean, the noble Bereans were celebrated because an apostle shows up and starts talking, and they go well, that sounds cool. We’re going to go see what the Scriptures say. And so there is, this is really applicable because I’m a bishop. I show up and people could just easily assume, oh well, the Bishop’s speaking. It’s like, I’m, only listen to me when I’m saying what the Bible says. And the same thing with all the other pastors. There’s a way that this gets violated by the way we kind of do church in America and beyond. But in America, we still have this kind of, I mean, think about this, how much Scripture is actually read in your church? Usually, frequently it’s a Bible verse, and then it’s usually commentary on Scripture, let alone actually the teaching and proclamation of the Word of God. And I’m not doing an advertisement for Anglicanism, but we read a lot of the Bible. We read an entire Psalm every Sunday, a chunk of the Old Testament, another chunk from the New Testament, and then a fourth chunk from the Gospels. And so, I just like go to a church, don’t I mean, other churches do this. This is what Christians have done for thousands of years. Go to a church that takes Scripture seriously, reads Scripture and teaches Scripture, not your pastor’s political commentary or cultural commentary or their little, you know, niche things that they care about that’s not about the bullseye of the gospel.
That’s so good. In fact, when we sat down and started talking about the solas that are the heart of the Reformation, we didn’t make this stuff up. I mean, there’s some presuppositions of where we stand, and one is that the Scripture is true, that all of it’s true, and it’s efficacious for our lives and our churches and the things that we think and what we believe. And you can trust it. And so, when we start talking about salvation by grace alone, where’d you get that? Well, I was sitting around and I thought, you know, that’d be a cool thing. No.
Justin Holcomb: That makes me feel better.
Yeah, it makes me feel better.
Justin Holcomb: It must be true.
Actually, we get it from Scripture. And if we get it any other place, then you’ve got to question it and you’ve got to move away. In fact, people are always asking us, I’m looking for a new church. What do I look for? Justin just said it. He sounded like he was saying go to an Episcopal church, but I’ll forgive him for that. I mean, he comes in here and does a little PR for his denomination, I get that you read a lot of Scripture, but if they don’t believe that the word is true, go to another church.
Justin Holcomb: Amen. Absolutely.
Absolutely. It’s not taught.
That is so powerful. And that’s really what happened to Luther. He was so caught up in his own sins and so frustrated about his own inability to do, to be good that his confessor said, all right, I want you to become a doctor of theology and start teaching the Bible and get your mind off your own sin. And as he immersed himself in Scripture, he found and discovered these realities that are gospel, that changed the world back at the beginning and will change the world today. And we need to saturate ourselves and the whole priesthood of believers is this idea that we, because the Spirit of God is in us, we can understand the revealed word of God. We still need teachers. We still need good Bible teachers in our churches. We need that, but we have the Holy Spirit to understand it.
Justin Holcomb: Amen.
And by the way, Martin Luther had a high view of preaching because he just thought it was really cool? No, because he said when the preacher is preaching and teaching the holy word of God, that’s important. And so, don’t go read a religious book, read The Book, and it’ll change your life. One other thing. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks guys. Well, normally this is the time each week when I say that wraps up our regular teaching for this week, but my friends with Steve and Pete and Justin teaching us about the five solas, this is no normal week. So, instead of a regular Friday Q&A tomorrow, we have one more day from this super group, this Traveling Wilburys of Bible teachers. Don’t miss it. Well, you know, there is a time and place when pretending is good. Your kid pretends he’s Batman. Maybe, you pretend you’re Batman. Hey, no judgment here. But there are times when pretending isn’t good. Like pretending we’re okay when we are not even remotely okay. Well, Steve spoke about this in a sermon called When Believing is Hard and Pretending Doesn’t Work. If you’re going through it right now or maybe you know someone who is, I think it’s going to help. Get it on CD for free right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. To mail your request go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD called When Believing is Hard and Pretending Doesn’t Work. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card, or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.