Following the Scriptures Alone

Steve Viars September 17, 2017 Psalm 19
Outline

Ephesians 4:11-16 - And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 - …preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

3 reasons why the Word of God should be our sole authority

I. Joyfully Follow God’s Word because of Its Source

A. Everybody follows some kind of law

Matthew 15:18-19 - But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

B. Because following the wrong law can be disastrous

1. Your own feelings and desires

2. The approval of others

Proverbs 29:25 - The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

3. Church teachings apart from Scripture

Acts 17:10-11 - The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

C. In Christ, we can choose to progressively follow the law of the LORD

John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

James 1:25 - But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

John 8:32 - …and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

II. Joyfully Follow God’s Word because of Its Nature

A. Meaning of perfect

“The meaning [of ‘perfect’] is that [Scripture] lacks nothing [for] its completeness; nothing in order that it might be what it should be. It is complete as a revelation of Divine truth; it is complete as a rule of conduct.… It is absolutely true; it is adapted with consummate wisdom to the [needs] of man; it is an unerring guide of conduct. There is nothing there which would lead men into error or sin; there is nothing essential for man to know which may not be found there.” [Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974), 171.]

B. Other testimonies to its sufficiency

2 Peter 1:3 - …seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 5:18 - For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

C. Even if there is a price to be paid

III. Joyfully Follow God’s Word Because of its Effect

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

A. At salvation

1 Peter 1:22-25 - Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.

B. During times of suffering

Psalm 119:50 - This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me.

“Comfort yourself with the Word of God, the pre-eminent consolation.” (Tappert, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, p. 63)

C. Essential to our sanctification

 

- when I was in junior high – our family dentist made the recommendation that I get braces for my teeth…and so my parents chose to sacrifice to make that happen…

- there was an orthodontist right down from the road from where we lived so that’s where I started going…

- I’m sure a number of you have had this experience…but getting those on, at least back when I had it done (they used dinosaur bones and twine back then – it may be different today)…but having those braces installed was fairly painful for sure…

- especially because it felt so uncomfortable to have all of that it your mouth…

- and trying to learn how to eat…and dealing with all the soreness…it was quite an experience for sure…

- then there was the monthly adjustments…and I’m fairly certain that’s what they called them – adjustments…which sounds pretty benign…

- a better term might have been torturous tightening…which in hindsight I realize is the only way the process was going to work…but it was still painful at the time…

- but in my case the problem was greatly multiplied because what we didn’t know was that there were actually 2 orthodontists…who jointly owned the practice and they alternated months…

- so each month one guy worked and the other guy vacationed…which meant your doctor was perpetually tanned if that mattered to you…

- but what I started noticing was…my adjustments weren’t just routine adjustments…one guy would look at my mouth…shake his head, say something to the nurse, and then he would start re-doing things…

- then the next month the other guy would be in the office…and he’d shake his head, say something to the nurse, and then start re-doing things…

- and after that went on for several months…we realized what was happening…these guys were having an argument about the best way to treat me…and the argument was being waged…inside my mouth…

- see, it’s one kind of pain to have to have your teeth straightened…it’s entirely worse when you have multiple doctors operating off competing truth systems regarding the appropriate way to solve your problem…

- I thought about even affirming a new doctrine for all the world to see and follow – sola mouth-ola – you can only follow one way at a time to straighten your teeth…

 

- well, eventually we got all of that solved…after a whole lot of worthless pain…but do you know what’s worse than having either competing or incorrect systems of truth when it comes to straightening your teeth?...it’s when you have competing or incorrect systems of truth regarding…running your life…

- that’s what I’d like to talk with you about this am…

 

- please open your Bible now to Psalm 19…page 399 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- all year long we’ve been mentioning that this is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation…initiated in some ways on October 31st, 1517 when a young monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel in Germany…

- it was a mic drop…it was throwing down a gauntlet…it was a challenge and an invitation to discuss and debate ways the church at the time needed to change – to repent – to be reformed…

- during these five weeks, various members of our staff are going to be leading us in studies of core passages in the Word of God that produced the five great solas of the Reformation…affirming that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Alone, according to the Scriptures Alone, to the Glory of God alone…

 

- now I realize a few persons might say – that sounds like a lot of theology…it is, on purpose…

- here’s some of the core verses that explain what a church is supposed to be doing…Ephesians 4:11–16 - And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

- we’re reviewing these truths in part because we don’t want to be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…” – so we need to know what we believe and why…

- that’s part of our mandate as pastors…which is why Paul told young Timothy…2 Timothy 4:2–4 - preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

- I’m very thankful for a church family that wants us to do that – in fact we’d be in trouble (if you want to say it that way) if we didn’t…

- one other idea before we read Psalm 19 – and that is, each one of these doctrinal issues is intensely practical…

- so please don’t ever buy into the false dichotomy that we can either talk about biblical doctrine or practical life implications…

- biblical doctrine – properly understood – is inherently practical…

- we don’t have to make it practical…it is, by its very nature…and that’s certainly true of what we’re going to be studying today…

 

- read Psalm 19:1-14 [might even encourage folks to look for the interplay between doctrine and practice]…

 

- we’re talking this morning about Following the Scriptures Alone…and we’re going to be especially focus on the first half of verse 7, looking for 3 reasons the Word of God should be our sole authority.

I. Joyfully Follow God’s Word because of Its Source

- David describes Scripture in verse 7 as “the law of the Lord”…well, why is that important?...

A. Everybody follows some kind of law

- whether it’s formally articulated, carefully considered, or not…

- even a person who chooses to be “a law unto himself” still has a world and life view from which he operates…

- and that plays out on the tapestry of your life each and every day…

- for example, every word you speak – flows out of a world-view, flows out of what you believe is right and wrong, what you have chosen as your guiding principles, your law…

- Matthew 15:18–19 - But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

- philosophically, we’re talking about epistemology…your source of truth…not your source of truth about how to repair your car or fix your roof…but your source of truth, your world and life view, the law by which you seek to relate to God and relate to others and make choices big and small each and every day.

- so the question isn’t – do you have a law…the question is – do you have a good one?...have you carefully thought through whose law you’re going to embrace and follow?...

B. Because following the wrong law can be disastrous.

- I hope already you’re asking the question of yourself – what is my law?, my source of truth, my guiding principles?...

- for example…your internet use…

- it would be very interesting if we announced…listen, last Sunday during the offertory prayer, that little prick in your skin you felt was our ushers installing a little device that tracks how many hours you spend on the internet every day…and now we’re going to do a running average of every person here and see how much time is spent on the internet…

- and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – there’s all sorts of great things on the internet…

- but I am saying – it would be interesting to see how much time the average person here spends on the internet each and every day…

- and then to ask this question…what principles guide your internet use?...what law are you following as you visit those sites, and embrace that entertainment, and make those purchases?...

- is it true that following the wrong law can be disastrous?...

1. Your own feelings and desires

- did you see this news report?

- Progressive Evangelical Leaders Meet To Affirm Doctrine Of ‘Sola Feels’

PORTLAND, OR—An influential group of the nation’s top progressive evangelical authors, speakers, and bloggers met Wednesday evening to officially affirm their recently drafted doctrine of “Sola Feels,” sources confirmed.

The new doctrine, translated “By Feels Alone,” formally outlines one of the essentials of modern-day progressive evangelicalism—that one’s feelings are the supreme authority in all matters of theology and practice.

An alleged draft of the creed, which was leaked to the press Thursday morning, reads as follows:

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in our feels, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from our feels: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by the Scriptures, church history, or theologians.”

“Quite simply, ‘Sola Feels’ means that all spiritual truths only become true once they’re filtered through and accepted by our feels—all the feels,” popular author and speaker Jane Hansen told reporters after the meeting. “Thus, things that make us feel bad, those are wrong. The things that give us all the happy feels, those are true, right, and good.”

“At least, that’s how we feel at the moment, I feel,” she noted.

Adding that the group holds to progressive Christianity’s traditional position on the infallibility of feelings, Hansen confirmed that “Feels are the only true and perfect standard, revealing truth from lies, and love from intolerance. And we feel sooo good about Sola Feels, so you know it’s great.”

Asked about any pushback they may receive about the new doctrine, Hansen was undaunted, declaring that the group “just can’t even with the bad feels right now.”

 

- now, before you get up in arms about that, that was from the Babylon Bee, which is a Christian Satire Site…which is often incredibly insightful and humorous…

- including seeing the posts from people who think they’re being serious…

- But let’s face it – sometimes things are funny when they hit so close to home…the law by which many of us live far too often is our own feelings and unchecked desires and the results can be catastrophic…

2. The approval of others

- Proverbs 29:25 - The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

- isn’t it true that receiving the approval of others can be a law that motivates you to say, do all sorts of things that are displeasing to God…either by commission or omission…

3. Church teachings apart from Scripture

- that was one of the fundamental problems during the Protestant Reformation…

- imagine what it be like to live in a village where you did not have access to a Bible in your own language…

- and your parish priest told you that the church had possession of the Treasury of Merits and your deceased loved ones were now suffering in purgatory and you could purchase an indulgence that would reduce the number of years they would have to spend?...

- or that you had to earn your salvation through the accomplishment of certain rituals…

- and on and on…

- it is possible for a church to become a law unto itself...

- that’s why Acts 17 is such a fascinating passage…Acts 17:10–11 - The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

- a church’s authority begins and ends at the Word of God…that is why this church throughout our entire 54 year history has always affirmed that Scripture is our sole authority for faith and practice…

- on January 8, 1967 – on the occasion of the dedication of our first permanent church building on South 18th Street…the congregation had an Act of Dedication…including these words…

- To the purpose of maintaining worship in accordance with our belief in a verbally inspired and hence, infallible Bible…

- and by God’s grace, we have never wavered from that commitment…

 

C. In Christ, we can choose to progressively follow the law of the LORD.

- throughout this Psalm, you see the word Lord in all capital letters…

- it’s translating the Hebrew word YahWeH, reminding us that our God makes covenants and keeps them with His people…

- David himself has been a personal recipient of one of the most important covenants in all the Bible – you can read about that in 2 Samuel 7…

- for us, from the perspective of the NT, if you now Christ as Savior and Lord you are indwelt by the One who John says is the Word…

- John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

- He fulfilled the requirements of the law through His death, burial, and resurrection and now makes it possible for us to progressively and joyfully learn to follow His law…

- you might say – why joyfully?...because life without structure or rules or law is chaos…try driving in a place like Mexico City…it’s lawless gridlock…

- and there’s no question there’s a lot of cars…

- but there’s also no question that the traffic would flow much better if drivers would simply obey the law…

- which is why James made this curious juxtaposition -- James 1:25 - But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

- John 8:32 - and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

 

- do you have practical, concrete examples in your life where you are following the law of the Lord, and are you finding it to be liberating?

- for example…let’s say that a husband and wife are having some sort of a disagreement…or a parent and a child…or a couple of the kids…or just a couple of friends…

- what often creates the gridlock is that you’re operating off of two different laws…

- what I want/what I want – what I think is best/what I think is best…

- how about a husband who takes his wife’s hand and says – honey, let’s brainstorm what the Word of God might say about this…

- or kids, let’s sit down and open our Bibles…

- recommend John Kruis’ book

II. Joyfully Follow God’s Word Because of its Nature

- The law of the Lord is what?...it’s perfect…

A. Meaning of perfect

- “The meaning [of ‘perfect’] is that [Scripture] lacks nothing [for] its completeness; nothing in order that it might be what it should be. It is complete as a revelation of Divine truth; it is complete as a rule of conduct.… It is absolutely true; it is adapted with consummate wisdom to the [needs] of man; it is an unerring guide of conduct. There is nothing there which would lead men into error or sin; there is nothing essential for man to know which may not be found there.” [Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974), 171.]

- you might say – that must have been frustrating when you have two different orthodontists disagreeing about the best way to straighten your teeth and choosing to wage it in your mouth…

- it was – but you know something that would have actually been worse…

- if there was only one guy – but he was wrong…

- and that is the situation that men and women found themselves in 500 years ago…

- they were denied access to the Scriptures…and they were fed a series of man- made doctrines that contradicted what the Word of God said…

- imagine the powerful impact of a group of people all over Europe standing up and saying – we don’t want and we don’t need man-made doctrine anymore…

- because now that the Bible has been translated and placed in our hands…we believe in it and it alone…Sola Scriptura – the Scriptures alone…the Word of God will be our sole authority for faith and practice…

- what David is saying is affirmed in many other places as well…

B. Other testimonies to its sufficiency

- 2 Peter 1:3 - seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

- 2 Timothy 3:16–17 - All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

- Matthew 5:18 - For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

- there are a lot of great books that have been written on this subject in the last decade…one that I’ve especially enjoyed is…

- by the way – I realize that you may be here and would say – I’m new and I even need some help in understanding things like where the Bible came from, how it was compiled, etc…

- let me encourage you to reach out to your service pastor [explain why we didn’t build one large auditorium…] – a book he might point you to is…

- so let’s go back to our main point – it’s one thing to say that we believe the Word of God should be our sole authority for faith and practice…it’s something else to live in a way that is consistent with the implications of that doctrine…

- what if…

C. Even if there is a price to be paid

- there may be people in your life who don’t understand your commitment to living this way…

- I was talking with a Christian friend from another church a couple of weeks ago and he told me that his adult sister was giving him a hard time about their family…and she said – your wife can’t even be a complete person because of what the Bible says about the role of the husband and the role of the wife…

- this fellow pointed over to his wife – who was in a joyful, animated conversation with one of her friends at the time…

- does she look like an incomplete person?...

- when my wife heard that – she laughed…because of the work that Christ is doing in and through her – she has the joy and freedom of serving her family and serving men and women around our community…

- “wholeness” does not come through living according to your own law…

- it comes from letting Christ help you follow the law of the Lord because you have decided in your heart that it’s perfect…it’s all you need for life and godliness…

- but nothing that you and I will face will even come close to the price paid so that we could have a copy of the Scriptures in our own hands this morning…

- consider the morning of October 6, 1536, when

- a 42 two year old scholar priest was led out of his prison and into the light of the town square in Vilvoorde, Belgium.

- a wooden beam had been placed between the church and the castle.

- Iron chains were fastened to the top of the stake, and a noose of rope passed through it at neck height.

- His captors led him up the stairs of the platform and gave him one last opportunity to recant his heresies, but he refused. 

- History tells us he was securely bound to the stake, by his feet, and by the iron chains around his calves and chest, while the executioner fastened the noose around his neck.

- Then wood was piled around him like a pyramid.

- Given a brief period to pray, the man cried, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

- At the given signal the executioner tightened the noose so the man would die of strangulation first but he bungled the job…

- and the wood was lit anyway and man died in the flames…

- do you know who that was?...It was William Tyndale…

- and he was executed by the church for putting the word of God in the hands of common men and women…because he believed the law of the Lord is perfect…

 

- so we should joyfully follow God’s Word because of its source, and because of its nature…

III. Joyfully Follow God’s Word Because of its Effect

- the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul…theirs is no other book written by human beings about which that could be said…

- it supernaturally restores the soul…

- Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

- and at what points can that happen?...

A. At salvation

- 1 Peter 1:22–25 - Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers, and the flower falls off,

but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word which was preached to you.

- I want to be sure that I’ve asked every person here – has there been a definite time in your life when you trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord because of the message of the gospel as articulated in God’s sufficient Word…

- the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul…

- have you allowed the Lord to begin the restoration process by repenting and placing your faith in Christ?...

B. During times of suffering

- there are many men and women here who could give testimony this morning that they are glad when they were going through a trial for all sorts of visits, and expressions of love by the their family and brothers and sisters in Christ…

- but there’s nothing like the way the Holy Spirit ministered to them through the Word…

- Psalm 119:50 - This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me.

- Reformers like Martin Luther talked about this frequently…for example, he told one of his friends -- Comfort yourself with the Word of God, the pre-eminent consolation (Tappert, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, p. 63).

- this perfect law is also…

C. Essential to our sanctification

- the word restore here means to repent or turn... from evil or disorder…

- it’s the power of Christ and His Word to put things back into their intended order or condition…

- that needs to happen to our hearts…to our souls…and that only occurs through God’s sufficient Word…

- that’s why we have been involved in a second reformation of sorts for the last nearly 50 years…

- because the evangelical church had been so focused on evangelism and outreach that the area of sanctification and soul care had largely been abdicated to those practicing secular theories of counseling…ideas that were clearly contrary to Scripture in all sorts of ways…

- if you’d like to study more about this – I would encourage you to read this book by David Powlison

- you could also read a document recently published by Heath Lambert – 95 Theses for an authentically Christian Commitment to Counseling

- can I ask you – we would all say that we believe in the doctrine of sola Scriptura…but do you live as you believe it?...is it clear that it is your sole authority for faith and practice?...

- are you also thankful for the many men and women who act on their belief in this in all sorts of ways around our church?...

- thank those involved in Children’s SS and WNKofF…

- FCS

- Youth ministry…

- all of our men and women’s ministries…

- think about the increased impact downtown…

- discuss the presentation at the Sept CFN…

- BC at the NCC

- Reclaimed Hope at the NCC

- an increased number of platforms of which this doctrine and the Savior it points to can be put on display…

- give instructions about what to do with Seeing More Clearly Commitments…

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video