Why Is There Only One Savior?

Dr. R. C. Sproul

THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS HIMSELF
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

THE TESTIMONY OF PETER
Acts 4:10-12 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

THE TESTIMONY OF PAUL
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

One of the main objections people have to the Christian Gospel is this issue …of exclusivity: that the Christian proclaims that only in Jesus Christ is salvation to be found. Certainly it would be less objectionable if Jesus was merely presented as simply one of the many ways to God. Yet it needs to be pointed out that it is not the Christian who came up with this idea, but the claim comes directly from Jesus Himself. Because of this, either Jesus is the Way to God as He said, or else He is a liar and a deceiver, and not even one way to God!

Lets think about this idea of there only being one way to God by looking at it from a hypothetical perspective. Follow the logic of Dr. R.C. Sproul as he writes the following in his book “Reason to Believe”:

Let’s suppose that there is a God who is absolute in His holiness and righteousness. Suppose He freely creates mankind and gives each human being the gift of life. Suppose He sets His creatures in an ideal environment with the freedom to enjoy the wonders of the entire creation. Then let’s suppose that God imposes one small restriction upon them, and warns them that if they violate that restriction, they will die. Would such a God have the right to impose such a restriction with the penalty of forfeiture of the gift of life if His authority was violated?

Then let’s suppose that for no just cause, the ungrateful creatures disobeyed the restriction. Yet suppose that when He discovered their violation, instead of killing them instantly, He redeemed them.

Suppose the descendants of the first violators increase their hostility and disobedience to God to the point that the whole world become enemies of God.

Suppose God still determined to redeem these people, and set aside a distinct nation for Himself, giving them special gifts, so that through them, the entire world would be blessed.

Suppose He kept delivering them from all their enemies, yet as soon as they were liberated, they rose up in rebellion to Him. Suppose, because of His mercy and grace, God sent specially endowed messengers or prophets to plead with His people to return to Him.

Suppose the people killed these divine messengers and mocked their message. Suppose they then began to worship idols of stone and things they had made. Suppose they then invented religions which were totally opposed to the truth He had made clear to them, and they worshiped creatures rather than the Creator.

Suppose in an ultimate act of redemption, God Himself became incarnate in the person of His Son.

Suppose this Son came into the world not to condemn the world, but to redeem it. Suppose this Son were rejected, slandered, mocked, tortured, and murdered.

Yet, suppose that God accepted the murder of His own Son as punishment for the sins of the very persons who murdered Him. Suppose this God offered forgiveness, and a cleansing from all guilt, victory over death and eternal peace with Himself. Suppose God gave these people as a free gift the promise of a future life that would be without pain, without sickness, without death, and without tears.

Suppose that God said to these people, “There is one thing that I demand. I demand that you honor my one and only Son and that you worship and serve Him alone.”

Suppose God did all that, would you be willing to say to Him, “God, that’s not fair, you haven’t done enough?”If man has in fact committed cosmic treason against God, what reason could we possibly have that God should provide any way of redemption? In light of the universal rebellion against God, the issue is not why is there only one way, but why is there any way at all?

“There seems to be growing up amongst us an idea that a man is of a persecuting spirit if he does not think that the one who flatly contradicts him is as right as himself. If we do as some wish, we shall in time reach that blessed state of charity which had been attained by the courtiers of the Sultan, who, when he said at mid-day, “It is midnight,” replied, “Yes, sire, there is the moon, and there are the stars.” Today, we are expected not to protest against Popery, lest we should be considered bigots; we must subscribe to all that men teach, if only they are sincere. Suppose a man, travelling due North, was sincere in thinking that he would get to the South, do you think his sincerity would bring him to the desired destination? If a man was sincere in thinking that prussic acid was a wholesome food, would the poison do him no injury? If a man starved himself while he sincerely believed himself to be feasting, how long would it take him to get fat? You say “these things are contrary to the laws of nature.” Just so, and the laws of God’s gospel are as fixed and true as are the laws of nature. If you are honest and sincere in keeping to the road of ruin, you will reach the natural end of that road, eternal destruction. Sincerity in believing a lie does not change that lie to the truth. There is only one way to heaven; there is only one Saviour, Jesus Christ is exclusively “the way.” This excludes all by-paths, all cross-roads, and all short cuts. Scripture knows nothing of the new theory, that we may be all right though we are in direct opposition to the Word of God.”


– C. H. Spurgeon, from a sermon delivered on a Sunday evening in 1856, at New Park Street. Notes taken by Pastor T.W. Medhurst.

Exactly Who Is Jesus Christ?

Pastor John Samson

In a communist Russian dictionary, Jesus is described as “a mythical figure who never existed.” Of course, no serious historian could hold to that position today. The evidence is overwhelming as to the fact that Jesus existed, not just from the Gospels and other Christian literature around the first century, but also from non-Christian sources.

Well respected historians of the day, including Tacitus (a Roman) speak of him, as well as the noted Jewish historian Josephus. He writes “Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him, both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians so named after him, are not extinct at this day.” Josephus: Antiquities XVIII 63f

Of course, a whole book is needed to cover all the evidence regarding the existence of Jesus. In fact, Josh McDowelI has already written one, called “He walked among us.” Suffice it to say that there is overwhelming evidence to say that Jesus was a real historical person.

At this point you might say, “O.K. so he existed, but what does that have to do with me?”

Knowing that Jesus existed is not only relevant to lovers of history, but, as we shall see, is of supreme importance to everyone.

Why? The answer lies in discovering who this Jesus really was.

In all the surveys I’ve conducted, asking people who they thought Jesus was, I received a number of different answers. Some said, “He was a good teacher who lived 2,000 years ago.” Others, that “He was a miracle worker and one of the many ways to God.” Others said that they didn’t know who Jesus was, and didn’t want to look into such a controversial question. Of course, I met a number of people who said, “Jesus was and is the Son of God.”

“But what’s the big deal? Does it really matter what we think about Jesus?”

My answer may startle you, but I suggest that your answer to this question, is the biggest single issue in your life! “What?” you might say. Yes, who you believe Jesus to be is the most important question you will ever be asked. That’s because if Jesus is the Son of God, and His claims are true, then your acceptance or rejection of Him will mean either eternal life with Him, or eternal separation from Him, and an eternity in hell. Wow, that’s heavy duty stuff, but let me give you an example to illustrate what I’m saying.

Suppose I met you in the street, and said, “Hi, I’m John Samson, and I’m the only way to God. Me and God, we’re one. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God. I am the Way, the Truth and the life, no one comes to God but through me. If you believe in me you’ll have eternal life, but if you don’t you’ll be punished forever.”

How would you react? Well there’s a number of ways you could react. One of them would be to call for the guys in white coats to come and collect me!

But, wait a minute. Did you know that the things I said about myself to you in the street, are exactly the same things Jesus said about himself? Now think logically about this.

If Jesus was not all that He claimed to be, then it would be impossible for him to be put in the class of a good teacher.

Why?

Because Jesus’ whole teaching centered around who he was claiming to be. Jesus was the one making those claims, not the Christians that followed him. The problem is that he has led multiplied millions astray in following after him as the way to God. If indeed, Jesus was not who He claimed to be He would be nothing more than another false teacher, leading his followers into error. He would be just another clever con man.

“So, he can’t be a good teacher, and be leading people into deception. I get that! But are there any other options?”

Another option is that Jesus was a stark raving lunatic! I’ve never heard anyone suggest Jesus was a madman but we must face that possibility. In fact, experts in the realm of psychology and the mind sciences have commented that in their study of Jesus from the Gospels, they conclude that he was perhaps the person who was “most whole” in all of history. It’s nice that they say that, but could they be wrong?

Well the evidence points towards the fact that Jesus was fully aware of his surroundings, and that he knew he was the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. We all know the story of Jesus birth, but did you know that these events were foretold centuries beforehand in the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. He was born of a virgin, in a town called Bethlehem, as the Bible declared he would be (see Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2). And just before you say that he tried to fulfill prophecy to claim he was the Messiah, let me just point out that it is pretty impossible to control who your parents are and where you’ll be born. Ever tried it?

In fact, he fulfilled around thirty prophecies in just one day – the day He died. He even claimed that after his death He would be raised again to life in three days. This was a known claim of Jesus, and the Romans made sure that a strong troop of soldiers were posted around his tomb to make sure that none of Jesus’ disciples could secretly break in to the tomb, steal the body, and claim that Jesus was raised from the dead. One scholar of history has said that there is more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, than any other event in history. That’s quite a claim isn’t it? (for more on this I recommend Frank Morrison’s book, “Who Moved the Stone?”)

Let me take you to a passage in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 16. It reads as follows:

13 When Jesus came into the region Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Obviously, Jesus said and Jesus taught, that he was the Christ (or Messiah) the Son of God.

“So, are there any other views on who Jesus is? What are my options?”

There are only three options to choose from concerning who Jesus was:

#1 JESUS WAS MAD – He was a misled man who deceived many because he was deceived himself

#2 JESUS WAS BAD – He was an artist, a con man, who managed to start a whole world wide religion

OR

#3 JESUS WAS GOD!  – He was exactly who He claimed to be..

Certainly, the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Divine Son of God.

John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Talking of Jesus, verse 14 of that same chapter says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

(You can check it out more references on this yourself if you look up these verses in a Bible: Isa 9:6; John 20:28,29; Acts 20:28; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8; – these are just a few of the many verses that could be quoted)

C. S. Lewis once wrote, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity, The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41.)

So that’s it! Those are the options. Jesus of Nazareth was either MAD, BAD OR GOD! The choice is yours to make. But remember, you must choose well, because if Jesus is indeed who He claimed to be, then the moment after you die, you will face Him, and stand to give an account of your answer. Here’s the good news, if you make Jesus the Lord (the Boss) and Savior of your life, you can look forward to eternal life with Him. Jesus Himself said, ” For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus said “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out!” (John 6:37)

What Is “That”?

Pastor John Samson

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)

In these words, the Apostle Paul destroys all notions of salvation by works. We are saved by the grace of God which is received through faith, and works play no part at all. As the next verse (v.10) makes clear, God has indeed planned for believers to do good works, but as this and many other passages in scripture would affirm, the works are the fruit and not the root of our salvation. True believers do good works, but works play no role at all in how we receive salvation, for it is “not as a result of works.”

This much is clear, but questions have arisen as to what exactly is meant by the one word “that” in Ephesians 2:8. We know that whatever it is, it is the gift of God, but can we determine exactly what this gift is?

Some say that the gift is “faith” while others say it is “grace” and still others say it is “salvation.” What may be a point of dispute from the reading of the English translations becomes settled when looking into the original Greek text.

Putting it in terms we can hopefully all understand, the Greek word for “that” is transliterated into English as touto and is in a neuter form. The way to determine what it refers to is to look for the other neuter in the immediate context. That’s how the issue would normally be resolved, except that in this particular case, there isn’t one. “Grace” is feminine; “have been saved” is masculine, and “faith” is also in a feminine form. In this case then, what the “that” refers to is all in the preceding clause. The grace, the salvation and the faith – all of these things – is the gift of God.

Paul is making it clear that nothing in our salvation comes from ourselves. Salvation, grace and faith – from start to finish, all of this is the gift of God, not as a result of works. God has designed salvation in this way for the very purpose of eliminating all grounds for human boasting. Boasting is not merely discouraged, or kept to a minimum, it is completely removed. That is because the entire work of salvation is God’s work from start to finish – “this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” as the ESV renders it. The grace by which we are saved and the faith that is the mechanism through which we receive it – yes, even this faith – is the gift of God. Salvation is of the Lord and all the glory for it goes to God alone.

Excuse Me, Waiter, Did You Mess With The Food?

Pastor John Samson

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. – 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5 ESV

To serve as the pastor in the newly formed King’s Church in Phoenix is a high calling and an amazing privilege. To serve the King of Kings and the people Christ died for – what could be greater than this? Yet with every great privilege comes great responsibility.

Have you noticed in the above text how it is the presentation of Scripture as God breathed (at the end of 2 Timothy 3) that is the basis for the solemn and holy charge given to preach the Word, in chapter 4? The one thing naturally leads to the other. It is because of the nature of Scripture as divinely inspired that Paul tells Timothy to preach it with boldness, in season and out of season. Literally this phrase means “in good times and bad times,” or by way of application, “preach the word when the people like it and when they do not.”

Being a pastor and talking with other pastors, I think I understand how pastors think. God has placed a servant’s heart in every true shepherd’s heart. The genuine pastor did not get into this for money or fame, for the gold or the glory, but because there is a driving passion in the heart, placed there by God, to obey the One who called him for His own eternal purposes. Sadly, what is crystal clear at the beginning phaze of ministry can become fuzzy over time as Church pressures, politics and personalities all have their influence. But the above passage gives us a solemn charge to stay at our post knowing our chief responsibility under the gaze of God is to serve the people of God the Word of God.

I have met some people in ministry who have openly told me that they teach through the Scripture but seek to avoid controversial subjects. I know why they do this. They do not wish to divide their congregation. The Evangelist may count how many people were in a service, but a pastor is far more likely to count how many were not there – he aches inside to see the people he loves come and be built up in their most holy faith and knows what the Word of God can do for them. He organizes his whole week to make room for the serious study of God’s word. It is labor indeed – real work. Often it is in the early hours of the morning that he is awakened from sleep with inspiration to dig out or mine the Scripture – and the inspiration lasts until the clock tells him he must take a quick shower and get on with the business of the day (and restful sleep is only a hope for the next night).

But here’s the problem. Love for the people is very commendable, but it should not be the chief motivation in ministry. There should be a greater love for the God who called us to obey Him. The truth is, if we preach the Word accurately and with the fire and passion He instills in us, this shows great love for people too, because we are giving them the very best thing imaginable – the word of Almighty God. People need a lot more than a pep talk once a week, as in a coach’s half time team talk. No, they need far more substance than this. What they need is a genuine word from God.

If we love Him, we will teach and preach in order to please Him first, for the message of the text is that we preach to the audience of One. God is watching us closely as we preach His Word. 2 Timothy 4:1 could accurately be translated, “I solemnly charge you as one under the gaze of God…”

I think if we were to see this from God’s perspective, when a pastor or preacher says he teaches the Bible but avoids controversial issues, he is acting as a disobedient slave of the Master as well as short changing the people. The fact is that controversy cannot be avoided. There’s no main truth of Scripture that is free from controversy. That’s true whether we are talking about the existence of God, His purpose in suffering, the Trinity, the full Deity and full humanity of Christ, the atoning work of Christ, the Person of the Holy Spirit, the doctrines of grace and how God saves by His grace alone through faith in Christ alone. You can try to find something in there that is not controversial, but I cannot. Truth is controversial – so get used to it.

Having a doctrinal position is unavoidable if we are to say anything about what Scripture means. The question is not can we avoid theology, but which theology is biblical. To try to avoid it is like saying to a waiter, “may I have some water, but can you hold the wet!” The wet comes with the water, because quite simply, water is wet.

If for illustration purposes the waiter is the preacher, then the cook (and owner of the restaurant and the franchise) is God Himself. Waiters are not permitted to look at the plate handed to them by the cook and then cut off the edges of the meat before serving the people. The cook determines what is served to the people not the waiter.

If the text speaks of controversial things such as true discipleship or Divine Sovereignty, who do we think we are if we then say, “this is not what the people want to hear, so I will leave that part out of the sermon”? This would be an act of defiance not of servant-hood, both of God and of the people. We need to ask, “who is it we are really serving?”

It is because of the fact that we are called to serve God first before we serve people that the text goes on to say “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” This is the truth so let us face it. Not everyone who listens to us will like us or the message we proclaim. As preachers, we must face this and get over it! If everyone likes the message, and I mean everyone, then perhaps the One we should always seek to please first may well be displeased. And this should scare us a lot more than it does, because one day we will stand before Him and give an account to Him, when no crowd is applauding us, its just you or me standing before the King.

There is an offense to the message of the cross – Jews want signs and Greeks seek wisdom – but preach the cross anyway, for this indeed is the true sign and the true wisdom of God. Not everyone who hears us can handle the truth of God’s Sovereignty, and they may leave. Lets remember that the crowd left Jesus, the Master communicator, when He preached it too:

John 6:65-68 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…

People will come and go. As much as it may sadden us, not everyone will stay with us for the longhaul. So lets face this fact and decide beforehand who we will be serving, and who it is we will be prepared to lose! We will lose people, but let us not lose true disciples who really want to know what the Word of God says. If we are going to lose people, lets be prepared to lose those who put their opinions and traditions above His word. Making this choice does not mean that in doing so our ministry will always be small. The God who called us is in charge of such things. Paul may plant, an Apollos may water but it is God who causes the growth. The size of the ministry is not in our hands, that is God’s decision, but because of His amazing providence, God’s book certainly is. Lets preach this Divine Word with boldness as heralds of the King, knowing the truth that “Christ’s sheep will never be offended by Christ’s voice.” (C. H. Spurgeon)

Preachers are to use wisdom in how they go about this task, of course, but that’s another subject for another day. But when it comes to a preacher’s job responsibilities, we have no real choice when it comes down to subject matter concerning what we leave out or what we put in. It is the height of presumption to think any other way. God has never asked us for our opinion on the matter. He is the Owner and cook – we are simply humble servant-waiters with an amazingly high calling to be His Royal Ambassadors.

2 Timothy 4 reminds me that my primary task at King’s Church is to serve the King’s food to the King’s people. Let us also realize that Christ’s sheep are amazingly precious to the Shepherd. He is concerned for the welfare of His flock and has established the menu for the diet of the sheep.

“Excuse me waiter, did you mess with the food?” Selah.

I Love The Trinity

Pastor John Samson

The Trinity: our one God is eternally existent in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal.

I love the Trinity. That’s because I love God, and God is a Trinity.

Very few people have a firm grasp of the concept of the Trinity. It is important therefore to determine what we as Christians mean by the term. The doctrine of the Trinity, stated simply is that there is one eternal being of God, and this one being of God is shared by three co-equal, co-eternal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is therefore one in essence and three in personality.

It is necessary here to distinguish between the terms “being” and “person.” It would be a contradiction, obviously, to say that there are three beings within one being, or three persons within one person. There is no contradiction though because that is not what is being said at all. There is one eternal, infinite being of God, shared fully and completely by three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. One what and three who’s.

All the major cults today (Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Latter Day Saints or Mormons, etc.) contend that Christians have simply made up the concept of the Trinity, saying that the term is not even found in the Bible. Though it is true that the actual term cannot be found in Scripture, I would have to say, “so what?” for even the word “Bible” is not found in the Bible! The term “Bible” comes from the word biblos meaning “book,” and therefore means “the Book.” The Bible is not just “a” book but “the” book. Because it is the very word of Almighty God, and therefore the most important book anyone can ever read.

So while the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, the concept of the Trinity certainly is. On the basis of Scripture itself, Christians throughout the centuries have professed belief in the Holy Trinity, affirming the fact that our one God is eternally existent in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal. This is because the following three things are very clearly taught in Scripture:

(1) There is only one God, who is eternal and immutable (unchanging). (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; Mal. 3:6; Mark 12:29; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:5; Jam. 2:19)

(2) There are three eternal Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These Persons are never identified with one another – that is, they are carefully differentiated as distinct Persons. The Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Holy Spirit, and nor is the Holy Spirit the Father. (Matt: 3:13-17; 28:19; Luke 10:22; John 1:1, 2; 3:16, 17; 15:26; 16:7; 17:1-26; 2 Cor. 13:14)

(3) The Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are identified as being full Deity – that is, the Bible teaches the Deity of the Father, the Deity of Christ and the Deity of the Holy Spirit. (Isa. 9:6; John 17:3; John 1:1, 18; 8:58; 20:28; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1; Acts 5:3, 4; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18)

Some believe in the unity and oneness of God, but deny that He consists in different persons. Heretics such as monarchists, modalists, and Arians (the modern day counterparts are the Jehovah’s Witnesses) take this position, as do followers of non-Christian religions, such as Unitarians and Muslims. Others believe in the different persons but deny their unity in one God. This is the position of heretics such as the tritheists and followers of other non-Christian religions, such as the LDS (Mormons) and polytheists.

When someone denies any of these three statements (above), severe error is the result. Dr. James White states, “if one denies that there are Three Persons, it results in the “Oneness” teaching of the United Pentecostal Church and others. If one denies Full Equality, one is left with Three Persons and One God, resulting in “subordinationism” as seen in Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Way International, etc. (though to be perfectly accurate the Witnesses (JW”s) deny all three of the sides in some way – they deny Full Equality (i.e., they believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel), they deny the Three Persons (the Holy Spirit is an impersonal, active “force” like electricity) and One God (they say Jesus is “a god” – a lesser divinity than Yahweh). And, if one denies One God, one is left with polytheism, the belief in many gods, as seen clearly in the Mormon Church, perhaps the most polytheistic religion I have encountered.”

“God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.” (Dr. Wayne Grudem)

“To all three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power. In the Father is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Spirit the harmony of unity and equality; and these three attributes are all one because of the Father, all equal because of the Son, and all harmonious because of the Holy Spirit” (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine: Preface/Book 1 Chapter 5).

The Thief On The Cross

Pastor John Samson

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23: 39-43

I have often contemplated the potential scene in my mind as one by one, the proponents of all religions were given the opportunity of talking to the thief on the cross, and what they would say to him. This was a man who was a criminal, a notorious sinner, and definitely one whose so called “bad deeds’ would outweigh the good ones. Being nailed to a cross negates any further opportunity for good works to be done. But it would be an interesting conversation, wouldn’t it, to hear what each religionist might say to him? In every case (apart from perhaps universalism which teaches that all people will be saved regardless of their works) each religion would require the man to somehow come down from the cross to do something.

What would a spokesman for Islam say? How about a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness? What would a Buddhist say? or a New Age guru? How about a Roman Catholic? If each could speak to this man, what religious advice would or could they give to him for the purpose of being saved (however they even define what that means)? Some might say that all he could do would be to hope for mercy, but Christ, the biblical Christ gave him far more than just hope. In contrast to what all man made religious systems could give the man, Christ gave him full assurance of salvation – and not just eventual salvation after countless years in the fires of purgatory, but bliss and paradise that very day!

Certain religions would require baptism, others would require the man go through religious instruction and devotion of some sort, while others would ask him to do more good works before his death hoping that they might outweigh the bad ones. But here’s my point, the man could never find salvation in those religious systems because he was stuck, pinned, nailed to a cross. His chance to help elderly people cross roads, or to give to charity or to live a life of service was gone. Nailed to a cross, works and service were no longer possible. His was a totally hopeless case.. except that crucified next to him was Someone who was able to save him by what He was doing, rather than what the man might do. Only the real biblical Jesus with the real biblical Gospel could announce to a criminal that before the day was over, he would be with Him in Paradise.

This thief’s salvation portrays the Gospel so clearly. Someone embracing anything other than the biblical gospel can only scratch their heads in wonder at the precious words given to this man, for in their system, such words would be impossible to say.

As far as I know, this man was the only person in the Bible that Jesus gave instantaneous assurance of salvation to. Jesus’ words, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” removes all doubt.

Can we know what was going on in the heart of this man? Well, we do not have a perfect understanding, but putting the pieces of the biblical text together, we can get quite a good picture. What is clear from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark is that this man had been amongst the many who had mocked Christ. Yet seemingly, out of nowhere, he turns to the other thief and says, “Don’t you fear God?” Obviously, this thief was now fearing God for him to be asking this question of the other one.

He also knew he was getting exactly what he deserved – “we indeed suffer justly” he said.

He also recognized the innocence of Christ when he said, “this man has done nothing wrong.”

When he turned to Jesus and requested, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom” though knowing death was inevitable for all three of those crucified, he believed Jesus would triumph over death, and therefore, would be resurrected.

In affirming the fact that Jesus would come into His kingdom, he affirmed the Lordship or even the Deity of Christ. How much he knew of this we do not know, but obviously, he knew that Christ was indeed King.

So, he had an awareness of divine judgement, he knew the availability of forgiveness, he believed Christ was the true King and that in Christ there is hope even for him, he knew of the coming Kingdom and wanted to be a part of it.

As God opens our hearts and mind to the one true biblical Gospel, we will also find in Christ the full assurance of salvation. As we turn away from any attempt at self justification, knowing that it is by grace that we are saved, through faith and all of this is the gift of God, not as a result of works (Eph. 2:8,9), we too will enjoy the sweet saving mercy of God.

What a testimony to the Gospel this thief is. His testimony is exactly the same as mine. God saves sinners through the perfect work of the perfect Savior, plus nothing! Hallelujah!

The Assignment

Pastor John Samson

For Preachers:

IMAGINE – Its 9/10/01 – and you are are given an amazing assignment – the privilege of preaching to all on the 11th floor of one of the Twin Towers… and somehow, God lets you know that EVERYONE you will talk to that day will be dead within 24 hours…

(ohhh – and you are absolutely forbidden to tell them that)..

Some Questions: WHAT would you preach? HOW would you preach it? Would you have to adjust your sermon from the regular feel good “five steps to a happy life” or “try Jesus” or “try Christianity, you will really like it” idea? If you have to adjust your sermon from your normal one – what does that tell you about what you normally preach? Does your normal sermon seem just trivial now? Or does what you normally preach carry with it the weight and urgency and power of the Gospel? Quite a thought, isn’t it?

Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (that based on Scripture alone, the most wretched sinner is justified – declared right before God – by God’s grace alone, received through faith in Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone) with GREAT boldness, with SINCERE love, with REAL urgency, and with AUTHORITY as A HERALD OF THE KING, as if HEAVEN AND HELL were real places that people go to for eternity – and that hell is a certainty for all who ignore or reject this Gospel you are preaching that day – but that God’s love for the world is seen by the giving of His one and only Son so that everyone who places their faith and trust in Christ would in no way perish, but have everlasting life for certain!

And.. one final question: As you would consider what and how you would preach that day and find your answers in God’s word, should it not be that you preach the exact same way every time you preach, for is it not true that there is no guarantee than anyone hearing you will live another 24 hours?

Selah!

Saved By God, From God, For God

Pastor John Samson

Christians are notorious for using a vocabulary that is not always understood by those around them. There’s no doubt that we have our own lingo and jargon.

One such word is the word “saved.” Often, Christians ask unsuspecting neighbors, colleagues and friends the question, “are you saved?” and usually receive only puzzled expressions in response. These folk are desperately trying to understand the question, but have no reference point whatsoever from which to make an assessment of how to answer. The Christian, on the other hand, seeing this as a wonderful opportunity to evangelize, usually pounces on this hesitation, though just how much is communicated in such times is open to debate. Though the Christian is usually sincere in desiring to share his faith, he needs to provide some foundation for the person to understand what he is seeking to communicate.

Yet in saying this, the word “saved” is very much a biblical word. The scripture says, “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

But what exactly is this referring to? What is it that those who call on the name of the Lord are saved from?

Well let’s take a look at the word “saved.” It is a word we use quite often, especially in the world of sports. We talk of a goalkeeper making a great “save,” or a boxer being “saved” by the bell. When used in this context, the word “saved” does not have any eternal significance to it whatsoever, but refers instead to a present day deliverance or rescue from calamity. The goalkeeper doesn’t provide eternal life for his team mates when he makes a save, but merely prevents a calamity – conceding a goal to the opposing team. The boxer doesn’t gain heavenly bliss because the bell rings, but the sounding of the bell signalled the end of a round when it looked certain that the fighter was about to lose the fight. Again, the word saved refers to being rescued from a calamity.

So what exactly does the Bible mean then when it talks of our need to be saved? What is the calamity from which we need to be rescued?

The Bible’s answer is a very clear one. God is holy and He is just. That’s not good news if we happen to be sinners, which the Bible declares that we are. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But thank God, that’s not the end of the story. But it gets a lot worse before it gets better!

God is good. God is also just. God is therefore a good judge and must punish sin. God’s justice will be meted out precisely as justice demands it – which when you think about it, is the worst of all possible news for us. We won’t be able to get away with anything – all the secrets of our hearts will be exposed, and we will be called to give an account of our lives. What is worse is that the sins we have committed are so grievous to Him that the punishment for sin is eternal in duration. In fact, rather than the judgment we will face being merely being left or abandoned by God, God is actually active in pouring out His wrath against our sin.

So what exactly does the Bible mean by the phrase, “the wrath of God?”

Well one thing we notice very clearly when we study the Bible on this issue is that wrath is not an isolated concept made up by merely one “out of sorts and grumpy prophet.” There are in fact over 600 references to God’s wrath in the Old Testament alone.

Two incidents in Exodus will help our understanding at this point. In Exodus 22:22-24, God says, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”

Then later on when the children of Israel make for themselves a golden calf to worship, the scripture records God as saying, “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.” (Exodus 32:10-12)

Regarding this, Dr. James Montgomery Boice writes, “it is evident in this passage that Moses’ appeal to God is not based either on imagined innocence of the people (they were not innocent, and Moses knew it), nor on the thought that wrath was unworthy of God. Moses appeals only on the basis of God’s name and how his acts would be misconstrued by the heathen. No doubt is expressed that wrath is a proper reaction of God’s holy character against sin.” Dr. Boice goes on to say, “God’s wrath is not arbitrary, as if God for some minor matter or according to his own caprice simply turns against those whom he formerly loved and favored. On the contrary, wrath is God’s consistent and unyielding resistance to sin and evil. In the first passage it is wrath brought on by sin against others, widows and orphans. In the second passage it is wrath brought on by sins against God.” (Foundations of the Christian Faith, p. 248)

Nahum 1:2-3, 6-8 declares, “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.  Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.”

Again, many more scriptures would verify the reality and nature of the wrath of Almighty God. Psalm 2:5-9 says, “Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

In the New Testament, the wrath of God is also clearly seen. Two main words for wrath are used. The first, thymos (in Greek) means “to rush along fiercely,” “to be in the heat of violence,” or “to breath violently.” It refers to a panting rage.

The second Greek word, orge, means “to grow ripe for something” with the noun form revealing that this wrath has been slowly building over a long space of time. It is a gradually building anger that rises in intensity, and therefore is not so much a sudden flare up of hostility, which is soon over, but rather as Leon Morris defines it, “a strong and settled opposition to all that is evil arising out of God’s very nature.” (Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross)

Romans 1:18-20 reveals the present day reality of this wrath.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Romans 2:5  “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Are we all feeling the weight of this bad news yet? I don’t believe we will appreciate the amazing good news of the Gospel until we do.

Jesus is also coming back to rule and reign. When He does so, it will not be like His first coming when He came as a humble baby, born in a manger, but He’s coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to enforce His rule in our world.

Revelation 19:15 declares, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”

Although this refers to a future event, the scripture reveals that the wrath of God is a present reality, as we’ve already seen through Romans 1:18. The scripture also says,  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ” (John 3:36)

I can’t think of a worse calamity than this one – facing the full fury of the wrath of God against our sin.

But is it just for God to punish sinners for eternity?

Let me respond with a quote from the great theologian, Jonathan Edwards, “Our obligation to love, honor, and obey any being, is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority; for that is the very meaning of the words. When we say any one is very lovely, it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved. Or if we say such a one is more honorable than another, the meaning of the words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honor. If we say any one has great authority over us, it is the same as to say, that he has great right to our subjection and obedience. But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he has infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honorable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honorable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of his right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon him. So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving of infinite punishment. The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite. (THE JUSTICE OF GOD IN THE DAMNATION OF SINNERS, Works, vol. 1; 669)

In light of this, it is merely the pleasure of God Himself that His wrath did not fall on us last night, or last week, or last year. In fact, it is very evident that God has been remarkably patient with us all.

So then, if facing the full brunt of the wrath of God for all eternity is the worst possible calamity, then the greatest deliverance becomes immediately clear. To be saved, is to be rescued from the wrath of Almighty God.

In His love, God sent His Son to deliver us or rescue us from His eternally fierce wrath against our sin. John 3:16  says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 declares, “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (emphasis mine)

Romans 5:6-9 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (emphasis mine)

Question: Whose love is it?

Answer: God’s.
Question: Whose wrath is it?

Answer: God’s.

It was God’s idea to save all who believe in Christ from the ultimate calamity, the fierceness of the wrath of God. What a deliverance! What a rescue! God sent His Son to save us from His wrath. To put it in clear terms – we are saved by God, from God, for God!

On the cross, Jesus bore our sin, and God poured out His wrath on Him, in our place. He took the punishment we deserved as He bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus bore the wrath of God on behalf of His people. All who believe in Him as Savior and Lord are forever rescued from this wrath. But for those who do not receive the Son of God, God’s wrath is being revealed (Romans 1:18) and the full brunt of that wrath will be meted out in judgement.

To these, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13)

The scripture declares, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3) The answer to this rhetorical question is clear. If we neglect this great salvation, there will be no escape.  Indeed, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

So again, here’s the good news: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

Call out to Him now.


A SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL

Man was created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and our God to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things.” (Rev 4:11) “Do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).

Man has failed to glorify God and is under His just condemnation.
“For all have sinned…” (Rom 3:23). “The wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23). “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction” (2 Thes 1:9).

Jesus fully bore the wrath and suffered the punishment sinners deserve.

Not wishing that sinners perish forever, God determined to save a people for Himself in the Eternal Son who became a man and lived the life we should have lived and died the death we justly deserve. God loves sinners and sent His Son to be the wrath absorbing sacrifice for their sin. (1 John 4:10; John 6:37) He gave His life “as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45) and “rose again” from the dead (2 Cor 5:15) on their behalf.

All who, by the grace of God, turn to Jesus in repentant submissive faith are forgiven and begin a life-changing, eternally satisfying relationship with God!

“Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:5). “in Your presence is fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11).

Sola Fide (Justification By Faith Alone)

THE CENTER OF THE GOSPEL
Pastor John Samson

At the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church placed its eternal and irrevocable curse on the Gospel, announcing it as actually heretical. I am certain that in the hearts and minds of the delegates at the Council, this was never intended – not even for a moment – but that is in fact what happened.

The most relevant Canons are the following:

Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone…, let him be anathema.

Canon 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins,… let him be anathema.

Canon 12. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy (supra, chapter 9), which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.

Canon 24. If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.

Canon 30. If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.

Canon 32. If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ…does not truly merit an increase of grace and eternal life… let him be anathema.

As Dr. Michael Horton rightly noted, “It was, therefore, not the evangelicals who were condemned in 1564, but the evangel itself. The ‘good news,’ which alone is ‘the power of God unto salvation’ was judged by Rome to be so erroneous that anyone who embraced it was to be regarded as condemned.”

But the Council of Trent met a long time ago. Hasn’t Rome since modified its position? In another place Dr. Horton wrote, “Has Rome’s position changed? In fact it has not. The Vatican II documents as well as the new Catechism of the Catholic Church reinvoke the theological position of the Council of Trent, condemning the gospel of justification by an imputed righteousness.” But knowing full well that Rome’s full curse is on me for believing the following, I quote the Scripture and embrace the only true Gospel of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“To the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). God justifies the “ungodly.” God does not wait until sinners are righteous in and of themselves before He declares them righteous. If He did, I for one would despair of ever getting there. The word “Gospel” means “good news” and the amazing “good news” of the Gospel is about how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection breaks all the power of despair and saves sinners by supplying to them a perfect unassailable righteousness AS A GIFT.

Question: Whose righteousness is supplied?

Answer: Christ’s own righteousness (1 Cor 1:30).

The connection between the sinner and the Savior is trust, not improvement of behavior. THAT COMES LATER (Eph 2:8-10).

This is our hope – while ungodly in and of ourselves, when we give up all hope of self attained salvation, trust in the Savior allows the Savior to save and He does so with resplendent and majestic power! Paul wrote, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). The basis of this despair shattering hope (the ungodly justified) is “Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4, literal translation). Through the mechanism of faith alone (which itself is God’s gift) God counts sinners (the ungodly) as righteous because of Christ.

“For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Justification by faith alone is really shorthand for justification by the Person and work of Christ alone. Jesus saves – not merely potentially or hypothetically – but He actually saves – all by Himself! All the sins of all the people who would ever believe in Him were transferred to Christ on the cross and He bore the penalty these sins deserved; and what is transferred to these sinners is a righteousness that has never known sin – the very righteousness of Christ. That is the kind of righteousness given to me – a righteousness that always obeyed every command of God fully and perfectly from the heart. The wonder of it all is that now, because of Christ, God not only merely tolerates me, but He has declared me as just, righteous, and fully pleasing to Him. “Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1). This peace is not a mere temporary ceasefire on God’s part. I am forever justified before God through faith in the perfect Savior. To quote Martin Luther’s Latin phrase, I am “simul iustus et peccator” – at the same time just and sinner. Christ’s own perfect righteousness is mine. It is not merely that God because of Christ now sees me as “just as if I’d never sinned”, but more than that.. much more than that… He now sees me as “just as if I’d always obeyed!” This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Scan The Scriptures

Quotes put together by Justin Taylor

If you want a quick and easy way to memorize the traditional four attributes of Scripture, just put them in the order of S.C.A.N.:

  • the Sufficiency of Scripture
  • the Clarity of Scripture
  • the Authority of Scripture, and
  • the Necessity of Scripture

Below are some definitions and thoughts from Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology) and Timothy Ward (Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God).

Sufficiency

Ward: “Because of the ways in which God has chosen to relate himself to Scripture, Scripture is sufficient as the means by which God continues to present himself to us such that we can know him, repeating through Scripture the covenant promise he has brought to fulfillment in Jesus Christ.” (p. 113)

Grudem: “The idea that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at stage of redemptive history and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.”

Clarity

Grudem: “The idea that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who read it seeking God’s help and are willing to follow it” (p. 108).

Ward: “Scripture is the written word of the living Word, God’s communicative act, and the Spirit who authored it chooses to continue to speak most directly through it. Therefore we are right to trust that God in Scripture has spoken and continues to speak sufficiently clearly for us to base our saving knowledge of him and of ourselves, and our beliefs and our actions, on the content of Scripture alone, without ultimately validating our understanding of these things or our confidence in them by appeal to any individual or institution” (pp. 126-127).

Authority

Grudem: “The idea that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.”

“The phrase “˜the authority of Scripture’ must be understood to be shorthand for “˜the authority of God as he speaks through Scripture.’ . . . The authority of Scripture is a statement about what God did in authoring Scripture, and about how he continues to act in relation to Scripture” (p. 128).

Necessity

Grudem: “The idea that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about his character and moral laws.”

Ward: “Necessity sits right at the heart of the ways in which sola scriptura is explicated and defended. If Scripture alone is claimed to be the supreme authority in Christian thinking and living, that is because both its content (the verbal revelation) and its form (the written Scriptures) are indispensable” (p. 102).