“You are not thinking long enough nor hard enough about this, Jeff.”
So came the words from a person whom I trust and love. His commitment to Christ is unquestionable in my opinion. He knows His bible. He is degreed from a well-known Christian seminary and has both age and years of experience on me. For those reasons I felt it was important for me to hear him out about an issue that we had been discussing for months. Little did he know when he spoke the above words to me, I had been thinking long and hard about the topic we were discussing for more than fifteen years. Over the course of those years I found myself being drawn more and more deeply into something that Jesus once prayed:
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children…” – Luke 10:21
I am, friends, a sola scriptura man. To be one who embraces this phrase means that I am one who looks to the bible as the final and supreme authority of all issues pertaining to faith and life. Sola scriptura was the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation. The phrase is Latin: Sola having the idea of “alone,” “ground,” “base,” and the word scriptura meaning “writings” – referring to the Scriptures. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. What was interesting is that the friend I was having the discussion with also subscribes to the belief that Christians are to rely on what God’s word says as the final and supreme authority on all matters. Yet we had come across one differing aspect of our shared Christian faith which with which he was uncomfortable. It was here where he let me know that he believed I was being too simplistic in my approach when I doggedly retained a biblical position on the matter. He cited several sources other than Scripture to support his opposing view and, when he had finished speaking, I asked one simple question that I have been asking for the full twenty years I have followed behind Jesus: “Yes, but what do the Scriptures say?”
My prayers for the last several years have included petitions to God to raise up a people who will remain aligned with His word. That sounds reasonable –even spiritual – but my prayers have produced more conflict than I ever imagined. Conflict within me and conflict outside of me. A tenacious commitment to aligning yourself with God’s word will extract you out of modern trends and mindless traditions; this commitment will leave you standing, as the writer of Hebrews said, “…naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the One to whom we are accountable.” My hope for all of us is that we will regain a militant commitment to remain aligned with God’s truth. When I write the word militant I am only saying that we should be disciplined, steadfast and unwavering in our commitment to God’s inspired truth. I do not wish to be a frowning militant, or a harsh militant or an unloving militant. I believe we can be gentle but militant, unapologetic but militant, gracious but militant, and loving but militant. As much as anything else we need to be consistent as followers of Jesus Christ and remain sola scriptura even when those Scriptures force us to rethink, recalibrate, release and recommit. You can be deepened by the Word. You can be assured by the Word. You can be helped by the Word. Eventually, however, you will be made uncomfortable by the Word. When your previously held views are challenged by what the Scriptures actually say you will find yourself at an inevitable crossroads: will I cling to what I have previously thought or will I welcome God’s Word to outweigh any opinion of man…including my own?
Jesus calls us to be like children in our relationship with Him. Children trust, often without question. Children will believe nearly anything, for better or for worse. Children will take almost everything handed to them. Jesus calls us to be like children when it comes to Him and His Kingdom. That does not mean that we should not look bilically at things – quite the opposite. But when we do so, allow the Scriptures to say what they actually say and refrain from hearing them say what we wished they would say or have been told that they say. We must be like little children when it comes to Christ and the Kingdom. Why? Doesn’t that leave us vulnerable? Surely it would if Jesus were not so good, so trustworthy, so holy, so loving, so caring and so…for us. We can be like children with Him because He only wants what is best for us.
I will let my beloved friend with whom I debated (and any others) be as complicated as they feel they need to be. It simply isn’t in my heart or capability to change people’s minds. I also am complicated in certain areas of my heart and my life and, I might add, very little fruit comes in those areas so I have determined to pursue simplicity in any area wherein it makes good spiritual sense. The Bible aids me in this commitment. I do not have to fill in the spaces which were intentionally left blank by God. When it comes to God’s word I will remain a child. I will just believe it. Sola scriptura has never once failed me and I believe it would be better to take God plainly at His word and occasionally risk oversimplification than it would be for me to complicate His word and ultimately miss what He says is good. I hope some of you reading will arrive at the same conclusion.
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