Safely navigating our souls to the shores of heaven requires we spy the lies that lead to shipwreck and the truth those lies often conceal.
- You don’t have what it takes to live for God and get to heaven (2Pe 1:3).
- The Devil poses no threat to the Christian (1Pe 5:8).
- The consensus of pagans, our thoughts, our spiritual beliefs and our feelings are all things we can trust when attempting to discern truth (Joh 17:17 = Truth originates outside of us in God’s Word, which is why when attempting to discern or disseminate truth, we must not allow ourselves to listen to the majority – including family and friends, our internal thoughts or feelings, or even our long held spiritual beliefs. Instead, we must be constantly taking ourselves and others back to the Scriptures asking the question, “What does the Word of God say?’” – 2Co 10:5; Isa 8:20).
- The Bible is your only spiritual authority.
4.1. This is the heresy known as “solo scriptura” (i.e., the Bible is my only spiritual authority).
4.2. Many claiming to be Christians today have embraced its more heretical cousin, “solo novus testamentum” (i.e., the New Testament is my only authority). This has traditionally been referred to as a “canon within a canon” (i.e., what you deem as God’s canon/authoritative rules does not include the entirety of God’s canon or all 66 books, but instead only the NT). Popular Evangelical pastor, Andy Stanley states that the Old Testament should not be seen as “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church.” In his view, the apostles “unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish Scriptures.” What Stanley and those embracing this heresy don’t realize: this was the position of one of church’s most infamous heretics, Marcion who believed the OT and any teaching in the NT that requires obedience or threatens punishment to those who disobey, to be the corruption of a vindictive, evil deity that has nothing in common with all loving and forgiving Jesus.
4.3. Why it is impossible to have Jesus and deny/ignore the teaching and requirements of the OT (or Law) = B/C Jesus affirmed its continuing authority and necessity for getting to heaven (Mat 5:17-20, 19:16-23).
4.4. Why it is impossible for the Bible to be your only spiritual authority = B/C the Bible (God’s written word) is not self-explanatory. Understanding the meaning or message being communicated through its words has always required the interpretive efforts and skill of human beings (e.g., Neh 8:1-8, 13; Luk 24:27; Act 2:42). This is especially true given the thousands of years that separate us from its original audience whose culture, customs, political and social climate, common cliches and figures of speech are completely foreign to us:
4.4.1.(e.g., Eph 1:4 “holy and blameless”) = OT terms referring to intolerance of sin (“holy”) and faithful observance of God’s moral requirements (“blameless”).
4.4.2. (e.g., Rev 5:1-5 “a scroll written within and on the back sealed with seven seals”) = A get mekushshar, a bill of divorce created specifically for the Jewish priests. The overabundance of seals (or folds) as well as the writing on both sides were intended to make sure priestly marriages could not be quickly or easily dissolved since according to the marital law governing priests, divorce would immediately render those wives ineligible for reconciliation should the priest have a change of heart (Lev 21:14). Knowing this is crucial to understanding the 7 seals, trumpets and bowls of God’s wrath (prophetic language communicating Jesus’ high priestly divorce from OC Israel – Lev 26:27-28).
4.5. Since the Bible was written, God has mandated that:
4.5.1. the work of interpretation be done by certain men in the covenant community versus each person interpreting it for themselves – i.e., walking according to their own law (Jdg 17:6, 21:25 “right in his own eyes” = Each person followed their own interpretation/solo scriptura) (Neh 8:1-8, 13 w/Act 6:1-4; Eph 4:11-16; 1Co 12:30; e.g., Act 8:30-31)
4.5.2. these bible teachers be ordained/anointed to the office of priest after demonstrating their gifting/calling to this task thru holy and blameless living and competency in their overall knowledge of the Bible including understanding of its ancient context (e.g., Exo 29:7-9; Mal 2:6-7; Num 27:16-23 [Moses and his replacement were priests – Psa 99:6] w/2Ti 1:6 and Act 8:17; Tit 1:9-10 “appoint” = “anoint”; 1Co 2:1-16 = A reference to Paul and Co’s ordination/anointing for teaching in the church; See also 2Co 1:21; BTW: the word “anoint” is never used to refer to the indwelling Spirit received by all believers; Isa 66:18-19,21 w/Joh 20:21-23 w/Mat 28:18-20: 1] “the time is coming to gather all nations…And from them I will send survivors…I am sending you…Go into all the world [nations]”, 2] “some of them I will take for priests…Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld…baptizing and teaching” = the means to salvation1] “the time is coming to gather all nations…And from them I will send survivors…I am sending you”/forgiveness [Psa 132:16 w/2Co 3:1-3 w/1Ti 4:14-16 w/Eph 4:7-11]).
4.5.3. these ordained/anointed priests demonstrate their interpretations to be consistent with the entire council of God’s written word (no canon w/in a canon interpretation – e.g., Rom 10:4 w/Rom 13:8-10) (Deu 12:32; 2Ti 2:15; Act 20:27; this is Sola Scriptura – the Bible is the final authority)
4.5.4. the covenant community happily affirm and submit to the interpretations of their ordained/anointed priests when it can be supported by the final authority, God’s Word (Act 15:1-22; Act 17:1-3, 11; 1Ti 5:17; Tit 2:15; Heb 13:17; 1Jo 2:18-27 “anointed”/”anointing” = “anointed one” [Grk. Chrisma -accusative sing.]. The context is approved spiritual teachers versus unapproved teachers [those outside the church/antichrists – see 4:1-6 = Notice, John makes explicit that the anointing or “Spirit” that teaches us is a person NOT some universal anointing given to everyone in the church [v6 – “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us” – i.e., the anointed persons versus the “antichrist” persons, the “Spirit of truth” versus “the spirit of error”].)
4.5.5. the covenant community reject (even kill – OT) any ordained man who teaches lawlessness (including going outside the law), or any person who self-appoints themselves as their own teachers or teachers of others (Deu 13:1-16; Act 11:1-18, 15:1-22, 20:30, 21:17-26, 25:7-8, 26:22-26; 1Ti 1:20 w/2Ti 2:17)
4.5.6. the covenant community also reject anyone in their midst who falsely condemns God’s ordained man or their interpretation of God’s Word as guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and immediately apostate (Num 16:1-10, 25-35; Mat 12:22-32; 1Co 6:1-10: 1] the covenant community has been tasked w/judging its members [1-4, see 1Co 5:12-13], 2] those who condemn [bring lawsuits against] their Christian bros/sis [most especially their ordained men – 1Ti 5:19 w/Deu 19:15 w/Psa 105:15] w/o establishing their charges in the church are just as damned as those practicing sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery and homosexuality [7-10]).
4.6. Even Jesus and the apostles were subject to God’s mandates regarding the interpretation of His written word (Joh 7:14-24 w/18:19-20; Gal 2:1-2).
4.8. The truth this lie (the Bible is my only authority) often conceals = A person whose only authority is self. They claim their authority to be God (or Jesus) but in reality, it is self based on how they choose to interpret or understand God’s Word -which is always in a way that favors what they want to do (i.e., they worship a sacred cow they call, “Jesus” that looks exactly like them).
4.9. Support from the Early Church Fathers:
4.9.1. St. Ignatius (a disciple of the Apostle John, who also had correspondence with Jesus’ mother Mary)
“It is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of the bishop (anointed pastor) who by God’s appointment rules over you.”
“He that refuses to assemble with the church [for the judgment of the bishop] has condemned himself. Let us be careful then not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God.”
“Beloved, be careful to be subject to the bishop and the presbyters [other elders]. For he that is subject to these is subject to Christ, who has appointed them; but he that is disobedient to them is disobedient to Christ Jesus. He that does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. For he that does not yield to his superiors is self-confident, quarrelsome and proud. God resists the proud. And the proud have greatly transgressed. The Lord says to the priests, ‘He that hears you, hears Me; and he that hears Me, hears the Father that sent Me. He who despises you, despises Me; and he that despises Me, despises Him who sent Me.'”
“We ought to receive everyone whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household as we would do Him who sent him. It is manifest therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we look upon the Lord Himself.”
“It is becoming therefore, that you also should be obedient to your bishop, and contradict him in nothing; for it is a fearful thing to contradict any such person. For no one does [by such conduct] deceive him that is visible, but does in reality seek to mock Him who is invisible. And every such act has respect not to man, but God.”
“To those who indeed talk of the bishop, but do all things without him, will not He who is the true and first Bishop, and only High Priest by nature, declare ‘Why do you call Me Lord and do not do what I say?’ Such persons are dissemblers and hypocrites.”
4.9.2. Hugh of St. Victor
“Do not attempt to learn by yourself lest, believing yourself introduced to knowledge, you rather be blinded. That introduction is to be sought for from men of doctrine and wisdom who may bring you in and open the matter to you as you need it with the authorities of the holy fathers and the testimonies of the Scriptures.”
4.9.3. Vincent of Lerins
“Someone will perhaps ask, because the canon of scripture is complete and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the church’s interpretation? For this reason- because all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. Therefore it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of church interpretation.”