Romans 15:1-7 pt 1
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
Good Morning! Please Go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. As always, please help yourself to a Bible from the back table if you do not own, and that is our gift to you.
So, as we hit the homestretch here in Romans, we start looking at, not only Pauls words in the immediate context of what he is writing, but we remember to look at his written words in the larger context of the entirety of what he has written in this letter.
Remember that the letter Paul wrote to the churches in Rome was, for the majority of it, a systematic theology, a reminder to the churches of Rome about what they already knew, mostly, and what maybe needed some clarification. It also has been addressing how those things practically apply and how we are to live our that right theology.
As we enter in to chapter 15, Paul is going to bring the context of what he was saying in Chapter 14 about not quarreling over small differences, over secondary matters, and he is going to make two huge, fundamental, closed handed points.
We will look at one of those this week and one of them fits very well, Thank you Holy Spirit, with the Easter message and we will look at that next, hence the part 1 & part 2.
So, we will read this weeks passage, Romans 15:1-7, and today we will be especially focused on verse 4. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, but please follow along in which ever version you have in your hands. Romans 15:1-7, Paul writes:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Now, we do see that Paul connects the themes of Chapter 14 with what he is saying here in chapter 15. And what happens is that he makes two major points here and uses the themes we have looked at recently to make them. First, the biggest subject he is addressing here is actually what we will look at next week during our Easter Celebration and that is Who Jesus is; Very Man and Very God. Like I said, that’s what we are going to be looking at next week.
This week, I want to focus on what Paul says in verse 4, and that points that flow from that. He says about scriptures that, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
The scriptures, in Paul’s specific context, meaning the Hebrew scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, but, as we are going to see here today, also including the New testament. The scriptures are inspired by God, they are inerrant, without error. They are complete. They are sufficient and they are unchanging, unbending, timeless, Truth.
The doctrines of the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. One might ask why these things are important. The answer is that these are not just important, but they are vital to Christianity. I make the case that these are some of the closed handed issues that we have been talking about. To not believe in these two truths, essentially, any hope we can have in the truthfulness of what is says and takes a jack hammer to the foundation upon which our faith is built.
Paul wrote to Timothy and say this about the scriptures, in 2 Timothy 3:15-17:
from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
We see first, in verse 15 here, that the scriptures, again Paul is referring specifically to the Old Testament, as the New Testament was in the process of being written, but he says that the scriptures were able to make one wise to salvation. And Paul says previously in this letter, Romans 10:17 that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
And that’s what the scriptures are, the Word of Christ. John writes in the opening chapter of his Gospel, skipping a few asides about John the Baptist:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is God. He is the Word of God. He is the Word of God Incarnate. Every word of scripture is the Word of Christ. Knowing this helps guard the foundations of inerrancy and sufficiency of scriptures. inerrancy means without error. It is God breathed as we just read a moment ago. It is the Word of Christ, perfect in every way. There are no errors or contradictions or anything of the sort. It is unchanging, just as God, as Jesus is unchanging. It is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The author of Hebrews writes that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
It is timeless, written in specific historical contexts, but written to all believers, in all times and all places. And that’s part of what makes the Bible sufficient as well. GotQuestions.org describes the sufficiency of scripture in this way:
To say the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior through the gift of faith. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith.
The Bible is all that we need when it comes to hearing from God. It is sufficient. There is no other way that God reveals himself to us in these days. And we know that because the Bible says so. Hebrews 1:1&2:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
He has spoken to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. John Owen, historical theologian, makes the famous comment, If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree, they are false. And one Ive shared before as well, Justin Peters, Bible Teacher and Evangelist says, If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud.
God has made the scriptures complete and sufficient so that there is no reason for us to need to search outside the Bible to see God reveal. The Bible is able to makes us wise to salvation and Faith, saving faith, faith alone in Christ alone, comes by hearing the Word of Christ, which is the written word of God, the Bible.
Now, the doctrines pf inerrancy and sufficiency are under huge attacks today, from society without and from churches within.
The attack on the inerrancy of scripture is the easier one to see. It is people, again, both in and out of the church saying that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. It is them saying that the Bible really isn’t the Word of God. Its them saying that what the bible says is sin, really isn’t anymore, or never was. Its them saying that the Bible is a parable or a collection of moral teachings only.
There is even a mega church pastor, well-known son of another well know mega church pastor and tv personality that says that Christians need to “unhitch” from the Old Testament. He says that Christians shouldnt use the Old Testament when talking to non believers, that the Old Testament creates a stumbling block to those who dont yet know Christ.
This is actually a very old heresy. Back in the second century, Marcion was labeled a heretic for his views, namely that the Old Testament held no authority over a believer. He believed that the God of the Old Testament was an inferior god to the God of the New Testament and that jesus was not the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament but the revelation of the New Testament God.
Thats something we might hear often. God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. That directly flies in the face of the scriptures and what they say.
1 Peter 1:10-12:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time[a] the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
But we also see so-called Christians coming out and supporting sin, justifying sin and saying that it isn’t sin. Sometimes its individuals, sometimes its whole denominations. Blurring the lines and wholly erasing the distinctions between loving those who don’t know Christ and sharing Christ and his salvation, through what the Word of God says, sharing that he can cleanse us from our sins and relieve us from our unholy passions and instead, supports, affirms and celebrates the sins that the Bible so clearly speaks against.
And that brings us to the attacks on the sufficiency of scripture. That, again is happening both in and out of the church. Connecting what we were just talking about, people claim that the Bible has only a couple of verses that call specific behaviors or actions sin. But, if the Bible is inerrant and sufficient as we know it is, I only needs to be one verse for it to be enough.
Another common argument is that Jesus never said anything about these so-called sins, therefore it must not have been that important. There are numerous reasons to reject this. First and foremost to our point, if there is a verse in the Bible that does speak on it, then Jesus spoke on it. See, again, all the words of the bible are the Words of Jesus Christ, not just the Words written in Red. Dont get me wrong, if you have one of those Bibles, they can be a useful study tool, but don’t let that affect how you see the words that are not written in red, they are the Words of Jesus as well.
And those are the only words that have an authority in our lives as believers in Christ. There are no new revelations. God has given us everything we need, everything he wants us to know. Again, don’t misunderstand, we will progressively see more of what the Bible says and means the more we read it and the longer we are christians and following the Word of God. But there is nothing new being added to what has already been revealed.
Revelation 22:18&19, some of the last words in the bible, Jesus says to John:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Not a lot of vagueness or opportunity for misunderstanding there. And yet, despite that, there are churches today built on the claim by their “pastors” that they are receiving direct revelation from God. The pastors call themselves Apostles, putting them in the same category as Peter, Paul, James and John. They claim to hear directly from God, and of course that means that you can’t point out they are wrong because if you do, you are saying God is wrong, and it doesn’t matter if what they are saying goes against what the Bible says. One of the biggest churches in America that is doing this is just a few hours up the road from us in Reading. Its scary, harmful and umbilical.
So many major bible studies in America, the best sellers in Christian Book Stores, especially the ones geared towards women’s Bible studies, so many claim to hear extra biblical revelation from God. So many of the most popular teachers out there today, don’t rightly teach the Bible, its context or true meaning and instead depend on “God told me…”
Literally the only time you should ever say “God told me…” is if you are quoting the bible. God told me, in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “not to go beyond what is written.” Gods word is sufficient. Remember that it also tells us that we are to test all things against scripture, as the bereans did in Acts. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says that we are test all things. 1 John 4:1 tells us, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” Paul shows us in the first chapter if Galatians that anyone who teaches a false gospel is damned. Whatever word your translation uses, the meaning is damned. Paul also points out that even if an angel shares a false gospel, and we know there are such things as fallen angels, even if an angel shares a false gospel, goes against scripture, they will be damned.
There is a reason that the reformers fought so hard to get the Bible into the hands of the common people. Before that, before men like Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and so many more, risked there lives to translate the Bible and get them in the hands of the everyman, only the priests and certain professional clergy members were allowed to own a Bible or to even read it. The Catholic church at the time restricted who could own or read a Bible.
But Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone, was a vital part of what took place during the 1500s and brought Gospel and Salvation to everyone. Martin Luther was reading the Bible, studying the Word of God, realizing that the religious authorities of the day were not abiding by the Word of God, but instead were doing what they wanted to do.
The Word of God showed the wrong that they were doing. The Word of God shows the right way. We go back and see in our text this morning, reading Romans 15:4, that Paul tells us that the scriptures were written for our encouragement, for instruction and to give us hope.
It gives instruction on how to live, how to be holy and righteous, restoring a broken relationship with God. It gives us hope, showing us that God gave us his Son, sent Jesus to not only be an example, as we see here, but to be a sacrifice, an atoning sacrifice, atoning for our sins, forgiving our sins, taking the penalty for our sins, and in exchange, giving those who are believers in Christ alone, his very own righteousness, bringing us into right relationship with Christ.
And scripture gives us encouragement. To repent of our sins. To trust in Christ and his work in the cross. To live our lives for the glory of God. To follow the commands of Christ, loving God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and loving our neighbor as ourself.
These things we learn through studying scriptures. Do we have any historians here? When you study a figure in history, what are the best sources to learn about the figure? Biographies and the people who have study about and learned the figure? They are helpful and you can learn about them for sure, but even better? Read and study the actual words of the person you are studying.
That holds doubly true with God. Study the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The King James Bibles says in 2 Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyself approved. There are so many false gospels, false teachers, false doctrines out there and inside churches as well, it is only by studying the we can truly know the Truth.
Again, from GotQuestions, But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is all we need to hear and the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.
I want to leave you with the words of Martin Luther. As we look at the importance, inerrancy, sufficiency and primacy of scripture, Martin Luther was called before the Catholic Church at the Diet of Worms in 1521, to essentially recant his Bible focused teaching in favor of the churches traditions and structures. To the council assembled he stands as says:
Since your most serene majesty and your lordships require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen