Sola Scriptura and Orthopraxy: In Doctrine, Church Polity, Worship, and More (Part 4)
Sola Scriptura is to be the basis of the church in its doctrine, worship, polity and practice.
The Church that practices Sola Scriptura holds to and contends for “the faith” in the doctrinal essentials such as:
1. Inspiration of Scripture,
They also hold forth five Biblical truths known by many as the five solas. Here is a brief description of each of them taken from the internet at http://en.wikipedia.org/ .
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers' basic beliefs and emphasis in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day.
Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
Salvation comes by grace only, not through any merit on the part of the sinner. Thus salvation is an unearned gift. This doctrine is a response to the Catholic doctrine of merit.
Sola fide ("by faith alone")
Justification (that is, becoming guiltless before God) comes through faith only, not good works, though in the classical protestant scheme, saving faith will always be accompanied by good works. This doctrine can be summarized with the formula "Faith yields justification and good works" and is contrasted with the Catholic formula "Faith and good works yield justification." This doctrine is sometimes called the material cause of the Reformation because it was the central doctrinal issue for Martin Luther.
Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
The Bible is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God and is accessible to all (that is, perspicuous and self-interpreting). This doctrine is directly opposed to the teaching of the Catholic Church that scripture can only be authentically interpreted through Holy Apostolic Tradition by the Magisterium (that is, the Pope and bishops at church councils). This doctrine is sometimes called the formal cause of the Reformation because it was the underlying cause of disagreement over sola fide.
Solus Christus ("Christ alone"; sometimes Solo Christo, "by Christ alone")
Christ is the exclusive mediator between God and man. Neither Mary, the saints, nor priests (other than Christ himself) can act as mediator in bringing salvation. This doctrine is contrasted with the Catholic doctrines of the intercession of saints and of the function of priests.
Soli Deo gloria ("Glory to God alone")
All glory is due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through his works — not only the atonement on the Cross by Jesus, but even granting the faith which allows men to be saved by that atonement. The Reformers believed that human beings (such as the Catholic saints and popes) and their organizations (the Church) were not worthy of the glory that was bestowed on them.
Also as the Church studies grace and what it means and how God works in bringing His people to salvation the “doctrines of grace” become a hall mark of doctrinal orthopraxy in the Church. These five points, commonly called the five points of Calvinism, defines the “Amazing Grace” of God in the salvation of the believer. The five points are biblical grace given in its pure definitive form. Anything less is simply not a correct definition of the outworking of biblical grace. Here is a brief description of each of them taken from the internet at http://en.wikipedia.org.
The English-speaking world often identified in the popular mind as the so-called five points of Calvinism, which are a summation of the judgments (or canons) rendered by the Synod of Dordt and which were published in the Quinquarticular Controversy as a point-by-point response to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrants. They therefore function only as a summary of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism and are not a good summation of Calvin's writings, or of the theology of the Reformed churches in general. Indeed, Calvin never fully discussed doctrines such as limited atonement in his writings, but only hinted at his opinion. The central assertion of these canons is that God is able to save every one of those upon whom he has mercy and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or the inability of humans.
Summaries of the points
The five points of Calvinism, which can be remembered by the English acronym TULIP, with supporting passages from the Bible are:
People in their natural, unregenerate state do not have the ability to turn to God. Rather it is the grace and will of God through the Spirit that causes men who are dead in sin to be reborn through the Word. This concept is summarized by the aphorism "Regeneration precedes faith," since in the Calvinist view, apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit for the individual, there would never be any faith.
Romans 3:10-11 "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God."
John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."
1 Corinthians 2:14 "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them."
Election means "choice". God's choice from eternity, of whom He will bring to Himself, is not based on foreseen virtue, merit or faith in the persons He chooses but rather, is unconditionally grounded in His own mercy.
Romans 9:16 "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."Ephesians 1:4 "Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him."
John 1:13 "born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."Exodus 33:19 "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement" meaning that, Christ's death actually takes away the penalty of sins committed by those upon whom God has chosen to have mercy. (As opposed to Christ's death making redemption merely a possibility that we can perform). It is "limited" then, to taking away the sins of the elect.
John 10:14-15 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."
John 10:27-28 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
Acts 20:28 "shepherd the church of God that He obtained with the blood of His own Son."
Ephesians 5:25 "love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
John 17:9 "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."
John 6:44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:65 "And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."
The saving grace of God is not resistible. Those who obtain salvation do so because of the relentlessness of God's mercy. Individuals yield to grace, not finally because God found their consciences more tender or their faith more tenacious than other people. Rather, willingness, and any ability to do God's will, are evidence of God's faithfulness to save people from the power and the penalty of sin.
· John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you."
· Ephesians 1:11 "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will."
· I Thessalonians 1:4-5 "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit."
· Romans 9:11 "though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad- in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call."
· Colossians 2:13 "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him."
Perseverance of the saints
Also called the "Preservation of the Saints". Those whom God has called into communion with Himself through Christ, will continue in faith and will increase in faith and other gifts, until the end. Those who apparently fall away, either never had true faith to begin with, or else will return. This is slightly different than the "once saved, always saved" view prevalent in modern American evangelical churches: in that doctrine, despite seeming apostasy, the individual is really saved; in Calvinist teaching, the individual is proving that they are not saved at all, and never were.
John 10:27-28 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish."
1 John 2:19 "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us."
Philippians 1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Church councils, Creeds and confessions are also orthopraxic tools of the Church and are a part of the practice of sola scriptura. The Church leaders use the scripture to bring forth to the people doctrines that it has to define due to issues that come before the Church leaders or heresies that creep into the Church. These are brought to the people via church councils such as we see an example of in Acts chapters 15 and 16 . The leaders write that which the scriptures teach regarding those issues and sent them to the local assemblies to be taught by the elders and pastors. The writing done for this instruction is in the form of Creeds and confessions. There are biblical examples of creeds and confession in the Bible I Tim 3; 16; Acts 15-16; etc.) This indicates tha t they are a part of biblical orthopraxy and that these are meant to be practiced by the Church as part of sola scriptura. In this orthodoxy and orthopraxy is maintained.
Sola scriptura is also to be practices in worship, All worship is to be in spirit and in truth. Worship has several components that must be included. Listed below are several vital and necessary components of worship:
The reading of the scriptures,The invocationPsalms, Hymns and spiritual SongsPrayersOaths and VowsConfessionRepentanceProclamation of forgivenessPreaching of the WordBaptism and the Lord’s SupperPraise Of The Triune GodTithes and OfferingsBenediction
Sola Scriptura is also properly administered when the Church upholds the biblical practice in the Church polity and leadership of the Church. The Church is to be led by elders who rule in an official capacity, with ecclesiastical authority, as a Church court. They rule as under shepherds and for the good of the people and to the glory of God (Heb. 13) Then there is the oversight of service to the saints to be accomplished by the office of deacons.
Being leaders of biblical Christianity and holding Sola Scriptura in orthodoxy and orthopraxy the pastors and elders will be intent on giving instruction to the people in the doctrines of the faith and also will then instruct them how the doctrines affect their lives for godly living. They will disciple the flock in daily living for the Lord, teaching them to be people of discernment so that they recognize sin, learn to resist it and live godly biblical lives as they continue to grow and develop within themselves and in biblical interpersonal relationships.
Whew that’s a lot……. Stay tuned more to come …….Steve