Sola Scriptura: The Value of the Old Testament: the Word of God.

We continue our study of the doctrine known as Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura, from the Latin, simply means Scripture Alone. Sola Scriptura is a term derived from the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is the perspective that the Bible is the sole, supreme and final authority for not only individual believers but also the church in all spiritual matters.

We are examining the importance of the Old Testament and the suggestion by a few within the church that believers should detach themselves from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is my contention that this would be an incredibly misguided and sinful thing to do.

How many portions of the Old Testament have resonated with you in your walk with Christ? I’m sure if I received responses from you, and I would gladly do so, the comments would be I’m convinced as varied as the many texts of Scripture from the OT that have impacted my own life.

Let’s begin in the beginning with Genesis 1:1. The text which begins it all in the book of beginnings: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the text which supports everything which follows in the Scriptures. It is the text by which God first revealed Himself to Israel as the One True God uniquely different from their idolatrous and polytheistic neighbors.

Then there is Genesis 3 and the fall of man into sin. However, even in this account of disobedience and judgment, God remembers mercy and gives a promise of future redemption in Genesis 3:15.

Also contained in Genesis are the narratives concerning Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Then there is the historical narrative concerning Moses and the Nation of Israel in Exodus thru Deuteronomy and the journey from bondage to the Promised Land. This account serves as a historical metaphor to our own bondage to sin and God’s redemption in Jesus Christ which frees us and leads us to a promised land where believers will spend eternity with God (Romans 6).

One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament is contained in Joshua 1:1-9 and God’s call to Joshua to be strong and courageous. I cannot accurately tell you how many times I have referred and re-read this passage in facing the challenges of my day and ministry as Joshua faced the challenges in his day and ministry.

What can be said about the Psalms? Not only were the 150 Psalms musical expressions of faith and trust in the Lord, but also examples of heart felt emotion.

The Psalter begins with Psalm 1 and the “blessed man” who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scoffer because his delight is in the Law of the Lord. This is a psalm I have memorized and one which I hope to embody.

What about Psalm 19 and the heavens declaring the glory of God, or Psalm 119 and the tremendous emphasis placed upon the Word of God. Let me encourage you to read and list the number of descriptions for God’s Word contained in Psalm 119.

How about Psalm 23? How can the church un-hitch itself from the tremendous comfort this particular psalm has provided to believers through the centuries?

I would include King David’s personal lament psalm of confession and repentance found in Psalm 51 as indispensable to the church today. Christians still sin and in Psalm 51 is the way in which the sinner is restored to intimate fellowship with the LORD.

How could the church exist without the Prophet Isaiah and his magnum opus? It contains, among other narratives and prophecies, a description of the holiness of God in Isaiah 6 and the suffering servant prophecy found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

Or how about the other glimpse of the glory of God in Ezekiel 1. Then there is uncompromising commitment of Daniel and his friends. Additionally, there are the lessons learned when a person runs from God like Jonah.

One minor prophet who is a personal favorite of mine is Habakkuk. He experienced a crisis of faith and engaged God in a series of questions and answers. Ultimately, he concluded that the righteous will live by his faith because our strength is in God.

Beloved, this is but a sampling of the riches contained in the Old Testament Scriptures. We must never allow anyone to convince us that we must un-hitch ourselves from its riches. While there are troubling passages, these reveal to us that God’s ways are not our own. God never promises us that we will understand all which He does. Rather, He commands us to trust in Him.

May we continue to do so!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Sola Scriptura: The Gospel and the Word of God.

We continue our study of the doctrine known as Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura, from the Latin, simply means Scripture Alone. Sola Scriptura is a term derived from the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is the perspective that the Bible is the sole, supreme and final authority for not only individual believers but also the church in all spiritual matters.

We are examining the importance of the Old Testament and the suggestion by a few within the church that believers should detach themselves from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is my contention that this would be an incredibly misguided and sinful thing to do.

Pastor Andy Stanley argues that someone can experience conversion without knowing or reading the Old Testament (or even the Bible)? That faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is enough?

I would respectfully disagree that someone can experience conversion without knowing or reading the Old Testament or even the Bible. The very message of the Gospel, including the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, is centered and sourced in the Scriptures: Old and New Testament. To share the Gospel without referring to the Scriptures is impossible. Ultimately, you have to return to the source of the Gospel message: The Bible. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we see a person sharing the Gospel without referring to the Scriptures.

For example, Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus Christ’s Great Commission to the church included teaching new and old converts all that commandments God has given. These commandments are contained in His Word: both the Old and New Testaments.

We should also consider Peter’s Day of Pentecost gospel presentation found in Acts 2:22-39. He preached the gospel for the first time and extensively referred to the Old Scriptures throughout his message.

However, one of the greatest evidences of the necessity of the Old Testament Scriptures is given by none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. Luke 24:13-27 says, “That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Do not fail to notice the significance of Luke 24:27 which says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Jesus did not regard the Old Testament neither as a hindrance to the gospel nor as something from which the church should be un-hitched.

Romans 10:9-17 says, Because, 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; for 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.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

As Dr. John MacArthur explains, “Paul’s main point in this series of rhetorical questions is that a clear presentation of the gospel message must precede true saving faith. True faith always has content—the revealed Word of God. Salvation comes to those who hear and believe that facts of the gospel.”

 James 1:18 says, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures.”

 I Peter 1:22-25 says, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

 Our trust in, comment to, dependence upon and worship of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior originates from hearing and understanding the Word of God by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Any presentation of the gospel must contain biblical truth if it is to be a true presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Resolve in your soul and spirit today to never compromise biblical truth when sharing the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Sola Scriptura: A Faulty Premise.

We continue our study of the doctrine known as Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura, from the Latin, simply means Scripture Alone. Sola Scriptura is a term derived from the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is the perspective that the Bible is the sole, supreme and final authority for not only individual believers but also the church in all spiritual matters.

We are examining the importance of the Old Testament and the suggestion by a few within the church that believers should detach themselves from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is my contention that this would be an incredibly misguided and sinful thing to do.

Let’s be accurate. Pastor Andy Stanley acknowledges that the Old Testament Scriptures are inspired. He’s not, according to some, a theological liberal. But he seems to think insisting upon the authority and infallibility of the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, could be a stumbling block to some people coming to faith.

Pastor Stanley states, “If you were raised on a version of Christianity that relied on the Bible as the foundation of faith, a version that was eventually dismantled by academia or the realities of life, maybe it’s time for you to change your mind about Jesus.”

He continues by saying that, “Maybe it’s time for you to consider the version of Christianity that relies on the event of the resurrection of Jesus as its foundation. If you gave up your faith because of something about or in the Bible, maybe you gave up unnecessarily.”

Pastor Stanley begins with a premise that the Bible could be a stumbling block to some people coming to faith. Several years ago, former Pastor Rob Bell began his book Love Wins with a similar premise regarding the doctrine of hell. Bell’s conclusion was to reject this particular biblical doctrine as offensive. Pastor Stanley’s contention seems to be to reject a particular biblical testament. Both of these two premises by these two men begin with a self-centric rather than a Theo-centric premise. Neither Stanley, or Bell, begin from the perspective of “Thus says the Lord.”

In his classic book, Christianity and Liberalism, Dr. J. Gresham Machen writes, “The fact itself is plain that Christianity during many centuries has consistently appealed for the truth of its claims, not merely and not even primarily to current experience, but to certain books the most recent of which was written some nineteen hundred years ago. It is no wonder that that appeal is being criticized today; for the writers of the books in question were no doubt men of their own age, whose outlook upon the material world, judged by modern standards, must have been the crudest and most elementary kind.”

Machen, in addressing the liberalism within the world and church nearly one hundred years ago and its attack against the inerrant Word of God, strikes a current and relevant chord regarding rising liberal thought within the contemporary culture and the church’s ministry within such a culture.

It is a troubling perspective when it is suggested that the authority and infallibility of God’s Word should be reduced or even eliminated because it may prove to be a stumbling block. Of course the Scriptures will be a stumbling block. The moment you allow that that the authority and the infallibility of the Bible is unnecessary, or a potential stumbling block for people coming to faith, you open the door to denying even the most basic of biblical doctrines.

How ironic that Pastor Stanley would not insist upon the relevance of the Old Testament, while at the same time proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which is good news based and grounded in the authority and infallibility of the Old Testament. You throw the baby out with the bathwater when you contend the Old Testament is not relevant or necessary.

The Scriptures say that the truth it proclaims will be a stumbling block. I Corinthians 1:18-31 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

What we have witnessed within the church, say within the last 40 years, with the seeker sensitive movement, the culturally relevant movement and the emerging church movement etc. is an effort to make the gospel more palatable to the unconverted soul. That’s impossible. The gospel will always offend because of the truths contained in the gospel.

Today, the contention is to un-hitch the church from the Old Testament. Tomorrow it will be argued to un-hitch the church from the New Testament. Some churches and pastors have already done so. They do this at their peril and that of the congregations they pastor. How tragic.

We must continue to hold fast to the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments.

Soli deo Gloria!

Sola Scriptura: All Scripture.

We continue our study of the doctrine known as Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura, from the Latin, simply means Scripture Alone. Sola Scriptura is a term derived from the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is the perspective that the Bible is the sole, supreme and final authority for not only individual believers but also the church in all spiritual matters.

We are examining the importance of the Old Testament and the suggestion by a few within the church that believers should detach themselves from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is my contention that this would be an incredibly sinful thing to do.

Why? Because the Old Testament (OT) is not only God’s written revelation of Himself in general, but also the OT is important to the church when it comes to understanding our need of salvation. The Old Testament provides the foundation for all which the New Testament teaches, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the primary truth upon which the church must commit. Let me provide three supportive Scripture passages from the New Testament of the Old Testament’s importance and value.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “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 complete, equipped for every good work.” Within the context of Paul’s words to Timothy, the “All Scripture” to which Paul refers is the Old Testament. While the phrase “All Scripture” would eventually extend to the New Testament, we cannot ignore that the phrase continues to also apply to the Old Testament.

The Apostle Paul argues that the Old Testament Scriptures are profitable. How?

They are profitable for teaching. The word teaching refers to the Bible’s instruction or doctrinal content of both the OT and the NT (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15Acts 20:18, 20–21, 271 Cor. 2:14–16Col. 3:161 John 2:20, 24, 27). The Scripture provides a comprehensive and complete body of divine truth necessary for life and godliness. See Psalm 119:97-105.

The Old Testament is profitable for reproof. To reprove means to confront wrong behavior and/or wrong belief. The Scripture exposes sin (2 Samuel 11-12; Heb. 4:12–13) which leads to confession and repentance.

The Old Testament is also profitable to correction. Correction refers to restore something to its proper condition. The word appears only here in the NT, but was used in secular Greek writings of righting a fallen object, or helping back to their feet those who had stumbled. Scripture not only rebukes wrong behavior, but also points the way back to godly living. See Psalm 119:9–11John 15:1–2.

Finally, the Old Testament is profitable for training in righteousness. Paul was explaining that even the Old Testament Scripture provides positive training (originally used in reference to training a child) in godly behavior, not merely rebuke and correction of wrong behavior (Acts 20:321 Timothy 4:61 Peter 2:1–2).

Additionally, 2 Peter 1:21-22 says, “Knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Peter is likewise referring to the Old Testament as Scripture.

I Corinthians 15:1-4, Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” The Scriptures to which the Apostle Paul again refers is within the immediate context, and at the time of its writing, the Old Testament. While now also applied to the New Testament canon, it continues to be applied to the Old Testament canon as well.

Ephesians 2:14-22 says, For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles (New Testament) and prophets (Old Testament) with the person and work of Jesus Christ being the cornerstone in which the whole structure of salvation and the church exists. The Old Testament Scripture is important for the church to understand what is contained in the New Testament Scriptures.

Take time today and read Psalm 119 and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Bask in the blessing of these two magnificent Old Testament passages.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Sola Scriptura: Unhitching the Church from the Old Testament.

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, “that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old. ’After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it.” (Acts 15:12-18).

Let’s start with the comments from Pastor Andy Stanley. I understand what he’s saying if by “unhitching” the Christian faith from Jewish Scriptures, he means you don’t need to strictly observe Jewish ceremonial law to become a Christian (Acts 15). In other words, you do not have to become Jewish in order to become a Christian.

However, let’s look more closely at what is occurring in Acts 15. Pastor Stanley uses the Acts 15 account of the Jerusalem Council as the basis for his assertions. The Jerusalem Council was called to decide whether non-Jewish believers must submit to all the requirements of the Law of Moses, especially circumcision, in order to be accepted as members of the church.

The decision of the council was that they should not make it difficult for the Gentiles because it is by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone that they are saved. Since no further restrictions are imposed by God, we must not impose any.

However, it is interesting to observe that Pastor Stanley does not point out that James grounds the council’s pronouncement in the Old Testament text of Amos 9:11-12, which is printed above. See also Jeremiah 12:15 and Isaiah 45:21. This Old Testament text is not implicit to James and council’s decision, but rather foundational to it.

David E. Prince, pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and assistant professor of Christian preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes, “James and the church leaders did not unhitch themselves from the Old Testament, but rather found biblical authority to make the decision which was made. Stanley attempts to co-opt the fact that the Bible comes to us as progressive revelation to meet his own agenda of severing the teachings of the New Testament from the Old Testament. James, contrary to Stanley, did the opposite. James grounds the declaration of the council by showing that the position of the council was in continuity with God’s authoritative revelation in the Old Testament. The inclusion of the Gentiles was promised in the Old Testament, and the apostles are in full agreement with the message of the prophets. The restored kingdom of David will include the Gentiles (Acts 15:16-17). Rather than unhitching or completely detaching from the Old Testament, the apostles saw the Gentiles as the living fulfillment of the promise of the Old Testament.”

One of the evidences that the Bible is the Word of God is fulfilled prophecy. When you take away the Old Testament, you are removing a particular prophetical pillar supporting the authority of the Bible.

As Pastor Timothy Clothier explains, “He (Pastor Andy Stanley) seems to offering a misguided apologetic for the Christian faith.  He’s made similar arguments elsewhere such as “you don’t need to believe the Bible you just need to believe in the resurrection.”  Without question problematic and misguided, however I’m not sure he’s trying to out rightly undermine Christianity. However, it may be the result.”

 Pastor Clothier continues by saying, “I think this is also a bi-product of his preaching/church philosophy.  I heard him say, years ago, that walking through a book of the Bible was an easy cop-out because you didn’t have to be creative.  However, when one determines to be the originator of content and not the expositor of content you eventually run out of solid content.  That coupled with the fact he’s eliminated the OT from all consideration he’s not left with much to preach on/from.”

The Bible says, ironically in the Old Testament, that there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Andy Stanley begins with a premise. The Old Testament offends some people. Stanley does not want them to be offended. Therefore, you “unhitch” the church from the Old Testament. Haven’t we witnessed this in the church over the past several decades with the removal of crosses, any mention of sin and the denial of biblical doctrines which offend such as Hell. E.g. Love Wins by Rob Bell.

Psalm 119:105 says, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Let us resolve to not allow anyone to unhitch us either individually, or corporately in the church, from the whole counsel of God: both Old and New Testaments.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

Sola Scriptura: Its Meaning!

“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 complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

For the next several days we’re going to take a brief hiatus from the Gospel of John in order to examine the doctrine known as Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura, from the Latin, simply means Scripture Alone. Sola Scriptura is a term derived from the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is the perspective that the Bible is the sole, supreme and final authority for not only individual believers but also the church in all spiritual matters.

The Westminster Confession of Faith states, “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”

The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 sets forth the principle of Sola Scriptura when he wrote that all Scripture is inspired, or God-breathed, and is profitable or beneficial for teaching or doctrinal content, reproving the sinner of his sin, showing the proper correction from sin, and training the individual believer in ways to live righteously and therefore, to not sin. Furthermore, Scripture alone enables each believer, and especially those involved in full-time ministry, to be equipped for every good work God has given them to do.

When the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write these verses from 2 Timothy, the phrase “all Scripture” was exclusively referring to the Old Testament. For example, Psalm 1, Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 all focus on the subject of God’s Word. All three psalms provide a rich framework concerning the inherent value of God’s biblical revelation of Himself contained in the Old Testament.

However, we now understand that the phrase “all Scripture,” today has come to encompass and include the New Testament Scriptures as well.  All sixty-six books of the Bible are to be viewed as God’s Word. As one pastor has written on the subject, “we are forbidden to add to or take away from Scripture (cf. Deut. 4:212:32Rev. 22:18-19). To add to it is to lay on people a burden that God Himself does not intend for them to bear (cf. Matt. 23:4).” This is known as legalism.

I would add that to take from Scripture is to open the believer, and the church, to license or licentiousness which is a recklessness born from a rejection of God’s written revelation. We must not disregard passages, portions or even entire books of Scripture because they make us uncomfortable or may prove difficult to interpret and/or understand.

This introductory essay is written within a particular context of controversy. Earlier this year, a nationally known pastor stated that Christians needed to “unhitch” the Old Testament from their faith. Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church, explained that while he believes that the Old Testament is “divinely inspired, it should not be “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church.”

Stanley preached in May of this year from Acts 15, which described how the early church decided that Gentile converts did not need to strictly observe Jewish law to become Christians. “[First century] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures,” said Stanley. “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well.”

Stanley argued that detaching the church from the Old Testament has to be done for the same reason the church in Acts 15 did so, which was so that “we must not make it difficult for those Gentiles who are turning to God.” 

For Pastor Stanley, the difficulty lay with the Old Testament and his concern that many Christians are turning away from the faith because of certain passages in the Hebrew Bible. He explained the early church showed that there was a need to move past the Old Testament for the sake of Gentile believers and that the resurrection of Jesus was enough.

“Jesus’ new covenant, His covenant with the nations, His covenant with you, His covenant with us, can stand on its own two nail-scarred resurrection feet. It does not need propping up by the Jewish scriptures,” explained Stanley. “The Bible did not create Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus created and launched Christianity. Your whole house of Old Testament cards can come tumbling down. The question is did Jesus rise from the dead? And the eyewitnesses said he did.”

Pastor Stanley acknowledged that his comments may be considered “a little disturbing” to some, but then added that for many it is “liberating.” “It’s liberating for men and women who are drawn to the simple message that God loves you so much He sent His Son to pave the way to a relationship with you. It’s liberating for people who need and understand grace, who need and understand forgiveness. And it’s liberating for people who find it virtually impossible to embrace the dynamic, the worldview, and the values system depicted in the story of Ancient Israel.”

At the same time, Stanley still regards the Jewish scriptures as having importance, saying they were “a means to an extraordinary end.” He explained that, “The Jewish scriptures are the backstory for the main story. They’re an important backstory. They’re divinely inspired. They are God on the move through ancient, ancient times.” 

“It’s the fabulous story of God the Founder playing by the rules of the kingdoms of this world, to establish a kingdom not of this world. To send a king who would be like no other king. A king who lay down His life for His subjects. A king who would introduce the entire world to God the Father,” Stanley concluded.

Stanley’s sermon was the third part of a series titled “Aftermath,” in which the pastor was trying to appeal to individuals who left Christianity over what they were taught the Bible said about certain things. “If you were raised on a version of Christianity that relied on the Bible as the foundation of faith, a version that was eventually dismantled by academia or the realities of life, maybe it’s time for you to change your mind about Jesus,” stated North Point Community Church Pastor. “Maybe it’s time for you to consider the version of Christianity that relies on the event of the resurrection of Jesus as its foundation. If you gave up your faith because of something about or in the Bible, maybe you gave up unnecessarily.”

Days before giving the third Aftermath sermon, Stanley also preached at the Orange Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, using Acts 15, as well as John 17, to argue that church unity was more important than “theological correctness.” “[Jesus] prayed for our oneness, that we’d be on the same page,” said Stanley at the conference. This is mission critical. If they are not one, we will not win … unity is mission critical and disunity disrupts the mission. Will we prioritize our oneness over our politics? Will we continue to allow the kingdom of the world to divide the Kingdom of God that is in this world because of politics?”

Well, as you can see there is a lot in which to respond. Is the principle known as Sola Scriptura no longer practical or relevant today? Is Pastor Stanley correct when he says believers should “unhitch” themselves from the Old Testament Scriptures? Has a Christianity which relies on the Bible as the foundation of faith been dismantled by academia and the realities of life as Pastor Stanley contends?

An honest attempt will be made to answer these questions, and others, and to do so graciously and honestly. However, this will be done with an unswerving and unapologetic commitment to Sola Scriptura.

Soli deo Gloria!