Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Our Only Rule of Faith and Practice

Our only rule of faith and practice is the Word of God. We have . . .
   no creed to defend,
   no denomination to maintain, and
   no confession to bind our minds.

"What do the Scriptures teach?" That is and must be our only concern. If the plain teachings of Holy Scripture appear to destroy or contradict our understanding of any doctrine, then let us relinquish the doctrine, or acknowledge the fact that our minds are both depraved and minuscule, and bow to the revelation of God.
—Don Fortner

Commit those words to heart and memory, Christian. Regardless of what denomination we belong to, regardless of what traditions we hold to, regardless of what system of theology we follow, we must subject and compare all teachings to the Scriptures and hold the Scriptures as the only authority. Confessions, creeds, denominations, doctrines, systems of theology, and traditions may help to guide us, but they are in no way the be-all and end-all of faith. They are not infallible, inerrant, or inspired. I agree with most of Reformed theology, the doctrines of grace, and the five solas, but where they do not agree with Scripture, I must reject such teachings and traditions and conform my beliefs to the Word of God. Reformed theology, the doctrines of grace, and the five solas are not infallible, inerrant, or inspired. Any true student of the Word, a Berean at heart, understands this and will subject these, and all systems of theology, to the scrutiny of the Word of God. How we were raised, what we were taught, and what we presently believe must submit and conform to Scripture. Otherwise we are blind, ignorant, disobedient, rebellious fools.

When we study and interpret Scripture, our emotions, experiences, and opinions must be checked at the door and far removed. They have no place there. We must exercise control over them and subject them to the authority of Scripture. Otherwise we are going to do harm to the text and make it say what we want it to say. We must approach Scripture with all humility, having an attitude that honestly desires to learn the truth and a ready willingness for admitting error when it is found. As long as we grip pride in our hearts and tell ourselves that nothing we believe could be wrong or contain errors, we will never allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). When He shows us that truth in spite of ourselves, by denying it or refusing to accept and submit to it, we quench His working in us to conform us to Christ and His Word. We must be like the noble Bereans and we must have a teachable attitude about us. A majority view on any particular issue means absolutely nothing; if it is wrong, it is wrong—no matter how many people hold to it! Consensus is not truth, and truth is not consensus.

"[Study] to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16

"Now [the Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether [the things the Apostle Paul taught them] were so." Acts 17:11

"Not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit." 1 Corinthians 2:13