Sermon of the Week
God’s Good Treasure: God-Breathed Scripture.
Keywords: Reformation, God-Breathed Scripture, Inspiration, sola scriptura, hermeneutics.
Next Week is Reformation Sunday in many Presbyterian Churches
but because we’re going to be celebrating Be the Church next week,
I thought it would be good to explore a bit about the Reformation today.
And, in addition, for the second week in a row,
the reading for the day leads us to focus our sermon on the Bible,
on the Holy Scriptures.
This makes sense, because every week we read from the Bible,
sing songs that quote the Bible
have a sermon that seeks to help us understand the Bible,
so that we can experience God in Jesus Christ a bit better.
The Bible is kind of a big deal.
And it has been this way for us for centuries,
certainly going back to the Protestant Reformation, in the early 1500s,
when Martin Luther introduced what he called the solas:
soli Deo Gloria…
which translate as a faith:
by Scripture alone
by faith alone
by grace alone
through Christ alone
and glory to God alone.
That first one, “Sola scriptura” – scripture alone –
was maybe the most important hallmark of the Reformation,
because it was a radical shift of authority within the Christian Church.
These days, the Bible is everywhere.
It is easily the most purchased book every year.
There are free apps and websites that offer most of the available translations
in almost every language.
So it feels like the Bible is quite accessible—
but it hasn’t always been that way.
Back during the time of the reformation, there weren’t very many Bibles.
For one thing, the Reformation happened just a few years
after the printing press had been invented.
Before the 1450s, the only way to duplicate a Bible was by hand;
a long, tedious process, to say the least.
Bibles were rare,
so crazy expensive,
and only written in Latin, which everyday people couldn’t read.
(Actually, many of the priests couldn’t read, either.)
So Martin Luther was something of a rarity:
an educated monk who could read the scripture.
And it was actually READING the Bible
that completely turned Martin Luther’s life around.
His understanding of God’s overflowing grace came from reading Paul’s letters;
and it was so enormously important, he thought,
that everyone should have the privilege
of reading the powerful words of the Bible for themselves.
But his grievance with the corruption of the Church of Rome
was also a mighty factor.
The Pope and his leaders held all this power –
over priests, over churches,
over theology, over governments, over people’s lives.
They made claims over who was in and who was out,
who got to heaven, and who went to hell.
They were the one and only authority, for all intents and purposes,
and had extraordinary power.
And Martin Luther upended it all with the very simple,
radical claim that God’s authority rested in scripture alone. Sola Scriptura
His argument was simple:
If we believe that God inspires these texts,
that God is the ultimate source,
that they point to the true Word,
then God alone has authority over our lives.
The scriptures are inspired, or to put it into a better, more accurate translation
from today’s reading in Second Timothy, they are God-breathed.
I really love that phrase.
In the Greek, it combines the word for God and the word for Spirit.
These texts should be useful for teaching, for reproof, for training in righteousness
because God is in there. The Spirit moves in there.
And if we listen for it, if we learn to recognize it and understand it,
God will give us all we need to know. [Read more…]