"Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psa. 85:6).
Roman Catholic officials railed vehemently against Luther and other protesters of the day. Church authorities threatened banishment and death. Many Christians lost their lives when they made their stand for the light of Jesus Christ during the reformation centuries.
The movement here and there bypassed the unBiblical nouveau theology of the Popessalvation by works, open excommunication of Biblical Sabbath keepers, the doctrine of purgatory, second chance theology, the sale of Papal Tickets or indulgences, and wholesale departure from the laws of God in favor of the laws (canons) of the Churchwhich had held Europe captive for a millennium, and had enriched the coffers of that great mother whore church/state of Rome. This church sold out God and true doctrine for gain, "supposing that gain is godliness" (1Tim. 6:5).
The sixteenth century saw more than reformation. Europe experienced revival also. Men can reform a whoreclean her up, take off some makeup, buy her a nice new dress, and move her across town to a higher clientele. But she is still a harlot, even if she is a reformed harlot (Heb. 11:31). It takes revival, however, a change of the heart, to make a woman of the night into a lady again. Men reform, but revival takes place when God the Holy Spirit works, praise God! And God the Holy Spirit was working locally in many different churches.
Sola scripturaby the Word of God alonemen returned to the sound doctrine of salvation by grace and other Bible truths, one by one, at different places and at different times, off and on for some two hundred years. Heretical ideas had been around ever since the judaizers of the first century. But heretical ideas never settle in for long where men fear God more than they fear other men; and where men read their Bibles, believe their Bibles and fearlessly preach the Word of God. Truth never needs the approval of men. Truth never requires accreditation by the state church board. Truth did not need sanction by the ecclesiastical authorities of Rome (Did God give them their authority, or did they take it by political and military force?!!). Truth never needs great men of the cloth to agree with it. Truth is truth, independent of what men do with it, praise God! Truth crushed to earth shall rise again.
I am the truth, Jesus said. And where God works, truth sorts out error like a floodlight sends cockroaches scurrying into the darkness! That "little flock" (Luke 12:32), that "remnant of Israel" (Eze. 11:13) looked to God the Holy Spirit and scripture, not to unholy church/state alliances and councils, for sound doctrine. That "remnant [not the masses] shall be saved" (Rom. 9:27). The politically correct masses and their priesthood rejected "sound doctrine" and became "gainsayers" (Titus 1:9), promoting salvation by works and payment of money in atonement for sin, etc., etc. Even so, God would not "make a full end of the remnant of Israel" (Eze. 11:13).
Christians sought out sound doctrine by reading the Bible and hearing it preached. Will you too find the true faith of our Israelite forefathers? Hear the Bible formula. Hear what God says. Listen to the source, and only true source, of sound doctrine:
"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, or whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (1Tim. 1:9-10). Brother, will you find "sound doctrine?" Then go to "the law" of God. Whatever is contrary to sound doctrine, the law of God will sort out.
The first five books of the Bible are specifically called the Law. When Christians get into doctrinal trouble on various issues, it is always due to a failure to know and apply the law of God. The apostle Paul refers to this problem in sorting out the stickily problem of doctrine on divorce and remarriage, when he stated, "for I speak to them that know the law" (Rom. 7:1). How many Christians do you know today who make a concise study of the books of "the law" before approaching doctrinal issues? How many of the church "fathers" do you know who were staunch defenders of the law of God? Certainly not Justin Martyr or Tertullian or most of the other men commonly referred to as church "fathers." The very expression church "fathers," except in reference to our genetic Israelite forefathers, is nowhere found in the Bible, and is offensive to a Bible believer. Church "fathers" is a man made term, a concept invented by liberal minded teachers and historians, designed to deify fallible men. Some of these men were zealous Bible believers, no doubt. Some were nominal Christians and others were sold out to the devil. None of them wrote the Bible. None of their writings is on a par with scripture.
Take Justin Martyr (c. AD100-167), for example. He praised the Greek philosopher Plato, a fag, a queer, a homosexual lover of young boys. To the question, "Does philosophy, then, make happiness?" Justin replied, "Assuredly, and it alone" (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Editors, Vol. I, The Apostolic FathersJustin Martyr-Irenaeus, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 207).
Justin wrote "Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead" (Ibid., p. 186). Justin wrote: "For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to yourselves [Trypho and his kindred] alone. . ." (Ibid., p. 200). He asked, "how can the impure and utterly abandoned, if they weep not, and mourn not, and repent not, entertain the hope that the Lord will not impute to them sin?" He admonished "to give diligence in this very great struggle for your own salvation. . ." (Ibid., p. 270).
The Bible never calls salvation a struggle, but a gift through belief, acceptance, by simple childlike faith. "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). Upon receipt of the free gift of salvation by faith, the Christian will afterwards "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12), either through obedience (Mat. 5:19) or through chastisement from God (Eze 20:37). Justin Martyr believed in salvation by works, which is still quite common in churches today.
By his own words, Justin Martyr rejected that "law promulgated on Horeb" (Ten Commandments) in favor of Plato and philosophy. He replaced the Holy Sabbath with Sunday; and adopted the doctrine of salvation by works, and other nonBiblical ideas. Do you suppose for a minute that Justin Martyr would have discerned sound doctrine even if it hit him over the head like a falling brick? Godly discernment is the application of Gods holy law to any idea or circumstance (1Kgs. 3:9; Ezek. 44:23; Hebr. 5:14). In many ways, Justin was no different than liberal Christian theologians of our day who espouse a cotton-candy Christianity sweet to the initial taste but unfounded in the Word of God.
Take another example of a church "father." Tertullian (c. AD155-222) was born heathen in Carthage, North Africa, and was probably educated in Rome. He was a prolific Latin writer, a married man and presbyter of Carthage. He broke from the Roman mother church during his middle age and has been called the father of Latin Christianity. He wrote true to the Alexandrian text of the Old Testament (Septuagint: read, NIV, New King James, etc). He used Greek or Latin New Testaments in his many discourses. He believed "that now none of the race of Israel has remained in Bethlehem" (Ibid., Vol. III, Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, p. 151).
He thought "we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God. Some of his writings seem to support the Bible Sabbath. Yet he rejects it elsewhere with "also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary. . ." (Ibid., p. 153, 155). Then, as today, corrupt Bibles (Alexandrian tree) were common. Some church fathers exposed their utter animosity for the holy law of God. We might call these people crippled Christians, whose Bibles were far less than "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Deu. 8:3; Mat. 4:4), whose Bible interpretations fell far short of the true faith of our Israelite forefathers.
On the soul, Tertullian thought "that the soul escapes [the body] by degrees. . . and suggests to us the idea of being annihilated by the slow process of its departure" and it "is released from its concretion with the flesh, it is by the very release cleansed and purified: it is, moreover, certain that it escapes. . . into open space, to its clear, and pure, and intrinsic light; and then finds itself enjoying its enfranchisement from matter, and by virtue of its liberty it recovers its divinity (Ibid. p. 229-230). How could Tertullian possibly please God and understand sound doctrine overall, when he rejected "the law of Moses" and believed the soul is "annihilated," but later "recovers its divinity" after death?
Ignatius, (c. AD67-107), Bishop of Antioch, was a Bible believer on many Christian doctrines. However, he spoke against the seventh day Sabbath, saying, ". . . those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lords Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death. . . let every friend of Christ keep the Lords Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]" (Ibid., Vol 1, p. 62, 63) .
Irenaeus (AD120-202) wrote that it is by "the Decalogue [Ten Commandments] (which, if any one does not observe, he has no salvation). (Ibid., Vol I, Irenaeus, Book IV, chapter XV, i, p. 479). Here, Irenaeus openly states his belief in no salvation without observance of the Ten Commandments.
Of Irenaeus, it is said: "At the Council of Nice, the rule for the observance of Easter [against Passover] was finally settled by the whole Church; and the forbearing example of Irenaeus, [some two centuries earlier] no doubt contribued greatly to this happy result" (Ibid., Vol. V, Irenaeus, Intro to Against Heresies, p. ).
Whatever the genuineness of their Christian faithundoubtedly some were genuinethe early church "fathers" commonly rejected the law of God. They favored traditions that grew out of early first and second century apostacy. No matter how many other heresies these men stood against, they failed to "endure sound doctrine" of Peter and Paul and James and other New Testament writers, who all defended the moral law of God as the Christians only standard for life in this world.
The Bible warns: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2Tim. 4:3). The Christian is warned to hold: "fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9). Gainsayers gained a foothold among early church "fathers" through their belief in salvation by works. This heresy grew in application until it was institutionalized through misuse of sacraments, the doctrine of indulgences, the abuse of confession and a host of other religious whoredoms designed to hold Christians in bondage to the church.
The Bible says that "sound doctrine" is built straight out of "the law""built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone," and not on the church "fathers," regardless of how genuine and self sacrificing these men may have been in their Christian faith and practice.
One central point of sound doctrine is the nature of Christ. Was He God? Man? Both? Arius (4th century priest of Alexandria, Egypt) taught that Christ was not truly divine. The Council of Nicea was called together to study the question and pronounce the truth, which states: "I believe. . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. . . "
Suppose we never had access to this statement on the nature of Christ and had only the Bible to rely on. Can the Christian understand the nature of Christ from the preserved Word of God alone, without reference to other writings? Can the Christian today understand the nature of Christ by using only "the law and. . . the testimony"sola scriptura, since "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (2Pet. 1:20).
The apostle Paul said: "the mystery of Christ. . . is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph 3:5). We are admonished to "speak thou the things which become sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). Where does the Bible believer go to understand "the mystery of Christ," His nature, in all its ramifications? "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20). In the law, God told Moses, "say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exod. 3:14). There is no question that the "I AM" of Moses was fully God. No Christian scholar would disagree.
The Virgin Mary "was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (Mat 1:18). It was prophesied that "a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14) This Son is identified as "I AM" nearly 100 times in the four gospels alone. Jesus Christ is the great I AM of Moses, praise God. If the "I AM" of Moses was fully God, Jesus Christ is fully God and you learned it from the Bible, without question, without the necessity of state/church councils and theological pronouncements of church "fathers" whom the Bible says have "no light" because they rejected the law of God and chose to fly with less than a full tank of scriptural fuel. "A good understanding have all they that do his commandments" (Psa. 111:10).
Of His manhood, the Bible says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten [not born] of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Now flesh and blood is what makes a man mortal, corruptible, subject to death, fully man. Jesus, being the I AM, was "made [not created] flesh" (John 1:14). Jesus was born of flesh and blood (John 19:34), made fully man, and you learned it from the Bible, sola scriptura, hallelujah, without reference to any creed. Now the Nicene Creed, less the baptism salvation by works clause, is an acceptable statement of Christian faith, albeit with some esoteric language. "Very God of very God," true, but not found in the Bible, is wording born from a scholarly, extraBiblical mindset. Jesus answered, "It is written," 26 times in the four gospels. Christian, would you not also do well to confess with Jesus, "It is written," and leave the esoteric language to the scholars who love to debate in extraBiblical language?
When we read, speak and obey the very law/word of God, we will be constantly sorting out error from truth in application, thus holding "sound doctrine." Christian, forget television. Forget the movies; forget magazines; forget friends on doctrine. And dont depend on the church "fathers" for your Biblical interpretation, regardless of how good you think they might be. They sometimes provide good historical background on the Bible. Yet, they neither wrote the Bible, nor interpret the Bible for the Christian. The idea that the church "fathers" somehow make explicit what is implicit in the Bible is not found in your Bible! Only the Bible can interpret itself and make itself explicit. "No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (2Pet. 1:20), not that of anyone, not even the church "fathers," and certainly not this writer. On all matters of truth and Christian faith, particularly on controversial issues, follow Moses, who spoke of Christ. Follow the prophets who trumpeted the law of God, the standard for life. Follow Peter and Paul and James, who followed Christ.
Take all antinomian church fathers and their teachings, add five large grains of scriptural salt, heat well with Holy Spirit revival fire, and the porridge you get comes out a rancid, coagulated mess! It does not taste right without the the purifying effect of Gods holy and righteous law. Follow Abraham, the father of the faithful, who "believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:3). Follow the Spirit led apostles who wrote down the New Testament. Thank God for the men He used to transmit and preserve His Word down through the centuries, but dont necessarily believe what these men believed about Gods Word. Not all of them were Bible believers. Most, in fact, were not Bible believers at all, because they rejected the law of God. Some endured great hardships and persecution to the extent that their hands were cut off, their tongues were cut out and their eyes were made blind. Many were martyred. Even if these men trusted Jesus Christ explicitly for personal salvation, how can anyone rightly be called a Bible believer, if he rejects major sections (the law) of the Bible, though he give his body to be burned?
Will you return to sound doctrine, the faith of our fathers? Find a preacher who believes the King James Bible, commissioned by one sitting on the prophesied throne (Gen. 49:10). Find a preacher who does more than prefer the King James Bible. Find one who believes it and is not afraid "to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Find a Spirit led preacher willing to shed his own deceptions and traditions in favor of Bible truth. Listen carefully to him. Then, do as the Bereans, "who received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). Yes, the Bereans had all the scriptures they needed, long before the New Testament was officially canonized, to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1Ths. 5:21). Put your Bible believing preachers sermons to practice every day. Do not try to fly solo. Your own blind spots will crash your life vision on the rocks of discouragement, despair, and false doctrine. No Christian is an island unto himself. Do not trust arm chair theologians and mail order ministries and televangelists who will promise you the world and sell you a pack of lies while they fleece you of your available funds!
Every Christian needs a man of God in a local church to follow, just as the apostle Paul admonished: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1Cor. 11:1). Apart from the active work of God the Holy Spirit in a mans life, he can know nothing. "And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand" (Luke 8:10). No amount of study will do it. Not fifty doctor of divinity degrees in themselves will do it. The Bible calls educated theologians who reject the Bible "dumb dogs" (Isa. 56:10). Not perfect knowledge of every so called church council and "father" that ever existed can do it. "A man [that means you] can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27).
God has given that Spirit of truth "to them that obey him" (Acts 5:32). Obedience is defined as "the keeping of the commandments of God" (1Cor. 7:19). Most early church "fathers" rejected the holy Law of God. These men were so caught up in various church issues that they forgot the only standard God gave us to live by. Only God the Holy Spirit through the Word of God gives sound doctrine from heaven. Hallelujah! All men can do is pray for it and receive it as revelation from God. Even then remember, "if any man [that includes this author] think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1Cor. 8:2). Now that is sound doctrine. How dare a man, Pope or otherwise, ever claim to speak the last word ex cathedra as the vicar of Christ on anything! Heresy! Anathema! Papal bull!
Christian, will you believe God? Will you hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints by reading, hearing, proving, believing and living, "not . . . by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Mat. 4:4). Praise God for "sound doctrine," the true faith of our fathers. All else is Anathema! Papal Bull!