Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Testing Spirits II

1 John 4:4-6 (ESV)
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. [5] They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. [6] We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Test number two. We are from God, whoever knows God listens to us…. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Perhaps this sounds a bit like the Bible is true because the Bible says it is true. But there is a lot more here than meets the eye at first blush. Whoever listens to us. By us, I can only presume that John means him and his fellow apostles of Christ, those who had studied under Jesus and were sent by Him to speak for Him. This is important. Christians, and Christian leaders bow their heads to apostolic authority in Scripture. They listen to the apostolic witness in Scripture. They do not try to weasel around it. They don’t hide behind, “well who determines what is scripture, and thereby put the church above scripture.” This is the ploy of the Roman Catholics who imagine that by calling a council of corrupt bishops under an even more corrupt pope, they can determine scripture by popular vote and close dispute concerning canon. (By this I impugn the council of Trent 1545-1563) And furthermore thereby determine that they do not need to listen to scripture but are free to elevate “tradition” to the same level of authority.
Those books that have unquestionable apostolic authority must be listened to. They are the sole authority in the church, because the church was born of the apostolic witness which these books contain. Theology and questions of moral must be determined by sound exegesis of the Biblical text. Exegesis is the task of mining scripture to determine what it says, rather than reading into scripture what we would like it to say.
Those who refuse to listen to the apostles of Christ, do not listen to Jesus either. Not to long ago I had a discussion with a Mormon lady. First she remarked how clear scripture was concerning Homosexual activity, then she thanked her god that she had a prophet to interpret the scriptures for her. This is nonsense. If the scripture is so clear, and it is, then you hardly need a “prophet” or a pope to interpret them for you. In fact, these leaders show themselves not to be from God in that they do not listen to scripture, but feel free to bind the consciences of the people with laws not uttered by God, and doctrines that are blasphemous according to scripture. We hold our leaders accountable to scripture, not the other way around. Even as Lutheran’s we do not appeal to Luther to settle an argument, though we may give him credit for an argument that we use in a dispute with out Baptist neighbor. But we appeal to that which Luther himself appealed in his fight with the Pope, Scripture, and Scripture alone. We have nothing else. If we have no scripture we have no argument. We must bow to the authority Christ invested in his apostle’s, and them alone.

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