This is my series of answers to some questions from a man called Brian from Northern Ireland. Sometimes I will put these answers on the website to benefit a wider audience. First, here are Brian's questions and comments: Subject: "The Bible is the Sole Rule of Faith." (I am still not quite sure what he means by this! AF) By ”Rule of Faith” I mean that some believe that the Bible is the sole implement for salvation.
This is contrary to Mat 18.18 is it not whereby power was given to the Apostles? And my conclusion from this is that the Bible in conjunction with the Apostles ad infinitum is the implement for salvation and not just the Bible itself. The other places I have discovered are those given below but which I copy here: 1 Cor. 11:2, 2 Thess. 2:15, 2 Tim. 2:2, and 2 places in 2 Pet. Viz. 1:20 & 3:15-16. Brian This is my reply: Hello Brian. Well all scripture is God breathed, and God used men - inspired by the Holy Spirit - to write scripture.
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and this comes through knowing Jesus, repenting of our sins, accepting Him, being baptised and becoming one of His people. You can't really split "the Bible" from the apostles, who wrote a large chunk of it. God can use many means to draw people to Himself. People have come to faith before they even read Scripture. However, once they have come to true faith they should have a hunger for the Word of God.
I think you are misunderstanding Matthew 18, verse 18, which relates to the preceeding verses and is saying that when people are disciplined in church that action is honoured in heaven. If the disciplined Christian then repents and comes back into fellowship, then that action is also ratified by God. First Corinthians chapter eleven, verse 2, refers to the Corinthians who are commended for the way they remembered Paul in all things and held to the teaching he had given them. These were the apostle's inspired instructions.At the beginning of the chapter Paul tells them to "be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. There follows the famous chapter on the role of women.
If you read our last book you will see that my wife Pat has a chapter on the role of women and on our website our daughter comments in depth, having researched this matter exhaustively, on the subject of the head-covering. Second Thessalonians 2 verse 15 again brings advice to the church, this time in Thessalonia and the advice is again to hold fast to what they have been taught, either in letters or by the apostles' words.
The thing to mark here is that the only "traditions" the church can rely on and which carry the authority of our Lord are those which are the apostles' inspired teachings. This rules out the "traditions" of the scribes and Pharisees which were merely the traditions of men. Second Timothy, 2, 2:` This was written to Timothy while Paul was in prison in Rome and was written at a time when Paul saw many false teachers - apostates- coming into the church and misleading many, much as they do today. It it written from Paul's heart, to his young companion Timothy, and is really an exhortation to be diligent, to rightly divine the word of truth.
Paul, of course, looked on Timothy as a beloved son in Christ and Timothy may well have been converted through Paul's ministry. 2;2 tells us that Timothy is not just to be strengthened himself but to ensure the spiritual strengthening of others - that they put on the full armour of God. Paul was in prison, facing death. The banner had to be passed on and Timothy had to transmit Paul's inspired teachings to other believers while there was yet time - much as we have to do today, except that today we do not have the advantage of first hand teaching from the apostles! However, we have their precise words, accurately preserved, and these, quickened to us by the Holy Spirit, are more than sufficient.
Incidentally, this verse does not back the notion of apostolic succession or even the so called "ordination" of ministers. Indeed, we are all to be "priests" - we are all to pass on the faith.We are all evangelists, although some have the special gift of evangelism.Timothy is to pass on the truth to faithful men - not women - men who are believers and who in turn teach others. In our church we believe that all mature Christian men should be able to teach, and a group of us take it in turns to bring the Sunday messages. We believe this is scriptural, rather than having one special "priest" to do the job for us. This is error. We are all priests and do not need earthly intermediaries to approach God in prayer.
Finally, to Second Peter. Chapter one verse 20 is where Peter stresses that the prophetic scriptures were not from man - they originated with God, they were divinely inspired; no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation. It is the origin of prophecy that Peter is talking about here. When the prophets wrote down what they were given, they did not put their own "spin" on things. Interpretation refers to the way the words came to be written in the first place, not to the explanation of the word. Second Peter chapter three, verses 15 and 16.
This is the chapter that resonates today, when there are many "scoffers" who dare to doubt the word of God. Verse 15 validates the words and written teachings of Paul, which were given with divine authority - they were not his own bright ideas. He spoke "according to the wisdom given him." This is a good verse to use to refute those who say that "Paul didn't like women," "Paul was speaking just for his own time" and other fallacies. In 16 we read that Paul's letters were sometimes distorted by the"untaught and unstable," who unfortunately constitute a high proportion of the "church" leadership today. People like Rowan Williams come to mind.
Peter clearly believed Paul's work to be divinely inspired. It is not the way he wrote which was difficult to follow, but some of the subject matter. To this day cults and isms - very much in the world today - love to take a little scripture and twist it. I do not know what you mean by "Apostles ad infinitum." There are no apostles today. If you mean the original teaching is still valid I would agree with you. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow - "I am the Lord thy God - I changeth not."
In depth daily Bible study with good guides and commentaries is the way to understand the Bible. There are no short cuts and we have to do it ourselves. We need to be careful who we get out teaching from; what their backgrounds and beliefs are and what their attitude to the Scriptures is. Are they men like "The Rev Twistruth," who make it up as they go along and pass the basket with monotonous regularity? You see them on many "Christian" TV channels all the time. Their prey is the untaught- people who are wilfully ignorant and want their ears tickled. There are many happy to do that - at a price.
So to conclude, as I said at the beginning, all scripture is God-breathed and the apostles taught what our Lord taught them.You can be saved without having read a word of the Bible - but shortly thereafter you would need to be studying hard! I hope that helps, inasmuch as I have been able to understand the question. Alan Franklin