Only Scripture

Posted on 03/23/2006


      Our Church Constitution has an article that most Baptist Churches also have contained in their governing documents. “Article III – Statement of Faith,” of our Constitution reads:  

We affirm the Holy Bible as the inspired Word of God, and as the only basis for our beliefs.  Rock Hill Baptist Church accepts “The Baptist Faith and Message,” (revised June 14, 2000) as a general statement of our faith and doctrinal beliefs. 

       Baptists have historically resisted covenants, creeds, or other vows, instead appealing to a claim of wanting to allow the Bible to be our sole authority.  Baptists wanted to resist the folly of other denominations which have relegated tradition to be equal to Scripture.  When tradition becomes equal to Scripture, all kinds of evils can ensue.  Our Lord, Jesus condemned this practice of the Pharisees, Mark 7.7-13.  Is the Bible really the only basis for our beliefs?  Even though we say we are “people of the book” I find that in some areas there is an allowance to add to God’s Word, just as the Pharisees did.  Consider this: 

      Baptists have throughout history adopted “Confessions of Faith.”  These documents are designed to declare what we feel are the essentials of the faith, or those things that are clearly taught in Scripture.  The most recent one is,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000”  and it reads:
Ø      That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.  (pg.5)
Ø      The Scriptures are: the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. (pg.7)
Ø      God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left if free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it.  (pg.20)
    We must take a closer look at the last statement, it is found in the BF&M 2000 under the heading entitled “Religious Liberty.”  This document and those that preceded it consistently declared that Christians are free from having to be subjected to any doctrine or commandment that is not “contained in the Word.”  This has been historically a distinct Baptistic principle.  There have been serious errors and abuses done to people by religious bodies that have upheld doctrines, teachings, and commandments that were derived from tradition and not from God’s Word.  Baptists have always rebelled and dissented against such practices.  It is very clear that to make authoritative, binding rules that are not taught in God’s Holy Word, would be a violation of Scripture and our accepted doctrinal statements (BF&M 2000).  We must always believe in “Only Scripture.” 
Our Understanding and Respect for God’s Word. 
Issues Concerning Doctrinal Authority:
     We must ask ourselves some questions about the nature of church fellowship.  What is the real authority for the governance of a church?  Will we formulate our doctrine primarily from tradition and man or from the inerrant Scriptures?  Throughout the history of Christianity, Biblicists have resisted and corrected those that would add man’s rules on top of God’s Word or would cling to traditions that are not supported therein. 
       We are warned in God’s Word of committing 2 great evils in regards to how we handle His Word.  It is generally accepted by those who hold to a high view of Scripture that we must not add nor take away from the teachings of God’s Holy Word:
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;
If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.  Revelation 22.18-19
1. Taking Away = Liberalism.  We abhor this.  We will never have it.  This is because  of our  understanding of the nature of God’s Word.  We believe that it is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.  We believe that God’s Word will never pass away.  We believe that what was a sin in our Lord’s day, is a sin in our day.  The reverse must also be true.  What was not a sin in our Lord’s day, is not a sin in our day. 
2. Adding To = Legalism.  Our Lord Jesus and Paul (by the Holy Spirit) abhorred this and gave us much warning and instruction against it.  Legalism should  be avoided because of our understanding that God’s Word is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.  Because to add to God’s Word is saying that we know better than God.  It is saying that the inspired Word is not enough.  This was the great sin of the Pharisees and that of others throughout history that have slipped into their legalistic ways.

       Let us always be a people who submit to the authority of God’s Word.  We must not allow tradition, personalities, denominational edicts, or simply the old cliché “the way we’ve always done it,” to take precedence over God’s revealed Word.    Sola Scripture, Only Scripture!