by Mike Ratliff
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 ESV)
Sola Scriptura is under heavy attack in the visible Church. Some of those who are leading this battle against it are already predicting victory. The central theme of Phyllis Tickles book The Great Emergence is, “Where is our authority?” This question is asked in order to stress the need to do away with Sola Scriptura in order to make way for “the step and subsequent journey out of traditional church expressions and into new ones.” She also said that there are forty-four specific events that underline the move away from Sola Scriptura and that it’s not if Sola Scriptura ends, but when…
The attack against the authority of God’s Word is nothing new. The Original Sin (Genesis 3) was instigated by the serpent, who is Satan. In Genesis 2: 15-17 we read the account of God putting Adam into the Garden of Eden and His command about what trees he could eat of and the one he could not.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)
After this God created Eve and put her in the Garden with Adam as his wife. She was under the same mandate. Her and Adam were under the authority of God’s Word. He commanded them to enjoy all of the trees and their fruit except for one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they disobey this command and eat of that tree then God warns them that they will die.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 ESV)
Notice the subtlety of Satan’s attack. His innuendo was designed to create doubt in Eve’s mind to cast God into the role of one denying her and Adam of something. This same question is the one being asked by anyone who attempts to move the Church out from under Sola Scriptura, which states that it is only through God’s Word that we can know the truth for it is His truth. Some are rather blatant about their rebellion such as Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. Rob Bell and his wife have stated that they no longer believe in Sola Scriptura. They prefer to have their faith defined rather loosely with no straight and firm lines around absolute truth. Others are more subtle such as Rick Warren who twists scripture and takes passages out of context in order to support his unbiblical teachings. This is also a form of “Yea, hath God said?”
False prophets are those who take truths from God’s Word, add to them, take away from them, and misuse them for their own purposes. This is part of the rebellion that began with The Original Sin in Genesis 3. It is a denial of God’s Word being complete and inerrant. It is a denial that God’s truth is sufficient for us. It is a throwing off of Sola Scriptura in order to claim that which is denied by it. God’s Word tells us quite a bit about sin and His Holiness, Righteousness, and Justice. Homosexuality is just one of many sins that are explicitly defined in God’s Word. In our day, however, there are many advocates of “gay rights” that are demanding that homosexuals be given special rights and protections not only in society, but also in the Church. This is part of the rebellion against Sola Scriptura because God’s Word does condemn this sexual perversion as an abomination. I have had some atheists wanting to debate me on this subject, but have refused to do so. I explained my position on this subject and why I have taken it, but they refuse to back off of the original question. That is not debate, but badgering. To continue in it would be akin to casting pearls before swine or that which is holy to dogs.
In any case, my brethren, as I sat in Church this morning listening to an excellent sermon on Genesis 3 it was as if God focused my attention on v1. The temptation to sin started with Satan’s question, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Then before I began working on this piece I read this post from my dear brother in the Lord, Ken Silva. Then I read this comment from my friends Paul and Luann on my post Counterfeit Christianity. The words “lie” and “rebellion” were running through my mind. I looked up several passages having to do with The Original Sin and the Great Deception that is coming upon the whole world prior to the return of our Lord. I have asked many theologians what they thought was the lie that was believed by the wicked in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 (I placed this at the top of this post). I have received some very good answers and a lot of non-committal answers. I do not know what the specific lie is, but I am leaning heavily towards it being based in this battle to do away with Sola Scriptura. That which is a lie will be believed to be true. Isn’t this what Phyllis Tickle and all those of like mind are actually doing? They are casting away God’s truth in favor of a lie, which is that truth is not absolute and, therefore, the Bible is not authoritative in the life of the Christian or in the Church.
As I stated earlier, this battle is not new. It began in Genesis 3 and God’s people have been in it since. The move towards Christian liberalism in the 19th Century, the fundamentalist backlash against it, the demise of mainstream Christianity, and the corruption of that part of the Church called “Evangelical” are all part of the history that has led us to this mass rebellion against Sola Scriptura.
The willingness of so much of the visible Church to give in to these attacks is quite disturbing. This is taking place because of the utter lack of biblical discernment in it. The average professing Christian is biblically illiterate and their pastors do not feed them the truth. Therefore, those who do not know the Lord, who are still in their sins, but who believe they are Christians because of their heritage or religiosity are the very ones who believe that Sola Scriptura is actually an evil thing that keeps people in bondage to some ancient standards that are no longer relevant in our society. On the other hand, those smooth talking pastors with their slick, man-focused churches appear to be what is good and right in the church because they tell their people what they want to hear while never confronting them with the truth from God’s Word about sin and the soon-to-come wrath of God.
Yea, Hath God Said? The answer to that is to preach the Gospel to the ones asking it. God will save those who are His as we do this. The rest will remain in their sins even though they worship another Jesus and serve him according to their own made-up version of Christianity. These are no different than pagans, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, or anyone else who is bound up in the idolatry and rebellion of man-made religion. We are going to hear this question a great deal more in many different forms the longer the Lord tarries. We must continue to pray for the lost that God will save them. We must continue to teach and preach the truth while confronting and rebuking those who teach and preach lies.
Even so, come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!