The Orthodox Pages

email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

TALK ON SOLA SCRIPTURA

PART 1

   6th October 2011

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I’d like to welcome you all back to our weekly meetings and wish you a new season blessed with spiritual enlightenment. Every year it gets more and more difficult to find a subject suitable for opening the new season. Looking back at all the talks we have had over the past five years, I noticed that some subjects were not covered fully as others. One such subject is the teaching of Protestant Churches. We covered the differences between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church and we looked at the different Bibles used by the Orthodox Church and Protestant Churches, but we’ve never talked about the main Protestant doctrine on which all Protestant doctrines are based. This doctrine is known as Sola Scriptura which is Latin for “Bible only”. This idea or doctrine frees the Protestant to believe anything he wants about the Gospel of Christ for there is no one to stop him. Hence the 1000s and 1000s of Protestant denominations and non-denominations that exist today.
Just before the summer break I put together a rather long paper against the Protestant idea of “Sola Scriptura” in the hope that it would help Protestants searching for the truth or wishing to join the Orthodox Church to understand that this doctrine is unbiblical and totally goes against their concept that everything they need to teach them the truth is only in the Bible. Most Protestants dogmatically hold to the belief of “Sola Scriptura” which teaches that the Bible and only the Bible is the SOLE infallible rule of Faith and that everything necessary for salvation is contained within its pages. This is what they have been taught since childhood, but just because one has believed something for years on end, it doesn't mean that it's true.
It could be said that today’s talk is essentially aimed at Protestants, but it will also help Orthodox to answer those who hold to the belief of Sola Scriptura that the Bible, they claim is all they need to believe, in fact teaches just the opposite. While the salvational message is contained in the Holy Bible, it does not contain the whole of the Christian Faith and it says so explicitly in the New Testament: For example what does it mean when the Bible says:
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30)
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did; the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
But more than this, what does it mean when Christ says:
“And I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever. Even the Spirit of Truth” (John 14: 16) and “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things” (John 14: 26).
If the Bible is complete and all that is needed for salvation, then why would Christ need to send the Holy Spirit and what more could the Holy Spirit teach us? If we accept that Christ indeed sent the Holy Spirit to teach us all things then where is the written testimony of this teaching? It is not in the Bible so the Bible is not complete in teaching us everything that we need to know. The teaching we receive from the Holy Spirit is found within the Church and in Holy Tradition which supplements the Gospels?
Protestants reject tradition handed down through the Church because they say that things we do are not written in the Bible, yet much of what they also do is not biblical, but received through tradition. The Gospel of Christ is contained in the Bible, and we can say that it is materially sufficient insofar as it gives us the outlines concerning Christ and his teaching, yet much of what we believe about Christ and the Holy Trinity is not formally present or rather it is not presented to us in such a way that everything is clear-cut without room for doubts and misinterpretations.
For example let’s take the teaching on the Holy Trinity: It is “materially” present in the Holy Bible: The New Testament states that after the Lord’s Resurrection he commanded His disciples to go and teach all nations “Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matth. 28: 19). St. Paul prays “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (II Cor. 13: 14) and St. John the Evangelist confirms that “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (I John 5: 7). In spite of these clear testimonies, the true teaching on the Holy Trinity is not “formally” present, for nowhere does the Holy Bible define the Trinity as: One God in three persons, all existing from eternity. Where does it state that the Holy Spirit is Divine as well as a separate person of the Trinity? Where does it define the Trinity as God as defined by the Church? Where, does it even mention the word “Trinity?”
Another example is the Christian understanding of Christ, that he is fully divine and fully human, one person not two, but with two natures, one divine and one human. The true teaching concerning the person of Christ can be found in the New Testament, but not in a clear and unequivocal way, which has over the centuries, led certain people to ask questions concerning his divinity and humanity. For example, was he born human and then became divine? Or was he divine and then became just human? Or did he possess both qualities since the incarnation? These principles and doctrines are not “Formally” presented in the Holy Bible so for one to claim it is “the complete Truth and all that we need” ignores the fact that not everything is contained within the Bible in a formal and decisive manner.
Nowhere in the Holy Bible is the teaching that the “Bible Only” is all that a Christian needs, so the claim by many modern churches that it is “Biblical” is self-refuting and a blatant lie.
Sola Scriptura or Bible Only is the basic teaching of Protestantism. It is the trunk of the Protestant doctrinal tree from which literally 1000's of modern Christian doctrines and ideas have originated, and from which every objection to Apostolic Tradition begins. If the trunk is false, then so must its branches be false. If, as we shall soon see, Sola Scriptura is found to be Unbiblical and Unhistorical and therefore not Apostolic, in other words, not what the Apostles taught Christ's early Church: then modern Christian theology must be rejected. For all modern Christian theology is based on this single doctrine of Sola Scriptura which appeared from the Renaissance era (16th Century). It follows that if the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is false, then so must be the theology derived from it. This is only logical.
Every Protestant objection to the Orthodox and Catholic Faiths stems from the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura which has Protestants believing that the Bible is the only infallible rule of Faith, and the Word of God as orally taught by the Apostles and the early Church through Holy Tradition is of no spiritual significance.
Sola Scriptura is unbiblical, not just because there is no Biblical support, but also because it contradicts the Bible blatantly and explicitly. Why would Protestants believe in a rule of faith that holds the Bible as the only infallible rule of faith when the Bible they claim holds the only truth in fact teaches the complete opposite? It tells us that Holy Writ and Apostolic Tradition are equally the vehicles of God’s Word. St. Paul says on the matter: “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the Traditions even as I have delivered them to you”. (1 Cor. 11:2)
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the Traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter”. (2 Thess. 2:15).
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the Tradition that you received from us”. (2 Thess. 3:6)
To make sure that the apostolic Tradition would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, Paul told Timothy: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2)
The New Testament is therefore very clear in telling us that the Holy Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition form the Word of God. Unfortunately Protestants prefer to ignore these verses possibly because they contradict the Sola Scriptura theology of the Renaissance.
The Bible does not contain everything, but goes hand in hand with Holy Tradition. The Orthodox Church believes this because it has been the teaching of the Apostles and the Church for the last 2000 years. We cannot just take the Bible and interpret it as it suits us which is what the doctrine of Sola Scriptura has allowed Protestants. Everyone is free to personally interpret Scripture even though the Scriptures explicitly teach against private interpretation of the Bible. St. Paul says: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20)
The only authority that can interpret Scripture and teach it is the Church that Christ founded 2000 years ago. That is why Christ gave us His Church. Holy Scriptures tell us the function of the Church is “to teach” just as Our Lord commanded: “Teach them to observe all I have taught you and behold I am with you always until the end of the world.” (Matt 28:20)
The early Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, recognized the necessity of the traditions that had been handed down from the apostles and guarded them scrupulously. One only has to read what the early fathers have to say to be convinced that the Christian faith was not handed down by the Bible, but by Oral Tradition within the Church.
The arguments above should be enough proof to show that the “Bible Only” idea is not taught anywhere in the Holy Scriptures. Nowhere do the Holy Scriptures claim to be the only or "Supreme Authority" for God's Word as many Protestant churches claim. Nowhere does the Holy Bible teach the “Sola” or the “Only” or a rejection of the teaching authority of Christ’s Church. Nowhere does Holy Scripture even imply that the Bible is the only infallible Rule of Faith, and that the teachings of the Apostles and the Church are secondary to anyone and everyone's interpretation of the Holy Bible.
As Bible Only Christians, they should embrace the sacred words of the Holy Bible and not discount the verses that don’t agree with their present theology. So much emphasis is placed on the Holy Bible as the only infallible rule of faith that Protestants never ask where this book came from. The Church and Holy Tradition gave as the Bible as we have it in its present form. Something which took centuries to compile from the great many books and letters that circulated in the Christian world during at least the first four centuries. By simple logic, if they reject the Church and Holy Tradition that put together the Bible, then they should also reject the very Bible itself for how can they rely on a Book, which was put together by the very sources they reject.
Let’s then take a look at the Church they reject and see what the Bible has to say about this Church. St. Paul in his First Epistle to Timothy says: “behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15) St. Paul calls the Church the foundation of the truth. He doesn’t say this for the Old Testament or the New Testament which hadn’t been written yet.
Christ said to Peter: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt 16:18-19) Did Christ give the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven with power to Bind and Loose” to a Book or to his Church, the “Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Foundation of Truth?” (1 Tim 3:15) And did he say a “Book” would prevail against the “Gates of hell” (Matt 16:18-19) or his Church, the ONE “Bride of Christ?”
Christ said: “Teach them to observe all I have taught you and behold I am with you always until the end of the world” Matt 28:20.
Did Christ ever command that the teaching of his Gospel be taught exclusively in a book? Or did he explicitly give this charge to his Church? Did our Lord Jesus Christ ever even command that this book, the NT Bible be written?
Does Christ command men to “listen to” and follow a book which didn’t exit until many years after the first Pentecost or his Church? Christ clearly said to his disciples to “hear the Church” (Matt. 18:17) Why would Protestants reject the Church Christ himself started if Christ tells us to hear this very Church? And what verse in the “soon to be written” New Testament instructs Christians to “no longer hear” Christ's Church?
Christ calls his Body the Church and St. Paul says that: “Christ is the head of the body, the Church” (Colossians 1:18) Nowhere does Christ or Paul call a Book the Body of Christ. Did Christ say he would be with a “book” until the end of the world, or his Church? Since the Apostles would not live forever, he was speaking of his Church: “Teach them to observe all I have taught you and behold I am with you always until the end of the world”. (Matt 28:20).
Did Christ say he would send the “the spirit of truth to guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13) for a book or for his Church to “Teach all nations?” (Matt 28:20)
Clearly Holy Scripture is filled with testimonies with Christ himself giving direct commands of Authority for his Church and he charges all Christians to “Hear this Church.” (Matt 18:17) Either this Apostolic Church is the “pillar and foundation of Truth” or it isn't? Either Christ sent “the spirit of truth to guide us into all truth” (John 16:13) or he didn't. Do Protestants believe what the Holy Bible says? Or are they more interested in remaining in a certain denomination or non-denomination or belief system? Either they believe the Holy words of Scripture or they don't. Either they “hear Christ’s Church” or they reject it. And if they reject it they reject Christ himself for he said: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).
If they reject Christ's historical Church, if they reject this Church which is the “Pillar and Foundation of Truth,” what Biblical command or what Biblical basis are they using to justify this? This rejection is unbiblical, and they are simply embracing a “tradition of man” from the Renaissance era.
Of all the Christian churches, only the Orthodox Church has existed since the time of Christ. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Orthodox Church. The Roman Catholic Church broke away from unity in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began with Martin Luther in 1517. (Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots, or offshoots of offshoots.) Only the Orthodox Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. Martin Luther chose to reject Christ's Church to justify his new theology. That theology being that the Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith, all by itself. And the Authority that Christ gave his Church as illustrated above does not exist.
By rejecting the Church established by Christ, modern Christian churches reject the 3 ordinations of the clergy as define in the Holy Bible of the New Testament Church? If a church does not have Bishops, Priests or Deacons, one must ask, why not? Either they believe in the New Testament and want to mimic the NT Church or they don't. The Holy Bible gives us the 3 offices of the clergy as taught and embraced by Christ’s Apostles. Why do the modern Christian churches reject this Biblical guidance? The sacrament of holy orders is conferred in three ranks of clergy: bishops, priests, and deacons.
Bishops have the care of multiple congregations and appoint, ordain, and discipline priests and deacons. Examples of first-century bishops include Timothy and Titus (1 Tim. 5:19–22; 2 Tim. 4:5; Titus 1:5). St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch and direct student of St. John the Apostle wrote in 110 AD: “Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Church” (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2)
Priests, in the New Testament are also known as “presbyters” or “elders.” In fact, the English term “priest” is simply a contraction of the Greek word presbyteros. Priest have the responsibility of teaching, governing, and providing the sacraments in a given congregation (1 Tim. 5:17; Jas. 5:14–15).
Deacons are the assistants of the bishops and are responsible for teaching and administering certain Church tasks, such as the distribution of food (Acts 6:1–6).
Modern churches have replaced the three ranks of the Priesthood as defined by Holy Scripture with a self ordained pastor who has no apostolic succession and who very often is dressed in a golf shirt or a plain suit during worship. This also is totally unbiblical and a manmade tradition embraced by the modern Christian. It is completely unheard of in historic Christianity including the first Protestants who at least wore a robe because the book of Revelation tells us, that this is the garb of those in Heaven. (See Rev 1:13; 6:11; 7:9; 7:13; 19:13)
Protestants who hold to the Sola Scriptura doctrine believe that everything they do or reject is verified by Holy Scripture, yet much of their theology comes from either Apostolic Tradition which they reject or the traditions of man from various recent centuries. The traditions of man would be unbiblical ideas invented mostly in the last few hundred years. Some are good and some are not, but all are Unbiblical. Let’s see some of these Unbiblical Ideas and Doctrines.
All Christians pray to Jesus and Protestants are no exception. Praying to Jesus is good, healthy and wise, but it’s not Biblical. Jesus himself tells us that we should pray to his Father (Matt 6:9-15) and gave us the Lord’s Prayer as an example of how to pray. What Christ did say was that we should pray in his name, but not to him directly, but to the Father.
Praying directly to Jesus is in fact an Apostolic Tradition, it is what the Apostles taught Christ’s early Church. This Apostolic Tradition of praying to Jesus is not in the NT Bible. Let us not forget that the New Testament books of the Bible did not even exist yet and would not for decades to come. It was more that 20 years before the first epistle was written and at least 50 years until the last Gospel was written. If it is not in the Bible then can we say that it is a “tradition of man?” No, it is a tradition we have received from the Apostles and handed down through the Church.
Apostolic Tradition, along with the Holy Bible is God’s way of speaking to us. Together they give us the Gospel of Christ or the Word of God. This is what the Apostles taught and the Holy Bible tells us this in many places. We have already seen the written testimonies in support of Holy Tradition.
Praying to God the Father, the First Person of the Trinity is Biblical and our Lord Jesus Christ tells that it is God the Father alone that should be worshiped. Jesus said: “It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only”. (Luke 4:8) We are never commanded to pray to or worship Jesus (the Second Person of the Trinity) or even pray to the Holy Spirit (the Third Person of the Trinity). Both of these ideas are unbiblical. It is good, healthy and wise to pray to Jesus, but the origin of this idea comes from Apostolic Tradition and Christ's early Church and not the Holy Bible.
The “Bible Only” doctrine which allows every church to believe anything it wants about the Gospel of Christ is responsible for the 1000s of different denomination and non-denominations that exist today but this is in complete contrast to the Holy Bible which commands “complete unity” and “One Faith” for as St Paul says: “There is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God.” Eph 4:4) The modern Christian churches accept and condone a plurality of contradicting faiths, resulting in complete disunity within these churches. This blatantly unbiblical practice is evidenced by the very many different “Statements of Faith” possessed by each of these churches. Where is the unity demanded by Holy Scripture? Christ said: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” (John 17:22-23) On the subject of unity St. Paul said: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor 1:10) Clearly the modern churches with their various faiths and gospels have embraced an unbiblical idea very foreign to the biblical and Christian meaning of the word “Church” for the word stands for unity and all being of one mind and body.
Another unbiblical doctrine of modern churches is that they refuse to give any honour to the Blessed Mother of our Lord as commanded in the New Testament. This is a stumbling block for most Protestants and don’t believe the Bible in fact honours the Mother of God until they are shown the passages they have been blind to notice before. The Gospel according to St. Luke clearly says that the Virgin Mary is “the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38) and that “from henceforth all generations shall call her blessed,” Her cousin Elizabeth “filled with the Holy Spirit” proclaims: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1:42) In spite of these testimonies most modern Christians maintain that the Blessed Virgin was just an ordinary Jewish girl and nothing more and treat and ignore her as such.
Where in the modern Christian service has the pastor ever called the Virgin Mary “Blessed” as the Holy Bible and the Holy Spirit instructs? When has the pastor ever referred to her as the “Mother of God” as the Holy Bible tells us? Oh, come on now, does the Bible actually call Mary the Mother of God? Indeed it does. Elizabeth says “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) which is synonymous with “Mother of God”, unless one argues that Our Lord is not God. Why then do the modern Christian communities feel exempt from obeying the Holy Bible of giving proper respect and honour to the Mother of Our Saviour? Why do they refuse the honour due to her as dictated in the Holy Bible? Either they believe every word in the Bible or they don’t. They claim to love Jesus and call themselves his friends yet they refuse to honour his mother whom the Holy Spirit through Elizabeth called Blessed and the Mother of our Lord.
The Protestant rejection to honour the Mother of God is also extended to the communion of the Saints. We have talked of the Protestant refusal to pray to the saints last year and would take too much time to repeat today what was said then. In short we ask the saints to intercede on our behalf just as we would ask our friends and family to pray for us. This is not something offensive or blasphemous. We hope that through the prayer of many God will speedily hear our request and come to our aid. Praying for one another is an act of love and it is our duty as Christians to pray for each other. The Church is a family of brothers and sister all with the same Father in heaven. When someone passes over to the other side he does not stop being a member of this great family. How then more natural can it be for us to seek the prayers of our fellow brothers and sisters who not only have passed over to the spirit world but have through their way of life found favour with God and find themselves bathed in his glory. Is it not more natural and logical to put our trust in their prayers than our fellow Christians who are still living in this world? Asking for their intercessions does not mean that we worship them. Yes, we give them honour and respect because of their oneness with God and because they have made themselves God’s friends. When we pray to a saint, we do not ask him to save us directly as though he was God, but we beseech him as our fellow man and as our brother and fellow member of Christ’s Church to intercede to God on our behalf. Of course our prayer to the saints is always accompanied by a great reverence because they have been shown by God as great men who have overcome the passions of this world and for this he has rewarded them with glorification. By honouring the saints we are recognizing that we see in them the light of Christ and rejoice because we are reassured of the resurrection.
Is Praying to Saints Biblical? Where does the Bible teach this? St Paul says: “that, ...supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men... For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” (1 Tim 2:1-3) All men means ALL Christians in the Body of Christ whether in this life or in the life beyond. Again Paul says “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me.” (Eph. 6:18-19). Any objection to asking fellow Christians to pray for us whether they be in Heaven or on earth is unbiblical, for no verse can be found or valid Biblical objection to this instruction given by the Apostle Paul. Any and all objections to asking fellow Christians to pray for us stem from years of conditioning as a non-Orthodox and have no Biblical foundation.
Do the saints actually pray for us?
In the book of Revelation, John sees that “the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” (Rev. 5:8). Thus the saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth. Angels also do the same: it says: “An angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.” (Rev. 8:3–4).
Let’s now move on to some other unbiblical practices. When Protestants pray they bow their heads, close their eyes and place their hands together. This is not a bad tradition, but it is again unbiblical. It is quite similar to how Orthodox make the “Sign of the Cross” to profess their Baptism when they pray to and worship the Blessed Trinity. Both are good practices, yet both are clearly unbiblical traditions of men. Not all “traditions of man” are bad. But all are unbiblical. And it is difficult to call oneself a “Bible Only” Christian in the strictest sense when one adheres to and practices so many unbiblical behaviours and beliefs.
Another unbiblical behaviour is the refusal to kneel before our Lord as the Holy Bible commands. We read in Philippians 2:10-11 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Our Lord himself prayed on his knees on the night He was betrayed. (Mark 14:35) Where in the Holy Bible do we read that modern Christians are exempt from these Biblical commands? When has the Modern Christian pastor instructed the congregation to kneel in church to worship our Saviour? Why do these verses not apply to the modern Christian churches?
The Bible commands that we must fast, yet Modern Christian churches do not fast and do not consider it essential or as part of the salvation process. In fact, even the Roman Catholic Church has done away with the Biblical meaning of Fasting. Yet Christ himself commands us to fast. The Old Testament is full of people fasting as an act of repentance and Nineveh was saved when they repented with fasting. In the New Testament Christ begins his ministry by fasting for 40 days. Christ had no need to repent and therefore had no need to fast. Modern churches teach their members that they are saved, but does that mean that they are exempt from fasting when Christ himself wasn’t. If they hold to the belief of “Bible only” then shouldn’t they follow Christ as he commands us to do? “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matth. 16:24)
After telling us how to pray and to forgive men their trespasses, Christ said: “Moreover when ye “fast”, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou “fastest,” anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. 6:16-18)
If fasting was not important for spiritual growth then Christ would not have referred to it, but here Christ is telling us that fasting is part of our Christian duty and if he fasted then it goes without saying that we must fast also. The Old law of the Jews demanded fasting and the Pharisees asked Jesus why his disciples didn’t fast. Jesus replied: “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” (Matt. 9:15)
Christ the Bridegroom was taken from them and the disciples indeed fasted. We are told that at Antioch “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:2-3) “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23) Paul commends us to fast saying: “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1 Cor. 7:5)
Why then, with so many biblical testimonies do modern churches disobey the very teaching of Christ and the Apostles? Where in the bible does it say that they are exempt from this holy practice? Are Christians free to choose what teachings they prefer and to reject the teachings that place restrictions on their free will? Either one is a “Bible only” Christian or one isn’t. One cannot reject a certain Apostolic Tradition because as they claim it is not in the Bible, but on the other hand to reject and blatantly disobey a teaching given by Christ himself which is very clearly in the Bible. But Protestants don’t have to do anything to be saved other that “Believe in Jesus”. At least this is what their modern bible tells them.
Most modern bibles have mistranslated or distorted a verse from the Gospel of St. John which tells them that all they must do for guaranteed salvation is to “Believe in Jesus.” The verse in question is John 3: 16.
Modern translations read: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (New International Version)
“God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” John 3:16 (Contemporary English Version)
These translations give the uninformed reader the impression that Christ taught that all one has to do for eternal life is to “believe in Him.” In contrast to these, the original Greek and the early translations such as the KJV read:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (King James Version)
Notice that it does not say like the modern translations that the person who believes will have eternal life, but that believing in Christ is part of the salvation process, and “may or should” bring eternal life. Salvation is not just believing, but a process which involves hard work and sacrifice from the believer. It means to follow Christ in his footsteps for as he said “anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10:38). and: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21) Just “believing in Christ,” as the Holy Bible says, is no more of an accomplishment than the demons achieve. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:19-20
Why then was John 3:16 changed in the Bible of the modern Christian? Because it conforms to the new theology that salvation is a one time event, and all one needs to do is just “believe in Christ.” One has to admit, this is a quick sell and is very appealing to prospective members. If only Christianity was just that easy. If only salvation was just that easy. But unfortunately it is not what Christ said or taught.
There are still a great many things we can say about Protestant ideas and doctrines but we don’t have time to see all these today. Protestants believe that the “Bible Only” doctrine protects them from the errors and traditions of men. History has shown that the Roman Catholic Church did indeed abuse the faith of the early church with doctrines that forced the Reformation of the Church in the west. But the grievous error of the Reformation and the Bible Only doctrine deprived the Protestant west of the teachings of the Holy Ghost found in Holy Tradition which supplements the Holy Scriptures. If they read the Bible carefully and impartially then they should agree totally with what have been said today. Only then can they relate to Christ’s words when he said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 31-32)