This is our third talk on the reformation and focuses on the Bible alone. Alister McGrath, noted theologian says that the reformation dethroned the pope as the ultimate authority and enthroned the Bible. In Europe in the 16th Century the church and the Pope were the ultimate authorities for the interpretation of Scripture. Erasmus in 1517 translated the Greek New Testament and this reflected a movement in society to go back to original sources. As people went back to the original sources they saw that some of the translations of the Vulgate, which was the Latin translation of the Bible were wrong. For example in Matthew 4:17 the Vulgate translation said “From that time on Jesus began to preach ,”Do penance for the kingdom of heaven is near.” But the original Greek word was to do with repentance which is a radical turn from sin and turn to God. Penance embraced the idea of what we do to get right with God but the Gospel taught that it is what Christ has done and our role is to respond and receive what Christ has done. Another problematic translation was Luke 1:28 which the Vulgate described Mary as full of grace. But the original Greek indicates that she is a favoured one. This means that Mary is not a source of grace but a recipient of grace. On the basis of the Vulgate some Christians developed a false view of praying to Mary for help. In 2 Timothy 3:15 we learn that the Scriptures, that is God’s Word can make us wise for salvation. Paul states that all of God’s Word is inspired by God 3:16 and so we can have confidence that as we listen to the Word of God , God himself speaks to us through this word. In fact God’s Word has a transformative power to correct and train us in righteousness. Friends all the resources needed for Christian growth are contained within God’s Word. We also learn that in 3:17 that God’s Word trains us and directs us to do good works. The purpose of the Bible is to help us know the Lord and learn how to walk with Him and serve Him. The passage for the evening service is 2 Peter 1:12-21. Peter believes that 1:14-15 that it won’t be long before he leaves this world and goes to be with the Lord. Christian tradition says that Peter was put to death during the Nero persecutions before AD 65. He is seeking to strengthen the Christians that he writes to and the basis for this is to remind them 1:16 that what the apostles are teaching is not made up. Rather God’s Word comes from eyewitnesses who saw Jesus who guided them to proclaim the truth and ensured His Word was kept from error. Indeed Peter was one of them. In 1:20-21 Peter encourages them that the Words they have delivered are from God and can therefore be relied upon for our Christian lives.
Rev David O’Mara