Sola Scriptura = The Tree Stump Prayer
Sola Scriptura = Scripture Alone in Latin
PART ONE OF SIX
Sola Scriptura. These two words have caused much division and debate over the past few centuries. I am not going to get into a lot of this debate this week; my main point is to show what a difference it can make in our lives if we submit to the authority of the Bible and accept it is true.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every work.” This will be the main verse for the week. For now, the beginning of the passage will be the focus, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…”
Everyone has no doubt heard the name Billy Graham. Will Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson, tells us though, “What many people may not know is that it (his ministry) almost didn’t happen. Everything we know of the ministry of Billy Graham from the late 1940s on – the massive stadium events, the evangelistic movies, the radio programs, the counseling of presidents and kings – hinged on a singular moment in history that took place at the California retreat center of Forest Home.”
Billy Graham was discouraged and seeking God’s plan for him. His last crusade had “flopped” and he was questioning whether evangelism would be his focus. He was also the president of Northwestern College, so young Billy Graham was at a crossroads in his life. Should he commit to education, which would require him to get more education himself, or was evangelism what God was calling him to?
Will Graham shares, “At the same time, a very good friend and contemporary of my grandfather’s, a man named Charles Templeton, had begun challenging my granddaddy’s way of thinking. Mr. Templeton, who had preached with Youth For Christ as well, had gone on to study at Princeton, where he began to believe that the Bible was flawed and that academia – not Jesus – was the answer to life’s problems. He tried to convince my grandfather that his way of thinking was outdated and the Bible couldn’t be trusted. My grandfather had more questions than answers. Did he even believe the Bible from which he was preaching, or should he follow Templeton in questioning its validity? You see, while he was at Forest Home, he spent a great deal of time studying the Bible, and he kept seeing the same phrase pop up. “Thus sayeth the Lord… Thus sayeth the Lord…” While my grandfather had always accepted in his head the authority of the Scripture, this became the turning point as he realized in his heart that God’s Word is divinely inspired, eternal and powerful! One night at Forest Home, he walked out into the woods and set his Bible on a stump – more an altar than a pulpit – and he cried out: “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.” And then, my grandfather fell to his knees and the Holy Spirit moved in him as he said, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Paul tells us all Scripture is God breathed. The Bible does not just contain the Word of God, it is the Word of God. The Word of God is infallible, free from error, and is absolutely trustworthy.
I have a friend named Miguel, who I met at a conference in California. He and his wife, Clarice, were both attending. Miguel shared with me that his wife Clarice had accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, but he still was holding onto doubt. They were attending church as a family, but he just could not make the commitment to fully believe and follow. I was able to share my faith and go to dinner with my new friends and stayed in touch after the conference. A few weeks later, Miguel shared with me that he was going out to Joshua Tree, just he and God, for a few days to make a decision once and for all. He was going to spend his time in the Word and prayer, and ask God to remove his doubt. He texted me a few days later, “I leave the desert pledging my life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I think so much of my friend for admitting his doubt, and making such an important issue a priority in his life. He took much time and care to investigate his doubts and seek the truth. I think so much of Clarice for allowing her husband this time of solitude with God. I pray God does mighty things with their family.
We all come from different backgrounds and teachings. The Bible might be or mean different things to different people. Comparing ourselves to Billy Graham is a bit daunting. He was seemingly a spiritual giant who God used in many mighty ways. But I believe if we are to follow God properly, we all have to have our “tree stump moment.” We all have to say, in effect, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!” We all have to have our Joshua Tree moment, where we investigate the claims of the Bible and let God speak to us. We have to leave the doubt behind, once and for all, for that is the place the enemy wants us to remain.
We have to read what 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God..,” and answer for ourselves, “Is this true?”
Just for today, if you are holding onto any doubt, I encourage you to have your tree stump or Joshua Tree moment. Take the time and ask God to speak to you. Otherwise, think back to that moment in your life, and praise the Lord for it.
Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..
Source: Will Graham, https://billygraham.org/story/the-tree-stump-prayer-where-billy-graham-overcame-doubt/.