Excerpt from MacArthur's SermonDeliverance: From Sin to Righteousness, Part 2
Dr. John MacArthur
October 29, 2000
For the whole sermon or to listen to it, go here. (Code: 80-225)
This is Reformation Sunday. What produced the Reformation was a Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther. (He) came to the conviction that God’s truth was confined to the book. This is revolutionary. That’s not what the Catholic Church believes. Martin Luther said God spoke only in the book, and all divine truth is confined to the book…not popes, not bishops, not church councils, not the magisterium, not the tradition…the book. And he said it’s the book alone and next to Jesus and the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther was the most divisive man that ever came along in the Christian faith. He created a massive rift which separated those who believed the Book from those who were caught up in the Roman system. It was the conviction that God spoke only in the Book that produced the Reformation. It was then, once Martin Luther had come to the conviction that the truth was in the Book, he went into the Book and he found the truth and it was justification by grace through faith alone, wasn’t it? Didn’t have to pay any attention to what the Pope said, what the bishop said, what the council said, it was all the Book and the Book’s clear.
In 1539 Luther commented on Psalm 119. He wrote this. “In this Psalm David always says that he will speak, think, talk, hear, read day and night and constantly but about nothing else than God’s Word.” And Luther called it “the external Word,” I like that. It’s outside of us. And Luther said, “The saving sanctifying illuminating Word is the external Word.” What did he mean by that? He meant that it’s outside of us, like God is outside of us. You can’t invent God and you can’t invent truth. God isn’t the product of your imagination. God isn’t the product of your fantasy. God isn’t the product of your experience. God isn’t the product of your intuition. God isn’t the product of your charismatic emotion. God is not the product of your existentialism. God is God and He’s outside of you, not subject to your tampering. God is not a clay toy you can shape any way you like.
And so, the Bible is outside of you. It is external. You can take it, you can leave it. You can’t tamper with it. You can’t make it other than it is, and you can’t make it say other than what it says. It is a Book, it is a fixed book with fixed letters and fixed words and fixed sentences. This was Luther’s great conviction that changed the world. Luther said, with a resounding forcefulness in 1545, which was the year before he died, he said, ‘Let the man who would hear God speak read holy Scripture.'”…