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The Preservation of Scripture

We may know the Scripture to be the Word of God by its miraculous preservation in all ages. The holy Scriptures are the richest jewel that Christ has left us; and the church of God has so kept these public records of heaven, that they have not been lost…The letter of Scripture has been preserved without any corruption, in the original tongue. The Scriptures were not corrupted before Christ’s time, for then Christ would not have sent the Jews to them. He said, ‘Search the Scriptures.’ He knew these sacred springs were not muddied with human fancies.

A Body of Divinity, 27

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Safeguard Against False Teaching

What is the best safeguard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the Word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. They would have us believe that “they are not learned, and do not claim to have definite opinions.” The plain truth is that they are lazy and idle about reading the Bible, and do not like the trouble of thinking for themselves. Nothing supplies false prophets with followers so much as spiritual sloth under a cloak of humility.

J. C. Ryle
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Scripture and the True Church

Wheresoever God’s Word hath supreme authority, where Christ Jesus is affirmed, preached, and received to be the only Savior of the world, where his sacraments are truly ministered, and, finally, where his Word ruleth … there is the true kirk of Christ Jesus.

—John Knox
A letter to his brethren in Scotland, dated December 1, 1557 in Select Practical Writings of John Knox.

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Here I Stand!

Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.

—Martin Luther
April 18, 1521 in protest at the Diet of Worms
As recorded in Roland Bainton, Here I Stand, 180.

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The Inward through the Outward

When God sends forth his holy gospel he deals with us in a twofold manner, first outwardly, then inwardly. Outwardly he deals with us through the oral word of the gospel and through material signs, that is, baptism and the sacrament of the altar. Inwardly he deals with us through the Holy Spirit, faith, and other gifts. But whatever their measure or order the outward factors should and must precede. The inward experience follows and is effected by the outward.

God has determined to give the inward to no one except through the outward.

For he wants to give no one the Spirit or faith outside of the outward Word and sign instituted by him, as he says in Luke 16:29, ‘Let them hear Moses and the prophets.’ Accordingly Paul can call baptism a ‘washing of regeneration’ wherein God ‘richly pours out the Holy Spirit’ (Titus 3:5). And the oral gospel ‘is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith’ (Rom. 1:16).

—Martin Luther,
LW, 40:146.