Third Rebuttal/Closing Statement Of The Riggs-Matt Debate: Feb.1,1998

By David J. Riggs

1) I am affirming: "The inspired writings (the holy Scriptures of the New Testament of Jesus Christ) claim for themselves that they alone are the standard of authority in Religion today."

1) I am affirming: "The inspired writings (the holy Scriptures of the New Testament of Jesus Christ) claim for themselves that they alone are the standard of authority in Religion today."

2) My opponent in his last essay was truly getting ridiculous in trying to refute the Scriptures as the only authority. His quoted from James Akin who said, "Sola Scriptura presupposes universal nutrition. Even if a Christian had adequate time to study the Bible sufficiently, it will do him no good if he lacks a diet sufficiently nutritious to let his brain function properly and his mind work clearly..." There you have it folks. The Scriptures alone cannot be the authority in religion because some people lack a sufficient diet for their brains to function properly! Does he actually expect us to believe such nonsense? Why can't I equally argue, "Oral traditions independent of Scripture" can't be an authority because some people's brains don't function properly!

3) My opponent also used the old "illiteracy" and "printing press" arguments. (Par. 1 & 2, Second Rebuttal). It is argued that since many people were unable to read and that there was no printing press until 1400 years after Christ, the Scriptures cannot be the only standard. Please observe that such arguments come from men, not God. The following passages demonstrate that people in the time of Christ had access to the Old Testament Scriptures: "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (Acts 15:21). "Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures..." (Acts 17:1-2; see also Acts 17:10-11). "And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet." (Acts 8:27-28).

4) Everyone in those ancient times did not have a copy of the Scriptures, but those who were seeking to know the will of God had free access to them. The synagogues, even in remote places, had Scriptures in them and some individuals had Scriptures which were carried with them. The same could have been true regarding the New Testament Scriptures if the people who lived during the first through the fifteenth centuries had wanted them. The only time people do not have the Scriptures is when they do not want them and are opposed to them. There are many who are unable to read, but that does not discredit the Scriptures as the only authority, nor does it imply that oral traditions independent of the Scriptures, the pope, and the church are equal in authority with the Scriptures. How would a Catholic relay or transmit his belief to those who cannot read? He would simply teach them. This is precisely how that which is revealed in the Scriptures (the Word of God) is transmitted to those who cannot read.

5) In all of my essays in this Debate I have listed various passages which reveal the purpose and authority of the inspired writings. Again, here is a list of those verses:

(1) Life in the name of Jesus (John 20:30-31).
(2) Commands of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37).
(3) Knowledge of the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:2-5).
(4) The proper conduct (1 Tim. 3:14-15).
(5) Every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
(6) Protection against sin (1 John 2:1).
(7) An assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:13)
(8) Standard by which teachers are tested (1 Cor. 4:6; Acts 17:11).
(9) Joy that is complete (1 John 1:1-4).
(10) A reminder of the commandments (2 Pet. 3:1-2).
(11) Standard of judgment (Rev. 20:12; John 12:48; Rom. 2:16; James 2:12).

7) As I have done before, I humbly beseech you, the readers of this Debate, to carefully examine the above passages for yourselves. Each of them mention the sacred writings ("these are written," "the things which I write," etc.) and reveal what they (the inspired writings) provide ("that you may believe," "that you may know you have eternal life," etc.). The passages, and others like them, claim for themselves that they alone are the authority because there are no passages which state that "oral traditions independent of Scripture," "laws given by the church," "ex-cathedra pronouncements of the Popes," "successors of the apostles," etc., are given to bring life in the name of Jesus, to equip for every good work, to give assurance of salvation, to judge us in the last day, etc. The Hebrew writer made an argument from the silence of the Scriptures by saying, "For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood." (Heb. 7:14). In other words, since Moses spoke nothing concerning anyone from the tribe of Judah being a priest, Jesus could not have been a priest under the Levitical system. Likewise, since the New Testament Scriptures spoke nothing concerning other authorities in religion today, there are no other authorities.

8) If one reads and studies the New Testament Scriptures and obtains all the things mentioned in the above list, what else would he need? There is not a solitary thing needed by the child of God which is not provided in the Scriptures. As everyone knows, I have repeatedly begged my opponent to give us a list of his "oral traditions independent of Scriptures." In other words, if there are other things independent of Scriptures which are needful for our salvation, where are they, what are they, and how do we obtain them? He has not provided a list because there is none. His "oral traditions independent of Scriptures" are nothing more than human traditions which the Bible strongly condemns. Please see my list in Par. 15, Second Rebuttal.

9) Let's carefully examine some of the above passages and see what my opponent has said regarding them. First, please consider 2 Tim. 3:15-17: "...And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

10) Just as God has provided all of man's needs for his survival here on earth, (air, water, food, etc.), He has provided all our spiritual needs in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine or teaching. They reveal that which is to be learned, taught, and obeyed. They are profitable for reproof. They convict and convince all those who open their hearts to it. They are profitable for correction. From them we learn what is right and wrong, what is truth and error. They are profitable for instruction in righteousness. They direct and encourage us to follow in the righteous course of life. They reveal the proper conduct that pleases God. As I mentioned, God created us and knows exactly what we need to please Him. Through His Scriptures, the child of God is fully equipped for all that God requires, for everything necessary to please Him.

11) Dear readers of this debate, I beg of you to judge for yourselves what 2 Tim. 3:15-17 is teaching. The verses vividly teach that the Scriptures thoroughly equip us for every good work and, thus, no other standard is needed or allowed. My opponent on this verse said, "Scripture is only termed profitable (v. 16), and has its uses. It is quite a leap to say one needs nothing else. Water is profitable for one's health, one also needs food..." (Par. 12, First Rebuttal). My opponent is ignoring verse 17 which says, "...That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Inasmuch as God is the Creator, He knows all of our needs. He has given us all profitable things, air, water, food, etc., to thoroughly equip us for living on earth. He also has given us through the Scriptures all profitable things to thoroughly equip for every good work which is pleasing to Him. If there are other sources of authority necessary for good works as my opponent claims, the Scriptures do not thoroughly equip us to every good work. In other words, the Scriptures either thoroughly equip us or they do not. What my opponent needs is a passage which teaches that "the Scriptures" AND "oral traditions independent of Scripture," AND "laws given by the church," AND "pronouncements of the Popes," AND "successors of the apostles" thoroughly equip us for every good work. If God has declared that the man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work through the Scriptures, who has the right to say that the man of God is NOT thoroughly equipped for every good work through the Scriptures? Who will we believe, God or man?

12) Let us consider Eph. 3:2-5. It says, "...If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets..."

13) Very simply, Paul said that he received knowledge of the mystery of Christ by revelation, and he wrote it so that when we read, we can understand what he understood. Notice, too, that the knowledge of the mystery was revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. The authority of the apostles and prophets is clearly and plainly established in the Scriptures. My opponent in replying to this verse said, "Paul writes of what they had already received before, he had briefly written, thus implying that he told orally much more than what he wrote. In fact, Paul had preached the Word of God for three years (Acts 20: 27, 31). After Paul died, were the Ephesians all of a sudden supposed to forget what Paul told them?" (Par. 9, First Rebuttal). Certainly, Paul spoke orally to the Ephesians much more than he wrote, and definitely when Paul died, they were not to suddenly forget what he had told them. As I have repeatedly shown from the Scriptures, there was a time when the Word of God was given both orally and written, but now since the apostles and prophets (those who were given the revelation by the Holy Spirit) are all now dead, their writings become the only authority by which we receive the Word of God.

14) Let me give a simple illustration that hopefully will help everyone understand the above basic principle taught in the Scriptures. Let's suppose that the Lord Jesus after teaching a portion of His law, wanting to return to heaven, chose one servant (only one) to reveal the rest of His law to mankind. Let's call that servant's name "John" and his title is, "Ambassador." Jesus gave John the Holy Spirit so that he would not make mistakes in delivering His laws. Ambassador John, as a good servant, during his lifetime verbally taught the laws of the Lord to the people. Many people were blessed to have John in their presence teaching the laws of the Lord. Also, during his lifetime, John wrote the laws of the Lord for the people. Furthermore, in his writings he described how he had taught the people during his lifetime. Since John was the only one chosen, when he dies, his writings become the only means through which the people receive the laws of the Lord. This is precisely that which is revealed in the Scriptures regarding the work of the apostles and prophets. They were the Lord's chosen ambassadors to deliver His laws to mankind and through their preaching and writing their commission was completed. The apostle Paul said, "...The things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:37). Jude said, "...I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3).

15) Next, let's consider 1 Tim. 3:14-15: "These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

16) My opponent replied to these verses by saying, "I find that an amusing quote for someone trying to prove Sola Sciptura. First, Paul writes that his preference was to teach face to face, orally and authoritatively being his best way. Second, he calls the church the pillar and ground of the truth...Thus, the verses that supposedly prove Sola Scriptura, instead imply the infallibility of this church." (Par. 5, Second Rebuttal). I simply quoted the verses to show the purpose and authority of Paul's inspired writings. They are given, among other things, to show how one ought to conduct himself in the church. For example, Paul revealed in chapter 3 how bishops and deacons were to be selected and appointed in the local church. There are many passages which reveal what the Word of God does for us, "able to save your souls" (James 1:21), "able to build you up and to give you an inheritance" (Acts 20:32), etc.; however, 1 Tim. 3:14-15 is one of those passages which states specifically why the holy writings were given. What my opponent needs from the Scriptures are verses which state that "oral traditions independent of Scripture," "laws given by the church," "successors of the apostles," etc., are given to show how one ought to conduct himself in the church. He can't give such verses because there are none.

17) My opponent has assumed from 1 Tim. 3:14-15 that since Paul wanted to visit Timothy and speak to him face to face, oral teaching independent of the Scriptures becomes an authority along with the Scriptures. Could it not be that Paul wanted to visit Timothy because he was his friend and brother in Christ? Also, my opponent has assumed that 1 Tim. 3:14-15 teaches that the church is infallible. The verses say absolutely nothing about the church being infallible. As I have shown in every Rebuttal, the expression "pillar and ground of the truth" means that it upholds, defends, and proclaims the truth, not that it legislates truth. My opponent said, "The church legislates laws that are binding on the believers." (Par. 14, Second Rebuttal). However, he has not given us a single passage which authorizes the church to legislate anything. I have begged him to please show where Acts 15 says that the church legislated anything. If God had wanted His church to legislate laws, He would have clearly and plainly revealed it to us. The idea that the church has the authority to legislate comes from man, not God. My opponent said, "The Catholic teaching is not that the church creates truth, but passes down faithfully the truth that was given by God to his apostles. The church faithfully guards and passes on this original deposit of faith (2 Tim. 1:13-14, 1 Tim. 6:20, Jude 3)." (Par. 8, Second Rebuttal). Does my opponent actually expect us to believe such nonsense? The Catholic Church is not guarding and passing on the "original" deposit of faith, but has added a host of traditions of men. (Please see list: Par. 15, Second Rebuttal). Furthermore, the Catholic Church is not guarding and passing on that "original" deposit of faith, but has added other authorities to it. If the church has the authority to legislate as my opponent claims, there would be no "original" deposit of faith because it would continue to deposit the faith down through the ages.

18) Let us consider 1 John 1:1-4: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life; the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us; that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full."

19) Thus, this is another passage which shows the purpose and authority of the Scriptures. In accord with the authority and commission given to him by the Lord, John declared that he was bearing witness to those things which they had heard, had seen with their eyes, and had touched with their hands, concerning the Word of life. He then added, "And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." Inasmuch as all the apostles and prophets are now dead, their writings become the only means by which we receive their infallible witness. My opponent in reply to this verse quoted 2 John 12 and then added, "John actually prefers oral tradition to pass on truth to the written tradition, and it does the same." (Par. 6, Second Rebuttal). Thus, my opponent from 2 John 12 has again assumed that since John wanted to visit some brethren and speak to them face to face, it establishes "oral traditions" as an authority along with the Scriptures. Certainly, the tradition (or the infallible witness) which was given by John whether face to face or by writings was to be received. However, since the apostle John and other inspired men are no longer with us, their writings become the only means by which we receive their infallible witness.

20) Please consider Rev. 20:12: "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books."

21) Very clearly, the following books will be opened at the judgment: (1) the Book of Life which records the names of the faithful (See Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 20:15; 21:27), and (2) the books that will judge us. Jesus Himself said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." (John 12:48). Paul said, "...In the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Rom. 2:16). James said, "So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty." (James 2:12). These passages teach that the Scriptures alone are the authority because no other standard of judgment is revealed. As I have repeatedly shown, what my opponent needs in order to prove his contention are passages which reveal that we will be judged by "legislation of the church," "pronouncements of the popes," etc.

22) My opponent replied to Rev. 20:12 by saying, "That written in the books is not scripture, but what the people had done. These verses thus had no relation to scripture, let alone having anything to do with Sola Scriptura." (Par. 13, First Rebuttal). Thus, my opponent has the verse teaching that we will be judged by our works ("what the people had done") in accord with our works. It makes no sense whatsoever to say that we will be judged by our works according to our works. As always, I humbly plead with our readers to examine Rev. 20:12 for themselves and decide what it is teaching. The verse plainly reveals that we will be judged by the things written in the books according to our works. Let me ask a very simply but important question: "If we will NOT be judged by the Scriptures (the sacred books) in the last day, what will be our standard of judgment?" When one admits that the Scriptures are the standard of judgment (as they clearly claim for themselves), he admits that the Scriptures alone are the standard of authority.

23) As we have seen, my opponent has tried to refute the passages which show the purpose and authority of the inspired writings. Catholics do so because those passages destroy the other authorities which the Catholic Church has added. The holy Scriptures forcefully and plainly claim for themselves that they are God's standard of authority. They produce the faith which brings life in the name of Jesus (John 20:30-31), provide the infallible witness (1 John 1:1-4), thoroughly equip to every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17), are the standard of judgment (Rev. 20:12), etc. If they are God's standard of authority as they indeed claim for themselves, all other authorities are excluded: legislations given by Church, oral traditions independent of Scripture, the book of Mormon, publications of the Watch Tower Society, etc.

24) Following the Bible alone does not produce 28,000 versions of truth as my opponent claims. There is only one version of truth. God has revealed it to us through His holy writings. God's Word is truth. (John 17:17). God expects us to understand, believe, and obey His truth. Paul said, "For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end..." (2 Cor. 1:13). John said, "These things I have written to you...that you may know that you have eternal life..." (1 John 5:13). It is the arguments and teachings of men which have produced the many versions of error that are in religion today. My opponent in this Debate has assaulted the Scriptures as the only guide by giving a mountain of human arguments. He has tried to establish several other authorities besides the Scriptures. I have tried to give answer. Let it be remembered, though, that the sacred Scriptures are not dependent upon nor affected by my success or failure. Whatever may be the verdict passed upon this Debate by an intelligent reader, the Scriptures will continue to stand. In the ages to come, when its present assailants and defenders are moldering into dust, and when our names have long since been forgotten, God's Scriptures will continue to be the only guide and standard of the true children of God. Thus, in closing, I humbly appeal to you, dear reader of this Debate, to accept the holy Scriptures as your only rule of faith. They will guide and lead you to eternal life.

(Note: Each respondent agreed to close his last Rebuttal with six pages rather than five. Also, the Scriptural quotations in the essays of David J. Riggs are either from the New King James Version or the New American Standard Version).


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Third Rebuttal/Closing Statement by David J. Riggs: Feb.1,1998.

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Last modified: Feb.1,1998.