Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
The Sufficiency and Authority of Scripture
If you think about the Reformation “Solas” like a building, then the Foundation of the building was the great principle or truth of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). What did this mean? That Scripture Alone was the Ultimate and Final Authority in all matters of faith and practice, personally and for the church. It did not mean that Scripture is the “only” place that God has given us truth, or that experience, for instance, teaches us nothing true, for we learn much from life experience. It does mean that Scripture is the “final” and “definitive” Judge by virtue of the fact that it originates from God Himself (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21), and He has the final Word.
Already, you can see the “exclusivity” of this statement. For if Scripture is “final,” then all other “sources” of truth are to be regulated and are subordinate to Holy Scripture. In other words, when we affirm the principle of Sola Scriptura, we are already making an exclusive claim, namely, that all other sources of Authority “bow” to God’s Word. During the time of the Reformation, the Reformers stood upon this great affirmation with conviction and out of care and concern for the souls of people, declaring that Scripture Alone, not the Pope, not the Church, not tradition, was to rule over the lives of people.
Similarly today, it matters not how much our culture may be different than the past. God still speaks through His Word, and His Word is to be the loudest “Voice” in each of our lives, and in the life of His church. No other voice trumps the Voice of God through His Word. Not culture, not people’s opinions, even if “self-acclaimed” experts, not government, psychology, or the popular news. We must be careful not to allow the culture to “shape” us, but instead be daily “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom 12:1-2).
Our affirmation of this great principle also has very personal application for us as Christians. The Bible is sufficient. We learn this great truth from the life of our Lord Jesus who, when tempted by the Devil, at one of the weakest moments of His humanity, said this to Satan, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). If the Son of God lived by the Word of God, in dependence upon the Spirit of God, how much more should we?
The “father of the Reformation,” Martin Luther, said, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” Would you say that the Word of God has a “hold” of your life? Does your personal life bear witness to the principle of Sola Scriptura? Do you study and delight in the Word? Do you strive to apply the Word to your personal life? Do you speak the Word to others, be they your fellow brethren, or those who need to be saved? Affirming the great Reformation Truth of Scripture Alone has very practical implications for each of us. Let us learn from many of our brethren who, more than 500 years ago, lived with this conviction, that Scripture Alone had the final voice in their personal life and all church matters. That God’s Word was their very lifeblood, their daily sustenance, their ultimate source of strength and wisdom, precisely because Scripture reveals our awesome Triune God in His glory and majesty.