“The Doctrines of the Reformation – Scripture Alone”
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4
Having considered some of the historical developments which contributed to the coming of the Reformation we want to take the rest of this series to examine in detail the important doctrinal contributions that have greatly effected the beliefs of Protestant Christians. These have been summarized in five key statements which are sometimes referred to as the five “solas” or “solae” of the Reformation. The first of these which we will consider together and which serves as the basis for all of the others is Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone).
Sola Scriptura can be defined simply as the recognition of the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, Word of God which is the final authority for the church. This definition contrasts sharply and intentionally with the Roman Catholic view of authority which, according to the Council of Trent, recognizes two sources of special revelation: Holy Scripture (only the Latin Vulgate version) and the traditions of the church which, it is claimed, were passed down by the apostles and church fathers. The theological basis for the belief in sola scriptura is that the Scriptures alone are inspired by God, that is, they originate with the Spirit of God rather than with the human author (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Because God is the one who inspired the writing of the Scriptures, it follows logically that these original writings are inerrant (without error) because there is no falsehood in Him (Num. 23:19).
2 Tim. 3:14-17 is a key passage which instructs the church about the primary role that Scripture is to play in the life of a believer. Paul begins by reminding Timothy that there are other authorities besides Scripture (family, teachers, the people of God) from whom he was taught, but those other authorities instructed him in the “sacred” writings (the Scriptures). The words of God are sacred because they are His Words which have been “inspired” or “breathed out.” Because they come from the One who is all-powerful, they are effective, making us “wise for salvation” because they reveal to us the Lord Jesus. Once we come to Christ by faith, it is Scripture which then equips us to live as His people. It is for these reasons that we recognize Scripture as the rule of faith and life for the believer.
Passages like this and others show us the important attributes of Scripture that we do well to take note of. First, Scripture is sufficient because it is the complete revelation of God, containing all we need for life and godliness. Second, it is clear in how it conveys the truth of the Gospel in such a way that it can be understood by a child. Third, because it is God’s Word, Scripture is authoritative and therefore it alone is the standard for Christian belief and practice. Finally, it is necessary, for apart from Scripture we would never come to Christ by faith and would therefore remain separated from God. Because the Bible possesses these attributes we gladly affirm its place at the center of our lives as individuals as well as its place of authority within our church!
Join us this Sunday as we gather around the sacred writings which are able to make us wise for salvation and to equip us for every good work!
Soli Deo Gloria.