Pastor-theologian Francis Schaeffer once said:
Soft days for evangelical Christians are past, and only a strong view of Scripture is sufficient.
As we commemorate the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation in the coming weeks, we’re reminded with Schaeffer that the heartbeat of the Reformation was sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”) and from that surged every other sola: sola gratia (“grace alone”), sola fide (“faith alone”), solus Christus (“In Christ alone”), and soli Deo Gloria (“For the glory of God alone”).
When you come to believe that the Bible is inspired, you’ve only fought half the battle (as our denomination did in the 1970s). The question isn’t, “Is the Bible inspired of God?” It is! The major question is: “Is it the Bible sufficient for all matters of faith and practice?”
Scripture alone is the foundation of all we do as Christians—or it should be—and faith alone in Christ alone is the heart of the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). Contend earnestly.
In reflection on our church’s emphasis on sola scriptura this week, I wanted to share some scattered and, Lord willing, applicable thoughts on the subject.
- Scripture is sufficient to communicate what God wants his people to know about him (2 Tim. 3:12-17).
The Bible doesn’t tell us everything we want to know (“God, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a lollipop?”). Scripture is as clear as it needs to be. We may not have everything we want. But it does tell us everything we need to know. Christ is the pinnacle of all things.
- If we’re unconvinced about the sufficiency of Scripture, we’ll be unconvinced that Jesus is sufficient (Heb. 10).
The Scriptures testify of Him. God’s Word is sufficient for the gathered church. Cheesy videos and cheap props detract from the Gospel. Pray your church just teaches and preaches and lives out the Word.
- All of the “things” in our church must be based the Bible alone.
This should go without saying: Everything we do should flow from the Scripture. The one who opens up his or her Bible should only have one question: “What is your plan, command, and will, God?”
We aren’t called to build ministry empires or be accepted by the culture. We are called to praise and glorify God.
If you want your local church to be something other than a God’s chosen and holy people (1 Pet. 2:9), then you desire something God doesn’t want.
- Until we have mastered Scripture, we have no right to complain, “God isn’t talking to me lately (Rom. 10:17).” (And you can’t master Scripture.)
It is better to read one verse of the Bible and worship deeply than to read the whole Bible and be no closer to God. Seek Him as you read. God speaks through his written, sufficient Word.
- The highest priority and goal of the Bible is to fall in love with its Author (Luke 10:27).
If I could offer you any advice, it would be to learn the Bible. Every book. Know its message. And even more know its Author.
- If we don’t read or pray the Bible, it is because we are proud and don’t believe it has power (Heb. 4:12).
Is the reason we don’t read the Bible more and pray more because we trust ourselves more than we trust the Lord? We are practically saying we don’t need God’s grace.
It’s true we won’t become more Christ-like because we pray and read the Bible. It’s also true we won’t become more Christ-like if we avoid them. Praying and reading the Bible doesn’t make someone godly. But you’ll never meet a godly person that consistently neglects them.
- Satan used the Bible to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:1-10), and false teachers follow his example by twisting Scripture to justify sinful desires. Don’t be deceived.
The most effective false teachers know how to make people feel comfortable in their sin, and use Scripture to do it. Pray for discernment.
- The Bible is simple enough that any kid can come to it…but also so deep that the deepest and greatest theologians can’t touch the bottom of it (2 Peter 3:18).
The Bible is not a book of heroes, it is a book of flawed people who have a perfect Hero as their Savior. I wish I could memorize Scripture by simply placing my Bible under my pillow at night. Alas, it requires more than that! And we have our whole life here and all eternity to chase after it.