Is Sola Scriptura Found in The Bible?
|By: Mike Gendron; ©2001|
|Are the Scriptures alone sufficient and authoritative for the Christian life? The Word of God says “yes!” The Roman Catholic Church says an emphatic “no.” Mike Gendron explores the Scriptural evidence in this article.|
Is Sola Scriptura Found In The Bible?
Are the Scriptures alone sufficient and authoritative for the Christian life? The Word of God says “yes!” The Roman Catholic Church says an emphatic “No,” foolishly declaring its tradition is also the Word of God and therefore equally authoritative. However, as we study the Bible we see overwhelming evidence as to why Scripture stands alone as the supreme authority in all matters of faith. The internal testimony of the Bible reveals the Word of God is pure, perfect, inerrant, infallible, living, truth, light, holy, eternal, and forever settled in heaven. It illuminates, cleanses, saves, frees, guides, converts, heals, quickens, judges, and sanctifies. It also brings conviction, gives knowledge, gives wisdom, produces faith, refutes error, searches the heart, equips for every good work, and is used as a weapon. God has magnified His Word according to His Name (Psalm 138:2)
Compare this with what the Bible says about tradition. Jesus told the religious leaders of His day that by holding on to their tradition they were nullifying and invalidating the word of God (Mat. 7:7-13). Paul warned his readers: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). Every time Paul spoke of tradition in a positive sense, it always referred to the tradition they had already received from the apostles. There is not one indication from Scripture that new traditions should be followed or developed. In fact Jude exhorts all Christians to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Yet the Roman Catholic Church has developed new traditions over the last 1600 years that oppose and nullify the word of God and the grace of God. In doing so they supplant the authority of God’s word with traditions of men. Because of this Catholics who fear God should take the exhortation of Peter seriously: “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The Bible represents the perfect character of God, whereas Roman Catholic Tradition represents the imperfect character of man.
Thus, the Scriptures provide our only trustworthy and objective basis for authority. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who provides illumination, conviction and discernment, we have confidence that the Bible is true. This dual authority, the Spirit of God working with the Word of God, is sufficient in all matters of faith and Christian living. Catholics, on the other hand, submit to a dual authority of tradition and Scripture, under the subjective interpretation of their church. The pope, who believes he speaks for all Christianity, is said to be infallible in all matters pertaining to faith and morals.
Many Roman Catholics have asked, “Where does it say in the Bible that Scripture alone should be the authority for faith?” Is “Sola Scriptura,” the battle cry of the Reformers, found in the Bible? First we must define what “Sola Scriptura” means: Scripture is the sole source of written divine revelation and is sufficient to function as the sole, infallible rule of faith and practice for the Church. Everything that one needs to know, understand and believe for salvation is found in the Scriptures. The Scriptures (as the sufficient rule of faith) do not refer us to or point us to any other rule of faith. Given this definition, there are at least nine biblical justifications for Sola Scriptura.
1. All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and useful for reproof and correction of error (2 Timothy 3:16). Since Scripture is used to correct and reprove then it must be the authoritative standard by which everything else is judged for its truthfulness.
2. Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:34). The character of God is on the line. “God is not a man that He should lie… and hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good (Numbers 23:19). Submitting to the authority of God’s revealed word will guide us in His perfect will.
3. Christ used the authority of Scripture to rebuke Satan’s attempt to deceive Him (Matthew 4:1-11). He gave prepositional statements to accurately convey the truth that Satan attempted to distort. Jesus was our perfect model for rebuking deception.
4. Jesus used the authority of Scriptures to rebuke false teachers (Matthew 22:29). The only way false teachers can be confronted and exposed is in the power of God’s Word.
5. Repentant sinners are saved by hearing and believing the Word (Ephesians 1:13-14). The integrity of the Gospel must be maintained and proclaimed for true conversions (Gal. 1:6-9).
6. Jesus prayed for Christians to be sanctified (set apart) by the truth of His Word (John 17:17). Christians must separate themselves from apostates and false teachers (2 Cor. 6:14-17). God uses His word to divide and to show which people have His approval (1 Cor. 11:19).
7. One must look to the authority of Scripture to be set free from religious deception and become a disciple of Christ (John 8:31-32). Those who follow the traditions and teachings of men remain in legalistic bondage and are often led astray.
8. Christ rebuked the religious leaders for nullifying the Word of God with their tradition (Mark 7:13). Any tradition or teaching that nullifies the Scriptures must be exposed and renounced so others will not be deceived (Eph. 5:11).
9. The Scriptures were written to all people, not to popes or the Magisterium to be interpreted for lay people. Paul delivered the uncorrupted Word of God to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:2). Anytime we allow others to interpret God’s word for us, we leave ourselves open to deception. That is why the Lord Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).
God foreknew the teachings and traditions of men would become corrupt and would lead many astray. In His wisdom, He left us with His Word, as the only objective, absolute authority for truth. Why would the Roman Catholic Church want to add anything subjective to the objective standard God has given us? Apparently, it is to control their flock with legalistic bondage by supplanting God’s authority with an authority of their own.
Catholics will also argue that we would not have the Bible today if it were not for the Catholic Church. Did the Catholic Church really determine which books to include in the Bible? Did the Catholic Church protect the Bible throughout the centuries? On the contrary, I believe we have the Bible today in spite of the Vatican, which kept it hidden in a dead language for hundreds of years (Latin). In recent history Catholic priests often refused to absolve the sins of any person who possessed a Bible. Their sins could not be forgiven until the Bible was returned. It would do Roman Catholics well to consider the following facts about the origin of the Bible.
1. Since the books were written under the inspiration of God, they were canonical the moment they were written. A council was not necessary to affirm what was already true. No book became canonical by the action of a church council. What the council did was determine which books did not meet certain tests for canonicity.
2. All the Old Testament books are quoted in the New Testament except Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. None of the books of the Apocrypha, which the Catholic Church added to its canon in the 16th century, are quoted.
3. The New Testament books had certain tests for canonicity. They either had to be written or backed by an apostle (Mark by Peter and Luke by Paul). They also had to be circulated and accepted by the majority of churches. By the second century only the 27 books that now make up the New Testament were accepted by the people of God. Each book had to reflect internal consistency and character with other Scripture.
4. Peter referred to the letters written by Paul as Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). He did not wait for a church council to make that determination.
We have the infallible Bible today, not because of the Roman Catholic Church, but because almighty God has protected it and will continue to do so (Matthew 5:18). One day we will be held accountable for what we did with God’s word. It is His word that will judge those who supplant God’s authority with an authority of their own.