With the Pope’s coming to America this last week, I decided that I would write a short five part series on the Five Solas of the Reformation. These five points are stated below:
- Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone
- Sola Fide – By Faith Alone
- Solus Christus – In Christ Alone
- Sola Scriptura – By Scripture Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria – To the Glory of God Alone
This fourth post is on Sola Scriptura, or Scripture alone. Rome teaches that we have two sources of revelation for the church that are equally valid: Scripture and tradition. Scripture is good but it isn’t sufficient. We also need tradition. The reformers however stated otherwise. They said that Scripture is sufficient and that the Bible is all we need to make men wise unto salvation. There are three primary Scriptures that deal with the sufficiency of Scripture:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the world.
— Hebrews 1:1-2 (NASB)
The is the classic verse used to show that the canon of Scripture has ceased. But this verse also shows that today, God does not speak to us through apostles or prophets but through his word. This is first of all why the Papacy is completely wrong. There are no more authority figures like that today. The office of prophet and apostle has ceased, therefore the canon has ceased, and we have no need for anything else. The Word is sufficient. I remember once reading a story that R.C. Sproul told of a hymn that was played in his church that said “God says it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.”
R.C. Sproul did not allow that hymn anymore in his church because it was theologically incorrect. It should have said, “God says it, and that settles it whether we believe it or not.” This is what we mean by the sufficiency of Scritpure. God’s word is sufficient, no matter what we do with it. We don’t need tradition as well.
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
— 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NASB)
Now this passage is often perverted by the Catholics to say that we must submit to the tradition of the church as to what interpretation to use, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact it is the exact opposite. Peter is essentially saying this: “You don’t get to decide how you want to interpret the passage. It is God’s word and it must be interpreted without any human authority or tradition. Let the word of God speak for itself.”
John Owen once said that “If Scripture has more than one meaning then it has no meaning at all.” We must remember that before thinking that we can interpret Scripture any way we want to protect our traditions.
You have known the sacred wiritngs which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NASB)
The lesson is that Scripture is sufficient. We don’t need Popes, or tradition, or extra-biblical revelation. All we need is Scripture. Scripture alone is sufficient to make us wise unto salvation and to equip us for every good work. This is why I believe that all revelation ceased once the canon was complete. This verse says we don’t need extra revelation, because Scritpure is enough. This is why Charles Spurgeon said that “All God intended to reveal to us is in his word. He has never added to it and never will.” Spurgeon believed that all revelation ceased with the closing of the canon and I stand with him in that.
To end this post on Sola Scriptura, I will leave you with my favorite hymn ever written. It helps me remember that God speaks to me through his word and through his word alone:
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!