As Christians, what exactly is our final authority? Is it our pastor? Is it our parents? What about our own moral standard? These kind of authoritative standards are good to have. There is no doubt that our pastor, our parents and our churches for that matter, all have our best interest at heart. The problem with those standards however, is this. They are fallible. Pastors can get caught in scandals, parents can get confused; these things can and do happen. When God saves us through Christ, he certainly makes us a new creature. He does not however, make us infallible; not even pastors. The only perfect standard that we have is the written word of God as revealed in scripture
The reformers of the 16th century stood on the foundation of the five solas. The one which we will discuss in today’s topic being Sola Scriptura or “scripture alone.” Sola Scriptura states that scripture is the final authority for all Christian practice, discipline, and doctrine. This idea says that the Bible explicitly lays framework and guidance for our lives; how we worship, how we believe, what we believe, etc. Scripture alone is enough for us. God has revealed himself through the apostles and prophets and the very words of the Biblical authors are as 2 Timothy 3:16 says, theopneustos or “God Breathed.” The very breath of God has been revealed to us through Holy Scripture.
Scripture isn’t just given to us as leisure reading or that we might look to it only when we are in need. Scripture is so much more than that! The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that desperately needs to be preached in the present age. We are at a time in church history where there are more opinions and more varying ideas than at probably any other time. Throughout history the Bible has been the defense of the faith. When the Arian heresy came along in the early 4th century and challenged the deity of Christ, the church came together and defended that doctrine by scripture.
Now more than ever the Christian faith has come under attack. Our Supreme Court recently passed legislation that openly condones sin. We have seen proponents (not that this is something new) of the “Gay Christian” movement come into the forefront to distort scripture and to confuse the body of Christ. We are being told that Jesus never really spoke about homosexual behavior. We also hear that Paul wasn’t really critical of homosexual relationships. We have been told that it’s fine to be gay as long as the relationship is monogamous. In order to give this idea legs, secularists have divorced Jesus from the Old Testament completely, and distorted the writings of Paul beyond recognition. One of the greatest gifts of God has been profaned before our very eyes. The reason why? We are not defending the faith based on scripture; and there is plenty of scripture to combat these false teachings. Jesus makes the argument for traditional marriage between a man and a woman crystal clear in Matthew 19 when he says,
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh?”
We have heard the call from the secular world today, that the Bible is outdated, and that it doesn’t address modern issues such as homosexual relationships. The fact of the matter is that the Bible is perfectly clear on these issues. Our culture however, likes to distort them. The secular world likes to say that the Bible isn’t clear because that creates an easy cop out. It diminishes the guilt of sin and “pleads the fifth” when it comes to accountability. The Bible teaches on marriage and speaks sternly about homosexual relationships in at least five passages. (Genesis 19: 1-13, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9.) However, the purpose of this article is not to discuss marriage or recent events. This is simply one example of how we can be so easily lead away from sound biblical doctrine when we read scripture through the lens of our own worldview.
The proper hermeneutic for interpreting scripture is to let the scriptures interpret scripture. What do I mean by that? If we believe the Bible is in complete harmony with itself and completely without contradictions, (Which I would affirm) then we have to find harmony in the scripture and where there is seemingly contradictory statements then we have to view the Bible as a whole and be careful not to read scriptures through the lens of our presuppositions. When we exegete from scripture something that the scriptures themselves do not teach, we are doing an incredible injustice to the word of God, and putting ourselves in a precarious position.
We are blessed with incredible riches today. We have more English translations of the Bible than we really need. Most of us own a smart phone and have our Bible on our hip at all times. Despite these blessings, there exists in our culture a tremendous lack of biblical comprehension. In order to grasp God’s word we have to read God’s word. We must not only read God’s word, but we must read it intently as to pull out the words and understand and apply them.
Our opinions are not God’s opinions. We don’t get to decide right and wrong. That is the job that belongs to the scriptures. We don’t get to invent, remove, or distort doctrines; the Bible decides what we are to believe. No matter how hard we pray on something, it will not change what the Bible says about it. Jesus is referred to as “The word.” The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If you are a Christian forming your opinions on anything other than the Bible then they will fail. I leave you with this quote from Martin Luther, “Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture.”