The Solas have to be more to us than historical landmarks, relics from the Reformation. Scripture Alone has an undeniable effect on our lives and the culture, eco-system, and vibe of our churches.
To really live Sola Scriptura is to believe and grasp the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is sufficient, powerful, for all of your life in Christ. You don’t need John Piper’s podcast. You don’t lack anything if you can’t buy the Christian “Book of the Year.” These are all helpful and wonderful things, but if you have God’s word, you have the food you need. And this word leads us toward living with God, how to live for God, how to walk in the power of Christ.
In a way, Scripture Alone sets us free.
Scripture Alone Frees Us From The Tyranny of Human Opinion
In the Reformation, the people were weighed down and held captive to the words of men, Popes, Priests, and the Catholic Church ruled over the people.
When Luther was put on trial by the Church, and told to take back everything he said. He refused. He said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.”
Knowing the Bible sets you free from the tyrannical scepter of human opinion. “The Truth shall set you free.” This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to the biblical counsel and wisdom and Christian friends. Of course, we should; the Bible instructs us too.
Sola Scriptura means the Bible is the ultimately authoritative word in our lives because it is the word of God. No priest, Pope, professor, pastor, or person in our church can pull rank of the revealed word of God.
When a church is living Sola Scriptura, we hear more, “The Bible says…”, and less, “I think…”.
Pastors and Sola Scriptura
As a pastor, I am not anyone’s ultimate authority. Pastors are one authority. We don’t believe in Solo Scriptura, meaning that we only listen to Scripture and nothing else. That goes against the very testimony of Scripture. Pastors are only one authority in the Christians life, even other Christians are another authority in our lives, but it is the Bible, that has the ultimate and final say. If I step outside the Bible, I’ve lost my authority. In speaking with another Christian, if you contradict the Bible, go against what God has said, you are outside of your jurisdiction.
As a pastor, if I want people to listen and heed my counsel more than I want them to listen and obey the Bible, I’m in trouble. Our job is to feed people God’s word and to help them eat and drink from God’s word when we aren’t present. Sola Scriptura means we don’t create a pastor-dependant church culture. Pastors who believe Sola Scriptura will pump the brakes, and make sure they are in line with God’s word.
Sola Scriptura changes our sermons. Instead of gathering verses to support the preacher’s point, the preacher finds the point from the passage. He preaches God’s message, not his. This doesn’t mean topical sermons are bad; it means topical sermons better be a topic God is addressing from that text.
If the Bible is a crutch, platform, or a prop to help the preacher say what he wants to say, he doesn’t believe in Sola Scriptura. He might as well be a Pope. The Bible isn’t our mouthpiece to say what we want. Preachers are proclaimers of God’s word. God’s.
A true Sola Scriptura will exalt the Savior. The Scriptures are all about him. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).
Sola Scriptura means we aren’t held captive to gimmicks, trends, and church growth schemes. We are ministers of the word.
Sola Scriptura Means We Don’t Go Beyond The Bible
Paul shows this example of Apollos and himself to the Corinthian church—and us— saying, “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). Paul and Apollos lived Sola Scriptura. They didn’t want to go beyond what was written—or even what was being written.
Are there areas in our churches where we go beyond what is written? Do we make new laws where God has not laid any down? Do we create additional requirements for elders and pastors that God has not required? Are we calling things sin the Bible doesn’t? For example, saying alcohol is sinful is to deny Sola Scriptura. The Bible doesn’t call it sinful. Some denominational traditions might call it sinful, but that’s not what God says.
To go beyond what is written is to betray the Bible—it is exalting tradition over truth. Anytime our opinions, preferences, or traditions get puffed up; we are in danger. Our worship is in danger. We aren’t held to the commandments of men.
“In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Mark 7:7 ESV)
It is vital for us to know the Bible, to speak in agreement with God’s words, so we can serve one another in the way of Christ and not the way of Satan.
The Serpent hates Sola Scriptura. He loves to add to the Bible. He wants us to think more highly of our thoughts and think lesser of God’s. But we fight with the sword of the Spirit, the Scriptura of God.
We need a Personal and Communal Sola Scriptura.
This means we are thinking in the realms of our personal lives—my growth in Christ, my home, my marriage, my job, my sphere:
What Does the Bible say about this?
What Does the Bible require of me?
We ought to live in functional Sola Scriptura, where the Bible is our go-to source because this how God reigns over his people. It is God speaking to us.
A church-wide Sola Scriptura means we are encouraging one another, letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly, helping each other follow Christ with the word of God. A church committed to Sola Scriptura will revere the word of God, exposit the word of God, and crave to hear the words of God.
Our counseling ministries become extensions of ministering God’s word. They don’t offer life tips. They shine the light of God’s word on a situation. Our student and children’s ministries aim to help students and kids know God’s word, and what God reveals in his word—the redemption offered to sinners in Jesus Christ.
Sola Scriptura changes our churches. We cling to the word. Think with the word. Live from the word.