Although it might seem like just another year, 2017 marks a special anniversary for a historic event. Five hundred years ago, in 1517, a monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed His ninety-five thesis to the castle door in Wittenberg, Germany. Appalled by the Roman Catholic Church's horrific twisting of God's word, Martin Luther felt compelled to oppose the tyranny.
When his list of contentious points was discovered by the people, a wildfire of argument and discussion broke out and eventually led to what we now know today as the Protestant Reformation. Out from this era of spiritual awakening came five Latin phrases: "Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone), “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone), “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone), “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone), and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory). Although these concepts of grace, faith, Scripture might seem commonplace to you, they were life-saving rediscoveries during this bleak period.
Although all of these points of doctrine are absolutely essential for retaining Christian orthodoxy, there is one of them that lays a firm foundation for the rest to stand upon, and without it we would kill ourselves by doing what is right in our own eyes, no matter how noble the intentions might be.
Sola Scriptura basically teaches that the Bible alone is are highest authority. This doctrine does not sympathize with any teaching, tradition, or idea that can't point to a chapter and verse to establish it's validity. Your bright ideas, creative solutions, and innovative tactics concerning life, godliness, and church must all bow the knee before "Thus saith the LORD."
God has spoken.
His word is true. His voice expects to be obeyed. Divine retribution is extended to those who think lightly of this authority. However, don't take my word for it. Let’s examine this ancient book to see if that's what it claims.
As we peek inside this library of heavenly revelation, we find this issue of authority to be of critical importance extremely early on in the biblical story. The first conflict of the human mind between good and evil is fought in the historic battleground of Eden. God made the heavens and the earth and it was all very good. Man enjoyed a blissful paradise as long as he submitted himself to God's word concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:15–17).
However, you know how the story goes. All of that happiness ended when mankind doubted God's Word and bought the Serpent's lie, "has God really said...?" (Gen 3:1). Because they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, all the sons of Adam are born hostile towards their Creator.
Let's consider another example. This one was recorded for us by Moses in Leviticus 10. The nation of Israel has just been redeemed from the iron clutches of Egyptian oppression by the sovereign hand of their omnipotent God. Now at Mount Sinai, Yahweh is revealing His perfect law to the people in very specific details. Observe what happens when we think lightly of the Consuming Fire's written Word: Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.' So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.” Leviticus 10:1-3 NASB. What is happening here? Has God gone off the deep end? Isn't this a bit of an overreaction? The crux of issue is that of worth. When you or I think lightly of or disobey God's clear commands, it necessarily portrays a low view of our Maker.
We're basically saying to the world that God is not worth the time of day. This type of attitude tells our peers that the uncreated One is of so little consequence that it really doesn't matter if you take Him seriously. That is why He says "By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored" (Lev 10:3).
At this point in the article, you might be tempted to think that the current New Testament era in which we live is void of this kind of language. Please don't kid yourself. Our God, the LORD, does not change (Mal 3:6). Jesus had stern words for those who let their customs overrule what was written:
“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.' He answered them, 'And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, "Honor your father and your mother," and, "Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die." But you say, If anyone tells his father or his mother, "What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father." So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the Word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"” Matthew 15:1–9 ESV
If we allow the commandments of men, no matter how good the intentions may be, to dictate the way we do worship, church, evangelism, marriage, family, and the preaching of the gospel, then we'll be nothing more than a people who honor Christ with our lips while our hearts are far from Him.
This scarlet thread of supreme loyalty to the voice of our good Shepherd is seen distinctly in the ministry of the Apostle Paul. When departing for Jerusalem, Paul warned the elders from Ephesus that from among their own selves false teachers would arise. His last words of wisdom commended them to God and the word of His grace (Acts 20:32). Paul commanded young Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of scripture (1 Tim 4:13) and to the teaching and preaching of that scripture (2 Tim 4:1-2). Paying close attention to the book ensured salvation for the teacher and the taught (1 Tim 4:16).
Much more biblical evidence could be investigated, but I hope that you are beginning to see what the Bible thinks of itself. Israel wanted to be like other nations, and God drove them into exile because of it. Today churches want to be thought of as relevant and cool, so we try to dumb down the gospel so that people won't be offended by it. If you're afraid to take God at His word, you'll lose the saving message of the cross faster than you can say apostasy.
If you do a little research, then you'll find out that this is exactly what the Roman Catholic Church was doing. No Biblical literacy among the common man added with the fact that the Pope's words were considered to be of equal weight as God's word gave birth to a horrible damning man-made religion of works.
How then shall we escape if we neglect this so great salvation? Let us heed this Divine mandate: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15 ESV).
God has spoken. Your responsibility is to abide in His Word. Remember your beloved Savior and the immeasurable riches of His love towards you. Let Calvary capture your heart and compel you to stay faithfully following your King.
We're saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in scripture alone to the glory of God alone!