Sola: Scripture Alone

What Sola Scriptura Does Mean – Scripture is Sufficient

The sufficiency of Scripture says that God’s Word is complete, lacking nothing we actually need, and fully capable of providing truth to believe and live the life to which God has called us. It doesn’t contain all there is to know, but it does contain all that is necessary to know to live the life God expects.

It does not mean that all truth is found in the Bible. Geometry and biology and other sciences discover and describe truth. They may not interpret it rightly, but God’s truth is found beyond the Bible because all truth is God’s truth. It means the Bible is sufficient for what we need to know, believe, and live.

  • “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV)
  • “…and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)
  • “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18–19)

How committed are you to the trustworthiness of the Bible? What would you stake on it? What would you be willing to risk for it?

This is where the Reformation indicts modern-day Christianity where we have access to Scripture more than any other Christians in history and the least interest in it. Most of us have more Bible on our phones than entire cities of Christians would have had in the 16th century.

It’s one thing to have the Bible, it’s another to so treasure it that you stake your life on its teaching. The list of Reformers who refused to recant anything in Scripture and were burned at the stake is awe-inspiring. They died for truth as found in God’s Word, refusing to elevate any tradition or teaching above it.

  • John Huss – before being lit on fire said, “God is my witness that I have never taught that of which I have been accused by false witnesses. In the truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached I will die today with gladness.” 102 years before Luther nailed his 95 theses, Huss proclaimed as the fire grew around him, “In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.”[1]
  • Hugh Latimer – a godly man in England who tirelessly taught God’s Word, was sentenced to die for failing to put the church on equal footing with Scripture. Latimer was burned at the stake with Nicholas Ridley. As they are about to burn he said to Ridley, “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”[2]
  • Thomas Cranmer – Archbishop of Canterbury in England. Later in his life under arrest and threat of death, recanted his reformation doctrines. Then dramatically, when given the pulpit, recanted his recantations. He was pulled from the pulpit and drug to the same spot Ridley and Latimer had been killed, and they lit the fire on him. He told them the first thing to burn would be the hand that had written a recantation. He made sure of it as he thrust his right hand into the fire.[3]

These and many others show the passion for God’s Word. Next week we are going to look at what Sola Scriptura looks like in our everyday lives.

But hear it this week. From Luther’s, “I shall not recant,” to Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndale, Latimer, Cranmer, these and many, many others refused to upgrade the traditions and teachings of men above Scripture. How could they when they loved and worshiped the God who spoke the Scriptures into existence?

We don’t worship the Bible, but because we worship God we hold his Word over the fallible words of any man, council, pope, or pastor.

Martin Luther once said, “I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing…. The Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all.”[4]

Over our church we say the same—God, by his Word and through His Spirit has done it all. We look back on the radical Reformation God used by unleashing his Word and gospel and pray, God, do it again. For your glory. By your Spirit. Through your Christ. By your Holy Word. Sola Scriptura.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2017 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

[1] John Huss, as quoted by Matthew Gilbert, Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God, Chapter 6, page unknown.

[2] Hugh Latimer as quoted by John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, p. 309.

[3] Summarized from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, pp.351-387.

[4] Martin Luther as quoted by Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers, p. 55.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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