Lots of the guys who say this, do so with a nice language twist – Sola Scriptura. Scriptures alone! That is what it means. Only the Scriptures are the authority for us. But man, the people who say this sometimes seem to have the hardest time actually living it.
I come from a family, background, and group that knows this phrase. It speaks of the Bible. The Bible is the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice. That covers everything in life. Everything is covered by the Bible. And for my family growing up, and now as a father and husband, this is how we try to live. The Scriptures are our sole authority. Not everything from the Scriptures are we going to know or understand – “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God” (Deut. 29:29) but we are to let the Bible guide us where it is clear. And it is clear in everything we need to know.
God has given us so much within it. When we start to apply our logic to it, we create systems. And systems are good. They help us organize and understand. They help us to grow. They help us counter error. But they are not the Bible. Theology is not God’s Word. God’s Word is the sole authority.
The problem, which is prevalent it seems to me (perhaps more so in higher educated theological circles), is that logic proceeding from the Bible might lead us somewhere the Bible does not. Two railroad tracks that do not logically ever meet. So, we interpret the intersecting verse as something else to stay on our single track because we know we didn’t start on the other one. And we have just allowed our logic to override Scripture – sola logica. We don’t mean to. We don’t want to. But we do. Because we forget that we are dealing with the spiritual and the Divine. We need the Spirit to guide us, not our earthy minds.
We accept this easily in orthodox matters. We are taught it so it is easy to grasp. There is one God, and He is three separate and distinct persons. God is omnipresent and yet Jesus was in a single place. Jesus is completely God and completely man – not a mixture, or alternating but both simultaneously and completely. We accept these things where our logic cannot help us. But if it is not something we have been taught and we must just believe, then we try to reason it out. And it gets us into trouble.
Faith is what we need. I’m going to give two more examples that could be hard to believe. Perhaps not, but like the Trinity, they aren’t logical. I’m not going to dive into them. I’m not going to try to explain – because that is the point. The Bible says it, so we believe it – Sola Scriptura.
Prayer. God knows all things that have happened and everything that will happen. He knows what He will do and when He will do it. He knows what we will do and when. He knows everything there is to know. Yet, the Bible says He listens and answers – as in responds – to our prayers. Ask and ye shall receive. Not, “Ask or don’t, but you will receive.” God responds to us. You will find God listened to the voice of men throughout the Scriptures. How does this work? How does prayer work when everything has been pre-ordained and determined? I don’t know, but I don’t need to. God is in control and I believe it by faith – and I pray.
Salvation. God has elected people before the foundation of the world to salvation. He ordained them to eternal life, and secured and effected their atonement on the cross. At the same time, He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel. Men must accept the Gospel and be saved. There is a requirement for men to do so. God holds men accountable for that which they cannot do apart from His imparting of grace and faith. This is both just and right. And the man that cries out to God He will not turn away. Jesus said that if any man come to Him, He will in no wise cast Him out. That is what the Bible says.
We believe it. We might fit the pieces together, or we might not. But the danger comes when we fit the pieces together and it doesn’t make a nice square, so we then go around and trim the edges of God’s Word to make it fit our theological framework. God’s Word fits God’s mold – not ours.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is the foundation. Faith is it. 2 Peter lists faith first as the foundation upon which to build and we forget we need to keep faith centered in our lives. Live by faith. Read the Bible and believe it. Not for what your system thinks it says, but for what it says. Accept that God has given preachers and teachers for the ministry of the saints – and that means YOU. Learn from them; grow from them. Believe the Bible. Don’t read it with your system in mind.
Long ago I learned that most people I respected when it came to the Bible were wrong. Not an arrogant thing, but a common sense “of course no one has it all together.” It made me realize that I was wrong too. I didn’t know where, but knew I was either wrong or ignorant. This was scary for me and eye-opening. I loved to study, and talk about the Word. But I knew I better listen to all points because the same Spirit – the holy Spirit who penned the Scriptures – was also in that other person I was arguing with. It was a good lesson, and one I’m very grateful I learned at that age. This pushed me to the Bible more. But mostly it lead me to a prayer like this, that I prayed a lot back then and still pray today.
“Father, I know I am probably wrong somewhere. Help me to see it. Help me not to be too stubborn to not listen to those you send my way to help me. Keep me from spreading this error in my zeal for you. Prevent those that I have told from recalling it. Show them the truth through someway. Show me. Forgive me for misrepresenting you, and help me to always study your word for what you would have, and not what I want to see. Help me to keep things in context. Thank you that I have your Spirit. Help me to listen to it. Amen.”