Part 8 of 12

The 1st Sola - “SOLA SCRIPTURA”

As stated earlier, the “Five Solas” are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Protestant Reformation. These summarized the Reformers’ basic theological beliefs that were in stark contradistinction to the teachings of Constantine ’s “state Church of the Roman Empire ” as it had had continued to their day, and much as it still is today. The Latin word sola in English means “alone” or “only.” The Five Solas articulate the five absolute, fully sufficient, fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation. These are pillars of Pauline Biblical truth that the Reformers recovered and believed to be the essentials of the Christian “gospel of the grace of God.”

Sola Scriptura” means “Scripture ALONE.” This is the first sola since the other four solas are based upon the Bible as the inspired all-sufficient “word of God.” Without the written “word of God” we would have no sure foundation for the other four Solas of absolute truths.

Consider that the Psalmist here places God’s Word above His Name. “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy TRUTH: for thou hast magnified THY WORD ABOVE ALL THY NAME.” (Psalm 138:2)

Paul says the “word of God” that Christ spoke through him, and as written by Paul, actually works in those who hear it today.

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received THE WORD OF GOD which ye heard of us (Paul and his co-workers), ye received it NOT as the word of men, but as it is in TRUTH, THE WORD OF GOD, which effectually WORKETH also IN YOU THAT BELIEVE.” (1 Thess 2:13)

Paul declares that his words are our instructions in this day of grace that we now live in. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I (Paul) write unto YOU ARE THE COMMANDMENTS (instruction) OF THE LORD.”(1Cor 14:37)

We should note that the truths the Reformers discovered and recovered are principally the words of the Apostle Paul. These were written to the genuine church that he more definitively titled “the church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a). This is the one true church exists on earth still today, having no other name than “the church, which is His body.” It will remain on earth until the day of the rapture of “the body of Christ” to heaven when both the dead and living members of “the body of Christ” will “meet the Lord in the air…to ever be with the Lord” (1Thes 4:17-18).


2 Timothy 3:16-17 ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect (complete), throughly furnished (equipped) unto all good works.

Acts 17:11 These (Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that THEY RECEIVED THE WORD (that Paul and Barnabas preached, v10) WITH ALL READINESS OF MIND, AND SEARCHED THE (Old Testament) SCRIPTURES DAILY, WHETHER THOSE THINGS WERE SO.

Sola Scriptura is sometimes called the formal or strict principle of the Reformation, since it is the source and norm of the material or substantive principle of Sola Fide - by faith alone. Yet, the Bible does not stand alone apart from God; it is the instrument of God by which He reveals Himself for salvation by grace (Sola Gratia) ALONE, through faith ALONE (Sola Fide) in “Christ ALONE” (Solas Christus).

Sola Scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the ONLY inspired and authoritative word of God. It is the only source for pure Christian doctrine, and it is accessible to every believer. The Bible is self-evident and self-interpreting when we approach it correctly. The Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself. It is revealed to us by the enlightenment we may gain, by the Holy Spirit of Truth who indwells every believer, as we study “the word of God.” (See the writer’s series: “How to Approach the Bible.”)

The Bible itself warns us not to add or subtract from its words of truth. Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, IF ANY MAN SHALL ADD UNTO THESE THINGS, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: Yet, in addition to the many paraphrased and mistranslated modern Bibles we see today, many men of religion add the words of their church organization, and they elevate their own manmade laws and precepts, making them out to be as God’s words.

All believers need to be like these Bereans, who searched the Scripture daily (Act 17:10-11); examining Paul’s words to see if these things he wrote were so. Bible students need to discover where Paul’s words fit in the context of the Bible by rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH. It’s absolutely necessary that we approach the Bible in our study by RIGHTLY DIVIDING the word of truth.”

This phrase “rightly dividing,” is from the Greek “orthotomeo,” meaning to “cut straight.” In making a straight cut you then get two (2) pieces. These two components of the Bible are not the Old and New Testaments, but rather it assigns Scripture as applicable to either of two groups of people. You see, God originally ordained to bless, fill, and rule the two realms mentioned in the very first verse of the Bible – “the heaven and the earth.” Israel has been promised to inherit “the earth” as an “everlasting inheritance,” while at the same time “the church, which is His body”“the body of Christ” has its eternal destiny “in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) as it eternal home (1Thes 4:17-18). At the end of all ages, in “the dispensation of the fulness of times” the glory of the Lord Jesus will be expressed in and through these two people groups in whom and through whom Christ will reign and rule both “the heaven” and “the earth.”

Ephesians 1:9-11 Having made known unto us the mystery (Gk., musterion, secret)  of his (God’s) will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 THAT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are IN HEAVEN, and which are ON EARTH; even in (union with) him (Christ): 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE OF HIM WHO WORKETH ALL THINGS after the counsel of his own will:

The entire Bible, when “rightly divided,” reveals the eternal plan and purpose of God toward reconciling man to God and His subduing the heaven and earth through regenerated mankind. God’s eternal purpose is to recover “the heaven and the earth” through the believing nation of Israel “on earth,” and through the genuine “church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a) “in heaven.”

“Sola Scriptura” says that the Bible ALONE is the primary and absolute source of authority, the final court of appeal, for all doctrine and practice. It holds that THE BIBLE IS INFALLIBLE, that it is all-sufficient, and that IT IS UNAMBIGUOUSLY CLEAR when it is PROPERLY APPROACHED IN ITS CONTEXT, and when it remains UNTAINTED MY MAN and his TRADITIONS.

It is this last point, that the Bible is unambiguously clear, that is disputed by the Roman Catholic Church even today. The Roman church holds that while the Bible contains all truth necessary for salvation the Bible’s meaning is not clear and must be interpreted by Rome ’s infallible teaching authority, called “the magisterium” of the Roman Catholic Church. “Sola Scriptura” is in fact a faith principle is directly opposed to the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Coptic, Anglo-Catholic, and Roman Catholic traditions, which teach that the Bible can be authentically interpreted only by Apostolic Tradition, this being the tradition embodied in the Magisterium, (that is the teaching authority embodied in Bishops in union with the Pope, supposed to be in the line of Peter). This is entirely erroneous and unscriptural.

The “dark ages” were considered dark because the light of the message of the Bible had been literally locked away and kept from “the common people.” During the Middle and Dark Ages Satan had the Bible shut up in great cathedrals and monasteries and it was kept from the common lay people. This was one reason for the Dark Age. During the Dark Age Christians were tortured and burned with their Bibles at the stake because the Roman church had said only the Priests could understand the Bible. So, they had locked up the Bibles. As a child and being raised Roman Catholic, I never once saw a Bible. It’s only in recent years that this has somewhat changed in the Roman church.

The Reformers of the late middle ages began to read the Bible for themselves, then to preach its message of “salvation by grace (alone) through faith (alone), NOT of works (Eph 2:8-9). These words of the light of “the gospel of grace” came from Paul, whom the Lord sent to bring the message of the grace gospel to “the Gentiles…to turn them FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT” (Acts 26:17-18).

As opposed to “Sola Scriptura”the Bible only, the Roman church today places its reliance upon a so-called three-legged stool with regard to its sourcing authority. Their faith is in the Bible, plus Church Tradition, plus the teaching authority of the Roman church’s magisterium. Yet, time and time again, Scripture warns us of philosophies and traditions. When we start following tradition and philosophies, putting them above the Word of God, then we are wrong.  Somewhere in the world there has to be a standard, a sure measuring stick, and that is… the sure “Word of God.”

What has religion (Roman and Protestant) used in place of Sola Scriptura – it is the tradition of men, manmade law, philosophy, and pagan traditions that can be traced to Rome and Greece and Egypt .

Note that Jesus warned “the lost sheep of the house of Israel ” (Matt 15:24), to whom Jesus came, of the tendency to replace the God’s Word with religious tradition. Matt 15:6 …Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by YOUR TRADITION. Matt 15:8-9 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But IN VAIN they do worship me, teaching for doctrines THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.  

Paul then also warned “the body of Christ” of “philosophy” and “the tradition of men.” Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through PHILOSOPHY and vain deceit, after the TRADITION OF MEN, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Having the aforementioned, we could now summarize our proper attitude toward the Bible.

The Holy Bible is the PLENARY, VERBALLY INSPIRED, WORD OF GOD consisting of sixty-six (66) books of the Old and New Testament. This inspired Word of God is inerrant and infallible in the original manuscripts. It is the supreme authority and the final rule in life, faith and practice.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter l:20-21; Isaiah 8:20; John l6:12-13)

What do the words in this phrase mean?

VerballyMeans Every Word. Verbal means that every word of Scripture is God-given. The idea is that every single word in the Bible is there because God wanted it there. By themselves the words are meaningless. What’s divine is not the individual words per se, but the “wording,” that is: the context that is established by the words before and after each word. We derive the meaning of the words by the way they are used in relationship to each other – in context. Each word is important, but only as it relates to the words around them. Having said that, I want to emphasize; Scripture contains the exact words, forms of words, and “wording” (the context) that God desired.

PlenaryMeans Fully Authoritative. Plenary means that all parts of the Bible are equally authoritative. All parts of the Bible are of divine origin. Jesus said. “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” (Luke 16:17). Paul wrote. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

InspiredMeans God Guided The Process. The idea behind the word inspiration is that God supernaturally guided and moved the biblical authors to write the exact things that He wanted expressed - “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The result is Holy Scripture.