Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura
Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For centuries the medieval system of the Roman Catholic Church dominated Europe. In spite of one a handful of valiant efforts, it continued to choke almost all spiritual light within Europe.

However, under God, the Protestant reformers achieved what seemed impossible because of one primary difference of approach – they gave the people the scriptures in the vernacular of their day.

As men rose up with the ability to read the original biblical languages, and with a burden to translate it for the common people, the spiritual darkness gave way to a new dawn. As men looked at the scriptures honestly, they found little in the way of support for the vast majority of common religious practice. No mass, no papacy, no confession to an earthly priest, and no saving merit in personal efforts. Instead they read of the proper purpose of the sacraments, the doctrine of justification, the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness, and the priesthood of all believers.

And undergirding all that was the realization of the sufficiency and final authority of scripture. That the Bible is to the believer the sole rule of faith and practice. And in the early fifteen hundreds, these truths began to spread like wildfire.

This matter is as relevant today as it was then. Not only does Rome continue to undermine the sufficiency of scripture, but the same idea has polluted evangelicalism through the last century in what we know as the charismatic movement. Both Rome and the charismatic movement are guilty of the same folly – elevating the authority of something else over scripture. For Rome it is Tradition, for the Charismatics it is experience.


Sola scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. God has given the church a perfect revelation of what we are to believe and what we are to practice as Christians.

While God began by giving His word orally, by adopting sola scriptura, the reformers affirmed that God no longer communicates His mind for the church through anything but scripture. They understood that God has definitively committed His will for the church to writing, and that writing is contained in the Old and New Testaments.

Whatever traditions may be passed down through the generations, no tradition has authority over scripture. In every matter of controversy there is only one question, ‘What saith the scripture?’ 

The reformation was essentially a crisis of authority. By what authority do you say what you say? The reformation was an exaltation of the written Word of God. They believed that the Lordship of Jesus Christ was mediated through His written Word. Take one step outside of the Word and what you stand on has no authority.


The RRC was not slow to respond to this increasing of view of the scriptures. She had built up an entire system with little reference to the scriptures at all, and everything hung in the balance. If she admitted she was in the wrong, the whole thing would collapse. So she had to wage a counter attack.

1. The Appeal of the Enemy
Her appeal is always to Tradition. And very often her traditions are in direct opposition to the plain teaching of scripture, and for that reason she has always opposed the widespread knowledge of scripture. She is scared of it.

Even if you go to the Catholic Encyclopedia online and under Scripture, Section IV. ‘The Attitude of the Church Towards the Reading of The Bible in the Vernacular’ you can see for yourself in language that has been carefully crafted to make her look as good as possible, the fear the RCC had to let common people read the Word of God.

Even to this day, in most RCC you will find that the laity are not actively encouraged to read the scriptures. Does that mean she denies scripture? No, but to scripture she adds Tradition, that which she believes are revelations made to the Apostles either orally by Jesus Christ or by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and transmitted by the Apostles to the Church.

“Holy Scripture is therefore not the only theological source of the Revelation made by God to His Church. Side by side with Scripture there is tradition, side by side with the written revelation there is the oral revelation.” Catholic Encyclopedia

Is that what scripture reveals? Does not 2 Tim 3:16-17 reveal that scripture is able to make the man of God complete? Scripture does that without the addition of anything else!

Of course, the RCC does not place scripture or tradition as the ultimate authority, but herself. In the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, 
Rome declared, “The task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ…all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church.”

In their denial of sola scriptura, they use John 21:25 “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” 

But no Protestant ever claimed everything Christ or the Apostles said or did has been recorded, and while there may have been value in things not recorded, the Holy Spirit has determined that in order to know God and live for His glory, all that is necessary has been given. At the end of the day, if oral tradition was in any way reliable, why have the scriptures at all? All truth could have been transmitted by tradition. But it wasn’t, for the simple reason that it’s far too easy to corrupt.

They also use 2 Thes 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” If Paul spoke in person, would we receive it? Yes, because of his office as an apostle. But, if someone says this is what an apostle said and it’s outside scripture, how will I know it’s true one hundred years later? There is only one way, and that’s to judge it according to that which you know to be true, namely, scripture.

Getting to the heart of it is John 20:30, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.” Unwritten tradition, they claim. But the very next verse refutes their claim to the need for tradition. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” i.e. I’ve recorded what the Spirit determines is necessary to bring you to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Why does Rome try to wage a war against sola scriptura? Simply because all of her unique beliefs are unfounded in scripture. She needs to find warrant for her practice outside of the Bible.

2. The Claim of the Enemy
Rome appeals to Irenaeus (120/140-202AD) as its authority for saying that the apostles handed on their teaching role to the bishops as their successors. 
In his youth he met and heard Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. In opposition to all the false teaching he wrote his famous work, ‘Against Heresies’.
Addressing the heretics he said, “When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce (by living voice).”

Now not everything he wrote was orthodox, but it is amazing that Rome uses Irenaeus to support their dependance upon Tradition, when the frustration Irenaeus faced was heretics who turned to tradition to defend what was unsupportable by scripture! The fact is that Irenaeus does appeal to tradition in his writings, but where that is the case it is merely to support what he has already established from scripture, not to give additional teaching to scripture.

3. The Absurdity of the Enemy
Putting authority on something other than scripture has led to some ludicrous outcomes for the church of Rome. For example, their belief in the immaculate conception of the virgin Mary. It took five centuries to define it as a dogma necessary to salvation. It was a hot topic in the 14th century, but was only determined to be an apostolic tradition in 1854.

The same can be said of papal infallibility. It was denied for years, but suddenly became dogma in 1870. Now Rome will claim they always believed that. But in the 1860 edition of Keenan’s Catechism in use in Catholic schools in England, Scotland and Wales stated:
(Q.) Must not Catholics believe the Pope himself to be infallible?
(A.) This is a Protestant invention: it is no article of the Catholic faith: no decision of his can oblige under pain of heresy, unless it be received and enforced by the teaching body, that is by the bishops of the Church.


I say again, 2 Tim 3:16-17 shows that scripture is enough to complete equip the man who has the task of teaching others. The text is clear, the Bible is sufficient for doctrine. All that a pastor needs to teach is found in the pages of your Bible. It is sufficient to reprove believers, to correct them, and to instruct them.

The only thing we’re told is breathed from the mouth of God is scripture! The apostles in their actions could be wrong, and we know that Peter was. 
He knew the truth and taught the truth, but failed to live it out as Paul records in Galatians 2.

Jesus asked the Pharisees, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Matt 15:3. The RCC might call these false traditions, but the question is, how is anyone to know the difference? According to Jesus, the standard to test the traditions by is the Word of God. v6, “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” Traditions are not inspired, and subject to testing by the scripture.

In Acts 17 when Paul the apostle goes to Berea, the Bereans searched the scriptures to whether the things Paul taught were correct, and they weren’t condemned for any defiance of authority. They were right to test his words of salvation through Christ by scripture. 

How did Paul summarize his ministry? “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come” Acts 26:22.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy” 2 Peter 1:19. And this is why we have no time for extra-biblical prophecies. Men telling us they had conversations with Jesus. Telling us the date Christ will return. Liars! People sitting around in bible study groups asking, “what does this verse mean to you?” The only question that matters is, what does the Spirit of God intend it to mean? John MacArthur said, “The meaning of the text is the text.”

Close – When this principle is least understood, the world stands in its greatest darkness. You can measure the darkness of any society by its adherence or rejection of this principle.

The society that loses sight of sola scriptura is the society that loses the souls of its people.

My friend, if you are looking peace with God, your will find it in the direction scripture points you. It is to Christ alone. The scriptures make you wise to salvation.

And to you who claim to love Christ, how do you treat His Word? Do days pass when you never lift the scriptures? Did Tyndale shed his blood for you to treat the scriptures as something you pay lip service to? Ask God for a fresh love for this book.