Sola Scriptura Proved
Question: Where does the Bible say that our beliefs should be based on the teaching of the Bible? 'Bible only' is plainly unbiblical.
Answer: Every disciple of Christ is obedient to the Lord and is committed to believe and obey His Word. The Christian will not permit any man or creature to usurp the throne of his Lord. Moreover, every Christian believes that the Bible is the Word of God. He is therefore committed to its teachings, commands and instructions.
You may respond, 'Yes, the Christian should be obedient to the Bible. But why insist on the Bible alone as his ultimate authority?'
To answer, let me ask some questions myself. What would you add to the Bible? 'Sola Scriptura' is not whether the Bible is the infallible Word of God or not (we all agree that it is). The question is whether the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith or not; whether we should add something else of equal authority along with the Bible.
Well then, would you add human reason and philosophy, as the liberals do? No, because the word of man could never be equal to the word of God. 'Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar' (Proverbs 30:5). What then, would you add to the written Word of God? Let us consider three possibilities:
1. New revelations
Can we add new revelations? No, because God's revelation is complete. There was a time when God was giving new revelations as He was unfolding the plan of salvation. Indeed there was a time when there was no written Scriptures and God spoke audibly to people like Adam, Noah and Abraham. There was a time when God's Word came in the form of prophetic and apostolic speech as well as the written form. God's revelation reached its climax in Christ, who is the image of the invisible God. During the apostolic era, the Christian faith was delivered in full to the church, as Jude tells us. Christians should 'should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints' (Jude 3). It is therefore wrong to seek new revelations seeing that the Bible declares that the Christian faith is already delivered to us.
What about tradition? Did God give a body of truth, different and apart from teaching of the Bible, which was transmitted intact through the centuries in an oral, unwritten form? Definitely not! We can compare the church with the Old Testament people of God, Israel. From the prophet Malachi to John the baptist, God did not give them new revelations. The Jews were responsible to obey the Word of God preserved in the Holy Scriptures, and nothing else. During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus did not expect the Jews to believe some extra-scriptural doctrine which was supposedly transmitted from the prophets of old by word of mouth. Jesus often appealed to the Scriptures - 'It is written' - but He never appealed to tradition as if it carried equal authority (see below). On the contrary, He rebuked the Jews for adding traditions which in effect undermined the plain teaching of the Scriptures: 'Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition' (please read Mark 7). Sadly, history repeats itself. Christians today should obey the Word of God preserved in the completed Scriptures, but they often go beyond what is written. Because of tradition, the Catholic church now has graven images, obligatory fasting, relics, indulgences, celibate ministry, the sacrifice of the mass, the confessional, purgatory and so on, all of which are absent from the Bible and indeed contradict the plain teachings of Scripture.
Finally, can we place the teaching authority of the church on the same plane with the Bible? Certainly we should listen to and respect Christian teachers. Pastors (also know as bishops and elders) are God's gift to His church. They are appointed by God to teach and lead the churches, and Christians are commanded to submit to them. The leaders' responsibility is to study and teach God's Word as it is, without additions or change. They should study the Word carefully for they are liable to make mistakes (2 Timothy 2:15). And since they are not infallible, the apostle Paul advises us to 'test all things; hold fast what is good' (1 Thessalonians 5:21), while James warns us: 'My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things' (James 3:1).
In short, since the Bible is the Word of God, there is nothing of equal authority. Hence the Christian's commitment is to the Bible alone as the ultimate and absolute authority. Christ rejected tradition as an additional channel of revelation. Christ showed that the religious teachers were fallible - and how! Christ had absolute confidence in the Scriptures as the Word of God. I am His disciple and I share His convictions. That is why I believe in sola Scriptura.
The Bible reveals an infinite God who is perfect in holiness, love, wisdom and in all His attributes. The Bible teaches us how He created the world and how He rules all things by His wise providence. His Law reveals our sinfulness, and warns us about Hell and the wrath to come. Thankfully, the Bible also has a good message of hope. God sent His Son who gave Himself as a ransom for many. He overcame death and He is now alive forevermore. The Bible calls us to repentance and faith in Christ for our salvation, and guides us by its precepts along the way of our pilgrimage. The Bible gives us precious promises, especially of His protection and His coming again to take us home.
God's children are satisfied with the message of the God-breathed Scriptures because we are satisfied with the Saviour revealed therein.
© Dr Joseph Mizzi