I've been contemplating lately the impact of Scripture in my life. Is it my ultimate authority? Or, do I add my opinion, my church tradition, accepted teachings, preachers and teachers to the position of authority along with it? All those are good things, but only holding Scripture as ultimate authority is right and best.
The seasons of doubt I've endured, the sorrows that have shaken me, the marvels of life I've observed all find grounding in Scripture. It's not church tradition (although I love and respect it) that carries me. It's not preachers and teachers who climb into my heartache with me and speak directly to my need, doubt and fears. It isn't human authority that perfectly corrects, shapes and protects me. It is not my opinion that secures me and always guides me flawlessly. It is only Scripture--sola scriptura.
In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the church door at Wittenberg. He did so to dispute abuses in the church's practice of selling "indulgences." The Church didn't embrace Luther's notions and the dispute widened. Luther ended up breaking entirely with Rome. This was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The doctrine of salvation was the main issue of dispute but scriptural authority was also a contentious subject. Luther believed only Scripture was infallible and thus a Christian's source of authority. During his debates with Catholic theologians, Luther formulated the principle of sola scriptura.
Sola scriptura is the belief that the Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian. It comes from the Latin word sola. This denotes "alone," "ground," "base." The word scriptura means "writings"-referring to the Scriptures. Sola scriptura means the Bible is complete, accurate and authoritative. The Apostle Paul put it this way: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)
Because Martin Luther was so committed to Scripture alone as final authority, he was threatened with excommunication if he did not recant. His reply was, "Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me! Amen!"
Sola scriptura was the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation and I want it to be the rallying cry of my life. God's Word is the sword that wounds and heals. It has the authority and ability to confirm and correct. It protects and defends. It repairs as it destroys. It tears down as it builds up. I am willing to hold it and let it hold me. For in doing so, I am protected. I am willing for it to penetrate me and even feel the wounding of my pride it may bring. For, as it wounds, it heals. What other book is as complete? What other authority can truly complete me?
It takes faith to trust an authority in your life. I choose to place my faith in sola scriptura, believing it is God's Word. Sola scriptura-how does it impact you?
Well, that's what's been percolating in me lately.