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5 Solas

The 5 Solas: Sola Scriptura

5 Solas

Sola Scriptura refers to the idea that the Bible is the highest, ultimate, and final authority for faith and life. It has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture; the supreme authority in all spiritual matters.

This is Part 2 in our series “The 5 Solas: History & Implications For The Church.” Click below to view the others:
This week, we’ll be considering what has been called the formal cause of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura, as it is central to the other four solas.

Essentially, Sola Scriptura refers to the idea that the Bible is the highest, ultimate, and final authority for faith and life. It has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture—the supreme authority in all spiritual matters.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way:
“The whole Counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”
At the time of the Reformation, Church Tradition was equal to the Scripture in terms of authority—the problem was that church tradition was not always in line with the Scripture.
Martin Luther was confronted with this issue in 1518 as he was challenged by Cardinal Cajetan regarding the sale of indulgences. Cajetan pointed out that in the year 1300 Pope Bonifice had authorized the use and sale of indulgences. Then in 1334, Pope Clement developed the doctrine of the Treasury of Merit.
Luther’s response, in essence, was that neither of these are taught in the Bible, and that even popes can err. Then, of course, at the Diet of Worms in 1521, in his famous response to the demand that he recant, he stated in part, that his conscience is captive to the Word of God and that popes and counsels have erred—they had gotten it wrong.
Sola Scriptura doesn’t nullify church tradition or subordinate standards—but these must be based on and in line with the Scripture. They can’t add or detract from God’s Word, conflict with it or twist it.
The only way to know for sure, and to be sure, is by going to the Scriptures. So, whether it’s a matter regarding a specific teaching, or a particular moral issue, the Bible has the final say. Now, you may choose to believe or not, to obey or not, but that doesn’t change the truth.
So, you’re taught that Salvation is by faith and works, and it depends on you performing certain rituals, rites, and so on—yet the Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace alone. Just look at Ephesians 2:8-9. We’re justified not by the works of the law, but through faith.
So what are you going to do? When you’re told that Jesus is just a way of salvation, but not the only way—but the Bible teaches what?
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Which is it?
This extends to moral issues as well. For example, in the past few years, many churches have adjusted their position regarding the nature and meaning of marriage. They’ve rewritten their standards to reflect the changes. So now marriage is not exclusively between a man and a woman, but includes same sex couples.
But Sola Scriptura informs us of God’s intention and purpose for marriage—that it’s between one man and one woman for life, where companionship, completion, and procreation are fostered in a context of unconditional love.
That will not, cannot change, because he doesn’t change—it’s based on his unchanging character, reflected in his infallible, inerrant, unchanging Word—the only standard for faith and life.
Thanks for checking us out, hope to see you next time as we continue our series on the five solas with Sola Fide.
Blessings, in Him, always in Him.

Joe Griffo is Pastor of Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA. Learn more about him here
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