It has been a long time since I read about “Sola Scriptura“. For those who are not quite up to date either on its exact meaning, I quote the Wikipedia introduction for reference:
“Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, “by scripture alone“) is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands that only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God. Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers and is a formal principle of Protestantism today (see Five Solas).”
In the Wikipedia supporting Five Solas we also find the following (author’s edit):
“Sola scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God, is the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all — that is, it is perspicuous and self-interpreting ….
… The adjective (sola) and the noun (scriptura) … indicate that the Bible does not stand alone apart from God, but rather that it is the instrument of God by which he reveals himself for salvation through faith in Christ (solus Christus or solo Christo).”
In other words, “Sola Sriptura” – Only Sctipture – Only the Bible – is a theological concept.
As I have been reading and studying about hearing God in our lives today, I have come across the interesting observations by those more involved in the Church general than I am, that many Christians these days have expanded Sola Sriptura to include the idea that God only talks to us through the Bible. Perhaps this view is based on the words of Paul in Timothy 3:16-17 where he gives a clear understanding about the power of the Bible saying:
” All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work.”
Indeed, this truth was also provided by Jesus himself in the conversation He had with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff).
But to take this verse of Scripture and say that God now only talks through Scripture, seems to be taking it too far and out of context. To say that God only talks with us, and the only way to hear Him, is through the Bible, seems to be too limiting on God and not in line with general Church experience or scripture.
This was, however, the view of the scripture studying religious Pharisees, and Jesus had some scathing words for them, saying in John 5:37-40
“And He sending Me, the Father Himself, has borne witness of Me. Neither have you heard His voice at any time nor seen His shape. And you do not have His Word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He has sent. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me, and you will not come to Me that you might have life.”
Here Jesus talks about the most religious people in the land of Israel at the time, the Pharisees. Their problem was that neither their knowledge, nor their training, nor their intellect, could unlock the power of the Bible into their lives; for as Paul claims in First Corinthians 2:13
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
Paul explains why in First Corinthians 2:14 saying the spiritual things of God must be spiritually discerned:
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
In other words, we need the Holy Spirit to unlock Bible Scripture for us. Let us remember that all Scripture is God breathed and written by God for us today. In fact, as Psalm 138:2 says, God holds the Scriptures of the Holy Bible higher than His own name! If we cannot even comprehend the Living God, who can we expect to comprehend His written work using our own abilities? Reading and rereading the Bible in the flesh will just not work. We need to have the rhema (spoken) word of God to unlock the logos (written) word of God, and the Holy spirit will be just so pleased to do that for those who diligently seem Him and earnestly ask. This is the promise of Jesus in John 14:26
“But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.”
New Christians in First Corinthians 3:1-3 are likened to babies and like babies need to start on the Milk of the Gospel, then move on to the Meat of the Gospel. The trouble is, so I read, many, yes perhaps even most Christians, seem to spend all their lives drinking spiritual milk, rather than eating spiritual meat. Paul explains why in v3:3 saying
“You are still not following the Spirit. You are jealous of each other, and you are always arguing with each other. This shows that you are still following your own selfish desires. You are acting like ordinary people of the world.”
If we do not “follow the Spirit,” as Paul says, we cannot hear from God. We delude ourselves thinking that in the flesh we can study the Bible and hear Him speaking to us. It just does not work like that, for God speaks to us in a wide variety of ways: through audible voices, through dreams, through visions, through circumstances, through fleeces, through inner impressions, through prophets, through angels, through words of knowledge, through words of wisdom, through tongues, through the discernment of spirits, through the counsel of the saints, and through commanding scripture. But to read scripture and understand that which God wants us to understand and learn from it, we need the Holy Spirit. We just cannot do it ourselves.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come before You as a confessed and repentant sinner who is desperate to hear Your voice for my life.
I humbly offer my body as a living sacrifice for You, and pray that You will use me as You deem necessary, for the glory of Your Kingdom.
I pray Lord, that You will replace my hardened heart for a new heart which beats for You and for You alone.
Take the scales and blinds from my eyes, Lord, that I may see Your words in action.
Take the plugs from my ears Lord, that I may hear your voice and your works.
Give me wisdom and understanding Lord, to recognise Your communications and Your signs for me in and to be sensitive at all times to Your Holy Spirit.
Please Lord, take away all my unbelief and replace it with the belief and faith of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, such that I may be forever changed and focussed on You and You alone.
In the mighty name of The Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.