By John and Keri Folmar
Post tenebras lux. “After the darkness, light.” Gospel truths had become shrouded in Medieval religion. The 16th century Protestant Reformation wasn’t a sociological phenomenon. It wasn’t a political movement. It was a revival, a spiritual awakening. What sparked the awakening? Martin Luther knew where the credit lay. When asked about his accomplishments, he said, “I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing…The Word did it all.”
And yet everything changed—from the architecture of the church building, to the public order of service, to the underlying theology. The Bible was now translated into the language of the people. The preaching, now simple, verse–by–verse exposition. The Lord’s Supper, now observed in both parts, not just the bread (where formerly the wine was superstitiously kept from the people, lest they spill it on the ground). The singing, it returned to the church, in congregational form. The theology, it was reformed by the Word of God. No longer was salvation by cooperation with the mechanics of the church—penance, the Mass, last rites. Now, salvation was seen as a unilateral, sovereign act of God, where the Holy Spirit regenerated the sinner, enabling him to respond in repentance and faith. The agent of regeneration was “the word of truth” (James 1:18). It was this recovery of the biblical gospel that lit Europe on fire; and, then, eventually much of the world. The Word of God did it all.
Sola Scriptura was the fountain, the first of the five Solas of the Reformation. The Bible is where we find the precious gospel by which we are saved—by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for God’s glory alone.
But times have changed since the Reformation. In our modern world, we have constant access to the Internet and can hear from our favorite commentator on Twitter in real–time. Entertainment is at our fingertips, only a click away. Isn’t the Bible terribly inefficient, if not irrelevant? Don’t we need something more current to spice up our churches? Something more immediate and personal to speak into our own lives?
Never! Our glorious and sovereign God has spoken and he continues to speak to us today through the Scriptures (Hebrews 1:1–3). As God’s Word, the Bible is sufficient, relevant in every culture and every age (Psalm 119:89). As Scripture is read, sung, prayed and preached, churches continue to be reformed today, established as pillars and buttresses of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). The Bible alone is necessary and sufficient for the task.
Just as the Scriptures continue to reform churches, they continue to transform individual lives. Second Timothy 3:16–17 promises, “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.” As we daily dedicate ourselves to reading the Bible and as we listen with open ears to faithful preaching, God’s Word transforms us from one degree of glory to another. And this, not just because the Bible tells us how to live, but because in it we hear from God himself and see Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
As Luther himself said, “Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scripture.” This is how God makes himself personally present to us—through the Holy Spirit inspired words of the Bible. The Bible is not a behavioral manual, or a set of instructions, or a textbook, but the very voice of God.
Sola Scriptura means the Bible is the Christian’s ultimate source of authority. It is God’s inspired Word, necessary and sufficient for doctrinal fidelity and life to the full. As Spurgeon beautifully said:
Believer, there is enough in the Bible for you to live upon forever. If you should outnumber the years of Methuselah, there would be no need for a fresh revelation; if you should live until Christ should return from the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word; if you should go down as deep as Jonah, or even descend as David said he did, into the depths of hell, still there would be enough in the Bible to comfort you without a supplementary sentence.
Sola Scriptura: The Bible is enough indeed.
John is Senior Pastor of the United Christian Church of Dubai. Keri is John’s wife and the author of The Good Portion: The Doctrine of Scripture for Every Woman and several inductive Bible studies for women.
The Good Portion: The Doctrine of Scripture for Every Woman is available at local Christian bookshops, or online: