This is part two of a series of reflections on the five Solas of the Protestant Reformation. Use the series link above to read the first part of the series. The Reformation was a
The Reformation was a Bible movement. The pre-Reformation trailblazers had their eyes opened through Scripture. The Reformers believed in the Bible as the Word of God around which all life was oriented. Think on how this galvanised faithful service from those who went before us. William Tyndale, a pioneer of English Bible translation, had this to say in relation to Scripture:
I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!
Tyndale died for his devotion to the Bible. But his death wasn’t in vain: you could indeed argue that a kid today could indeed more about the Bible – thanks in large part to Tyndale But that raises a big question:
Why did the Scripture fuel such radical devotion to it on the part of those who came out of the Reformation?
The Puritan pastor and teacher Thomas Watson wrote about the Scriptures:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” By Scripture is understood the sacred Book of God. It is given by divine inspiration; that is, the Scripture is not the contrivance of man’s brain—but is divine in its origin. The image of Diana was had in veneration by the Ephesians, because they supposed it fell from Jupiter. The holy Scripture is to be reverenced and esteemed, because we are sure it came from heaven. The two Testaments are the two lips by which God has spoken to us.1
The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost; it is a pandect of divine knowledge, an exact model and platform of religion. The Scripture contains in it the ‘credenda’ (the things which we are to believe) and the ‘agenda’ (the things which we are to practice).2
Anyone with an observant eye in our day can tell that many have a lower view of the Bible than previous generations. Want to see how? Look at our sermons.
Take, for instance, Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in the Atlanta, GA area. He turned heads with his sermon The Bible Tells Me So – a sermon in which he argued that the inerrancy of the Bible is not as important as the Resurrection when it comes to assessing the truth claims of Christianity.
It was not surprising he would say this for many reasons if you are familiar with Stanley. It was surprising that he was vigorously defended by many who would still claim the Bible to be the Word of God.
Why does the Bible matter? Is it that big of a deal what we think about when it comes to the Bible? Is Stanley right to say that it’s not so big a deal what one thinks about the Scripture?
I want to argue that it does matter for four crucial reasons3:
I. The Bible matters because it is sufficient:
A great definition of the sufficiency of the Bible comes to us from the 1689 London Baptist Confession:
The whole revelation of God concerning all things essential for his own glory, human salvation, faith and life, is either explicitly set down or implicitly contained in the Holy Scriptures. Nothing is ever to be added, whether by a new revelation of the Spirit, or by human traditions.
Let’s break that down:
The Bible is not sufficient for everything:
Before we run away with the fairies, it is important to understand that the Bible is not given by God to deal with every issue imaginable. You won’t find how to change the oil in your car, independent business advice or how to install a wireless printer (believe me on that last one, I know!)
The Bible is sufficient for the important things:
That said, the Bible is enough to teach us all we do need to know! Everything God knows you need to know is contained in the Word of God. Whether it is stated plainly or by way of some principle, if the Scriptures say it, it’s enough to meet your need.
The Bible is final in its sufficiency:
The sufficiency of Scripture also means that you cannot add or take away from it. Whether we add some new revelation, some scientific ‘advancement’ or taking away that which seems ‘unreasonable’ – there is nothing that could be said in addition to what God has already said.
The Bible will never need an update, revision or emendation – God has spoken and spoken with finality.
To be continued…
- Thomas Watson, A Body Of Divinity, 1st ed. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, 26 [↩]
- Thomas, Isaac David Ellis. The Golden Treasury Of Puritan Quotations. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, 32 [↩]
- I’m indebted to Kevin DeYoung’s fantastic primer on the subject of the Bible, Taking God at His Word [↩]