Just a few years ago we were having a conversation about the boundaries of female sports journalists in professional NFL locker rooms. Today, we find ourselves having a much different conversation regarding the restroom privileges of those who are openly transgender and those who merely self-identify as the opposite sex. Just recently President Obama issued a letter to the public school system in the United States that calls upon the school system to refrain from discriminating against transgender students. Today we find ourselves having very complicated conversations at break-neck speed in our culture. The cake bakery freedom issue is old news. Today’s news is centered on transgender discrimination policies that will essentially allow anyone to use any restroom of their choice. How do we navigate in this cesspool culture that’s moving at break-neck speed? How do we train our children to be steadfast? This is where sola Scriptura matters and remains the foundation from which we must find clarity in an age of confusion.
What is Sola Scriptura?
It was Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517, who protested against the Roman Catholic Church and the abuse of indulgences by nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Nobody, including the Augustinian monk himself, would’ve predicted the explosion of controversy that would erupt after the protest was made public.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) would rise to the forefront of this movement that has become known as the Protestant Reformation. At the core of this movement was a commitment to God’s Word. The Reformation was not about Calvinism. The Reformation was about the recovery of the authority and the sufficiency of Scripture. As a direct result, the Reformation had a profound impact upon the pulpit as men stood and proclaimed the Word of God boldly and this in turn had a lasting impact upon the church as a whole.
The battle cry of the Protestant Reformation was sola Scriptura. The Reformers believed that the Scripture alone was necessary to communicate the gospel. Out of the Reformation era came five definitive doctrinal positions that categorize the convictions of those men and women who risked everything to defend the faith once delivered to the saints. These Latin slogans are:
- Sola Fide, by faith alone.
- Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
- Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
- Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
- Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
The foundation whereby these statements stand or fall is sola Scriptura. If the Scriptures are not trustworthy, how can we know the truth of our human depravity, the glory of Jesus’ substitutionary death, and the amazing grace of God granted to depraved sinners for His eternal glory? The Reformers looked at the Roman Catholic Church’s attempt to choke out the authority and primacy of Scripture among God’s people and they took a courageous stand. As long as time continues and until Christ returns, we must be reminded that there will be a perpetual attack upon God’s Word. That truth should be our reminder that from the Scriptures we must stand with resolute confidence in our prevailing evil age.
The Issue of Authority
For many years, the Roman Catholic Church had a strangle hold upon the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church wanted to control the Bible, adding to it their traditions, and subjugating the authority of the Bible by the authority of the magisterium. The issue of authority was at the heart of the protest of the Reformation. Once upon a time, the Roman Catholic Church was willing to burn people at the stake to maintain control of the Bible. Likewise it must be emphasized, once upon a time Christians were willing to endure the hot flames of persecution in order to preach and publish the Bible in the common man’s language. Where are such men today?
It seems as if all politicians and many mainstream preachers alike have lost confidence in God’s Word. They have elevated popular opinion, and in some cases unpopular opinion, to a higher plane than the truth of holy Scripture. When the apostle Paul was preparing Timothy for pastoral ministry in the city of Ephesus, he wrote the following words:
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 (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Before getting to the classic pinnacle of Paul’s letter in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 where Paul emphatically called upon Timothy to “preach the Word,” he began with a clear statement regarding Scripture’s source and sufficiency. Regarding the source of Scripture, Paul said that “all Scripture” is “breathed out by God.” The phrase, “breathed out by God” is one word in the original Greek text – θεόπνευστος. This particular word literally means that all Scripture comes from the breath of God. In other words, God is the source of the Scriptures, therefore the Scriptures are authoritative. We must teach our children to look to the Word of God as their ultimate authority. We must seek to elect politicians to office who likewise have a greater fear of God than they have for man.
We live in an anti-authority culture that rejects rules, laws, and ordinances, but if we will make a difference and speak truth it must not be from the deep wells of personal opinion. We must build our positions and take our stand upon the sure foundation of Scripture. Just as confident as Luther was regarding the authority of God’s Word in the indulgences debate, we must face our own debates with the same confidence in the same authoritative Word.
The Sufficient Word
If we are forced to make a decision to bake a cake for a homosexual couple’s wedding or to boycott Target, we must make our final decision through the lens of holy Scripture. It doesn’t matter if we’re debating the age of the earth, life in the womb, or transgender restroom privileges, the Scriptures are sufficient to guide such decisions. Preachers should not look outside of Scripture in order to address such complicated issues. The Bible is sufficient on the subject of human sexuality and all other ethical issues that we may face in the ages to come. There is no book like the Bible. The Word of God will never need an update, revision, or correction in order to comply with culture. It will always be the culture that must be revised and altered in order to comply with God’s Word.
Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther made his famous “here I stand” speech before the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church. We need men and women who would be willing to make a similar stand against the opinions and cultural downgrade of our present day. Since the Bible is a sufficient map given to us in order to navigate the landscape of a confused culture, it’s vital that pastors and parents alike instruct the children and the church regarding the sufficiency of the Bible. If tomorrow’s church will make such a courageous stand, the church today must be teaching from the foundation of sola Scriptura – the Scripture alone is our guide. The Bible is not an ancient and outdated book. That’s why men once upon a time taught on the perspicuity of Scripture. We must do so once again. Charles Spurgeon rightly states:
This weapon is good at all points, good for defense and for attack, to guard our whole person or to strike through the joints and marrow of the foe. Like the seraph’s sword at Eden’s gate, it turns every way. You cannot be in a condition that the Word of God has not provided. The Word has as many faces and eyes as providence itself. You will find it unfailing in all periods of your life, in all circumstances, in all companies, in all trials, and under all difficulties. Were it fallible, it would be useless in emergencies, but its unerring truth renders it precious beyond all price to the soldiers of the cross. 
*That’s one reason why we need more sermons, not less. We need more gospel preaching and teaching, not less. That’s why we need more church services, not less. However, that’s a different subject for a different article on a different day.
- Charles Spurgeon, “Spiritual Warfare in a Believer’s Life,” (Sermon Matthew 4:4).