The Protestant Reformation began almost 500 years ago (in 1517) after Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses,” which proposed two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority – (not the Catholic Church) – and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their works. By the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church had been teaching that one could attain salvation by one’s own meritorious works that they alone were the authority, and darkness had settled over the land. Luther’s act sparked the Reformation. To this day the Catholic Church maintains that sola scriptura is a “blueprint for anarchy“.
Those two central tenets posted by Martin Luther were later expanded to become known as the Five Solas, as Theopedia explains here,
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases 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.
Sola Scriptura is the tenet I’m looking at today. Theopedia explains sola scriptura further-
The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. It is denied that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.
And here we have the point. Currently, Scripture alone is the sole point of intersection of God’s personal revelation of Himself to man. (Hebrews 1:1-2). ‘Personal experience can never be a vehicle of revelation.’ Never ever.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, (2 Peter 1:19).
Satan battles the above five points at every turn. The battle for sola scriptura has been extremely pitched in our era. Book after book published from Christian publishers purport to show how to commune with God by doing certain things that will enhance one’s antenna for receiving His personal revelation. People claim visits from Jesus and visits to Jesus in heaven. They claim to have heard Him speak to them and have received personally tailored career advice or new theological commands or projects to engage in (Joanna Gaines of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” and Beth Moore, are two examples). Book after book emerge from someone claiming to have had a heavenly visit and personal tour of heaven (or hell). Claiming a personal divine word is the new mantra.
Last year’s Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church was titled the “Inerrancy Summit” and worked to teach attendee pastors the importance of defending truth against all those who seek to undermine the authority of scripture. John MacArthur opened the Summit by listing four reasons why such a summit is needed, one of which is that Scripture is authoritative and pastors and teachers are called to declare it. In his speech, MacArthur gave a quick overview of the progress of the undermining of scripture in our era-
In the 1960s and ‘70s, experientialism began to infiltrate the mainline denominations. This movement tempted the church to define truth on the basis of emotional experience. Biblical interpretation was no longer based on the clear teaching of the text; but rather upon feelings and subjective, unverifiable experiences, such as supposed revelations, visions, prophecies, and intuition.
The Third Wave movement of the 1980s continued the growth of mysticism within the church, convincing people to look for signs and wonders and to listen for paranormal words from God rather than seeking out truth in the written Word of God.
The New Apostolic Reformation [NAR] is the latest in these kinds of movements.
One attack on Sola Scriptura that has persisted for 12 years and is now its own cottage industry, is the book Jesus Calling. Jesus Calling is a book written by Sarah Young. Ms Young was restless with the Bible and wanted more. She actively sought out hearing from God and these supposed divine utterings were captured by her pen and made into a book. In the book, Ms Young puts the utterings from a “Jesus” into first person.
Being dissatisfied with the complete revelation of God to man in His word is attack #1 on sola scriptura. And there are soldiers who continue to stand on this important point, such as Justin Peters. Here is a short video speaking about the importance of sola scriptura and warning to avoid the Jesus Calling book.
“Where the battle is really being fought today is over whether or not God’s word is sufficient, and evangelicals are losing that battle.” ~Justin Peters
If you read, listen to, or follow any teacher who professes Jesus and yet also claims to have personally heard from God or uses personal revelations of teachings they say they’ve received from God, avoid them. What they are doing is undermining the sufficiency of scripture. The Bible says,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)
The Bible does not say, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, plus what I told Beth Moore last week and including what I mentioned to Sarah Young and…
For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
It is through the scriptures that we gain our instruction and have hope. Scripture alone.