I can’t put my finger on what has caused it as a society, but I’ve seen it countless times. Professing Christians using sources other than Scripture as their go-to for understanding how to make sense of God and any matters about life:
* Motivational speakers
* Popular books (some billed as “Christian” that range from lightly esteeming the word of God to subtly or outright rejecting it)
* Media figures/celebrities
* TV preachers (some who are nothing more than motivational speakers or prosperity anti-gospel teachers)
* Personal experiences
There is nothing inherently wrong with gathering inspiration for life from other sources. There is an infinite amount of great material out there that can help you be more productive, manage your time better, develop your confidence, be a better spouse, parent or employee. These are all good things.
The trouble comes when we let human wisdom become more valuable to us than wisdom from God Himself, as revealed in the Bible.
My introduction into this type of thinking came several years back. I had pointed out on social media the biblical contradictions of a “Christian” book that was popular at the time. I received immediate rebuking from more than one individual who took me to task for criticizing the book because they liked it and it made them feel good. It brought them comfort in light of an experience they had previously.
I was stunned by the reaction. Yes, I understand how an emotional attachment to some person or form of media that has brought comfort would be held close to one’s heart. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. But if the said item can be refuted or proven false by the teaching of Scripture, then we are left with the choice of which source we will believe. This is where the rubber meets the road. Or to use another car analogy, this is often where the wheels fall off, unfortunately.
In the years since that exchange, I’ve begun to see extra-biblical sources used as a primary authority more and more in Christian circles. As a Christ-follower who seeks to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), it is alarming to me to see such a departure from Sola Scriptura: the view of the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. For more info on this topic, this article is an excellent resource.
It is my prayer that true Christians everywhere begin to see the crucial nature of this topic and return to a view of Scripture has been held by the church down through the ages.
Let Scripture speak for itself
Concerning the topic at hand, let us turn to some key Scriptures to shed some light on the subject. Who better to start with than the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who build his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.” – Matthew 7:24-27
When Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees, he assumed they knew the Scriptures and cited them to prove he was not in error, “Have you not read…?” (Matthew 12:3)
Similarly, when Jesus was tempted by Satan, he quoted the Old Testament:
“But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”” – Matthew 4:4
More verses that give us insight into the authority of God’s written word:
“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” – John 12:48
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. – 1 Corinthians 4:6
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
These are a few key verses that demonstrate that Jesus Himself, as well as the men He appointed to write the New Testament all point to Scripture as ultimate authority. This theme is woven throughout the Old Testament as well.
Considering these things, we would do well as the Christian church, both corporately and individually, to return Scripture to its rightful place as the first authority by which we should order our lives. It is not a popular thing to do, in a culture that rejects and mocks the Bible, and those who hold it to be authoritative. But we must ask ourselves what our highest priority is, and to what or whom do we look for approval and moral authority?
Jesus’ words tell us the fate of those who look beyond Him. It is not a pretty finish. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t interpretive challenges, or that we won’t have questions about certain things that the Bible teaches. There are, and we will. But as His redeemed ones, He expects that we will seek out those answers diligently (2 Timothy 2:15).
Let us be like the Bereans, who test every teaching by “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Furthermore, let us heed the command, “no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14)
The subject of Sola Scriptura, I believe, is one of the most important to face as Christians. It is my prayer that you, the reader, will consider these things with the weight they deserve. If you have anything to add or any questions, I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for reading!