Sola Scriptura means Scripture is the only necessary and sufficient source for all belief and practice. It is THE final authority for the church, but NOT THE ONLY authority. What makes Scripture unique from all other authorities is that it is the ONLY INFALLIBLE authority. The Bible has the final say on everything the Bible has to say anything about.
The Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646 gives this description of Sola Scriptura – “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”
One text that illustrates Sola Scriptura is II Timothy 3:16-17. Timothy was taught the Bible as a child, because his family knew the Scriptures would make him wise (vs. 15). The reason? Because “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” (vs. 16-17).
“Complete” doesn’t mean “perfect”; it means “capable of doing anything God asks you to do.” That is why the phrase “equipped for every good work” follows the word “complete.” Scripture is enough for glorifying, obeying and honoring God.
How else do we know that Sola Scriptura is clearly taught in the Scriptures? Because of the qualities that the Bible possesses. Let me give you 6 qualities of the Bible.
First, the Bible is inerrant. It contains no contradictions or errors of any kind in the original manuscripts. We can say the Bible is inerrant, because it is from God, who doesn’t lie (Numbers 23:19). He is a God of truth (Isaiah 65:16) who does not deceive. And what He says – the Scripture – is also inerrant.
Second, the Bible is clear. It was delivered and recorded in plain, understandable language. When God wants to say something, He is very good at saying it. He knows how to communicate. One of the best texts that demonstrates the clarity of God’s Word is the commandment to parents to teach their children the law of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). If the Bible can be taught to a simple-minded child, doesn’t it have to be clear?
Third, the Bible is sufficient. When we say “sufficient”, we mean “enough.” We mean anything you truly need can be supplied by the truths in God’s Word. When Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by Satan, He reminds Satan that we don’t live on bread but by everything that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). The Bible transcends time in what it supplies for us; everything written in the Bible is meant for our current instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).
Fourth, the Bible is inspired. Inspiration means “God-breathed out the Scripture” (II Timothy 3:16). It doesn’t mean God used the best thoughts of man and compiled His Word. It doesn’t mean God left impressions on authors and they wrote His Word. It means that what we have in the Bible is God’s actual words. We say the Bible has a quality of verbal, plenary inspiration. That is God spoke words (verbal) that were absolute (plenary).
Fifth, the Bible in authoritative. The Bible doesn’t need another authority to validate its claims. It is THE authority on what matters. Why else did the Bereans measure everything they heard against what the Bible taught (Acts 17:11-12)? Scripture is authoritative because it comes from the Ultimate authority – God Himself.
Sixth, the Bible is eternal. Since the Bible is authoritative, sufficient, clear, inerrant, and inspired it must be eternal. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
God’s Word is our authority; it is our voice; it is our accountability; it is our sword; it is our life. When we read it, meditate upon it, memorize it, or sing it, we are engaged in worshipping the One who revealed it.