It is most proper to begin a study of the “solas” by first examining the importance of Sola Scriptura. This is because the remaining “solas” rest upon the premise of the Scriptures being God’s sole and final authority. Therefore, the subsequent “solas” rise or fall on the basis of Sola Scriptura.
The text for this study is 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5. Through this passage of Scripture we discover (1) The Meaning of Sola Scriptura (2 Timothy 3:16a); (2) The Necessity for Sola Scriptura (2 Timothy 3:16b-17); (3) The Command from God for Commitment to Sola Scriptura (2 Timothy 4:1-2); (4) The Attack upon Sola Scriptura (2 Timothy 4:3-4); and (5) The Fulfillment of a Ministry based upon Sola Scriptura (2 Timothy 4:5).
- The Meaning of Sola Scriptura – 2 Timothy 3:16a.
Sola Scriptura means that Scripture alone is the believer’s preeminent authority. It is the final influence by which the Christian’s conscience is bound. It is the believer’s understanding and commitment that anything besides Scripture including feelings, passions, church traditions and teachings, along with personal convictions are secondary to God’s Word being the ultimate authority within the believer’s life. Dr. Michael Horton writes, “Scripture not only has the final say, but it is the formal principle of everything we believe about doctrine and conduct.”
Dr. W. Robert Godfrey explains that “the Protestant position is that all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught in the Bible clearly enough for the ordinary believer to find it there and understand.” Dr. John MacArthur adds that, “Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646 states that:
The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. (Westminster Confession, par. 5)