By Scripture Alone
Sola scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God. The only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all, is perspicuous and self-interpreting. The Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself. We can just read the bible and listen to how God is communicating to us through the text of our holy book.
Sola scriptura sometimes called the formal principle of the Reformation is the source and norm of the gospel of Jesus Christ that is received through faith alone by grace alone. The Bible does not stand alone apart from God; it’s God’s instrument of revealing himself for our salvation through faith in Christ.
Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God’s sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith.”
The bible is full of truth, beauty, grace, wisdom, and story. If used properly the bible can and will transform your life. By properly, I mean reading the bible seriously without trying to read anything into the text and praying about what we think the bible is saying to us. It has transformed and still is transforming me. If you just read the words and don’t dig deep, you can easily miss the beauty and wisdom. If you take the bible, only literally you don’t read it like it should be read. We should read, study, and apply the bible to our life. The bible is not ‘Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.’ The bible is an amazing collection of wisdom and story. I say take the bible seriously and not literally.
I am not arguing that the any of the events depicted in the bible didn’t happen; I am arguing that we should look deep and learn from the bible. The bible is authoritative to our faith journey, it informs us how to live, respond to life, and treat others, but should not be viewed as inerrant or literal.
Scientist and writer Clifford Pickover writes, “The bible is an alternate-reality device. It gives its readers a glimpse of other ways of thinking. It is also among the most mysterious books ever written. We are not always sure of the intended message. We only know that the bible reflects and changes humankind’s deepest feelings. The bible chips away at the edges of our unconscious. At a minimum, the bible is a fascinating model of human understanding–of how we reach across cultures to connect with one another and learn about what we hold as sacred. Perhaps with this kind of interface, one might even look for realms beyond our ordinary reality. “
Just pick up the bible and read. Don’t worry about reading it the right way or coming away with an orthodox belief. Don’t worry about not reading it the way some religion would have you read. Read, contemplate what you read, reflect on what the text might be trying to say to you and pray about it.
Before you pick up the bible to seriously read and study it, ask yourself if you are ready to be changed, to come face to face with God, Jesus, the apostles, prophets, and the kingdom of God. It will not leave you unscathed. It will transform and unsettle you. It will comfort and disturb, sometimes at the same time. Life will not be the same. Mine is not. Yours will not be either.
No preaching brought me to faith in Jesus Christ. No intellectual argument or human effort brought me to faith in Jesus Christ. I am a Christian because of the bible, because God spoke through the bible to me. It was the Gospel of John, John 10:10 to be exact. I wasn’t expecting to say yes to God just because I read a few words. I wasn’t expecting to surrender my wants for the way of Jesus. I wasn’t ready for what that saying yes would entail, what surrendering to Jesus would demand. I am still feeling its ramifications. I continue to read and study the bible and continue to say yes.
Pastor Bruxy Cavey writes, “…the bible, a document designed to blow up religion from the inside out, with the teachings of Jesus functioning as the pin. So, when you pick up a bible, consider that you are holding an explosive device. Between the opening and ending chapters of the bible, a subplot unfolds of how poorly people have responded to the rules and routines of religion. Yet ultimately, every page points toward or reflects back on the coming of Jesus, the one who intends to put an end to religion and to point a way back to the ideal of the garden. That is in brief, why I see the bible as a holy hand grenade, for it invites us into a way of living that makes religion superfluous, exploding its monopoly on God. ”
Every other Thursday I go to my church to read, study, discuss, and apply the bible together with a group of men. Thursday night bible study is a time to step out of the world for just a moment share my faith with other men and listen to their stories. This group has helped me to challenge my false assumptions, confront myself, and drop wrong beliefs. These men have accepted me for who I am and not ounce made me feel like I didn’t belong. They never ask that I believe what they do or how they do. They’ve shown me in a fuller flesh on the gospel way of what it means to follow Jesus today and what saying yes to God really means. I intend to follow Jesus in a real way. I pray that God will use the bible to guide my life in healthy and loving way and that through me many will be blessed. I want God to use me to proclaim Jesus and the Kingdom of God. I want to learn what it means to be an unapologetic, humble Jesus follower.
As you read the bible, listen for what the still small voice of God is saying to you today.
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