How important is the Bible? How important is it to you and, in general, for all humanity? It depends on your view of it.
As you can imagine, personal opinions abound when it comes to the value of the Bible, within the church and outside of it.
People can get pretty emotional in their opinions both for and against the Bible. But, I've found the Bible doesn't need anyone to defend it.
The Scriptures speak for themselves
When I say the Bible doesn't need anyone to defend it, I have two things in mind—
- The Bible has stood the test of time. It is the most well-read, sold, and translated book in the world. Many may reject the Bible as authoritative, but, by and large, it is well-respected and loved throughout the world.
- The Bible speaks for itself within its own pages, along with the testimonies of those who know its value.
The Bible has several titles it's known by and here are three of the most common—the Bible, the Scriptures, the Word of God. The first two are often preceded with Holy (sacred).
The word Bible comes from the Greek word for book or papyrus, since the original written form of the Scriptures was on papyrus scrolls. We get the Scriptures from the Latin for writings.
The Latin phrase Sola Scriptura literally means (by) Scripture alone. It is the beginning point and bedrock of why the Protestant Reformation (PR) movement developed.
As mentioned before, the PR started as a movement to reform the Roman Catholic Church and return to a biblical foundation for the Christian faith.
The heart of this first Sola is summarized here—
- The Scriptures (Bible) are the only and final authority in matters of faith, life and conduct, and church practice
- The teachings and traditions of the church and its leadership must be measured by what is written in the Scriptures
- The Bible is the sole reliable source of divine revelation above any other forms of human inspiration or direction
The Word of God
The Word of God has a testimony all its own. It declares the writings in this collection of 66 books is God's personal revelation of Himself and truth to humanity.
Here are a few of its declarations—
- Jesus instructed His closest followers after His resurrection from the Old Testament Law, the Prophets, and Psalms (Luke 24:25-26; 44-45)
- The Law exhorts us to be sustained by God's Word (Deut 8:3) and speaks of Jesus (the human Word of God) coming (Deut 18:15, 18)
- The Messianic prophet Isaiah declares the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8) and prophesied the coming of Jesus the Messiah (Isa 44:6-8; 45:21-23)
- The Psalms declare that God's Word is a sure foundation and a light that guides us (Pss 119:89, 105) and testifies of the Son of God coming to earth (Ps 40:7)
- Peter, one of three apostles closest to Jesus, reminds us that the writers of the Scriptures were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21)
- The apostle Paul told his protegé Timothy that the Scriptures were God-breathed and the foundation for faith and training believers (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV)
Some final thoughts
As the title of this post indicates, this is a simple view of Sola Scriptura. Whole books are written on the authority and origin of the Scriptures categorized as Bibliology—the study of the Bible.
A few books are listed below if you want to look further into this topic.
Because of Sola Scriptura, I prefer biblical theology over systematic theology. Why?
Biblical theology gives us a unifying narrative of the Scriptures. It's also what I see within the Bible when Jesus quotes and explains Old Testament Scriptures, and later as the apostles Peter and Paul do.
The Bible is an essential foundation of faith. It's been so in my life from the beginning, including my decision to follow Jesus.
How about you?
How has the Bible impacted your life and faith?
Books on Bibliology—
- From God to Us by Norman L Geisler and William Nix
- The Complete Guide to Bible Translations by Ron Rhodes
- The Canon of Scripture by F F Bruce
Books on Biblical Theology— (I've included one recommended book for systematic theology)
- What Is Biblical Theology? by James M Hamilton Jr
- Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos
- The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments by Thomas R Schreiner
- Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem