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Sola Scriptura: The Basis of Christian Belief

by Alan Dodson

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason (for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves) I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen.

Martin Luther
Diet of Worms
April 1521


Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone, was a rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation. In contrast to the manmade religious constructs that were pervasive prior to the Reformation, that which God reveals in scripture was held to be sufficient for spiritual matters. It “simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.”[i]

For good reason, most theology works and statements of faith begin with the Doctrine of Scripture. For instance, the first article in the Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist’s confession, is entitled “The Scriptures.” The article states, “All Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.”[ii]

After one settles in his heart the existence of God, the next crucial question to be answered is,has God spoken? This question is critical because the only thing one can know about a physically unseen God is that which He has chosen to reveal. You can look at this universe and surmise that behind all of this there must be a designer. There must be a supreme being. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship” (Psalm 19:1, NLT). One can look at this universe and conclude there must be a supreme being out there. He must be very wise. He must be very strong. He must be very powerful.

When you try to dig deeper, you cannot. Who is this supreme being? Does he have a name? What is he like? Does he know me? Can I know him? Does he care about me? Does he have a plan for my life? Can I have a relationship with him? There is only one way that I can know the answer to any of those questions. God must speak to me. He must specifically reveal himself to me.

If God had kept silent, do you know what we would know about Him in a personal way? Absolutely nothing. God cannot be known unless He wills to be known and desires to make Himself known. Job 11:7 raises this question: “Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything there is to know about the almighty?” (Job 11:7, NLT) The loud and clear answer is “no.” To put it bluntly, anything anybody says about God, apart from what God says about himself, is pure speculation.

That is where the Scriptures come in. The Bible is a revelation from God of truth about God that we would have never otherwise known. The Reformers knew this. That is why Sola Scriptura and the Doctrine of the Bible are important to us. The Bible is not an ordinary book. It is the Word of God. It is the basis of true Christian belief.

2 Timothy 3:16-a asserts, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (NKJV). Those three words in English “inspired of God” is one word in Greek that literally means “God-breathed.” When the Bible calls itself “inspired” it means that you have on its pages the very breath of God. It is the Word of God when you read it. It is the Word of God when it sits [KB6] on the shelf. It is the Word of God when you obey it. It is the Word of God when you do not. It is the Word of God when you believe it is the Word of God, and it is the Word of God if you do not.

All of Scripture in its original form was breathed out by God, so that the biblical writers wrote Scriptures precisely as God wanted them written. Since it is the Word of God, it must be without error, because God is without error. All the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, from the beginning to the end, is breathed out by God. It is His Word.

This also means that God’s revelation is perfect … it is complete. There is nothing else that we need to know about God other than what He reveals in His Word. The Bible contains everything that we need to know about how to know God, how to live for God and how to please God.

I recently read where Google’s advanced algorithms determined that nearly 130 million books have been published in modern history. Compared to all those published works, one book is in a league of its own—the Bible. All the others are the thoughts and opinions of man. The Bible is the truth breathed out by God.

I remember being a young child in Eloise Burton’s primary Sunday School class at my home church. Each Sunday morning, she would start the class by leading us in singing the same song. To the tops of our little lungs, we would sing it out:

The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the Book for me.

I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.

Sola Scriptura!

[i] MacArthur, John. “What Does Sola Scriptura Mean?” (Accessed 2 May 2017).

[ii] Baptist Faith and Message. Article I, “The Scriptures”

Alan Dodson is the South Regional Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.


“I am impressed that the group is not satisfied with merely playing the standard repertoire.”

Thomas W. Bolton, Ph.D.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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