October 02, 2017

Sola Scriptura: the Bible Alone

Hebrews 4:1-13

The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit . . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

—  Hebrews 4:12

The 19th-century English preacher Charles Spurgeon once said that the Reformation began when Martin Luther found a discarded Bible in his monastery. As he began to read it, God’s Word grew like a seed in his heart, and the result was a world-transforming movement.

But this gentle image of a seed is not the way the power of God’s Word is described in Hebrews 4:12, one of the key verses in the foundational idea of sola Scriptura, or “Scripture alone.” Here God’s Word is described as a sharp, powerful, and precise blade, dividing truth from the rebellious lies we harbor in our hearts.

Only Scripture has this power—not the traditions of any church, nor the insights of any leader. As Luther said, “A simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.” Indeed, in speaking about the Reformation that he initiated, Luther said, “I did nothing. The Word did everything.”

God’s Word, the Bible, has a precision and power you will find nowhere else. Will you let it be active in you? Read it with an open heart. Let it form the words that come from your mouth. Let it shape the actions you take. Only by knowing and living in and through God’s Word can we please him and serve him in our daily lives.

Thank you, Lord, for the living and powerful truth of your Word, which alone can penetrate the falsehoods in my heart. Let it drive out the darkness and plant seeds of truth in me today. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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