There really is no set order in which the Solas must be taught. However, I have found it to be beneficial when teaching on the Solas to start with Sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone. The reason for this is because if Scripture is not seen as the ultimate truth, there is no common ground for us Christians to walk on. The proof and truth behind the Solas is found in Scripture. If we cannot agree that scripture is the ultimate authority and is completely an totally inerrant, there really is no sense in continuing the discussion. Scripture must be the source of truth and what we have Christians use to prove our theology. We must have our review of scripture correct if we are going to understand the rest of the Solas. With that being said, I believe that there are three main aspects of scripture that must be addressed within the doctrine of Sola Scripture. These three aspects are the authority of Scripture, the inerrancy of Scripture, and the sufficiency of Scripture.
Scripture Is Authoritative
The authority of Scripture is a very important doctrine because it addresses the authorship and the trustworthiness of Scripture’s source. We know from scripture that the ultimate author is the Holy Spirit that spoke into the minds of men and inspired them to write the words that we read. We know this from 2nd Timothy 3:16 when it speaks of all Scripture being “God-breathed.” Basically, this doctrine states that whatever Scripture says is the final word and authority on the matter. We are not in a place to negotiate or argue what scripture says. Nor are we in a place to the debate or interpret scripture in light of our own perceptions. The reason Scripture is authoritative is because it has been spoken by God Himself. It is not a book of guidelines that should only be followed when convenient. It is the Holy Word of God that must be obeyed to the letter. Unlike the 16th century church that put man in authority over the Bible and its interpretation, the reformers sought to put the Bible where it belonged, as the ultimate authority over all creation.
What is important to note is that scripture is not subject to culture’s interpretation of truth. Just because sin has become normalized in our society does not make it acceptable in light of Scripture. God’s Word speaks against sin in very obvious and black and white ways. Right and wrong have always been defined through the word of God and just to because culture has decided to ignore this fact does not make it any less true. One can completely disregard the fact that rape is outlawed in our country yet this will not stop the court from passing a sentence that is in accordance with the law. Our ignorance or denial of the law is not an excuse for breaking it. We are still held accountable by it and are subjects to it. We cannot claim ignorance or non-belief in the law and expect that to get us off the hook. The same is true for the Word of God. Just because some deny its authenticity or relevance in today’s society does not negate the fact that it is the standard for truth. It is completely and totally authoritative because it has been breathed out by God and therefore, we are subject to it whether we agree with this or not. If the Bible says murder is wrong, then it is wrong. If the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, then it is. We do not get to pick and choose what we want to keep and what we want to forget. God’s Word is final and we as Christians must live out our lives in light of this truth.
Scripture Is Inerrant
You would think that the inerrancy of Scripture is a doctrine that Christians would accept without reservation, but shockingly this is overwhelmingly not so. Many Christians do not see the major issues that unfold when they make the claim that Scripture either does, or could have errors within it. Even more shockingly, there are some Christians that will claim the doctrine of inerrancy is not important for the Christian to have a firm grasp on. Let me be very clear. If the Bible has errors within it, Then God is not God. Please allow me to expound upon the statement. We know from the Gospel of John chapter 1 that Jesus Christ and Scripture are one and the same. They cannot be separated from each other. It says that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” This “Word” that Scripture speaks of is Christ Himself. Please also take into consideration that Scripture is breathed out by God. If God’s Word has errors within it, then God must be either ignorant, or worse, a liar. If either one of these qualifications is true, it strips God of His deity and causes Him to be something that is less than perfect and sovereign. Scripture must be inerrant because God is inerrant and cannot lie. If we cannot trust Scripture, we cannot trust God. They are one and cannot be separated. It truly is that simple. Now you can get into the historical, archaeological, and prophetic proofs for the Bible’s authenticity. These are all very valid and important for the Christian to study. However, what truly makes the Bible inerrant is that is the Word of God itself. Many Christians do not follow the logical trail of this type of thinking. Reformed theology aids us in this venture because it keeps a high view of God.
Scripture Is Sufficient
The sufficiency of Scripture is a doctrine that has been the subject of many debates and arguments over the years. How does Scripture interact with our lives today? What about cultural issues that are not in the Bible? What about physical and mental health problems? These are just some of the questions that have been posed to me over the years. I truly believe that we as Christians need to believe in the sufficiency of Scripture and its ability to speak into our lives in many different ways. Scripture is sufficient in providing the answer to how we must be saved from our sins. All that we need to know about Christ and His work on the cross can be found in the pages of Scripture. There is no external source that we must go to in order to understand how salvation can occur in our lives or the lives of others. Scripture is totally sufficient in its ability to convict and save the individual in Christ. This is very important for the believer to understand and believe
I also believe that scripture is sufficient to bring healing and relief from pain. Now before you think I’ve gone completely “health and wealth” here, let me explain myself. I am not of the belief that if somebody has a migraine the correct method of treatment is to club them over the head with a 10 pound study Bible. This measure seems a little counterintuitive. I have always put physical ailments in a different realm than mental and spiritual ones. If there is a true physical issue that need to be addressed, the Lord has been gracious to us in providing modern-day medical treatment for such things. However, with my past and present work in Biblical Counseling, I have observed first hand the changing power of the Gospel in the life of an individual. These individuals struggled with many different mental health issues such as bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, as well as many other types of physical addictions. For some reason, our society and even the church is very quick to send of these people to a”professional” to receive treatment. Please allow me to be very clear here. There is nothing that will bring lasting peace and hope to an individual other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the Gospel, the only treatment that is being done is behavior modification. The symptoms may cease and the patient may feel better about themselves, but what does this gain them if their soul is still lost. I have seen firsthand the transforming power of the Gospel in the lives of individuals that have the worst type of addictions and mental issues. Through all of the secular and psychological counseling, medications, and treatment options, the only thing that I have seen bring lasting and hopeful change is Scripture itself.
I realize this may not be a popular view with many Christians and this is a topic that need an entire book dedicated to it. Unfortunately, I do not have time here to suss out why I believe Biblical Counseling is the best option for helping individuals that are struggling. (Perhaps a different post) I can only say that if we believe the Bible to be authoritative and inerrant, why would we reject the idea that it is also sufficient? Do we not believe that God is able to heal the minds and the hearts of those whom He has created? Do we not believe that He has provided us with the means of doing that through His Word? This world is in desperate need for hope and peace and I raise my voice with the reformers and say that the only way we can know how to find this peace is through Sola Scriptura.