Reformation500: Scripture as the Sole Authority for Christians

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

The painting in this post was done by Vincent van Gogh in 1885 with the title “Still Life with Bible.” By then, the Reformation has taken place for more than 200 years yet the message of the movement is still vibrant as shown in the painting. The centrality of the Bible in this newfound way of a relationship with God has inspired numerous artists in Europe. Van Gogh himself was a son of a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.

You may have seen several Christian groups springing up, claiming that they are Bible-believing churches. They are even some who integrate the importance of the Scriptures even in the names of their denominations. Why is this emphasis on believing in the BIble only important? What is the Reformation’s part in this?

One of Martin Luther’s criticism on why he led the reforms was the practice of tradition in the old church. His inspiration for speaking up was, after all, the Bible itself. He found that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone and that every word written in the scriptures is God-breathed and is His final instruction to men.

This is the case for one of the cries of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura. Scripture Alone.

The reformed church has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the Bible and why this book should be the sole authority on faith and practice for Christians. As what Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV): “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The scripture quoted clearly states that the Bible should be our yardstick for what we do in our lives in order to be trained in righteousness. Psalm 19:7 (NIV) also says that “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” There are no other statutes more important for Christians than those that are in the Bible.

Luther said, “The Bible is the proper book for men. There the truth is distinguished from error far more clearly than anywhere else, and one finds something new in it every day. For twenty-eight years, since I became a doctor, I have now constantly read and preached the Bible; and yet I have not exhausted it but find something new in it every day.” (WA TR 5, no. 5193).

“Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.
They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.
If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.” Psalm 119:89-93 (NIV)

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