The 1st Pillar of the Reformation: The Supreme Authority of the Bible

Matthew 21:42; John 5:19,39
       Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures?
       Then answered Jesus, and said unto them…Search the scriptures; for in them ye think have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

THOMAS CRANMER (1489-1555): Christ sendeth his hearers to the Scriptures, not to the church…The Word of God is above the church.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): The infallible authority of the Word of God alone was the first and fundamental principle of the Reformation. All the reformations in detail which took place at a later period, as reformations in doctrine, in manners, in the government of the Church, and in worship, were only consequences of this primary principle. One is scarcely able at the present time to form an idea of the sensation produced by this elementary principle, which is so simple in itself, but which had been lost sight of for so many ages.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Roman Catholicism puts the Church, its tradition and its interpretation of Scripture first.

E. W. BULLINGER (1837-1913): I was examining the ceiling [in the Vatican library], which was arched and was very gaudily painted with pictures of all the Councils of the Church from the Council of Nicea to that of the Council of Trent…In the first, that of the Council of Nicea in 325, no prelate or potentate occupies the chair. The Bishop of Rome and the Emperor Constantine both declined to preside, and the Bible is placed on the chair. In the succeeding pictures man becomes more and more prominent, the Bible more and more insignificant. In the second picture, it is placed by the side of the chair; and it gets smaller and smaller; until, at the Council of Trent in 1545, it vanishes altogether. This is―though doubtless undesigned―a fitting symbolical representation of the relations between the Church and the Bible! As the one increases in authority, the authority of the other decreases.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The ungodly papists prefer the authority of the church far above God’s Word…These adulators put the pope above Scripture and say that he cannot err. In that case Scripture perishes, and nothing is left in the Church save the word of man.

E. W. BULLINGER: The Inspiration of Holy Scripture, and therefore its Divine authorship and authority, lies at the root and foundation of true Christianity—it was the one great question which underlay all others at the Reformation. For, what was the Reformation in its essence? Was it not just the abandonment of human authority for Divine authority? Was it not all contained in this—the giving up of the authority of the church for the authority of the Word of God?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Our faith is not rightly founded on anything except the sole Word of God…All are ready to declare, that they do not speak except from God. So the Papists at this day boast with magisterial gravity, that all their inventions are the oracles of the Spirit―But to all this I reply, that we have the Word of the Lord―we must inquire from the Scriptures whether these things are so.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The Protestants in the Reformation began to search the originals, and charged their adversaries thence to produce their proofs.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ: The bold voices of all the Reformers soon proclaimed this powerful principle: “Christians, receive no other doctrines than those which are founded on the express words of Jesus Christ, His apostles, and prophets. No man, no assembly of doctors, are entitled to prescribe new doctrines.”

JOHN KNOX (1514-1572): Ye shall believe God, that plainly speaketh in His Word.

MARTIN LUTHER: I believe in neither pope nor councils alone; for it is perfectly well established that they have frequently erred, as well as contradicted themselves. Unless then I shall be convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I must be bound by those Scriptures which have been brought forward by me; yes, my conscience has been taken captive by these words of God. I cannot revoke anything, nor do I wish to; since to go against one’s conscience is neither safe nor right: here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): More credence is to be given to one man having the Holy Word of God for him, than to ten thousand without the Word. If it agrees with God’s Word, it is to be received. If it agrees not, it is not to be received, though a council had determined it.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): I therefore take little notice of what a man may saith, though he flourisheth his matter with many brave words, if he bring not with him, “Thus saith the Lord.” For that, and that only, ought to be my ground of faith as to how my God would be worshipped by me.

E. W. BULLINGER: Protestants are witnesses for God and His Word…We must refuse to acknowledge an infallible Pope: we cannot believe in an infallible Church or discern its so-called “voice”: we look in vain for infallibility in poor, fallen, human reason, or in the darkened understanding of mortal man, which needs to be illuminated with Divine Light. We must therefore hold fast the faithful Word, or we have nothing, absolutely nothing, to trust to. We must hold fast by the infallibility of the inspired Word, and ever maintain that “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the Religion of Protestants.”

HULDRYCH ZWINGLI (1484-1531): It is not us that you ought to believe. It is the Word of God. The Scriptures alone never deceive.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It is here alone that infallibility resides. It is not in the Church. It is not in the Councils. It is not in ministers. It is only in the written Word.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR (1872-1962): The matter is nothing short of vital: Where is authority for the Christian faith to be found? “In the Scriptures, plus tradition and Papal decrees,” replies the Romanist—Not so was it with our Lord.

WILLIAM FAREL (1489-1565): Christ has given us the most perfect rule of life: no man is entitled to take from it or add to it.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Because the Bible is God’s Word, it is the final court of appeal in all things pertaining to doctrine, duty, and deportment. This was the position taken by the Lord Himself…When assaulted by Satan, three times He replied, “It is written”―When tempted by the Pharisees, who asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” He answered, “Have ye not read?” (Matthew 19:3,4). To the Sadducees He said, “Ye do err, not know the Scriptures,” Matthew 22:29. On another occasion, when speaking of the Word of God, He declared “The Scriptures cannot be broken,” John 10:35. Sufficient has been adduced to show that the Lord Jesus regarded then Scriptures as the Word of God in the most absolute sense.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It is positively labour lost to be arguing and disputing with a man who does not give Scripture the self-same place that our Lord Jesus Christ gave it.

A. W. PINK: It is not a question of what I think, or of what any one else thinks—it is, what saith the Scriptures? It is not a matter of what any church or creed teaches—it is, What teaches the Bible?

AUGUSTINE (354-430): We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled.


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