Sola Scriptura―The Essential Basis of the Protestant Reformation

Romans 4:3; John 5:39; John 10:35; Luke 11:28

What saith the Scriptures?

Jesus said: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me—The scripture cannot be broken—Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): Our Lord Jesus Christ honoured the Scriptures, explained them, adopted them as the very Word of God, and as the supreme sovereign authority―on their authority it is His will that faith should rest.

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…A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the Word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test—Does it square with the Bible? What saith the Scriptures?

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.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There was a great Reformation in the 16th Century, but what was that Reformation?

E. W. BULLINGER (1837-1913): 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?

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: The infallible authority of the Word of God alone was the first and fundamental principle of the Reformation…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. Some individuals of more extensive views than the generality, alone foresaw its immense results. 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.”

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Let not authority from man, but evidence from the Word, conclude thy judgment; that is but a shore, this a foundation. Quote the Scripture rather than men for thy judgment. Not, so saith such a learned holy man; but, thus saith the holy Scripture.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): 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. God help me. Amen.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is the lack of this resolve that makes so many denominations in the world today. Most professors never look in the Bible to see what is right and what is wrong. Their father and mother went to a certain place of worship, so they go to it. They saw things in a certain light and their children do the same. But they never search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so or not. I am afraid there are many Christians and some ministers, too, who would be afraid to search the Scriptures lest they should learn too much from them!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: According to the teaching of the Bible, one thing only matters, and that is the truth.

J. C. RYLE: The Protestant Reformation was mainly effected by translating and circulating the Bible.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This is the “light that shines in a dark place,” 2 Peter 1:19; and a dark place indeed the world would be without the Bible.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Luther said he would not live in Paradise without the Bible―as with it, he could easily live in hell itself.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It is to be feared―greatly feared―that Holy Scripture is fast losing its divine place in the hearts of those who profess to take it as the divine rule of faith and morals. We have often heard that watchword sounded in our ears, “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants.” Alas! if this motto were ever really true we fear that its truth at this moment is more than questionable.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Some are rejoicing because Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are drawing nearer together. “What does the past matter?” they say, “Let us have the right spirit, let us come together, all of us, and not be concerned about these particularities.”—To me, all such talk is just a denial of the plain teaching of the New Testament, a denial of the Creeds and the Confessions and the Protestant Reformation!—Are we accepting this modern idea that the Reformation was the greatest tragedy that ever happened?

MARTIN BUCER (1491-1551): God permits divisions, in order that those who belong to Him may learn not to look to men, but to the testimony of the Word, and to the assurance of the Holy Ghost in their hearts.

C. H. SPURGEON: There are some who think and say that they can do without the Bible. But certainly such think and speak not by the Spirit of God! This is always an Infallible test of the work of the Spirit—that He honours God’s own Word.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Reformation doesn’t mean scrapping the whole of the Bible, and putting up your own ideas and theories. It means the exact opposite, it means returning to the Bible…There have been other reformations. What were they? Well, every reformation that has ever happened in the life of the church, and has led to new life, and power, and vigour in the church, and a corresponding influence in the lives of the people―every reformation has been a return to the New Testament―every one of them!

J. C. RYLE: The churches which are most flourishing at this day, are churches which honour the Bible. The nations which enjoy most moral light, are nations in which the Bible is most known…The godliest families are Bible-reading families. The holiest men and women are Bible-reading people. These are simple facts which cannot be denied.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible is the religion of Christ’s church…I ask every Christian here whether he can honestly say that he has given up his mind to be molded by the Holy Spirit—whether, upon questions that are in dispute among men, he has really searched the Scriptures and whether he is prepared at all costs to follow the Truth of God wherever it leads him?

J. C. RYLE: The only question is—Is the thing said Scriptural? If it is, it ought to be received and believed. If it is not, it ought to be refused and cast aside.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: My friends, we’re not only the guardians and custodians of the faith of the Bible itself. We are the representatives and the successors of the glorious men who fought this same fight, the good fight of faith in centuries past. We are standing in the position of the Protestant Reformers.

MARTIN BUCER: Thus then, dearly beloved brethren, to the Scriptures―the Scriptures!


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