500th Anniversary of the Reformation Reminds Christians to Revisit Foundations of Faith
Dr. Richard Land: Sola Scriptura—The Ultimate Authority for Salvation, Faith and Practice is Always Scripture Alone
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Five hundred years ago tomorrow, Martin Luther nailed to the wall of the Wittenberg door 95 theses that formed the foundation of the Protestant faith, including sola Scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratia, sola fide and soli Deo gloria.
Dr. Richard Land, Evangelical leader and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) has been reflecting on the Reformation, which he recently addressed at SES’s 24th annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics earlier this month.
“As we mark a significant anniversary of the Reformation, Christians are in the midst of revisiting the foundations and pillars of our faith, which is a very appropriate and important thing on this day,” Land said. “As we delve into God’s Word, Christians must be ever-mindful of sola Scriptura, which means that the ultimate authority for salvation, faith and practice is always Scripture alone. No confession, no catechism, no council of the church can ever compete with the unique authority of Holy Scripture. The Scriptures alone are the final and the highest authority to which we can appeal. Everything that the Scriptures address are to be used as the final word.
“All things that we learn from other sources, we must take them to Scripture, and if they contradict Scripture, then we are to reject them, not to affirm them,” Land continued. “It is very clear that the Bible is the ultimate authority. That means if I have an experience, it might be a very real experience, but if it contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture, then my experience is to be rejected, not the authority and the clear teaching of Holy Scripture. And that is how we get to the fact that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Jesus Himself said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.’ So if we put ourselves under the authority of Scripture as the ultimate authority, then there is no salvation outside of a personal faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. A bedrock belief, Scripture is the ultimate authority. It is God speaking divine truth to us, and it is truth without any mixture of error for its matter.”
Land also noted in a recent edition of his “Bringing Every Thought Captive” radio feature that faithful Protestant Christians have cause to be greatly concerned, as Reformation theology is waning among modern Protestants.
For example, a study by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of American Protestants now reject the Reformation doctrines that are bedrock to the movement: sola fide and sola Scriptura. Just 46 percent of American Protestants accept that salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, and only 3 in 10 Protestants believe both in sola fide and sola Scriptura.
“As we justifiably celebrate the wonderful and godly heritage of the Reformation, we must all pledge ourselves to the timeless Christian truths on which that great movement was based,” Land said. “Salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone as grounded and taught in Scripture alone. Those are the bedrock planks upon which the Reformation was based that led to the great Christian missionary expansion around the world and the phenomenon of global Christianity. It is also the basis on which every life must be based that is going to be Christian. Salvation is by faith alone. Any attempts to add to what Jesus did on the cross detract from what Jesus did on the cross. His death is sufficient.”
Because America was founded on biblical truths, Land added, SES will soon offer a new complete Bible study course in the seminary’s Lay Institute that will help Christians understanding that the Bible is key to knowing God and knowing how to live. Visit ses.edu/biblical-studies-prepurchase for more information and to obtain a discount on the online course.