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Quotes by John Thompson


One of the great lessons of church history is that God has used theological controversy to corporately sanctify His church as each Christian “contends earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Many crucial doctrines have been clarified and purified through respectful debate in the hermeneutical context of the universal church. Indeed, this is the very reason why God allowed controversy in the church at Corinth: “For there must also be factions (opinions) among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). Yet to avoid the disunity of the Corinthian church, we must handle our opinions with abundant humility and grace.


The ultimate issue in question is the authority of the Bible over our lives. Who is in charge? Who gets the final word? And the way that men (even saved but sinful men) avoid God’s authority is through autonomy: a self-determination that pursues self-sufficiency producing self-rule. It may not be an “intentional” self-determination – indeed we may be unthinkingly swept along by the influences of our culture – but the outcome is the same: a self-sufficiency (in place of God’s sufficiency through His Word) that results in self-rule.


The revelatory process ceased with the sixty-six books in the Old and New Testaments which contain exactly what God wanted us to have. Our Lord told His disciples that, after His ascension, He would send the Holy Spirit who would guide them (the disciples present) into ALL the truth (John 16:7, 13; 14:26). These were the men who, under the supernatural inspiration of the Holy Spirit, would finalize the writing of the New Testament. Paul said that when the “perfect” comes (i.e., the completed New Testament revelation), prophecy and other modes of revelation would cease (1 Cor. 13:8-12). It is a fact of history that divine revelation did cease when the last Apostle died. So, with a complete and final revelation in hand, where should we look to find the mind and will of God for His people? Not to modern-day prophecies, nor to signs and wonders, nor to inner promptings and experiences, but to Scripture ALONE!


Embracing Sola Scriptura will radically alter your attitudes. It arouses profound gratitude to God for His rich supply to His children of “everything we need for life and godliness.” It inspires confidence in the Word of God as the complete, perfect, all-embracing, and all-sufficient revelation from God that it will never need amendment, correction, or supplementation. It begets humility regarding your own opinions and a deep suspicion toward your autonomous conscience and reason. It produces admiration and appreciation for the larger body of Christ in other times and places and the documents (creeds, confessions, catechisms, commentaries) which they have labored to leave for our understanding and benefit. And finally, it encourages submission to Scripture’s God who alone has ultimate authority in your life – the One who is in charge and who gets the final word.


Sola Scriptura makes is a transformation in your trust. Your conviction and confidence is no longer in psychology, social theory, corporate business models, or modern marketing techniques, but rather in the fully sufficient Word of God. For personal life, family life, church life – indeed, for ALL of life: vocational, political, community, etc. – the comprehensive principles, precepts, practices, and prudence of the Word of God is your safe and sure guide. No longer will you live life as a practical humanist, but rather you will approach all issues “epistemologically self-conscious” since there is no moral neutrality in the universe.


Those who have sidestepped (even inadvertently) the authority of a fully sufficient Bible have strayed in two opposite directions. The Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and authoritarian cults have wrongly given autonomy and final authority to the Church… At the other end of the spectrum are those who, in reaction to an authoritarian church, have skirted a fully sufficient Bible by giving autonomy and final authority to the individual’s conscience and reason. They assert that every believer has the unfettered right to interpret the Scriptures not only for himself but by himself. Interpretation, according to this view, is strictly an individual matter.


Even a child can understand basic Bible truths as did Timothy: “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures” (2 Tim. 3:15). So, the average believer is able to understand Scripture’s basic meaning and message. And the more difficult passages must be interpreted in light of the clearer ones – Scripture interprets Scripture.


So, although Scripture is our sole infallible authority, we must interpret it within the boundaries of the so-called “ecumenical” (meaning universally held) creeds, such as the Apostles and Nicene creeds which faithfully express the fundamental doctrines of the New Testament. Indeed, the Reformers considered agreement with these creeds as necessary for a genuine Christian profession, and rightly so since the creeds define the essential doctrines of orthodoxy which all the cults deny.


Sola Scriptura will bring about a revolution in your reading, studying, and living of Scripture. Knowing now the incredible life-changing resource that God has put into your hands, you will develop a specific plan to read and study the whole Bible through, listen to the Bible on tape, listen to sermons on tape, help your spouse and children read and study more, memorize God’s promises that help you escape the corruption of the world, pray through the Scriptures asking God for help in applying them, write specific applications that God wants you to do, meditate on special portions of God’s Word, remove those things from your life that quench your thirst for Scripture, and get involved in a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught as “the complete, perfect, all-embracing, and all-sufficient revelation from God that will never need amendment, correction, or supplementation.”