Of all the other sola statements that came out of the Reformation, sola scriptura has to be one of the most foundational. Without a firm understanding of the truthfulness of God’s Word, all other doctrinal statements are without authority. Sola scriptura means that we use the Bible as our authoritative guide for everything in our lives.
Jesus confronted the religious leaders for their misuse and abuse of Scripture. The Sadducees had a tendency to ignore the parts of Scripture which didn’t fit their “theology.” The Pharisees, on the other hand, would over-exaggerate some Scriptures which would leave other passages dwarfed or forgotten.
In Matthew 23, Jesus took on both of these incorrect approaches. What I love is that Jesus didn’t share His opinion … He didn’t argue with them … He didn’t try to convince them to accept His viewpoint. Jesus just took them back to Scripture.
- You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God (23:29).
- Have you not read what God said to you (23:31).
- David, speaking by the Spirt… says… (23:43).
When Jesus said, “You are in error,” the verb tense is the passive voice. This means it was something done to them, not something they did. These religious leaders were not purposely straying from Scripture, but by listening to men instead of God they allowed themselves to be lead astray.
That’s why this insight from Luke is so powerful:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
This is great counsel for all of us. We should all listen to pastors and teachers, or read authors, through the filter of Scripture. We need to make sure we aren’t passively straying, and we do this by examining the Scripture.