This is post #3 of 6 in a brief series on the doctrine of Scripture called “Scripture Alone.” I’m convinced that Christians today need to constantly reaffirm our convictions about God’s Word in order to avoid drifting into error, and in order to effectively serve and honor Christ. This was a core conviction at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. So, in each of these brief articles, with the help of the reformers, we’ll be unpacking the question, “What do we believe about the Bible?”
Since the Bible is God’s Word, it is trustworthy and true. God does not lie. God does not make mistakes. When he speaks, he speaks the truth!
Peter gets at this when he says in 2 Peter 1:19, We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed. Peter’s argument is that God’s Word has always proven true, but it is even more fully confirmed now that Christ has been revealed as the glorious Savior of his people, fulfilling all the promises of God’s Word.
Plenty of people claim to have words from God, and make bold predictions. It seems like every couple years someone says that the world will end on a certain date. And yet here we are. Their word proved false. And there are some bold predictions in the Old Testament. A child born of a virgin. A servant pierced and crushed for the iniquities of his people. The Spirit of God poured out on all his children. But in Christ, they all proved true. As Psalm 12 says, The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. There is no error, no blemish, no false promise in the Word of God. Scripture is perfectly true.
This conviction caused the reformers to reevaluate worship in the church, and re-center those gatherings on the Word of God. This was a radical change in the church of the day.
Historian Timothy George writes,
“Prior to the Reformation, the sermon was mostly… reserved for special occasions or seasons of the liturgical cycle, especially Christmas and Eastertide. Most sermons were preached in town squares or open fields. The reformers brought the sermon back inside the church and gave it an honored place in the public worship of the gathered community.”1
One reformer particularly noted for this change was Huldrych Zwingli. Zwlingli pastored in Zurich Switzerland and on January 1, 1519 he put down the church’s traditional lectionary. He announced that he was going to begin preaching the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse. He started by preaching the entire book of Matthew, “then Acts, then the letters to Timothy, Galatians, 1 and 2 Peter, Hebrews, the Gospel of John, and the other Pauline letters. He then turned to the Old Testament, beginning with the Psalms, then the Pentateuch and the historical books.”2
Zwingli’s conviction was that the church of God needed the Word of God more than anything, because only God’s Word brings us untainted truth. And that conviction continues to drive protestant churches today. Scripture alone is our perfect source of truth.