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Reformed Theology: Based On God's Word – Sola Scriptura

Author: Ralph E. Bass, Jr.

We have spoken of God’s revelation of Himself.  That revelation is found almost exclusively in the Bible.  Some things may be known about God through observing His creation.  Romans 1:20 says this, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  “That which was made….” refers to His creation.  Enough can be observed in God’s creation to make man “…without excuse.”  However, not enough can be observed in creation to explain to man God’s solution to man’s sin problem.   

A person has awareness of God via his or her own conscience.  All appear to have a sense that a perfect One or perfect standard exists.  But that awareness is insufficient to bridge the gulf of alienation between God and humanity.  God has given us a divine revelation—the Bible—for that purpose.  

The Bible is a record of God’s actions in communicating to man His own solution to their desperate condition.  Ultimately that solution is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. 

We mortals have been tempted, ever since Adam’s Fall, to pursue salvation through our own efforts.  Humanity is proud and defiant.  As a part of our fallen nature, we compound our sin by arrogantly seeking to cover it with fig leaves—the efforts of our own hands (like Adam and Eve) —instead of a covering of skins made by the hand of God from a bloody sacrifice. 

 People are incapable of intuitively knowing what God requires for salvation, and what God Himself has done to meet that requirement.  “Revelation” – God disclosing Himself to human beings is necessary to that end. 

God insured that every word in the Bible would both express simultaneously the personality of its human writer and God’s divine purpose.  It is a book without error in the original manuscripts.  God has not only given a perfect revelation of Himself in the Bible; he has preserved it so that it achieves its divine purpose for us today.  The Bible is a book of truth propositions or facts.  It recounts how God created this earth and how mankind fell into sin.  It explains God’s plan of salvation, from the first animal sacrifice covering Adam’s sin, to the ultimate fulfillment of that type in Jesus on the cross.  

The Bible engenders or incites faith.  However, God doesn’t ask us to exercise a blind or foolish faith.  He makes it clear that faith in God is a reasonable action.  But if God’s revelation of Himself were flawed, then it would be unreasonable to trust Him.  If God could not be trusted to provide truthful answers to the question of origins and sin, how could He be trusted to tell us about things we could not necessarily verify?  He could not.  But the Bible is a book of verifiable propositions of God’s mighty acts in history.  Such trustworthy facts make it reasonable for us to have faith in God.  Faith in God is a reasonable act because God’s revelation is, like God, perfect.  “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless” Psalm 18:30.  “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.  The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). 

Of course, man in his fallen condition, instinctively hates God’s Word and attacks it with unrelenting vehemence, demanding that it be removed from our schools, courts and public displays.  However, the Bible continues to stand as God’s supreme and perfect revelation of Himself to mankind.  

Reformed theology is based solely on the Scripture.  Although Reformed theology values history, tradition, creeds, and the councils of the church, it nevertheless finds its doctrines exclusively in the Bible.  Man’s actions, traditions, statements, and pronouncements will fail, in fact often do so.  Therefore, it is essential to believe authoritatively in God’s Word alone.  Many Christian denominations and cults have popes, prophets, founders and extra Biblical books that add to the Bible.  Reformed theology does not.  For those of the Reformed faith the Bible alone is sufficient for “life and godliness.” 

“The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I, Paragraph 9 

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About the Author

Ralph E. Bass, Jr. has an undergraduate degree, BA, in Bible from Bob Jones University, and several graduate degrees: a M.A. in Counseling from Webster University, a M.Div. in divinity studies from Erskine Theological Seminary, a Th.M. in theological studies from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and a Th.D. in theological studies from Reformation International Theological Seminary. Dr. Bass was for a number of years a biblical counselor, a pastor, and as a teacher and school administrator in several Christian schools. He is married and has five children and seventeen grandchildren.