A series of articles exploring what God says is the ultimate Truth. Once established, all other truths are subject to it... including yours, mine, everyone's.
A Latin phrase meaning the Bible, and it alone, is the final authority in religious matters.
Pilate asked Jesus, "what is truth" (John 18:38). This is still THE burning questing after 2000 years. Everything else is secondary to the answer to this question. What the Word of God says about truth?
John 17:17 Sanctify them through your truth: your word [the Father's] is truth.
Psalms 119:142 your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth.
Psalms 119:151 you are near, O LORD; and all your commandments are truth.
Matthew 5:18 For truly I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one letter shall in no way pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.
Scripture concludes that Truth is Scripture itself. Scripture does not conclude that Truth is found in men or their institutions.
Pillar and Ground (or Foundation) of Truth.
Many appeal to Timothy I 3:15 to prove that God has given the Church to us to be the final authority on Truth. A careful examination of this verse shows that is not being taught at all. To see what the verse is likely teaching, please see my article on the subject: Pillar and Ground of Truth
Origin of Bible
Simply put, God wrote the Bible. See my article on Who wrote the Bible for further comment on this.
In their opposition to Evangelicals, some say that the Pharisees were the "Bible Thumpers" of Jesus' day. This is used as a derogatory term describing those (like me) who would refer to Scripture as the final authority on religious matters. I did a bit of studying on this. I examined how much the Pharisees "thumped the Bible" and how much Jesus did. It ends up, Jesus "thumped" the Bible of His day about 5 times as much as the Pharisees did. Please see article on the subject, Bible thumpers, for further details.
Did God think the Scriptures were authoritative?
God (God speaking through Luke) called the Jews at Berea more noble than the Jews at Thessalonica because they did not take the Apostle Paul's authority on its own, but checked out what Paul had to say against the Scripture. This is an extremely powerful argument for the authority of Scripture as Scripture itself praises the Bereans for checking an Apostle's teaching for themselves against Scripture to see if what he said was true:
Acts 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming there went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Is the Church, any church, in our day more authoritative than the Apostle Paul? No. Should we check out what we are taught by searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so? By all means!
The testimony of Abraham and Lazarus.
In Luke 16:27-31, Jesus speaks a parable about Lazarus and the rich man. Jesus tells us that when the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus back to his wicked brothers on earth, Abraham's response was "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." Where did Jesus (through Abraham in this parable) say authority and truth could be found? From the established religious organization (the Jewish leaders at that time - God's chosen people)? No. Were they told to listen to angels? No. They were told 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.' In other words, they were told to listen to "Moses and the prophets" (the Bible at that time). Our eternal destiny depends on listening to what God has told us. Ultimately, it is does not depend on what our church tells us "that God said". We will not be able to point at the church or anyone else on Judgment day, and say "they told me this was so." We will have to stand for ourselves or, if we are His, with Him in our stead.
Did Jesus write part of the Bible while He was on earth?
One objection to "Sola Scriptura" often cited is that Jesus did not actually write any of the Bible while He was on earth. Scripture records one account of Jesus writing while He was on earth. Jesus wrote in the dirt while He was here on earth (John 8:6-8). We don't know what He wrote as it was never recorded. His ministry while He was on earth did not include writing. That was not why He came. His ministry did include other things as seen in Mic 4:2, Mark 1:38, John 3:16, John 12:27, John 12:47, John 18:37. He came to teach, preach, save and die for His people. And then victoriously rise from the dead, of course. He did write through people as the Holy Spirit moved individuals to write what He wanted written. He is God from eternity to eternity. So, in that sense, we can say that He wrote every word of Scripture. Every day at the end of readings at the Mass, it concludes with "the Word of the Lord". Catholics testify that the Bible is God's Word. I agree with that statement when it is used in accordance with readings from the Bible. The Lord wrote the Word of God - the Bible. Is Jesus God or not? If He is, then He wrote His Word.
Is Sola Scriptura biblical?
Some authors point out that you cannot find anywhere in Scripture where Scripture is stated to be the final authority. Scripture teaches that Scripture is truth. It is not stated in the Bible that "the Bible is the ultimate authority" just like it doesn't come out and use the term "Trinity". However, the concept of the Trinity is accepted as truth by most because it is in harmony with what the Bible teaches. So if the Bible is truth, then everything that is stated by all other authorities can and should be tested against the Truth (John I 4:1). By definition, the Truth is authoritative. This is an absolute incredible blessing of God in actuality. We can know for certain what Truth is because we have a Standard by which we can measure any doctrine. It is my opinion that several doctrines held by many churches are not in harmony with what the Bible plainly teaches. The Bible has authority greater than these churches in these plain matters. God tells us His Word is Truth - we have to decide if our church is reasonably faithful to that Truth.
Let us look at one more thing what Jesus says about His Word:
Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me.
Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things:
Luke 10:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
We can apply Jesus's teaching here to being cluttered with many things in this life. But, we can also apply it as being cluttered by many activities, rituals, and requirements of the church - when only one thing is needful. Consider chosing the good part. We cannot earn our way to Heaven by fulfilling cluttering requirements placed upon us by others.