Sabbath School Lesson for April 25-May 1, 2020


Here’s what we need to know, in order to accept sola Scriptura as the foundation of our theology:

  • Why the Bible should be the ruling norm (Sunday)
  • Why the Bible needs to provide thematic unity throughout (Monday)
  • Why the Bible must be clear to the sincere searcher of truth (Tuesday)
  • Why we need to let the Bible interpret itself (Wednesday)
  • Why do we need additional writings at times to help us understand what we read in the Bible (Thursday)


Most, if not all, Protestant denominations claim the Bible alone as the source of their faith and practice. The Roman Catholic church stands out for its acceptance of tradition, in addition to the Bible, as the foundation for its beliefs.

While the early Protestant reformers most generally interpreted the Bible on a grammatical and historical basis, others today interpret it allegorically, in other words, based on different meanings being read into the text. This, no doubt, accounts partly for the variation of beliefs Protestants hold today.

This week, we explore why Sola Scriptura is still a steady, reliable way to establish our theology and doctrines. We can depend on the Bible to provide us with the information we need to have a full, loving relationship with our Creator God.

Memory Text: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NKJV

This verse emphasizes the need for us to faithfully interpret the Scriptures. We need its guidance to sort out our thoughts and behavior and to make us faithful followers of God.

Hymn for the Week: “Be Thou My Vision”, Hymn # 547

Sunday: Scripture as the Ruling Norm

As we saw last week, there are a variety of factors that shape our theology. Things such as tradition, human thoughts and reasoning, and our subjective religious experience often play too big a role in what the Bible says about our doctrines.

As we have been shown, it is not safe to look too heavily outside the authority of the Bible itself, when determining our religious practice. Our emphasis should continually be “What does the Bible say?”

Other resources, such as concordances, lexicons, Bible dictionaries and commentaries, that are based on Biblical archaeology and history, may be helpful tools for interpreting God’s word. But we must still make the Bible itself our primary source for religious knowledge and behavior.

The Bible is, without a doubt, the ruling, authoritative norm when it comes to our theology.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

I Corinthians 4:6

  • Why is it important not to “think beyond what is written” when reading God’s word?
  • Since there are biblical passages that may be difficult for us to understand, how can we rely on God to give us the understanding we need without resorting to our own faulty thinking and interpretation, or someone else’s?

Acts 17:10, 11

  • Why is a daily searching of God’s word necessary for our daily understanding of God’s will?
  • How do we make ourselves “ready” to receive God’s word?

Monday: The Unity of Scripture

Since we have seen how often New Testament writers quoted the Old Testament, we must conclude that the New Testament is not superior or more important than the Old. The New Testament is valued equally because it is the unfolding of what was revealed in the Old.

The Bible thus achieves a balanced unity throughout its pages, due, not surprisingly, to its divine origin. We are repeatedly told that all Scripture is God-breathed, or given by His inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16).

Yes, God is the editor, you might say, of this remarkable piece of literature. It is possible to establish a unified system of beliefs and doctrines upon its pages. We must allow the unified theme of our salvation found in the Bible to build our faith, connecting us more fully with God and each other.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

2 Peter 1:20, 21

  • Why is a private interpretation from man not as useful when finding meaning from the Bible?
  • Who, then, must we rely on for interpretation of God’s word?

Titus 1:7-9

  • Why should we try to be sure we hold sound doctrines?

2 Timothy 1:13

  • What two things help us in determining sound doctrine?

Tuesday: The Clarity of the Scriptures

The many times Jesus and the apostles referred to God’s written word indicate that they believed in our ability to understand its teachings.

Jesus repeatedly used the phrase, “Have you not read?”, before explaining some spiritual meaning He was trying to explain. He evidently expected them to have read the Scriptures, even if they were unknowingly misunderstanding or ignoring its counsel.

Countless times, we’ve been shown or have read in the Scriptures about people who have found knowledge and understanding from the word of God that grows deep and changes their hearts and behaviors. We have witnessed the Bible’s ability to bring a believer to a full, saving experience with our God, when one’s heart reaches out to Him. Even those with limited intellectual capabilities or few opportunities to study the Bible have been blessed by what they read or hear there.

Thus, we can rest assured that, even though there are passages that aren’t totally clear to us yet, God is faithful to show us what we need to know when it comes to our salvation. After all, this is the whole purpose of the Scriptures, to reveal the plan of salvation to a fallen world.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

2 Timothy 3:15

  • How does this verse tell us that the Bible is clear enough to show us our salvation?

Matthew 12:3

  • What does Jesus’ repeated use of the phrase, “Have you not read?”, indicate about His opinion of the Scriptures?

Matthew 24:15

  • How does this verse show us that God will show us the understanding of prophecies when we need it most–that some things won’t be clear until we see them happening?

Wednesday: Scripture Interprets Scripture

Having seen…

  • that the word of God should be what guides our religious practice,
  • that the Old and New Testaments comprise a unified, balanced presentation of the gospel, and
  • that the central theme throughout is clearly our redemption,

we can feel confident in letting the Bible interpret itself.

Accomplishing this requires us to examine the context of a verse or passage in the Bible, taking into account, not only its immediate usage in the chapter, but how it fits into the whole picture of the book of the Bible it comes from.

Comparing Scripture with Scripture as recommended in Isaiah 28:10 (“here a little, there a little”), requires us to do the following:

  1. view the word of God as a whole
  2. see the relation of its parts
  3. remember the Bible’s central theme of the great controversy between Christ and Satan and our ultimate salvation

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

Luke 24:27, 44, 45

  • Why did Jesus show from various parts of the Scriptures the meaning of His death and resurrection and what it would mean to their salvation from sin?
  • Why are we more confident in our understanding when we find the same message in more than one place in the Bible?

Romans 15:4

  • Besides our learning, how are we benefited from studying the Bible?

Thursday: Sola Scriptura and Ellen G. White

Countless religious authors, before and after Christ, have written about their spiritual faith and practice, inspiring us with their insights and knowledge. The vast majority of these writings, of course, are not included in the biblical canon, which the Christian community has considered to be authoritative scripture and part of the Bible as we know it today.

However, we can certainly be blessed by learning from fellow believers who share their experience and religious observations through their literature. Some authors have even been instrumental in the founding of new churches or denominations.

This was the case for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which used the writings of Ellen G. White (1827-1915) to inspire and aid them at the beginning of the Advent movement. Although her books and writings are held in high esteem, they must not be seen as a replacement or even an addition to the Bible itself.

They have been found by many Bible scholars, however, to be centered on Scripture and helpful in leading us to God’s holy word. She herself said that she hoped her writings would be “a lesser light to guide people to the greater light” found in the Bible. She constantly elevated the Bible as our only guide to spiritual truth and doctrines, the essence of sola Scriptura.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

Isaiah 8:20

  • Why must the law and the testimony of the Bible be our only safe guide for our religious practice and beliefs?
  • What benefit is there from reading other Christian authors then, besides those in the Bible?

Acts 17:11

  • What can we learn from the Bereans’ effort to search the Scriptures to prove the truthfulness of what their evangelists were teaching them?

Friday: What We Have Learned This Week

We have many reasons why accepting the Bible as the only source of our doctrines is a good idea:

  1. There must be something solid to measure our beliefs and know they are true.
  2. The Bible is unified in its overall message.
  3. It is clear in delivering what we need for our salvation.
  4. The Scriptures are capable of explaining itself, when studied deeply with the Holy Spirit’s help.

In conclusion, here’s something else worthy of our consideration…

“The student of the Bible should be taught to approach it in the spirit of a learner. We are to search its pages, not for proof to sustain our opinions, but in order to know what God says. A true knowledge of the Bible can be gained only through the aid of the Spirit by whom the word was given.” ~Ellen G. White, Education, p. 189

So, be a learner and let the Holy Spirit guide you. It’s as simple as that. This is the essence of sola Scriptura.

Next Week’s Lesson: Why Is Interpretation Needed?

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