That’s the title of a traditional Sunday School song, and the lyrics I learned go like this:
The B.I.B.L.E Yes that’s the book for me I stand alone on the Word of God The B.I.B.L.E
Yet in practice we don’t really believe that. We think anyone who stands on the Word of God alone is a maverick or loner who lacks accountability, and increasingly, merits the epithet “fundy”. What does it mean to rely solely on the Bible?
First of all, since it is the Word of God, it is no less reliable than spoken words of God. As I’ve said before, it isn’t the medium but the Author that makes something sacred or spiritual. God had many of his words written down for a very good reason: they don’t ever change. Sure, we need to remember the context in which they were written, but it is that contextual understanding of words that never change which keeps us from being “blown about by every wind of doctrine”.
The average person can indeed understand and apply the words in the Bible, as long as they are aware of context. There is no need of official sanction by a person or institution in order to deem a person’s Biblical views as worthy of consideration. In NT times the apostles themselves were there to teach, and their written words are preserved for us. That is our basis of authority; I see no such authority conferred on anyone else, ever. That is our “authoritative teaching”.
The Holy Spirit is quite capable of guiding even the lowliest believer. Yes we need good teaching while spiritually maturing; yes the NT shows “elders” being appointed for that task. They are people who have shown spiritual maturity and thorough grasp of the Word. And subsequent elders were to be appointed by existing elders. But through these many generations many teachers have been appointed without meeting the stipulations Paul gave; the churches will typically appoint any willing warm body for the job. So the problem of misunderstanding scripture is not laid at the feet of “uncovered” believers, but of untested and untrained teachers.
I say all this to address the problem of many of us who are challenged to produce some kind of official sanctioning body. Where are the Bereans today? Isn’t the Bible itself still our authority, our measuring stick? If what we say matches scripture, why is it to be rejected solely because we don’t list people with worldly credentials who put their official stamp of approval on our writings? Who sanctions those people? Is it not that same Word of God?
I still abide by that old children’s song; I still go directly to the Source. Judge my writings by that.