When Israel was about to enter the promised land, Moses taught them the most important lesson for any human being to learn. This is the concept of sola scriptura.
Listen to what Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Consider three important lessons in this verse. First, the generic word for human beings, “man,” indicates that this is a lesson not just for Israel or for the church, but mankind in general. God declares to all people at all times, “Listen to me. I am your creator and Lord.” This is God’s affirmation of solo scriptura to the whole human race, regardless of their religious outlook.
Second, the term “live” has two meanings. It refers to physical existence, such as our need for food, water, shelter, and economic power. But it also refers to our quality of life, signifying peace or Shalom, the ability to flourish and prosper. This means that human beings will truly thrive only when they hear and obey the voice of God speaking to them in creation and his Word (Psalms 19; 119:105, 160).
Third, throughout the Old Testament, a mind that listens to God practices sola scriptura. The Hebrew verb for “listen” is translated in three ways, depending on context: “listen to,” “hear,” or “obey.” The same verb often appears with a particular direct object, “voice” or “listen to the voice of.” The Hebrew idiom “listen to the voice of” means acknowledging a speaker with authority who expects his instructions to be followed. In Deuteronomy, “listen to the voice of the Lord” appears twenty times. Other phrases include “listen to”: “the command of the Lord,” “my words,” and “the statutes and laws.”
Just as ancient Israel was expected to use their minds and hear God’s voice, we in the church must think and listen also. Remember what God said about Jesus, “This is my Son, my Chosen one; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35). Jesus, of course, is our model for practicing sola scriptura (Luke 2:46).
Clearly, we must pay attention to God’s instruction and learn to understand it. Indeed, the doctrine of sola scriptura implies that we are perpetual students. Always learning. Always curious to learn more about God, his world, his word, and his plan of redemption. To put it another way, sola scriptura implies semper reformada, which means “aways reforming,” “always learning,” “always repenting,” as we listen to the voice of God’s alone.