Is the Bible Enough for Us? – Sufficiency

Has God really given us enough in these multi-millennia old books to address our modern conundrums?

Immediately upon my regeneration, I had no problem understanding that the Bible alone is the word of God. However, I did not grasp the implications of that. Issues came at me one after the other. I immersed in my local Christian culture. Professing believers were kind, friendly, and zealous. We hung out often and talked about God while hiking and camping. But something didn’t add up.

 

By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit opened my heart to come to faith in Christ in my twenties. Having previously known nothing of God’s word, I wrestled for months with the nature and origin of the Bible. Finally, I could deny the glaring facts no longer. The Bible stood up to all scrutiny. It possesses an integrity and unmatched divine quality like no other piece of literature. All 66 books are the verbal plenary inspired word of God.

Immediately upon my regeneration, I had no problem understanding that the Bible alone is the word of God. However, I did not grasp the implications of that. Issues came at me one after the other. I immersed in my local Christian culture. Professing believers were kind, friendly, and zealous. We hung out often and talked about God while hiking and camping. But something didn’t add up. Much of the discussion and action seemed to contradict what I was discovering in the Bible. We would pray in ways not prescribed in Scripture. We would seek words from God, but without opening the Bible. Dreams and visions from God were animatedly discussed while the Bible remained closed. One pastor told me, “Eric, put the Bible down for a month and go seek God in different places.” It didn’t sound right to me, but I could not explain why. I didn’t know it at the time, but these issues largely pertained to the sufficiency of the Bible. I understood something of the Bible’s divine nature, but I did not understand its sufficiency. Over time, I’ve discovered that many have struggled similarly. Today’s post will briefly address the sufficiency of Scripture.

Recently we began a series addressing foundational questions about the Bible; the topic of bibliology. First, we studied revelation, which answers the question, “What is the Bible?”Then, we looked at inspiration, which answers, “Where did the Bible come from?” Then, we observed the logical consequence, namely, that the 66 books of the Bible are the inerrant and infallible words of God. Last week, we studied canonicity, answering who decided which books would be in the Bible, how, and when. Today’s post is the next logical step.

Likely most Christians would confess that the Bible is sufficient. But, what does that look like? How adequate is the Bible for issues pertaining to life and godliness? What are the practical ramifications of inerrancy? How sufficient is the Bible? Has God really given us enough in these multi-millennia old books to address our modern conundrums?

The Sufficiency of Scripture Defined

The sufficiency of Scripture means that the words of Scripture are, and have been throughout salvation history, ample revelation from God for people to know him savingly, answer life’s most important questions, and carry out his will in their lives. Scripture outfits humanity with everything they need to know and please God. Nothing is lacking from Scripture which man needs to know and do God’s will in life. Whether through explicit commands or implicit principles, the Bible contains everything we need for any component of human life. We do not need additional revelation from God.

In article 1.6, the Westminster Confession of Faith states the sufficiency of Scripture as:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary inference may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

The Limits of Scripture’s Sufficiency

The sufficiency of Scripture does not insist that the Bible contains knowledge about every field of knowledge. To understand topics such as Newtonian mechanics, backcountry skiing, or cardio-thoracic surgery, we look outside of Scripture. However, the sufficiency of Scripture does mean that Scripture amply outfits us to apply wisdom and ethics in fields such as Newtonian mechanics, backcountry skiing, and cardio-thoracic surgery, in a manner pleasing to God. Further, all knowledge claims are subject to Scripture. If assertions from a field of knowledge contradict an assertion of Scripture, we submit to the authority of God.

God’s word does not tell us who to marry, what job to take, or into what church we should immerse. However, Scripture amply equips us to discern principles on what type of person to marry, what job to take, and how to find a New Testament kind of church pleasing to God. Though Scripture does not feature the word “transgender,” for example, it has infallible wisdom on the issue. In that sense, Scripture is sufficient.

The sufficiency of Scripture means that we must not go beyond biblical teaching. For example, it is correct to say that parents are commanded to raise their children in the things of Christ (Eph. 6:4). However, it is a functional denial of Scripture’s sufficiency to say, “Parents are sinning if they do not homeschool their children.” To make a matter of a conscience or preference a “must” is to breach the sufficiency of Scripture by mandating something that the Bible does not.

The Bible on Its Own Sufficiency

Throughout redemptive history, God has testified to the sufficiency of his own word.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).

“[F]rom childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3).

These verses expressly declare the sufficiency of God’s word for things like salvation and life’s issues. We could go on to cite other passages, such as Deuteronomy 30:11-14Psalm 19:7-11Luke 16:31John 17:17Colossians 1:28-9, and Hebrews 4:12.

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