Whether in Bible studies or in writing, I’ve often seen Christians functionally equate Scripture and personal experience when it comes to issues of sufficiency. The danger of this approach is that it says, “Scripture is sufficient in every way,” but then adds “My feelings matter too.” And this cause problems in our view of growth in Christian life and service. Going back to the example of trials, I’ve been told by many Christians the Lord is distant from them—yet the Scripture teaches the Lord is near (Psalm 145).
Scripture’s sufficiency means that God’s Word is reliable and trustworthy for the faith and practice of the people of God (2 Peter 1:3). Our view on this point affects how we read and interpret the Bible. I have often heard Christians in Bible studies ask, “What does this verse mean to you?” That question gets my attention, because there’s a difference between explaining what the text genuinely means and what I feel the text means. Rather than asking, “What does this text mean to you?”, we should ask, “What does this text teach?” or even, “How should I interpret this verse?”
Reading and studying the Bible is not concerned with what we feel the text may mean, but rather what the biblical text actually says and teaches. Every biblical text has a meaning and purpose, which is why every Christian must study Scripture diligently to know it and to conform to its truth (2 Timothy 2:15; Romans 8:28). The “felt needs” approach to biblical interpretation is dangerous, because it reveals the presupposition that feeling lies at the same level of biblical truth.