The Bible is sufficient for the purpose God gave it. It is concerned with our redemption. But it is not only concerned with our redemption. It is also concerned with God’s glory and our faith and life. Paul also tells us that what is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). If we study the molecular structure of plastic or participate in a political election without taking into consideration what it means to do these things as Christians or what it means to do these activities for God’s glory we sin and further rob God of his glory.
The Protestant Reformation declared that the Scriptures displayed four perfections: authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency. When we say that the Scriptures are sufficient we mean that God has given us all that we need to know for salvation and life. The Westminster Confession of Faith, while written more than one hundred years after the initiation of the Reformation, well encapsulates this precious insight that we have inherited from the Reformers:
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 consequence 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 (WCF 1.6).
The Westminster divines expressly note that the Scriptures are sufficient and do not need to be augmented by either new revelations or merely human traditions.
We need to remember that Scripture, which we often refer to as special revelation, is one-half of the whole of revelation. God has also given us natural revelation of himself in creation and providence (Romans 1:18-32, 2:15). These two forms of revelation (in distinction from our understanding of them) sweetly comply. Cornelius Van Til has even reminded us that the four perfections of Scripture equally apply to natural revelation as well. Neither natural revelation nor special revelation were ever meant to function in isolation from each other. From the beginning of history, they have interacted. God impressed his own character and his moral expectations on the human heart and he spoke to Adam, prohibiting him from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). Since the fall, however, special revelation takes the precedence over natural revelation because of our propensity to ignore and suppress natural revelation.
Having said this, we need to consider what the divines have told us. The whole counsel of God has been given us for God’s glory and man’s salvation. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells to do all things to God’s glory. The immediate context is the proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Clearly, Paul was concerned that the church observe the Lord’s Supper according to biblical standards and with sincere hearts. But surely the implications of Paul’s words go beyond that circumscribed concern. That brings us to the heart of the matter. Everything is related to God and his glory (and our salvation) either directly or indirectly. The Bible does not tell us the particular molecular structure of plastic, neither does it tell us the particular person to vote for in a political election. These are not directly germane to the main focus of Scripture. But they are indirectly related to that main focus. If the way we eat and drink the elements of bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper can bring God glory, so then too can the way we understand the molecular structure of plastic or who we vote for in elections. In other words, God is concerned with these things in the broader scheme of things even if they are not the direct target of his special revelation.