February 25, 2014

The Necessity of Scripture

Five Things I Hope You Believe are True about Scripture

Scripture has five very important characteristics: Necessity, Authority, Inerrancy, Sufficiency, and Perspicuity. If we put these attributes in a different order, you could remember them by the nifty acronym S.P.A.I.N.

Some of these five terms might already be familiar to you. On the other hand, you might think that the perspicuity of Scripture means the "sweatiness" of Scripture. Thankfully, you would be wrong on that. Perspicuity means the “clarity” of Scripture. Sure, you could take the easy way and just remember the word “clarity” instead, but (1) perspicuity is much more fun to say, and (2) you then couldn’t use the nifty acronym S.P.A.I.N.

1. The NECESSITY of Scripture

The necessity of Scripture means that Scripture is necessary for salvation and for an adequate knowledge of God and His will. 

Knowing God. Yes, there are some things that we can know about God from general revelation—God’s creation (Rm. 1:19-21; Ps. 19:1-6). However, this information is incomplete and unclear compared to the fuller knowledge that we receive from Scripture. God has wired us so that we can look at nature and realize that there must be a powerful God, but we can’t look at a mountain and know that God is a Trinity and that Jesus is the God-man who died on the cross as the substitute for all those who would trust in Him alone for salvation. Truths like that require God’s special revelation in Scripture.

We need to remember that revelation is not the same as discovery. Imagine that there is a mystery object hidden under a heavy lead box. You can’t know what the object is unless the box is taken off. That is what revelation means. The Hebrew word galah means “to make naked, reveal, disclose.” Likewise, the Greek word apocalypto means “unveiling, to take the cover off.” It isn’t as if we discover these truths by our own power. We certainly don't create them. These truths exist, but there is no way we can access them unless God takes the initiative to reveal them to us.

Knowing God's Will. Scripture is necessary to accurately know God’s moral will. Yes, thankfully, people have a basic awareness of right and wrong because God has given us a conscience (Rm.  2:14-15). Unfortunately, as sinners our consciences do not always point north. This is especially true when we sin repeatedly and cause our consciences to become calloused or seared (1 Tm. 4:2). As Robert Gagnon has noted, “Human passions are notoriously unreliable indicators of God's will." Even more, the prophet Jeremiah has warned us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9) Contrary to the message of most Disney princess movies, following your heart is often a terrible idea.

Salvation. Scripture is especially necessary for salvation. One of the clearest passages where this is taught is Romans 10:13-15. The Apostle Paul writes:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 

Paul’s logic here is that no one can call on the Lord to be saved unless they believe, and no one can believe unless they first hear the message of salvation. And for that to happen, someone has to tell it to them. 


If people could be saved without hearing the Gospel message, then Paul’s logic makes no sense. The truth is, people need God’s Word to be saved. Paul drives this home in verse 17 when he writes, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Spiritual Life. Finally, Scripture is also necessary for spiritual health and growth. The Bible is not an optional aid. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Food is not optional and neither is God’s Word. If you are anorexic when it comes to Scripture, you should not be shocked when you realize that you are weak and malnourished. That’s what happens when you starve yourself from something that is necessary.



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