March 31, 2014

The Sufficiency of Scripture

If you want to write a bestselling Christian book, tell people about hidden truth that isn't in the Bible. Write about your trip to heaven. Write about the personal information that Jesus channeled to you during your time of listening. Give people something newer and fresher than the dull pages of their dusty Bibles. A quick look at the top selling books at Meijers or Walmart will confirm that these are the books that fly off the shelves.

What does it say about Christianity that these are our most popular books? I’m afraid it indicates that we are enamored with the novel. We are more interested in privileged information than in the public record of the Bible. Our attentions are more perked by fresh finds than old truths. 

In the early days of the church, the Gnostics were a major problem. The word “Gnostic” means “knowing ones.” The Gnostics taught that salvation came from receiving hidden wisdom. They believed they had secret, insider knowledge that was only known by the privileged few. Men and women were drawn to Gnosticism because they were attracted to the idea of getting the inside scoop. People in those days had the same tendencies as people today.

In contrast to this, I hope that you believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. The sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible contains everything we need to know to be saved and to live the Christian life. Everything that God meant to tell us for this age is written in the completed pages of Scripture. It is the full measure of revealed truth that God intends for humanity for this stage in redemptive history. Until Christ returns, it is all that we need.

There are no extra-biblical Easter eggs to go looking for. Scripture is enough.

Many of you will go camping this summer. If you go to a store to be outfitted for your camping trip and they have a sign in the window claiming they carry "Everything You Need!" then you shouldn't have to go to another store to buy something else for your trip. If they can give you everything you need, then you would be thoroughly equipped. If they didn’t have everything you need, then you wouldn’t be thoroughly equipped. With that in mind, think about what Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15-17:

…and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Paul tells Timothy that Scripture is able to make him thoroughly equipped for every good work. Timothy did not need revelation from another source to equip him thoroughly. Neither do we.
The sufficiency of Scripture does not mean that the Bible tells us everything there is to know about how to build nuclear reactors or how to remove someone’s appendix. However, it does mean that everything we need to know about God, salvation, and the Christian life is found in Scripture. It means that we don’t have to look to someone’s (very doubtful) trips to heaven for a secret glimpse behind the curtain. It means that we don’t have to buy someone’s book to get their secret knowledge. It means that we shouldn’t look for spiritual short-cuts. There are no divinely inspired Cliff-Notes for Scripture. There are no deleted scenes. It means that we don’t have to feel like “there’s gotta be something more.”
Satan will do anything he can to get us away from the Word of God. If he can make something else seem more interesting, more fresh, more authoritative, or easier... he will do it.

Years ago Rene Pache wrote this wisdom:

Why be tied to a book out of the past when one can communicate every day with the living God? But this is exactly the danger point. Apart from the constant control of written revelation, we soon find ourselves engulfed in subjectivity . . . Let each remind himself of the prohibition of taking anything away from Scripture or adding anything to it (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19). Almost every heresy and sect has originated in a supposed revelation or a new experience on the part of its founder, something outside the strictly biblical framework. 
James Montgomenry Boice once warned that the great issue of our day would not be the authority of Scripture, but its sufficiency. The alternative to the sufficiency of Scripture is the insufficiency of Scripture. Either you believe that Scripture is enough, or you will turn to other experiences and teachings to supplement it. 

Remember, God is omniscient. When the Holy Spirit inspired the words of Scripture, He knew exactly what we would need today—even in the 21st century. Our world didn’t catch Him by surprise.

Be satisfied with what God has chosen to reveal. He could have revealed more, but He didn't. God has His reasons for that.

My advice to you is to disregard books on trips to heaven, special messages, and secret wisdom. Don't give it a market. Don't be fascinated by novelty. Instead, appreciate all that God has revealed in Scripture. Read it! Read all of it. Meditate on it. Appreciate the fact that the Holy Spirit is with us to illuminate the truths that He had written down long ago. He makes it come alive to us and shows us how it applies, in glaring brilliance, to our lives today.

I hope you believe that Scripture is enough. I hope you are satisfied with the sufficiency of Scripture. 

Next up: The Perspicuity of Scripture

Others in this series: The Necessity of Scripture; The Authority of Scripture; The Inerrancy of Scripture

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