WHAT IS THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE?

by | Apr 13, 2021 | 300SOT

What do we need God to tell us?

The Word of God gives us everything God wants us to know. This is called the sufficiency of Scripture. All the words that God wants you to have when it comes to salvation, and trusting Him, and obeying Him are found in the Bible. That’s why in 2 Timothy 3, Paul could tell Timothy that it’s Scripture that makes us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 

Notice how Paul continues as he gets to telling Timothy what Scripture is sufficient for. After he says that the purpose of God breathing out Scripture for reproof, correction, and training in righteousness is so that men and women of God “may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Every good work! Scripture is enough to tell you how to be saved and how to obey, trust, and serve God. It has all the words from God you need! 

So maybe you’re thinking, “Well, who would have a problem with this?” Anyone? You bet! How about charismatics who believe in new revelation in the form of modern-day prophecy? Or how about the Mormons with their Book of Mormon? Or Christian Scientists with the writings of Mary Baker Eddy? 

Considering anything equal to or above Scripture is wrong. And this is why Roman Catholic’s view on tradition is wrong. The Roman Catholic church believes their tradition carries authority equal to Scripture. Scripture doesn’t say anything about the immaculate conception, papal infallibility, or the assumption of Mary. These are traditions of the Roman Catholic church that views Scripture as insufficient. For them—Scripture requires these traditions—these customs. And as the ancient Christian theologian, Tertullian, cleverly said, “Our Lord called Himself Truth not Custom” (1:483). 

But Tertullian already had a turn as our featured theologian, so this week it’s Cyprian. Before his conversion to Christianity, Cyprian of Carthage was a wealthy and influential man in society. He sold all his possessions and became a bishop. He ministered during a time of severe persecution and was eventually beheaded for refusing the Roman emperor’s order to make sacrifices to the gods. But I point to him as a man who deeply respected the Word of God. Cyprian pointed to passages like Matthew 15:9 and said, “Now hold on just a minute!” In that passage, Jesus had something to say to the Pharisees and scribes about their traditions. He borrowed some words from Isaiah to describe them:  This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’ (Matt 15:8–9). And Cyprian said this:

Custom without truth is the antiquity of error (1:483). 

Tale as old as time, mankind’s temptation has been to say that Scripture is insufficient. It’s not quite enough. Yet God says His Word is sufficient. It is enough. And this does more for you than you probably realize. Everything God wants to say to us is in the Bible. He doesn’t tell us everything we might want to know. But whatever problem or decision or question you’re wrestling with—you can take heart that God has given you everything you need to know from Him on that matter. And here’s something else. If Scripture is sufficient (and it is) then everything God requires you to believe about Him is in Scripture. 

Every doctrine He wants us to believe is in Scripture. Either explicitly (like the virgin birth) or implicitly (like the Trinity). And since Scripture is sufficient, God doesn’t require anything of you that’s not commanded in Scripture. What He requires of us is everything He has explicitly commanded and implied in Scripture. I say implied because Scripture doesn’t specifically address every possible detail of life. But God has given us the ability to reason and make logical deductions.

The Bible doesn’t say anything about following the speed limit. But it does tell us to submit to our government authorities in Romans 13. Therefore we can use logic responsibly to deduce that it is wrong to break the speed limit. That’s just being biblical and logical. 

So what do we need God to tell us? He’s told us everything He wants us to have in the Bible. It contains all the words from God we need for every area of life (220–231).

 

Brent Niedergall

Pastor, Grammarian, Runner

Brent Niedergall, MDiv, is Associate Pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. He’s gone to war in Afghanistan, felled towering trees, and parsed Greek verbs.

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Brent Niedergall