Feb9TueFebruary 9, 2016
There is a story of a rector in the church of England who believed it was his duty in the Sunday sermon to point out all the various problems with believing that the Bible was the Word of God and without error. It was all very learned and quite in keeping with the scholarship of the time. Learned as it was however the people began to lag in their church attendance. After a time most of them were not coming at all.
It may be a very unpopular thing today to base one’s life on the Bible but for me it is a very blessed and reassuring thing. All around us we see change and decay. The wisdom of man fails, his science and philosophy and psychology almost daily become out of date. Where are we to stand? The Bible.
A return to the Bible is the greatest need of the day. Unless the church turns to this authoritative Word of the sovereign God, unless the church is willing to hear the Word of God she will soon cease to be the church of the living God.
1) Bible is God’s Word – every part of it
2) Bible is Without Error – also incapable of error
3) Bible is Authoritative - When we begin with a right view of Scripture, the Bible itself ought to shape what we believe from start to finish. It should govern how we behave. It should frame our entire perspective on life.
Where we are going:
1) Bible trustworthy
2) Bible preaching
Just as we can describe the characteristics or attributes of God – self-existent, all-powerful, eternal, holy, truthful, and so forth – so we can rehearse the characteristics or attributes of Scripture – inerrant, authoritative, necessary, powerful, clear and sufficient.
The sufficiency of Scripture is under attack and sadly that attack comes far too often in our own churches. Church growth experts tell pastors they must look beyond the Bible for principles of leadership and success mostly gleaned from the business world. Psychologists claim the Bible is too simplistic to help people with complex emotional and psychological issues. Christian bookstores are full of books offering advice from sources other than the Bible on almost every conceivable subject. Churches all around the world have supplemented or altogether replaced the Bible with entertainment and ideas drawn from secular sources.
Is the Bible really sufficient to meet every problem of human life? Can it help my crumbling marriage? Can it help me with my anger? Can it help me make things right with a broken relationship? Can it help me at my workplace? Can it help me with retirement? Of course. It is sufficient.
2 Peter 1:3 – His divine calling has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.
It simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. The Scriptures speak to every area of personal and practical living. Yes, it tells us how to get to heaven but it also tells us how to make the journey until we get there. Nothing needs to be taught which it does not teach. Scripture gives us every truth we need for life and godliness.
The sufficiency of the Bible is that quality in which it contains all necessary revelation to know all that God has desired us to know, do all that God has desired for us to do, and be all that God has desired us to be. No further divine revelation is needed for Christians to know, serve, or be like God.
The Scriptures are sufficient for a specific God-given task: they reveal who God is, what we are to believe about him, and how we are to live in obedience to him.
WCF: 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 revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.
Contrary to what MANY are teaching today, there is no need for additional revelations, visions, words of prophecy, or insights. God’s Word is true and absolutely comprehensive.
Now all of that being said here is what it does not mean.
1) It does not mean that everything that can be known or that needs to be known on other subjects is in the Bible. If my car breaks down or I am trying to work out who committed the crime in a particularly complex whodunit, I will not find the answer in the Bible. Nor will I find discussion of human DNA, microbiology, the rules of Chinese grammar or rocket science.
2) It does not mean we should throw out extra-biblical materials such as historical confessions, church history, commentaries, etc. It doesn’t deny that other resources can be helpful be they creeds or commentaries or books or sermons. People say that all the time. “As a Christian I have the Holy Spirit. And I have his wonderful work of illumination. I don’t need commentaries, I don’t need to rely on the thoughts of others, I can go right to the source. I find that very odd. I find it very odd that someone who thinks so highly of what the Holy Spirit teaches him, thinks so little of what the Holy Spirit teaches others also. The Holy Spirit is not an individual gift but a corporate gift to the body of Christ and he has taught others, and uses others to teach us. So we should use bible commentaries, dictionaries, study guides, confessions. Don’t be arrogant and don’t think you have a corner on the market of the Holy Spirit – you don’t. We should learn from people God has appointed to teach the word, both in our generation and in the past. However we should be ready to make a break with it if it contradicts Scripture. The Bible is the ultimate authority. The ultimate standard for judging all other knowledge.
3) It does not mean that the Bible contains all theological truth.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 – “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
1 Peter 1:23 – “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Where does salvation come from? The Word of God! Salvation does not occur apart from the Word of God. It is foundational in our witness and evangelism. Building relational bridges is great but if you don’t ever cross that bridge with the Word of God it is pointless. Only the Word of God converts! Only the Word of God makes us wise for salvation.
James 1:18 says God “chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
Luke 16:31 – the parable of the rich man and Lazarus
The rich man’s perspective is the same view of many today who always seem to demand some kind of supernatural affirmation of spiritual truth. They don’t think Scripture alone is enough.
Not long after this Jesus did raise someone from the dead who bore witness to Jesus’ identity – another Lazarus. What was the reaction? They tried to kill both him and Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus himself rose from the dead but have most people believed?
These verses are a powerful warning against putting too much hope in signs and wonders as what will persuade people to believe in Jesus. The Word of God is more convincing than any miracle. Scripture is the Spirit’s tool in bringing people to repentance. Nothing but the Word of God converts sinners.
Hebrews 4:12 – 13
The Bible is alive. It is full of the very life of God Himself. Every other book is a dead book, devoid of life. But the Bible is alive, always relevant, never stagnant. Martin Luther said, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; It has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold on me.”
The Bible is active. It is energetic. It is always working. Always executing God’s sovereign purpose.
The Bible is sharp. The Bible can do what psychoanalysis can never do. It is sufficient to penetrate and lay bare the deepest part of a person's soul. It is able to cut deeply into the human soul. It is able to build up and tear down, comfort and afflict. It has no blunt side. When proclaimed it does not merely inflict surface scrapes or flesh wounds. It penetrates through a person façade. It reveals the depths of our inward depravity and need for saving grace. The Bible does not exist to stroke felt needs or tickle your ears. The living word cuts to the bone, all the way to your real needs, needs you don’t even know you have.
So as Christians we must cleave to this book. We must take our stand on this solid, unchanging rock of His eternal truth. We must preach it to the ends of the earth. The great majority of the world is unconcerned with this books and its message. They are held fast in the grip of indifference thinking life is bound up in possessions, money, entertainment, etc. Most people live day to day with no reflection at all on the great issues of life. We must preach the Word for it alone has the power to convict human hearts, exposing sin and revealing one’s true need for God and grace. There is a day coming when God will by no means clear the guilty. There is a day coming when we must stand before him in judgment. Don’t wait until that day for it will be to late. Submit to God’s Word today and be made alive with its message of life and hope in Christ. God is king. He reigns. He has spoken. His word is truth. Listen to him. Believe upon His Son, the Word in the flesh. Repent of your sin, receive in saving faith Him who died on the cross and rose again. Trust in Christ.
The Bible is not merely a message from God about how we can go to heaven. It also reveals to us God’s will for how he desires us to live. The Bible contains everything we need to know to be spiritually mature. It contains everything we need to live a stable, balanced and effective life for God.
Could God have stated more clearly the sufficiency of His Word? What more could he have said to get across to us the message?
1) Christians should reject all writings that claim to be additions to the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, because such addendums – e.g., the Apocrypha of the Catholic Church’s Old Testament, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Book of Mormon – violate the sufficiency of Scripture by adding to it.
2) Christians should not be looking over their shoulder wondering if more truth is out there to be discovered. Let me save you some time. The next time the History channel has a show or Time Magazine has an article purporting to have found a new gospel or lost book of the Bible you can just ignore it. It is baloney. Furthermore, the next time someone publishes a book saying they went to heaven and God told them to write it down and share it with the world or they went to hell and came back to tell us you can say to them what Jesus said in his parable – We have the Word of God. It is enough. Your book is malarkey. It is absurd. It is drivel. It is a waste. We don’t need any more inspired words. We don’t need any more special revelation. If you can’t find it anywhere between Genesis to Revelation don’t bother saying it. I once heard a well-known tv preacher say “God told me Mitt Romney would win the presidency.” Why would anyone believe that?
3) The focus of our search for God’s will ought to be on Scripture not in dreams or visions or so called messages from God. If you want to know God’s will, pick up the Bible and study it. The Bible is not mute when it comes to emotional problems, marital struggles, personal and interpersonal conflicts. When these situations arise we do not need to turn to human wisdom. God’s Word has real solutions to real problems in life. IT can handle the hard cases. But few people seem to believe this. When the authority of the Bible steps into the arena of one’s career, his personal habits, his psychological concepts, his finances, his marriage and family, his sports, or the way he deals with conflict, then, suddenly, the Holy Scripture is considered of little value and minimized, it not eliminated out of hand. After all, our friend reasons, what does the Bible have to say about such things? The answer: everything. Our friend retorts, 'It is an ancient book full of nice stories and good proverbs, suitable for worship services and funerals, but it has no reasonable bearing on everyday life, does it?' The answer: the Bible, through the power of the Holy Spirit, says that it can absolutely transform our lives - every aspect of them. That is Romans 12:2 right and that is our mission statement as a church. Do we believe this? And how does Romans 12:2 say we are transformed? By the renewing of our minds. Renewed by what? Scripture! Such renewal is possible only as the Word of God penetrates our minds and hearts. The Scriptures, then, stand ready and able to expose and correct all of our former conformity to the world system and its way of interacting with life. And, by the same token, they stand ready and able to teach us how to live and to train us in the right path. When Scripture is viewed in this way it becomes the indispensable power and wisdom of God to direct us in every area. The Word is not just adequate for church services, funerals and occasional pick-me-ups. It is adequate for everything, from child-rearing to job selection, to investments, to tragedies and loss. The Bible is every bit at home in the workplace, in the hospital and on the basketball court as it is as a church service. This becomes obvious when we observe that, immediately following the command to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, Paul launches into application relating to the most practical everyday issues: serving one another (Rom. 12:3-8), dealing with people (Rom. 12:9-13), handling difficulties and conflict (Rom. 12:14-21), attitude and behavior with regard to government (Rom. 13:1-7), loving one another (Rom. 13:8-10), moral behavior (Rom. 13:11-14), relating to those who embrace different opinions from our own (Rom. 14:1-15:6). This represents just a sampling of the many areas in which the Scripture brings our thinking into conformity with God's. I would venture to say that the Bible speaks to every issue in our lives either directly or through principles. The problem is while God’s Word claims to be sharper than any two-edged sword we keep it in its sheath. We don’t read it and much less do we obey it especially when it interferes with our preconceived ideas and notions. Pledge yourself exclusively to seek God and His will according to Scripture. Pray only for light to understand Scripture. Set yourself to seeking and being in a church that emphatically teaches the Bible as if it were what it says it is, that devotes itself to the exposition and proclamation and practice of Scripture as God’s inerrant word, with the endless distractions of entertainment and fads. Devote yourself to studying Scriptures, all 66 book. Set yourself to master every book, every chapter, every verse, every word. At the same time, commit yourself to practicing Scripture. All of it. Master it and be mastered by it.