Living Theology #6 – The Necessity of Scripture

by Garrett Glende

As we continue our overview of systematic theology, we come to the topic of the necessity of Scripture. It is the third of what Wayne Grudem calls the “characteristics of Scripture” (the first two being authority and clarity). He says that “the necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but it is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws.” Basically, we need special revelation from God in order to be saved, to grow, and to know God’s will, but not to know that He exists or to feel conviction of sin.

“How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?,” asks Paul in Romans 10. Is it possible for one to believe in Christ if they have never heard of Him? We assume that Paul expects an answer of, “they cannot.” The sinner needs to be told of Christ in order to place any sort of saving faith in Him, but where does this information come from? There is no other true message of salvation apart from what is revealed about Christ in the Bible. Christ alone is the mediator between God and man and salvation is found in no one else but Him (1 Tim. 2:5, Acts 4:12). Scripture is clear that the only way to salvation is through a knowledge of the gospel that it reveals – the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need God to illuminate our hearts to this knowledge and the way that He does this is through His inspired word.

Moreover, we need Scripture in order to know God’s will. Grudem writes, “If there were no written Word of God, we could not gain certainty about God’s will through other means such as conscience, advice from others, an internal witness of the Holy Spirit, changed circumstances, and the use of sanctified reasoning.” Certainly these are able to give estimations of God’s will, but they cannot bring about any sense of certainty. We can suppress what God has written on our hearts and ignore the wise counsel of others, leading us to doubt that a certain course of action is truly God’s will. But the Bible does give us a reliable source to turn to when dealing with this issue. We need it to know with certainty anything regarding God’s will. God has revealed His law to us through His word so that we would walk in obedience to it. More will be said on this issue when we get to chapter 13.

Finally, we need Scripture to maintain our spiritual health. When being tempted by Satan in the wilderness Jesus said that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Our wellbeing is directly tied to the amount of God’s word that we are taking in. Just like our physical health is dependent on the proper intake of food, our spiritual health will fluctuate in accordance with our digestion of Scripture. We are told to have the word of God dwell richly in us, so that we can worship as a corporate body (Colossians 3:16). The milk that is the word of God needs to be what our lives depend on so that we would be walking well in the Lord, carrying out His will, and increasing in personal holiness.

However, the Bible is clear that man is able to perceive things about God apart from what He has revealed in Scripture itself. This is what is called general revelation. Romans 1:19-20 speaks of man’s knowledge of the Creator, stating that “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. ” Creation itself attests to the existence of its creator, as the psalmist writes that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). This evidence allows even fallen man to comprehend some attributes about God such as His greatness, power, and beauty. God has also graciously given all men a conscience that speaks to their hearts about what is right and wrong. Part of being made in God’s image is that we are able to discern such things, but our hearts have been stained with sin and we are not always able to see moral issues clearly. Thus, although we have been given some general revelation about God and His law, we must still be supplied with special revelation in order to come to a true saving knowledge of Him.

What does this all mean for the Christian today? I want to specifically focus on the aspect of God’s Word as the source of our spiritual health. It’s so easy for us to get down spiritually and to not know where to go to “get better.” So often we get stuck in a rut so to speak, and can’t seem to find any way out. A tempting thing to do is to look elsewhere for some new experience that might “light a new flame.” But has our sanctification ever been about finding the newest, trendiest cure-all? No, the work of the Holy Spirit in illuminating the truths of Scripture to our hearts has always been what has caused our growth. God’s word is always the only true source of encouragement when we are struggling. We should always have a steady intake of Scripture, especially when we aren’t doing well, so that our relationship with God will become all the more intimate. We need not look elsewhere for a remedy for our sin or for daily sustenance than the Bible.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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