Living Theology #7 – The Sufficiency of Scripture

by Garrett Glende

We now come to the final Characteristic of Scripture: its sufficiency. To say that Scripture is sufficient is to trust in its usefulness for all areas that it addresses. Grudem defines the doctrine in his own terms:

“The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.”

This is not to say that the Bible is some sort of encyclopedia, capturing all the knowledge available to us, but rather that it is sufficient for the matters it addresses, mainly knowing and obeying God. The Bible is not sufficient for a calculus education, but it is for salvation. Sola Scriptura, a proclamation of the reformers, gets to the heart of what this means. Scripture alone is the source of God’s word and it is enough for us to come to know Him and obey Him in light of the gospel of grace revealed to us.

Scripture itself attests to its sufficiency in bringing about an understanding of salvation as well as how to live and grow in sanctification once saved. Paul makes it clear to Timothy that the word of God as revealed in Scripture is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Peter also declares that Christians have been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). The words found in the Bible, the very words of God, are the only way to enlighten hearts to salvation. Any other method claiming a path to salvation is insufficient. Every other religious text falls short in its claims, both in truth and efficacy. The word of God as revealed in Scripture stand tall above the sacred writings of Islam, Buddhism, and the cultic offering of the Mormons. It needs no additional laws from Rome. Salvation is found in no one but Christ, whose holy word is brought forth through the pages of Scripture.

Scripture is also sufficient for our growth as Christians and for perfect obedience to our Lord. Psalm 119:1 declares, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” The Law is referring to God’s word revealed to His people so that they might live lives pleasing to Him, thus the psalmist is saying that people are able to be blessed and blameless by walking according to what Scripture says. God truly has given us all that we need for life and godliness, especially through His word, inspired by Him so “that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). This section (verses 15-17) describes the absolute adequacy of the Bible’s revelation for the Christian and leaves us confident that we need not look elsewhere for instruction.

But how often do we go to another source of wisdom? The world goes to Oprah and Dr. Phil, but surely this is not where the Christian finds his or her guidance – or is it? How many of us ignore what God has spoken and carry on in the ways of the world? There should be no competition in our hearts or minds between the words of the world’s counselors and the word of God, as it is sufficient to guide us in obedience to Him. If Scripture is not our guide for our daily decisions then we are demonstrating that we don’t believe that it is sufficient. This is not to say that there is no room for practical considerations, but the principles that the Bible lays out for us are enough to make God glorifying choices.

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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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