We have arrived at the final part of the Doctrine of the Bible in the Simplified Systematic Theology series. I hope that you walk away equipped and ready to learn more. I didn’t cover all of it, so I urge you to check my sources I used. Now, let’s look at why the Scriptures are good enough.
What is the sufficiency of Scripture?
It means that the Bible has everything in it that He intended at that point of redemptive history. You can see it building up towards something or in our case, someone, Jesus. Now it has everything we need for salvation, trusting God, and obeying Him. (2 Timothy 3:15-16; James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23)
Why is it important that the Bible is sufficient?
So that we can find all that God has said on a topic. It allows us to focus on just one book, rather than everything written in the last 2,000 years. Think about what it’s like to look for answers in a bookstore, who do you pick, how, and do they even know what they’re talking about?
We can also collect the important doctrinal passages to see what they say about salvation, Jesus, and so on.
Does this mean that God cannot add to the words He’s already spoke?
No, it means that man can’t add any more words. The sufficiency of Scripture implies that God doesn’t need to speak any more words than what we already have.
How can we understand the process?
This helps us understand God’s progressive revelation, how it’s enough now, but later reveals more. It’s God who takes the initiative on what to or not to reveal (Deuteronomy 29:29) at each stage of history for His people to study, hear, and obey. (See How Did We Get The Bible?)
It started with the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah or the Law), and that was good enough. Then God started speaking through the prophets as he worked through history, revealing Israel’s fate, and the coming Messiah. This became the rest of Scripture in the OT, called the Prophets, followed by 400 years of silence. And that was good enough.
Then Jesus was born, died, rose again, and ascended. This, along with the foundation of the early church as recorded in the New Testament, formed the last central act of redemptive history. It’s capped by the book of Revelation. Everything of relevance has occurred, or been laid out, nothing further is needed.
How do we know that the principle of the sufficiency of Scripture hasn’t changed?
In the time of Moses:
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.
See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.
The time of King Solomon:
Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
The last book of the Apostle John:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
It’s remained the same.
How does the doctrine of Scriptural sufficiency apply to me?
To encourage you to see what God says or would have you do about an issue or situation because no other book carries the same weight as the Bible.
It’s a reminder that all we need to know about God and His redemptive work is all found in the Bible. We don’t have to search for it. It also protects us from so-called modern revelations of God.
If it doesn’t match what is already said, then it’s not of God. Anything else isn’t on an equal level to Scripture.
In living the Christian life, we can know that unless it’s explicitly or implied as sin, we’re fine. Nor is anything extra required of us that isn’t clearly laid out or implied.
For teachers like me or preachers, it reminds us that in doctrinal or ethical teaching, we should focus on what the Bible focuses on, and be content with it.
That is it for the Doctrine of the Bible. Next month we begin to look at the Doctrine of God.
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Chapter 8: The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (4) Sufficiency