Volume. XXXIV, No. 51
Sunday, 21 June 2020


From the Pastor’s Heart: Sufficiency of Scripture


I am planning to write a few articles about things that we need to review and to recommit to.  The first topic I chose is the sufficiency of Scripture.  This particular doctrine has been understood only doctrinally too often, resulting in a dichotomy between doctrine and practice.  We have, for too long, thought that what matters is a confession of the sufficiency of Scripture, which is founded on the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  Thus, as long as we are confessional believers of the Bible, we are sound in faith.  However, this dichotomy has led too many believers to become practical deniers of the Scriptures, while subscribing to the Bible.  They confess that they believe the Bible as God’s Word, but they do not live by it.  In other words, the Bible is not sufficient for all of their needs.

 

I would say that it is a practical denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.  In order to see the problem with it, let me go back to the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6, which says, “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 new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

 

Without adding any explanations to this confession, I am going to say the sufficiency of Scripture means that God has given us the Scriptures to be the rule for our lives.  In other words, the Bible is the supreme authority for our lives.  You must notice that I even did not mention salvation, because I affirm and believe that the saving faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  Thus, the Bible is essential for us to know of God and to believe in Jesus Christ. 

My focus now is on the Bible as the supreme rule for our lives.  Listen to Paul from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”  The purpose of the Bible is not only to save us but also to equip us to be perfect, complete (ESV), or adequate (NASB) for every good work.  In other words, the Bible is for our learning, correcting, and training in righteousness.  The Bible teaches us manners of life and moulds our character according to the image of God. 

 

For too long, we have given ourselves to fight the battle for the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible, and its inerrancy and infallibility.  Thus, we are ready to rise up again to fight another battle for the doctrine.  However, my proposition today is about the sufficiency of the Bible for everything including our daily living and manners of life.  Does the Bible have sufficient authority for the whole of my life and yours? 

 

The sufficiency of the Bible does not mean that it gives us manuals of everything from how to cook to how to build a house.  When I spoke about the sufficiency of the Bible with someone many years ago, he told me that he could not believe what I had to say, because the Bible is not simply sufficient for everything.  For example, he said that there is no record in the Bible that Jesus used a toilet!  He argued that if the Bible were sufficient, then there should be everything including how to use toilets.  His words made me speechless for a few seconds.  He was an intelligent person otherwise, and he gave a toilet example to defeat my presupposition that the Bible is sufficient for all. 

 

The sufficiency of the Bible means, according to Sinclair B. Ferguson, “Everything I need to learn in order to live to the glory of God and enjoy Him forever I will find in the application of Scripture.”  Let me quote from him a bit more.  “Yet this narrow focus broadens out into everything.  For one thing, Scripture teaches us something about everything.  Since the Bible gives us grounds for believing we live in a universe, Christians understand that everything has the characteristic of createdness, of derivativeness, and also that everything fits into the grand design of God.  So Scripture is sufficient to give me a rational ground for thinking about anything and everything on the assumption that this world and everything in it make sense.  Further, no matter what my calling or abilities, the Scriptures are sufficient to teach me principles that will enable me to think and act in a God-honouring way when I am engaged in any activity or vocation.”   

 

The biblical worldview is based on the Bible, while the secular worldview is based on humanistic ideas.  Unfortunately, many churches are run by the secular worldview instead of the biblical worldview because church leaders themselves do not understand the biblical worldview nurtured by believing and practicing the sufficiency of Scripture.  As a result, they run their churches like their secular organizations, their business models, or companies.  Mega-churches are hiring secular business consultants to find their models for worship styles, evangelism, or missions.  In particular, the “church growth movement” of the 1980s and 1990s was detrimental to Christian churches in my mind.  When the leaders of our church are not filled with the Spirit of God and do not have a biblical worldview, they will lead us to deny the “sufficiency of Scripture.”  They must be the men of the Bible.  

We have heard about “seeker friendly churches” for the last two to three decades.  Paul Washer aptly says, “the church ought to recognize there is only one Seeker.  His name is God! - and if you want to be friendly to someone, if you want to accommodate someone, accommodate Him and His glory, even if it is rejected by everyone else.”  What he has to say must be true, if we are called to glorify God.  After all, church is a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9). 

 

If we apply the conviction of the sufficiency of the Bible to ourselves, we must become the people of the Word and obedient to its commandments.  Whatever the Bible says will have the supreme authority over us, and we will have a fear of trespassing the instructions of the Bible.  At this point, I need to bring your attention to the danger of exchanging the sufficiency of the Scriptures for incorrect interpretations.  When we interpret the Bible, often we use traditions (our culture, experiences, feelings, conveniences, biased opinions…).  Traditions are a lens through which the Bible is interpreted, by which traditions become the supreme authority.  This mistake has led the Church of Rome into errors.  Jews have made the same mistake.  For example, Jesus rebuked them in Mark 7:6-13.  They kept the commandments of God by keeping them in accordance with traditions.  As a result, they rejected the commandments of God by holding unto the traditions of man.  Verse 13 says, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”  The sufficiency of the Bible demands our absolute surrender to its authority over all things. 

 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

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Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Church in-person & virtual Sunday Worship Service & other activities in the past week.
  • For further restrictions lifting & God’s wisdom & guidance to the government in managing the crisis.

 

Prayer

  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others who are sick.
  • Session Meeting this afternoon.
  • University students having exams.
  • COVID-19 virus – for God’s grace & mercy; for health care workers; for God’s continuing guidance & wisdom to the government in managing the crisis; for those affected physically, mentally & financially.
  • Missions – Sis Ang Liang Phua & family; Filadelfia B-P Church, orphanage, kindergarten & primary school (Batam).

 

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063