Posted by: forbygrace | May 15, 2009

Living out the Sufficiency of Scripture

What does it mean to say scripture is sufficient?  That we believe it?  That is without error?  That God commands us to heed it?  I would venture to guess most reading this post would say, “ah yes, I agree with all those points”.  The question I hope you ask though is: sufficient for what?  After all, we can probably make the argument that the Devil believes that the bible is without error and that God commands it to be followed.  What did the Devil use in tempting Christ?  The scripture!  Yet I fear today we are more likely to use the scripture in a manner like the old serpent did, than how it prescribed by Christ.

One of the pillars of the Protestant Reformation was Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone).  What the reformers were protesting was the Catholic Church’s practice of placing tradition, councils and the words of the Pope on an equal, and often superior, footing with the bible.  What was affirmed by the reformers was that the bible and it alone, was the final authority in all matters of Christian belief and practice.  I am reminded of Martin Luther’s meeting where before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms he was called to recant and responded:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.

I am particularly struck by the one thing; it was scripture which ruled his conscience.  So the question is does scripture rule the conscience of our churches today?  I don’t mean select biblical principles and promises.  Does the whole of scripture rule the heart and mind of the church? Paul tells Timothy: all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training up in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  This means that the same God that said “come unto me all that labor and are heavy laden” also said, “No man can come to me unless it is given him from above”.  It means the same Spirit who gives us the fruit of joy and peace also tells us that we who are born again are crucified with Christ.  The One who gives salvation as a free gift also commands us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  There is no disharmony in any passages of scripture–we are to heed them all, we are to teach them all.

What concerns me is a modern church leader that can carry on proclaiming with much enthusiasm that they are committed to all of scripture, that they believe it cover to cover; but at the same time, gloss over vital truths.  Why?  Because they happen to be hard to grasp?  Because they don’t want people to think God makes demands on them?  Because they think some topics are too divisive?  Because they want to be liked or have a large church?  If many in the church today won’t preach and teach on all of what scripture teaches, then maybe it’s time to get out the scissors and cut passages out of the bible.  If we want to be honest, then we either need to affirm all of scripture and teach all of scripture; or we need to have the guts to say we only affirm parts of scripture and then go on teaching in a way that seems right in our own eyes.

This is not a call for mere intellectual knowledge, but a greater knowledge of God that comes by diligent study of all his word.  His word is supremely sufficient to grow us up in the knowledge of God.  It was ignorance that Hosea spoke of when declaring: my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.  In Hosea’s day the priests were not teaching and the people were not seeking knowledge.  It was not that they did not have the light, but that they did not have a heart to come to the light. They shut their eyes to the light and God justly rejected them.  It is the same today for all who will not rightly rest in the sufficiency of scripture.  To pick and choose only parts of scripture to suit ones own agenda is to reject scripture.

It is my hope that the church today will return to its first love–that it will seek to know and teach on all that God has so lovingly given us in his word.

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