The Attributes of Scripture 3; The Bible is Sufficient

This series is all about the attributes of Scripture, and the Bible is all that we need.

Grudem, in his brilliant Systematic Theology, summarises this in the following:

“…[Scripture] contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.”

The sufficiency of the Bible is probably the fiddliest doctrine in this series of blog posts. It’s also probably the attribute of Scripture in which we’re most likely to see a disconnect in what we believe and what we do.

Hebrews 1:1-4 has this to say:

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.”

In Jesus, we have full and final redemption; “buying back”. In verse 3, we see that Jesus provided “purification for sins”. All of us, before we became Christians, had rejected the relationship with God that he had offered us. He was (rightly) angry with us.

But the staggering scandal of the gospel is that he loved us too. In fact, he loved us so much that he sent Jesus to be our substitute.

We come off the pitch, Jesus comes on.

On the cross, God’s wrath pours out on the perfect Jesus rather than the sinful us. Because of this great exchange, all who accept the living Jesus as Lord and Saviour have this purification for sins. Having provided this purification, “he sat down”.

Done. Full and final redemption.

But in Jesus, we also have full and final revelation. Look at verses 1 and 2. In the Bible, God speaks about his story of redemption; how he’s going to buy back a rebellious people to be his own to live with him in the New Creation. The outstanding Words of Life by Timothy Ward has this to say:

“An action of God can be appropriately described both by saying that God’s Word has performed an action for which he sent it, and saying that God himself has performed the action. God speaking and God acting are often one and the same thing.”

So, God speaking is intimately tied to God redeeming. The “in these last days he has spoken to us by Son” from verse 2 means that everything that needs to be said has been said through Jesus’s actions.

Done. Full and final revelation.

Now, the Bible might not tell us everything that we want to know.

What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? What about the dinosaurs? Human responsibility and God being sovereign; how does that work?

However, Scripture does tell us everything about what matters most, and gives us everything that we need so that we can do everything in a way pleasing to God.

“Amen brother!” I hear you say. But. When we channel this doctrine into our everyday walk with Jesus, things may well get challenging. I think that DeYoung expresses the problem most penetratingly:

“We can say all the right things about the Bible, and even read it regularly, but when life gets difficult, or just a bit boring, we look for new words, new revelation, and new experiences to bring us closer to God…If we could only have something more than the Scriptures, then we would be really close to Jesus and know his love for us.”

Wow.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the false teaching threatening the church is that to be a proper Christian, we need the gospel and something else.

Are we tempted?

Maybe in our age the Colossian temptation emerges from neglecting what Scripture is there for, and the riches on offer. Pastor and writer John Piper says:

“…right thinking about God exists for the sake of right feelings for God — in that order. Logic exists for the sake of love. Reasoning exists for the sake of rejoicing. Doctrine exists for the sake of delight. Reflection about God exists for affection for God. The head is meant to serve the heart. Knowing the truth is the basis of admiring the truth.”

The more we read the Bible, the more that we love it. We come to delight in the themes, the poetry, the shadows and types of Jesus, the unfolding storyline, the glorious promises God makes. All of which points to the beautiful God who speaks through Scripture about Jesus.

Jesus is all we need. Scripture tells us all we need to know about Jesus. Scripture is all we need.

Let’s carve out time to sit in a quiet room, tea in hand, and meditate on whether we handle these life-giving words in this way.

Suggested reading

Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung; for those wanting to know more about how to handle the Bible.

Dig Deeper, Andrew Sach and Nigel Beynon; for those wanting to know more about how to handle the Bible.

Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem. “Part 1: The Doctrine of the Word of God”; for those wanting something meaty.

Words of Life, Timothy Ward; for those wanting something meaty.

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/fuel-for-the-furnace/excerpts/god-made-your-head-to-serve-your-heart ; referenced above.

https://tom00908.wixsite.com/readforrelationship ; for those wanting a general idea of what might be useful to read.