The Scriptures are Sufficient

One of the central tenets of Protestant Christianity is the sufficiency of Scripture. Sufficient for what? They are not sufficient in learning how to tie one’s shoes. Nor are they useful in teaching you how to make an excellent quiche. So, what do I mean? Theologian John Frame explains Scripture’s sufficiency in this way, “Scripture is sufficient not to provide all manner of information but to provide God’s authoritative words.”

When we handle the idea, teaching, or doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture, we are recognizing that what God has revealed in the Bible is enough. This word is difficult for us. When dealing with things we enjoy, we have a hard time knowing when we have had enough. As children, we’d hoist our arms up to the counter to grab one more cookie, and then we’d hear, “You’ve had enough!” We always have a difficult time saying we’ve had enough to enjoyable things, but in matters we don’t enjoy it is certainly easy. It is easy for us to say at a gym, “I’ve done enough.” It can be sometimes difficult to determine precisely when enough is enough.

What about the Bible? Is it enough?

As Christians, when we come to the Bible, we want to approach it on its own terms. We are not seeking to thrust ourselves upon it and turn it into a wax nose to do and say whatever we please. Instead, we come as disciples praying, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)

What does the Bible tell us about itself?

The first thing we ought to notice is that God warns us to not tamper with His Word in both the Old and New Testament. Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.” (ESV) Puritan Bible commentator, Matthew Poole, helps us to understand what is implied when we desire to tamper with God’s Word. Poole wrote these words from God’s perspective, “by devising other doctrines or ways of worship than what I have taught or prescribed… to accuse me of want [that is a lack] of wisdom or care or faithfulness in not giving you sufficient instructions for my own service.”

Although Poole’s comments are with reference to Deuteronomy in particular, its application reflects the entirety of Scripture. We find the same sentiments in the very last book of the Bible. The book of Revelation warns likewise, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19 ESV)

There is a warning attached to the Word of God which we are not accustomed to. Why a warning? Aren’t these supposed to be the words of life? Yes! It is precisely for that reason that this Word comes with a warning. Our indifference to the sufficiency of the Word of God is not an indifferent matter. It is a rejection of its author. It is the act of ignorant child protesting against a parent for giving them precisely that which they need.

Let me say it plainly: the Bible is precisely what you need today. The Scriptures are sufficient to show us God’s way of salvation. Sufficiency means that we don’t need another source of revelation, whether it be by a so-called prophet or even an angel. We don’t need a neon billboard or an audible voice. The Scriptures judge every tradition and does not stand as another authority alongside of them. The Scriptures are likewise capable of speaking on every matter by general principle. Apologist Cornelius Van Til wrote, “The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything.” Scripture is our sufficient guide for all of life, and indeed all things must be measured by them whether it be our careers, our relationships, our choices, all of it.

One of the great lies today is that the Scriptures are to be used only in the halls of a church. But if they are the Word of God, then their wisdom must be found everywhere. We must not leave our Christianity at home or in the pew. Men must learn how to lead their homes well by Scripture’s rules. Women must learn how to care for their husbands well by Scripture’s rules. Children have to learn honor and respect according to Scripture’s rules. Churches must structure their worship and preaching according to the Bible’s standards. And most importantly, Christians have to learn how to be biblical Christians and not simply presume cultural standards are sufficient teachers for their homes, schools, and life. Scripture’s influence must burst into every sphere of our world because it is sufficient. To deny this in practice, is to deny it in substance.