This third week in the series about The Word of God we look at the principle that the bible is sufficient. As with the previous weeks and every week after this one, there is so much to say and read and discuss – it is impossible to cram them into individual lessons. So we get a taste of each statement about scripture.
Below is one way to look at this doctrine. It is not the only way and it doesn’t cover every facet of the discussion. If you have any questions remaining about this topic or anything in this series, feel free to leave a comment or shoot the ministry staff an email with your question(s).
God has spoken and communicated effectively but has he stopped? In how many ways has God spoken and is perhaps still speaking do you think?
It is not a new idea to question the sufficiency of Scripture for today. Is it really a book that applies today? Hasn’t the world outgrown the primitive ideas of the bible? Churches need to keep relevant and bring a message to the world that is more in sync with it. If the church expects to stay alive, let alone grow, it needs to present a more relevant and up to date message.
Week one – The Inspiration of The Word of God = God authored it (2 Peter 1:21)
Week two – The Inerrancy of The Word of God = God is sovereign and has directed his word to come to us through human history doing exactly what it is intended to do. They are the words of men and the word of God.
This week: The Sufficiency of The Word of God = We don’t need and needn’t want for God to add or subtract from his word.
What ‘sufficiency’ means:
To say that the bible is sufficient is to acknowledge that it supplies us with everything we need to hear from God and we have no need for a continuing and expanding message. We just need the bible and it’s message. We don’t need the bible plus continuing prophecy; nor bible and bible version 2; nor bible and the changing perspective or laws of a church; nor the bible and anything else. There are no accessories, add-ons, plug-ins or expansion packs to the word of God!
On the one side, this doctrine teaches us that with the scriptures, we have all that is necessary from God and there is no need for more. The flip side is that without the scriptures we do not have what we need. This doctrine doesn’t mean that the bible gives us everything we could ever want (like knowing if there’s life on another planet or not) – but scripture gives us all that we need – and tells us how much we need it.
In this lesson
In the bible, we find that God has finished speaking exactly what he needed to say and we need to hear – a word that is 1) complete, 2) for all of humanity and 3) for all of time.
1) God has said what is needed – and it is awesome!
Read Deuteronomy 29:29
What does this verse say in your own words?
How would you describe the ‘things’ that God has kept secret?
Where could we go to find the answers to these ‘secret things’?
God has spoken the non-secret things – who are they for and who needs them?
Read Hebrews 1:1-4
What does this paragraph say in your own words?
What has changed that might have brought God speaking to an end?
Does Hebrews imply that God intends to keep speaking through various prophets and in different ways? What does it imply?
Read 2 Peter 1:3-4
What is the meaning in your own words? Note that the ‘promises’ in verse 4 refer to the scriptures – his word. Note also the phrase ‘knowledge of him’ in verse 3 and the greater context of this chapter which states ‘the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’ and of the ‘prophecy of scripture’ which is found in verse 20-21.
Note the three things that this passage promises we can have from the scriptures and discuss:
- knowledge of him
- godly life
- escape from corruption.
You may choose to read Romans 15:4-6
What is Paul’s description of why the scriptures were written?
God gives endurance and encouragement taught to us in the scriptures. It is the same endurance and encouragement that is demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Jesus is the pinnacle of scripture. The bible’s conclusion has been reached in Christ. We are to live by his pattern of teaching and through his atoning sacrifice.
2) God has spoken to all nations – and continues to do so!
Read Matthew 28:16-19
What is this saying in your own words?
Jesus is speaking to the eleven disciples (Judas had killed himself) and telling them to ‘go and make more disciples’. What does this mean?
How far are they to go to make disciples? i.e., Where in the world should the message of Jesus not be taken?
What time frame does Jesus have in mind for this ministry to go on for?
Read Romans 15:20-24
Does Paul seek to learn a new message to pass on to everyone? No!
Does he seek to take the message of the gospel of Jesus as far as he can? Yes!
The scriptures culminate in the work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ and they are for everybody to hear and understand.
3) God has all of human history in mind – and wants to include us all in it!
Read Ephesians 1:7-10
Is God still making known the mystery or secret of his will? Or has he made it known?
What is the will of God for everything according to this passage?
What is the central feature of God’s will and purpose? Clue: it’s a person!
Note that the word ‘mystery’ would be better understood as ‘secret’ – that is, it’s not something mysterious and strange but something that is something of a hidden treasure but God has now revealed it in Christ Jesus. Does this remind you a little of Deuteronomy 29:29 – the secret things verses the things that have been revealed?
Read Philippians 2:5-11
According to verses 9-11, what is the plan and vision of God for this world?
How do verses 5-8 relate to us today?
Is this a timeless message or a message only for 1st century Israel?
- Perhaps there are things that you would love to know that God has not contained in the bible – it is not an encyclopaedia or comprehensive dictionary on how everything works.
- Perhaps there are specific situations in your life that you wish the bible had a chapter and verse to cover and help you with. The bible is not written to give you a commandment for every decision you will face in life.
- But the bible contains everything needed for knowledge of God – a growing knowledge in God.
- And the bible contains everything we need to be taught, trained, rebuked and corrected for a life of godliness.
- The bible contains everything we need to know God and to know life that is found in nobody else other than the person of Jesus Christ. He has paid the price for our sins and bought us life. He has shown us the way and demonstrated the timeless worth of faith, hope and love.
- The bible may be difficult to understand and needs our attention and effort to learn but it is truly worth it! Every last bit of it is sufficient for knowledge of God, escaping death, and pursuing righteousness (2 Peter 1).
- There are plenty of books that provide earthly wisdom, smart strategies and help in specific ares of life – but only one book that has been provided by our maker to make sense of life itself. Next week we will examine whether the bible is on par with these other books or if it is in a class of it’s own.
There is nowhere else we need to go – nor should we want to.
Prayer for the week
Almighty God and Father, thank you for speaking to us in your word. Your word reminds us that you have prepared eternity for us and yet we are so bound to the limits of this life that we depart from your word to solve our own problems. Help us to trust you in both this life and the life to come. Thank you for the eternal word who came to meet us and pay for our sins. Please help us to take your word – your revealed truth – into all the world. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.