Much, if not all, of what we believe depends on what we think about the Bible. In fact, a wrong view of God’s Word can lead to anything from spiritual immaturity to false faith, and all kinds of hinderances in between. For example, a Christian who struggles to trust God might not fully understand the INSPIRATION and INFALLIBILITY of Scripture. A believer who is not properly motivated to study and meditate on the Bible might not fully understand the AUTHORITY of Scripture. And many Christians who lack confidence in evangelism and discipleship do so because they lack an understanding of Scripture’s NECESSITY. What we believe about the Bible has many practical implications on our daily lives. However, there is an attribute of the Bible that is at risk of being lost and needs our bold (re)affirmation, that is that the Word of God is SUFFICIENT.
To say Scripture is sufficient is to say the Bible is God’s final and complete disclosure regarding how to be saved and how to live. It is comprehensive, showing us all we need to know, believe, and do. All the Christian needs in reference to the will of God is in the pages of Scripture (Eph. 5:17, 1 Thess. 4:3, 1 Pt. 2:15). Just like its other attributes, the sufficiency of God’s Word is actually a result of its divine inspiration. Since “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16), it must then bear His authority, be free of error, and be requisite reading for the Christian. Finally, we would expect Him to not have left anything out. And this is precisely (and repeatedly) what the Bible teaches.
Perhaps the clearest passage that teaches us that God’s Word is sufficient is 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which states, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of Godmay be complete, equipped for every good work.” All Scripture means every portion and all of its part. Everything in our Bible is ultimately breathed outby God, from the concepts taught down to the very words used to teach them (Matt. 5:17-18, Mk. 13:31, Heb. 1:1). And there is no right belief or good work that is not adequately laid out in God’s Word. God, therefore, has no expectation of the sinner or the saint that He has not made clear in His Word. For the sinner, that he is guilty and how he may receive forgiveness and eternal life. And for the saint, in what manner he ought to live with God’s Word as spiritual food for his daily enjoyment and strength.
While God, by the Holy Spirit, certainly (and powerfully) guides us subjectively by our thoughts and feelings, He need not speak perceptively to us outside of His Word. And if He were to do so, whether in the name of prophecy or as an answer to prayer, we must submit what we have received to the objective teachings of Scripture, testing the spirits to discern whether they are from God (Acts 17:11, 1 Jn. 4:1). That said, to affirm God’s Word as sufficient is not only to say that all God has revealed to us is enough, but also that what He hasn’t revealed is not necessary for salvation or the Christian life. By the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-16, Heb. 4:12), it is sufficiently capable to grant repentance to sinners, teach us true wisdom for daily living (Ps. 19:7), and to bring us to holiness and Christlike maturity.
Scripture alone is the sole authority for the Christian, in part, because it is sufficient. We will need other sources and resources to learn to build a motor, to perform surgery, or to play baseball. But for all things Godward and having to do with our spiritual lives, we only need what God has spoken in His Word. We do not need religious traditions, the accumulation of worldly wisdom, once-hidden knowledge, or mysterious insight to make disciples (Col. 2). We have enough with “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph. 4:12). Our Bibles are a closed work and we are prohibited from subtracting from or adding to “this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). Christ was the final messenger (Heb. 1:1-2). Once His Apostles spoke and wrote in His name about His person, work, and teaching, divine revelation was complete (2 Thess. 2:13-15, Jude 1:3). Christ is God’s period on Scripture.
Think about the importance of the matter of sufficiency. The Bible may well be breathed out by God and therefore, authoritative and necessary, but if it is not sufficient, we still have a problem. If the Bible is not God’s final word, then we are left looking around and listening for more. This discontented pursuit can be both dangerous and a shame. Dangerous, because in our sincere zeal to live for Him, it is possible to think little of, even ignore our copy of God’s Holy Word. A shame, because the Bible repeatedly self-authenticates its own perfection and totality (Ps. 19) and appears to go out of its way to describe to us how powerful it is to accomplish in and through us all God desires. We can open the Word of Christ with confidence, knowing that “He has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (1 Pt. 1:2-4).