Home > Crossway Blog

Is God’s Word Enough?

guest post

Have you struggled to know what to do with your life, wishing you had some special word from the Lord? Have you ever wanted a more direct, more personal revelation than what you get from slowly reading through the Bible? Secretly wanted to add something to the word of God—you know, just to make things safer? Or to take something away to make it more palatable? Have you ever felt like the Bible just wasn’t enough for living a faithful life in today’s world?

If you answer yes to any of these questions—and we all will at times—then you are struggling with the sufficiency of Scripture.

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture

This doctrine states that “Scripture is clear enough to make us responsible for carrying out our present responsibilities to God.”1

No one can say God has not revealed enough for us to be saved or to live a life pleasing to him. Scripture makes us competent and “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). We do not need to add to it to meet today’s challenges or subtract from it to mesh with today’s ideals. The word of God is perfect and complete, giving us all we need to know about Christ, salvation, and godliness.

As evangelicals, 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. We feel rather ho-hum about the New Testament’s description of heaven, but we are mesmerized by the accounts of school-age children who claim to have gone there and back. We can easily operate as if the Bible were not enough. If we could only have something more than the Scriptures, then we would be really close to Jesus and know his love for us.

Unless, of course, the finality of Christ’s redemption for us is intimately tied to the finality of his revelation to us.

God’s Superior Son

The big idea in the first verses of Hebrews is the big idea for the whole book of Hebrews. God has spoken by his Son, and this Son is superior to all persons, heavenly beings, institutions, rituals, and previous means of revelation and redemption. Christ is superior to:

  • Angels (chs. 1–2)
  • Moses (ch. 3)
  • Joshua (chs. 3–4)
  • Aaron (ch. 5)
  • Abraham (ch. 6)
  • Melchizedek (ch. 7)
  • The old covenant (ch. 8)
  • The tabernacle (ch. 9)
  • The high priest (ch. 10)
  • The treasures of this world (ch. 11)
  • Mount Sinai (ch. 12)
  • The city we have here on earth (ch. 13)

The Son is our Great Superlative, surpassing all others because in him we have the fullness and finality of God’s redemption and revelation.

Sufficiency in the Son and in the Scriptures

So what does any of this have to do with the sufficiency of Scripture? Look more closely at the conclusion just stated above: the Son is superior to all others because in him we have the fullness and finality of God’s redemption and revelation.

God has definitively made himself known. Christ has once for all paid for our sins. He came to earth, lived among us, died on the cross, and cried out in his dying moments, “It is finished!” We are awaiting no other king to rule over us. We need no other prophet like Muhammad. There can be no further priest to atone for our sins. The work of redemption has been completed. And we must not separate redemption from revelation. Both were finished and fulfilled in the Son.

The word of God versus the Word of God? The Bible versus Jesus?

Hebrews gives no room for these diabolical antitheses. True, the Bible is not Jesus; the Scripture is not the Son. The words of the Bible and the Word made flesh are distinct, but they are also inseparable. Every act of redemption—from the exodus, to the return from exile, to the cross itself—is also a revelation. They tell us something about the nature of sin, the way of salvation, and the character of God. Likewise, the point of revelation is always to redeem. The words of the prophets and the apostles are not meant to make us smart, but to get us saved. Redemption reveals. Revelation redeems.

And Christ is both. He is God’s full and final act of redemption and God’s full and final revelation of himself. Even the later teachings of the apostles were simply the remembrances of what Christ said (John 14:26) and the further Spirit-wrought explanation of all that he was and all that he accomplished (John 16:13–15).

So are we saying that God no longer speaks?

Not at all. But we must think carefully about how he speaks in these last days. God now speaks through his Son. Think about the three offices of Christ—prophet, priest, and king. In a very real sense, Christ has finished his work in each of these three offices. And yet he continues to work through that finished work:

  • As a king, Christ is already seated on the throne and already reigns from heaven, but the inauguration of his kingdom is not the same as the consummation of it. There are still enemies to subdue under his feet (Heb. 2:8).
  • As a priest, Christ has fully paid for all our sins with his precious blood, once for all, never to be repeated again. And yet, this great salvation must still be freely offered, and Christ must keep us in it (Heb. 2:3).
  • Finally, as a prophet, God has decisively spoken in his Son. He has shown us all we need to know, believe, and do. There is nothing more to say. And yet, God keeps speaking through what he has already said. “The word of God is living and active” (Heb. 4:12); and when the Scriptures are read, the Holy Spirit still speaks (3:7).

So, yes, God still speaks. He is not silent. He communicates with us personally and directly. But this ongoing speech is not ongoing revelation. In these last days, God speaks to us not by many and various ways, but in one way, through his Son. And he speaks through his Son by the revelation of the Son’s redeeming work that we find first predicted and prefigured in the Old Testament, then recorded in the Gospels, and finally unpacked by the Spirit through the apostles in the rest of the New Testament.

Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together. The Son’s redemption and the Son’s revelation must both be sufficient. And as such, there is nothing more to be done and nothing more to be known for our salvation and for our Christian walk than what we see and know about Christ and through Christ in his Spirit’s book.

And why does any of this matter?

What difference does the sufficiency of Scripture make for your Christian life?

One reason is that since the Bible is sufficient, we can expect the word of God to be relevant to all of life. God has given us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3); Scripture is enough to make us wise for salvation and holy unto the Lord (2 Tim. 3:14–17). If we learn to read the Bible down (into our hearts), across (the plotline of Scripture), out (to the end of the story), and up (to the glory of God in the face of Christ), we will find that every bit of the Bible is profitable for us. Scripture does not give exhaustive information on every subject, but in every subject on which it speaks, it says only what is true. And in its truth we have enough knowledge to turn from sin, find a Savior, make good decisions, please God, and get to the root of our deepest problems.

The word of God is more than enough for the people of God to live their lives to the glory of God. The Father will speak by means of all that the Spirit has spoken through the Son. The question is whether we will open our Bibles and bother to listen.

1 John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2010), 226.

This post was adapted from Taking God At His Word by Kevin DeYoung.


DeYoung Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at The Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books such as Just Do Something and The Hole in Our Holiness, as well as the award-winning books Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church (with Ted Kluck).

July 17, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:33 am | (3) Comments »

Video: Studying the Book of Matthew

In the video below, Drew Hunter introduces us to Matthew: A 12-Week Study, which is part of Crossway’s Knowing the Bible study series.


Knowing the Bible Series: Matthew
from Crossway on Vimeo.

Learn more or read a sample chapter.

Other Volumes in the Knowing the Bible Series

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News & Announcements,Video | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

Win a Copy of Women of the Word and the New ESV Reader’s Bible

wwm_blog_header02

This week, we’re giving away 10 copies of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin and the brand new ESV Reader’s Bible.

How to Enter

photo (1)To enter the giveaway, simply:

  1. Take a picture of what you’re currently reading in God’s Word for your regular Bible study (or just a favorite passage)
  2. Post that picture on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #WomenoftheWord

That’s it!

We’ll pick 10 people at random to receive a free copy of Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin and the ESV Reader’s Bible. The giveaway ends on Sunday, July 20, so don’t wait!*

 

*No purchase necessary to enter. Only one entry per person. Giveaway ends at midnight on July 20, 2014. Must have a valid U. S. mailing address to win.

Midweek Roundup – 7/16/14

Each Wednesday we share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or helpful. These are often related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting and encouraging break for the middle of your week.


1. Jen Wilkin on how wealth impacts Bible study

Statistics show that most of us have a Bible at arm’s length twenty four hours a day. According to mashable.com, 56.4% of Americans own a smart phone or tablet, meaning they have the capability to access Scripture with the touch of a screen. That’s before we consider how many have access through a PC or a hard copy. And no one is going to arrest us for reading them.

American Christians are never far from a copy of the Bible. We have been given “much” access. How can we overlook the privilege of such wealth by leaving our Bibles unopened?

2. Joe Thorn lists 4 characteristics of earnest preaching

I have always been drawn to those who can speak with creativity and with conviction. This was true before my conversion, and is especially true today. Since my conversion, I find myself hungering to hear the word preached. When it comes to preaching, there are two basic things that I want to hear from a preacher: the word of God andearnestness. If he doesn’t bring the word of God, he has nothing to say. If he isn’t earnest, I’m tempted to not believe him. As I evaluate my own preaching, and coach other preachers, I find that earnestness is one of the areas that needs the most attention. A man’s earnestness in preaching is often the hand that grips the hearer and brings him along side the preacher to the truth proclaimed.

3. Audio: Timothy George explains why he is an evangelical and a Baptist

Dr. Timothy George has been the dean of Beeson Divinity School since its inception in 1988. He recently contributed a chapter entitled “Why I Am an Evangelical and a Baptist” to the book Why We Belong: Evangelical Unity and Denominational Diversity (Crossway, 2013). Showing how denominational affiliation can be natural without being negative and how evangelical identity can help rather than hinder Christian unity, Why We Belong explains both the personal and doctrinal reasons each of the contributors fits not only in their church, but also in the Church.

4. Gloria Furman reflects on “missional motherhood”

As a mom I have a lot of responsibilities, priorities, and messages. One time at a church potluck my preschool-aged son was standing by the dessert table that was piled high with donuts. (Ok, this scene probably happens at all of our church potlucks.) A woman saw him eye-ing the donuts like he was a three-year-old standing next to a table of donuts. (You get the picture.) She asked him, “I don’t know if you can have that, little guy. What does your Mommy say?” With great flourish and conviction my son answered, “What my Mommy says? My Mommy… she says to me, ‘Judson! Flush. The. Toilet.’”

5. Books at a Glance reviews Tough Topics by Sam Storms

Many “Bible Problems” type books focus on alleged contradictions and such, but Storms’ focus is on Scripture’s teaching on various subjects. The questions range from more personal to theological and matters of denominational debate. It’s doubtful that you’ve not puzzled over many of these questions yourself, and there are likely some questions here that you just haven’t yet dare ask – “Will There Be Sex in Heaven?” (chapter 17).

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Midweek Roundup,News & Announcements | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Don’t Settle for a “Quiet” Time

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Gloria Furman and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


Walking the Living Room by Faith

A small lamp threw light up into the corner of the dark living room. As I walked through that room into the home office where I worked, I made the otherwise still air move with me. The owners of the house didn’t like to use the air conditioner—even in the Texas summers—because it felt too cold on their skin. Spending decades in third world conditions will do that to you. On the mornings when I came over to work she would turn on a tiny desk fan just for me. He would shiver as he sat nearby, so I would turn it off.

I was there to help the elderly missionaries keep up with their writing and administrative work, and move an occasional box in or out of the garage. A few years ago they both died and immediately awoke in the presence of the Lord—her first and then him very soon after. Their fellowship with God is now by sight forever. But for the years, months, days, hours, and minutes they were with us here, their fellowship with God was by faith.

Their house in America had wall-to-wall carpet, and, in between the furniture that hadn’t been moved for years, you could see where their faith had moved their feet. There were well-worn paths in the carpet where she paced back and forth with her Scripture memory cards and knee-shaped patches where he knelt to pray.

I thought it was remarkable that the one thing that didn’t gather dust in that house was the collection of shoe boxes scattered around, each overflowing with handwritten Bible verses. They took God’s Word everywhere with them—even in those final days when the distance they traveled was not to the other side of the world, but rather to the other side of the house.

Letting the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly

This older couple didn’t carve out just a portion of time for God’s Word and leave it at that. Rather, they put God’s Word in their heart so it could be carving them into the image of Christ all day long.

Their example ministered to me back then while I was a busy college student taking a full course load and working a couple of part-time jobs. And their example still ministers to me today, now a busy pastor’s wife with four children. As I seek to fellowship with God in my days and nights, I need to see with faith-eyes that the Word of God isn’t just a part of my life, but is my very life (Deut. 32:45-47).

Whether Circus or Solitude, Christ is Sufficient

I’ll be the first to confess that wholehearted devotion to God’s Word is hard to come by when you have lots of people who need your attention plus a smart phone in your pocket. I can think of few things that sound more peaceful than a brewing coffee pot against a backdrop of unmitigated silence, inviting me to sit in a comfortable chair for a leisurely read in my Bible for as long as I like. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I could sit still for hours to hear the word of Christ, especially when I hear a sibling squabble starting in the next room.

However, for many of us, this is not a season (or lifetime) that naturally lends itself to this kind of “quiet time.” But that is no threat to the word of Christ! We need to be encouraged by the fact that peace and quiet are not ultimate, and the Holy Spirit does not abandon us in the absence of solitude.

Rather than restrict fellowship with God to a certain time of day, we need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16) all the time and everywhere we go (Deut. 6:4-9). Scripture is always sufficient for your life, whether it is quiet or chaotic.

Jesus promises to light your path wherever you walk (John 8:12) as you look forward to the day when your faith becomes sight and you behold the Word of God (Rev. 21:23).


Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and blogs regularly at The Gospel Coalition and GloriaFurman.com.

 


Related Posts