Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sufficiency of the Bible

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

We have come to the end of our series on the attributes of the Word of God. If we are living in the last times then this is especially indispensable information to grasp.The last is also, in a sense, the most important--the sufficiency of Scripture. Or, Sola Scriptura as the reformers called it. We may define it thus: Scripture contains all the divine words needed for any and all aspects of human life.Here is the Westminster Confession formulation. (this is a wonderful teaching tool, but it is not infallible)

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed." (WCF 1.6)  I will look at a few of these concepts.

Christians sometimes say the bible is sufficient for theology and spiritual matters but not for auto repair, scuba diving, zoology, or dentistry. Certainly the bible has more specific information relevant to theology than to auto mechanics, but that is not what we mean by sufficiency. In this context sufficiency is not sufficiency of specific information but sufficiency of divine words. Scripture has divine words for every aspect of human life. It contains all the divine words that the plumber needs--or scientist and modern ethicist-- and all the divine words that the theologian or preacher needs. So it is just as sufficient for plumbing as it is for theology! And we shall spend extra time showing how sufficient the bible is regarding paranormal issues.

Notice that the WCF states that the sufficient content of  the bible includes not only its explicit teaching, but what also may be properly logically deduced from it. Logic is a hermeneutical (interpretation) tool...a tool for bringing out meaning that is already there in the text.

Of course the sufficiency of Scripture means that nothing is to be added or subtracted to the bible--we do not need any more divine words than those in the bible. This does not forbid seeking information from other sources--our job requires it...and life in general.The last section of the WCF mentions the use of natural revelation--even regarding some issues in the church dealing with worship and government (Roberts' Rules...uugh!!)  Jesus had harsh words for the religious folks who elevated their traditions to the status of divine words.(Mark 7:8) The theological heritage I hold dear (Presbyterian/Reformed) has some traditions regarding worship which I know to be unbiblical...that is why we must be ever reforming!

2 Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." "(see Rom.15:4   "Every" refers to sufficiency.

Scripture is clear enough to make us responsible for carrying out our present responsibilities to God. Like clarity, sufficiency is an ethical doctrine. It takes away excuses for disobedience. When we violate God's commandments, we cannot claim that they were unclear, or that they were insufficient. (John Frame--The Doctrine of the Word of God...pg 226)

Here is a crucial text for applying across the situational board...1 Cor. 10:31  "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  And Col. 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

The other day I was outside cutting the lawn, and I asked myself how the sufficiency of Scripture applied to that activity?I smiled as I remembered 1 Cor. 10:31...it is interesting how practical the results can be when you earnestly attempt to cut the grass to God's glory!  You see, this verse is sufficient regarding the divine words that I needed. Of course, additional information is needed for whatever the vocation, but the divine words in the bible are sufficient! If you are a plumber (fill in the blank) and read the bible everyday, then the fresh illumination of the Holy Spirit will astound you with how relevant the bible is on a daily basis.

There are principles in Scripture which apply to EVERYTHING...including thorny modern ethical issues . There is sufficient divine words to render inexcusable the reprehensible wickedness of abortion. That is THE most significant social/moral issue in our country. God is merciful and forgiving to any of you affected..okay? If He has forgiven you, then that should be sufficient--forgive yourself and move on.

The cultural mandate in Gen. 1:28 implies the acquisition of information gleaned from general revelation for your job...including our studies at school and work. But God's divine words in the bible are sufficient for you.Let me gently urge you to apply throughout your day today just 1 Cor.10:31 and see what happens!

This is a large subject but I need to apply this to our paranormal context.Though Scripture is sufficient regarding every area of human life, it has MORE divine words if the issue is critical. For example, the bible is filled with texts regarding how to be saved..

The paranormal--from what we have learned, the bible contains what God considers sufficient information.

When I began research for my book back in 2009, I thought that I might write a short pamphlet on "what the bible says about who ghosts really are". Man, was I mistaken! What struck me early on was how massive and wide-ranging the ramifications were for believing that humans could get trapped here after death. It has a deleterious effect on EVERY major doctrine in the bible...not to mention the catastrophically futile attempt to fit the notion of ghosts within a biblical worldview.

Take Deuteronomy 18:9-22...that one text SHOULD be sufficient for Christians who are  curious, confused, or attempting communication with alleged dead people. In that text we are presented with a clear choice--glorifying God by listening/obeying God's clear and sufficient revelation as revealed by His prophets--or glorifying self (and grieving the Holy Spirit as well as coming under divine discipline...and demonic assault on you and your loved ones) by seeking supernatural information from God's hated enemies--demons. God or demons--which do you want to communicate with?

It will revolutionize how investigations are done, but Christians must not solicit EVP's...NEVER!

As we end this series, I remind you that Scripture which is not applied is contrary to what the whole purpose of Scripture is--APPLICATION!  Bowing before the sufficiency of Holy Scripture is bowing before the Lordship of Christ. Let us resolve to live Sola Scriptura!

1 comment:

Lisa Grace said...

Great point about the EVP's. The Bible is sufficient for knowing the workings of the paranormal world.

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