The vast majority of evangelical churches today would affirm the authority of Scripture but when you look at what is actually being taught from the pulpit, the Bible barely makes a cameo appearance. Authority may be affirmed, but the sufficiency of Scripture is denied in practice. In part 1 of this blog series, I looked at the problem of denying the sufficiency of Scripture, and how the Scripture itself defines and qualifies sufficiency. In Part 2, I looked at 3 reasons why people deny the sufficiency of Scripture. In this third and final post, I want to make some constructive recommendations about how to revive and renew a belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.
It is one thing to point out the error of denying the sufficiency of the Bible, but what can be done about it? How do we move forward? What should we do to promote a renewed faith in the sufficiency of Scripture? Here are seven ways that I think we can positively work towards a more Word-centered faith and practice in our churches:
1. We ourselves need to be people of the Book. Do our Scripture reading habits and personal decisions show that we believe Scripture is enough? We need to look at our own spiritual life, answer truthfully, and make changes accordingly.
2. We must model preaching and teaching that is Scripture heavy, and demonstrates that what we are teaching is from Scripture.
3. We need to read longer sections of Scripture, and a greater variety of sections of Scripture in our worship services. If church members hear little Scripture being used in gathered worship, it is likely that they will give little attention to Scripture in their personal devotion and their worship at home, school, or work.
4. We need to encourage people to read and study the Bible. The people in our churches may not naturally think to spend time reading the Bible at home, so we need to help them do that, giving guidance for what and how to read. If they are not accustomed to reading, or are semi-illiterate, we need to find oral and audio based approaches to help them dig into the Bible.
5. We need to gently but firmly encourage people to follow the lead of God’s Word rather than rely on uncertain extra-biblical sources of knowledge. Christ has revealed Himself perfectly in the Bible, and that is where we must continually point people, no matter how excited they are about a dream, a prophecy, a word of knowledge or something else they think God told them.
6. Examine (and encourage others to examine) the latest methods and trends in light of Scripture. Christians today are inundated with so many books, videos, seminars, conferences, blogs, and podcasts that claim to be the next best thing in helping them know/obey God. Some of them are worth their weight in gold. Others should have a millstone hung around their neck. We need to know the Scriptures well enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, and help others to do the same.
7. Choose worship songs that draw heavily from Scripture. The plague of modern worship is that the lyrics often don’t have much to do with Scripture. Many songs contain lots of general praising and rejoicing, but not much content in terms of whom Christ is and what He has done, or will do. If we include more Psalms and other songs that lean heavily upon specific Scriptures for their theme and content, we will do a great service to worshippers in learning to know Christ. After all, some people will remember the songs long after they have forgotten the sermon.
If we are able to implement some (or all) of the above suggestions in our churches, I think that we will be well on our way to reviving a belief in the sufficiency of Scripture in our churches. But, of course, it is not just verbal affirmation of sufficiency that we are looking for, but practical, in-the-trenches, daily striving after the risen and glorious Christ in the place where He may be found: The Bible.
(This post is part 3 of a 3 part blog series. In part 1, I looked at the problem of denying the sufficiency of Scripture, and how the Scripture itself defines and qualifies sufficiency. In part 2, I looked at reasons why people deny the sufficiency of Scripture.)