In many places today, we often don’t see the Bible at the center of the life and worship of the church. Whether it is the pulpit, Sunday school classroom, small group studies, or personal conversations about God and His will, many people are looking elsewhere to know God and to figure out what they should do. Anecdotal stories, pop psychology, managerial techniques, tips for living, the latest prophecy or word of knowledge, or whatever good idea the preacher came up with on Saturday night is the main attraction. The Bible is only perfunctorily consulted and used to support main ideas that come from someplace else. The authority of Scripture is affirmed, but its sufficiency for Christian living is denied. In part 1 of this blog series, I looked at the meaning and limitations of the sufficiency of Scripture. In this post (part 2 of 3), I want to suggest three reasons why people regard the Bible as insufficient:
- They don’t know Bible well.
Some people don’t bother to read, study, and meditate on the Scriptures on a regular basis, and as a result, they don’t really know what is in the Bible. And since they only know the tip of the iceberg of what Scripture actually contains, they are quick to conclude that the Bible doesn’t have the answers they need.
- They don’t know how to use the Bible.
The Bible is a big book that can be difficult to understand, especially for new readers. There are many different genres of writing (history, poetry, parables, prophecy, etc.) written over a long period of time. Unless a person has someone to help direct and guide their Bible reading, it is easy to read the Bible with the wrong expectations. The Bible is not written as a casebook of what to do in every instance of life, nor can we just flip open to a random page and expect to get what God has for us today. Occasionally that happens, but we shouldn’t expect God to speak to us like that on a regular basis.
- They have been taught to seek direct revelation in preference to searching the Scriptures.
There are a good number of churches who, either explicitly or implicitly, teach that believers should expect fresh supernatural words from God on a regular basis. The normal Christian life, it is taught, is a life filled with miraculous and supernatural experiences. Those who are in tune with the Spirit will hear from God personally and directly. The net result of this atmosphere is that believers often learn to value searching the Scriptures less than waiting for something fresh from God.
In each of the cases above, the same people who would deny the sufficiency of Scripture with their actions also affirm the authority of Scripture with their mouths. But these two can not be separated. Terry Johnson writes, “We can build a convincing case for biblical inerrancy and authority. But if in the end we deny its sufficiency, treating Scripture like a scythe in an age of power mowers, an ox cart among eighteen-wheelers, storing it in an old barn where it collects dust, unused and unread, its authority is useless.”
If we truly believe in the authority of the Bible, we need to show through our actions that we also believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. We can hardly call Him “Lord” if we don’t take the time to listen to what He is saying to us. If we truly desire to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we need to seek a renewal in belief in the sufficiency of Scripture. We need to believe that the Bible is enough. We need to act on the belief that the Bible is enough. In my next post, we’ll look at some constructive ways to put the Bible back in the center of the life and worship of the church today.
(This post is part 2 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 3, I will suggest ways to promote the sufficiency of Scripture in our churches.)
 Terry L. Johnson, The Case for Traditional Protestantism: The Solas of the Reformation (Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth Trust, ©2004), p.39.