White Horse Inn Modern Reformation

The Sufficiency of Scripture

Published Thursday, September 3, 2020 By Dave Jenkins

The sufficiency of Scripture means that the Scripture alone is sufficient for life and godliness and for every area of the Christian life (Psalm 19:7-11; 2 Peter 1:3). The Scriptures are a light to the Christian to guide Christians on the path of godliness (Psalm 119:105). Scripture is more reliable than spiritual experiences (2 Peter 1:19-20). The sufficiency of Scripture helps lead people to saving faith (2 Timothy 3:15). The sufficiency of Scripture instructs the most well-instructed Christian and the layperson (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:37; Phil 1:1). The Scripture was given by God to parents to educate their children (Deut. 6:6-7) and can bring a child to saving faith in Christ (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Paul wrote that all Scripture is given by inspiration, and it is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Four Features of the Sufficiency of Scripture

The four features mentioned by Paul help equip Christians to live out the Christian life. With the first term, “teaching,” Paul means that Scripture instructs the Christian in how to live, what to believe, and what the Lord expects of them. Teaching is related to content and doctrine, which fits with Jesus’ teaching in the Great Commission that disciples be taught to observe all the Lord commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  The Scriptures instruct the people of God to know how-to live-in obedience to Him (John 15:10).

The second word, “reproof,” used by Paul, shows the Bible’s purpose of admonishment. The term reproof has to do with pointing out where a person has erred or departed from what the Lord requires. Scripture alone can judge the heart when a Christian has moved from doctrine or practice from the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Hebrews 4:12; Jude 3). The next word used by Paul correction is the companion to reproof. The Bible not only shows people where they are wrong, but it also identifies the correct attitude, belief, or behavior that they should put on in its place (Ephesians 4:20-24).

Paul teaches that the Scripture is for “training in righteousness,” which means the Scripture shows Christians how to put its teaching into practice daily with illustrations and examples (Ephesians 4:25-32). Between the Bible and the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Christian needs no additional revelation to be informed on how to live out the Christian life. Pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12) are supplied to assist in the process of spiritual growth, but even their ministries are founded on and informed by the all-sufficient Word of God (2 Peter 1:2-3; 1 Peter 5:2-3). As John Calvin put it, “All our wisdom is contained in the Scriptures, and neither ought we to learn, nor teachers to draw their instructions from any other sources.”

The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Christian Life

The sufficiency of Scripture means whatever question or trial the people of God are facing; they are to go to the Word of God for their answers. God’s Word is the final authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and doctrine. Christians should seek out godly guidance, but we should test all advice against the word of God (Acts 17:11). When we lack wisdom, we must pray for God to grant it (James 1:5) and seek it eagerly from the mouth of God (Proverbs 2:3-6). Paul taught the Colossians they were to continue to grow in the word of God, which tells them of Christ in Colossians 2:6-8.

The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Ministry

Church leaders are to build their ministries on the rock of the Word of God. We are not to depend on man’s ideas or be influenced or swayed by worldly philosophies or programs. 1 Corinthians 3:10-13 is a somber warning for every Christian. The building mentioned here in 1 Corinthians 3:10-13 is the church. The Lord has given the people of God instruments to build the local church.

The wisdom of God contained in the precious treasure of Christ is to be used by the preacher to build up and equip the people of God. Paul builds not with the wisdom of men but with the gospel of Christ contained in the Word of God. Scripture alone gives the people of God the truth they need to live and grow as the church of Jesus Christ. John Murray was right when he said, “our dependence upon Scripture is total.”[1]  The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What do the Scriptures principally teach?” and answer, “The Scriptures principally teach, What man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.”[2]

The Sufficiency of Scripture is for Every Christian

Everything the Christian needs for life and godliness is contained in the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Pastors and Bible teachers don’t need to make it up as they go, but need to be faithful to the revealed sixty-six books in Scripture. Scripture alone will help the Christian to grow so we can preach, teach, and write biblical teaching to help people grow in grace and trust the Holy Spirit to use the Word in the life of His people.

Scripture helps Christians to have genuine knowledge that goes from knowing to doing the Word (James 1:22-26). Scripture is a mirror that reflects the state of the heart of the individual and helps them to grow in grace. The Scriptures are the final authority for faith and practice.

Church leaders must be faithful to the Word and to use the means of grace to equip the saints and help them grow in Christ. The Word of God must take center stage in the preaching and worship of the people of God, not flashy lights, or other such things, but proclaiming the Word faithfully. Psalm 119:93, 105 says, “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Dave Jenkins (MAR, MDiv, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary) is the executive director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the executive editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast and Warriors of Grace Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter (@davejjenkins), Facebook (Dave Jenkins SOG), and Instagram.

[1] John Murray, “The Finality and Sufficiency of Scripture,” in Collected Writings, 1:20.)

[2] Westminster Shorter Catechism (1657),” in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, Volume 4, 1600-1693, ed. James T. Dennison Jr. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014), 353 (Q.3).

  • Dave Jenkins