What is meant by the sufficiency of Scripture? How is the Bible sufficient?
The sufficiency of Scripture is the biblical teaching that the Bible is all the revelation that is needed to equip believers for Christian life and service. Scripture reveals who God is, who we are, our broken status before God, our way of redemption, and the way we are to live as those redeemed by God.
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The apostle Paul addressed the sufficiency of Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 when he wrote, "… the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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 complete, equipped for every good work." Scripture is "God-breathed," as the NIV translates it, and provides everything necessary to understand His will for our lives.
Psalm 19:7-9 adds a strong emphasis regarding the sufficiency of Scripture when it states, "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether." God's Word revives the soul, provides wisdom, joy, purity, and endures forever.
The importance of the sufficiency of Scripture can be seen in many ways because of the human tendency to rely on other solutions to life's problems. Management skills, counseling techniques, and other methods may provide some degree of help, yet only Scripture addresses the ultimate issues of fallen humanity, God's salvation through Jesus Christ, and the principles for Christian living by God's Spirit that allow for living the abundant life (John 10:10).
Another important aspect of the sufficiency of Scripture is the affirmation that God's ways are superior to our own. Isaiah 55:9 notes, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." What may appear as the best solution from a human perspective may not always reflect the principles of God's Word. Some of His ways contradict human expectations, such as Jesus teaching that the last shall be first or that the poor in spirit are blessed (Matthew 5:3).
The Protestant Reformation reaffirmed the sufficiency of Scripture in its principle of sola scriptura (Scripture alone), teaching that the Bible alone is necessary to provide the divine words for all of human life. In contrast with the authority of the pope and the many church traditions of that time that were elevated to the level of Scripture or even as more important than Scripture, sola scriptura reclaimed the biblical concept of giving Scripture the highest priority in matters of faith and life.
Again, this does not mean information from other fields is unimportant. The Bible does not address every area of life; rather, its revealed words serve as our authoritative source in every aspect it does address. The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture accurately reflects the teachings of Scripture and offers a clear directive for all believers who seek to follow the teachings of the Lord.
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