Many evangelical churches and Christians affirm that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and treat it with great importance. But, at the same time, they essentially undermine its sufficiency by looking outside of the Bible for strategies to grow their church or solutions to fix their problems. Though they believe the Bible is inerrant and infallible, they see the Bible as inadequate for guiding us in this modern era. They see the Bible as an ancient book that can’t be sufficient for the 21st century Christian or church.
Have you ever struggled with these questions? Is the Bible really necessary for living a life pleasing to God? Is the Bible sufficient to answer the questions you have about God and His plan for your life? Is the Bible just a good guide to starting a relationship with God but an outdated guide to progressing in that same relationship? Is the Bible really sufficient for your everyday struggles with depression, marriage, parenting, and finances?
The sufficiency of Scripture means that nothing else is necessary for the life of faith. We don’t need any other source of instruction in order to know and live for God in this world. The Bible doesn’t need to be supplemented by any other source on the matters it speaks authoritatively on.
Here is how John Piper defined the sufficiency of Scripture: “The Scriptures are sufficient in the sense that they are the only inspired and (therefore) inerrant words of God that we need, in order to know the way of salvation and the way of obedience.”
In my sermon on this topic, here is the definition and outline I used to affirm and defend this important doctrine:
- The Sufficiency of Scripture demands that we value the Scripture as precious beyond measure.
- The Sufficiency of Scripture demands that we not elevate our traditions and preferences to the level of Scripture.
- The Sufficiency of Scripture demands that we not neglect anything in Scripture.
- The Sufficiency of Scripture demands that we test everything by the truth of Scripture.
- The Sufficiency of Scripture demands that we be content with (thankful for) the content (the substance) of Scripture.
- The Sufficiency of Scripture demands that we labor to bring it to every people group on the planet.