Today, however, there is another specter raising its ugly head. This, too, is growing in Christian circles. It's not about the reliability of Scripture, but the sufficiency. Is the Bible enough? The question comes in various forms. There is the well meaning, soft form where people ask, "Why wasn't God more clear in His Word?" The idea is that it's hard to understand (which isn't necessarily false) or, worse, not clear enough to give us what we need today. The intermediate version is a bit stronger. It comes from mainly the Pentecostal circles. They offer new revelation, new words from God. They write books like Jesus Calling and give compelling stories of people who have been to heaven and back. I'm not talking about insight here. I'm talking about new, even sometimes overriding revelation where God tells them something that counters the Bible and we have to listen because you're not supposed to touch the Lord's anointed. The harder form is a complaint about the age of Scripture. You know how it goes. "You know," they will tell us, "the Bible was written long before the advent of such things as modern science or even modern understanding of humans, so it isn't well-suited in today's world to today's problems." They will point to such facts as the new classification of "homosexual", for instance, that didn't exist prior to the 20th century. "How could the Bible address the notion when no one even thought of it before?" So, they argue that it doesn't even address the question and we need to change our views. Very common is this notion that the church needs to change and that our strict adherence to Scripture is foolish in light of science and psychology and all the new stuff we have on hand.
As it turns out, the Bible disagrees. And while some argue that the Bible never says it is inerrant (because, after all, it doesn't), it turns out that the Bible claims to be sufficient. David wrote:
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. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psa 19:7-11).That term, "perfect", doesn't simply mean "the pinnacle" or "right in every way". It means "complete". It means literally "entire". Nothing lacking. Sufficient. But David doesn't stop there. He references every aspect of the Word of God. There is the testimony, the precepts, the commandment, the fear, and the rules of the Lord. All of it. And all of it is to be more desired than gold. "In keeping them there is great reward." There is no more robust, clear statement of the sufficiency of Scripture.
What does it mean when we say that Scripture is sufficient? Well, first, let's look at what we do not mean. We do not mean that there are no other sources of information. The Bible doesn't give a handbook of traffic laws. It doesn't offer instruction for doing algebra. It doesn't tell you how magnets work. Other sources would be used for these. And the Bible clearly addresses some other sources as useful and necessary. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to "guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13), so we need the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. Teachers are often discussed in the Bible (e.g., 1 Tim 3:2; 6:2; 2 Tim 2:2; Titus 2:1,3), so teachers are necessary. And we are commanded to encourage one another (1 Thess 5:11,14), to bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2), and to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works" (Heb 10:24-25), so we need each other. The Sufficiency of Scripture does not mean there is nothing else involved.
What then? It means that the Bible is sufficient for the task God gave it for. It reveals who God is. It tells us how to relate to one another. It teaches us how to live, how to "do church", and how to worship. Scripture, as God's perfect revealed Word, becomes our authority in matters of faith and practice. It does so because it is sufficient to do so and because God gave it for that purpose. Paul wrote, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom 15:4). Jude describes Christianity as "the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 1:3). It means that all we need to know God and live the life He intended is in there.
Is the Bible difficult to understand? Sure, at times. But that doesn't make it insufficient. And we are to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), so instead of complaining about the difficulty, perhaps we ought to get to work. Does the Bible tell us how to drive a car? No, but that doesn't make it insufficient. In fact, the Bible does tell us to obey the authorities that God has put in place (Rom 13:1-2) and to love your neighbor (Matt 22:39), so it would appear that we already have the makings of a pretty robust set of principles for driving, don't we? And I would suggest that this is true in far more cases than you may realize. Maybe if our approach was more like David's, we might have a more positive view of the Sufficiency of Scripture. He said, "O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psa_119:97). At least, it would be a good start.