May 13, 2014 | by: 0 Comments|
Sometimes we fail to recognize the interdependent nature of much of theology. In other words, while one doctrine may be distinct from another that does not mean they are unrelated. That seems fairly obvious when we think of the doctrine of the Trinity and the Doctrine of the Second Person of the Trinity. There is clearly a connection between the two. The same can be said of the doctrine of Scripture, and in this instance we could even say that the attributes of Scripture stand or fall together. The authority of Scripture, its clarity, its necessity, and sufficiency all depend upon one another and are intimately related to one another. So let’s think about those attributes for a moment.
The Bible itself claims that all of the Words of Scripture are God’s personal words to his people, and if they are God’s words they are authoritative words. On several occasions throughout the Old Testament, we read the words “Thus says the Lord.” This formula is not merely some simple statement that God is going to inform his people of something interesting. It may in fact inform, but more often than not, the declaration “Thus says the Lord” comes to the people of Israel with ethical demands. The Lord has said, and now his people must do. Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus makes his words a test of discipleship. In John 12:47-48, Jesus declares that his words will judge his hearers on the last day. If his words will judge, then certainly they contain the authority to do so. Similarly, those whom Jesus commissioned to bear witness to his saving work also speak and write authoritatively calling the young churches into action.
Like the attribute of authority, the Scriptures also testify to their clarity. It must be said that this does not mean that everything in Scripture is equally clear, but this refers to those things that are necessary to be believed for salvation. We see this in 2 Timothy 3:15 where Paul reminds Timothy that the Scriptures can make us wise unto salvation. Moreover, in Psalm 19:7-9, we’re told that the Scriptures make wise the simple. And in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, parents are instructed to teach their children God’s word. That would be a very odd command if the word of God was not clear. No, the Word of God is clear, it is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. It clearly shows us the path of following the Lord Jesus Christ in faith.
God’s Word may be authoritative and clear, but is it necessary? Protestant Christians have not only taught that Scripture is necessary, but they have taught that Scripture is most necessary. General revelation (creation and the image of God in man) is not enough. It is insufficient to bring us to a saving knowledge of God. If it is necessary for us to believe God’s word of promise in order to be saved, then it is necessary for us to have that word from God. And praise God that we do!
The final attribute of Scripture is often classified as sufficiency (or perfection). The Bible contains all that we need for life and godliness. It is a perfect and complete treasure of heavenly instruction. If the Bible lacked perfection or did not sufficiently or fully communicate God’s will to us, then its authority wouldn’t be absolute. One of the strongest claims of the Bible’s sufficiency is found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 where we’re told that the Scriptures have been provided so that the man of God may be complete and equipped for every good work.
When considering the attributes of Holy Scripture and why they stand or fall together, it is important to remember precisely what is being considered – just how it is that the Bible functions in relation to the believer, the church, and the Holy Spirit. In sum, when we believe God’s Word by the grace and power of the Spirit we are brought into fellowship with Christ. If God’s Word is to be believed, then it must possess the authority to issue the call for us to believe. If the Word does possess that authority, then what it is calling us to believe must necessarily be clear. Such authority and clarity actually presupposes the fact that the Word is necessary for faith and life. If the Word is necessary for faith and life, then it must also be sufficient for faith and life.
In order for sinners to be saved it is necessary for God to speak authoritatively, clearly, and completely (sufficiently/perfectly). If God does not speak in this way, then there is no hope of salvation, but the glorious good news is this – he has. This is not just some abstract idea that has no connection to your life. As you read God’s Word this week in your quiet time, or as you study God’s Word in your Bible Study, or as we gather to hear from God’s Word on Sunday morning we can rejoice that we are reading, studying, and hearing God’s personal Word to us. May we all, as Psalm 49:1 says, “Give ear.”
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