Wayne Grudem: “The Bible is enough.”
Is the Bible enough for knowing what God wants us to believe and what he wants us to do?
The sufficiency of Scripture means that:
- it contains all the words of God he intended his people to have in each stage of redemptive history, and
- it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.
Scripture contains everything we need for salvation.
In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul says that Scripture is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Paul goes on to write about Scripture containing everything we need to live the Christian life. Paul goes on to write that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
This is known as the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.
What does this mean for us?
We can focus on the Bible alone.
The sufficiency of Scripture enables us to focus our search for God’s words to us on the Bible alone.
This is what the leaders of the Reformation called sola scriptura—Scripture alone. Scripture is the only absolute authority for our faith and for Christian practice.
But wait. Doesn’t God guide us individually and speak to our hearts?
Yes, I believe God does do that. The Bible talks in Romans 8 and in Galatians about being led by the Spirit of God. I do believe God can guide individuals based on a subjective sense of leading or guiding from the Holy Spirit.
But the sufficiency of Scripture means you shouldn’t write it down in the back of your Bible and add it to the words of Scripture.
And you shouldn’t try to force what God has led you to do onto other Christians as a general requirement or principle.
We can understand what God says.
In the Bible, it’s possible to find all that God has said on particular topics, and it’s possible to find the answers to our doctrinal and ethical questions.
If someone wants to know what the Bible says about raising children, or about marriage, or about truthfulness and lying, it’s possible to learn what God says about those topics in his Word. Yes, it may take some work. But ultimately, God has given us answers to questions about these topics, and they are found in Scripture.
This is good news. It should encourage us.
We can evaluate history in light of Scripture.
The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture also helps us evaluate how to read the history of the church.
Throughout 2,000 years of church history, many people have written about theology and ethics. These writings sometimes help us understand what’s in Scripture.
But the teachings and writings from church history should never be used as a substitute for the teachings of Scripture about how to live the Christian life.
This is because, ultimately, our search for answers to theological or ethical questions is not a search to find out what different believers have believe throughout the history of the church. That may be helpful for us.
Instead, our search must be focused on a quest to find out what God himself says to us in his own words.
Those words are found in Scripture alone.
We cannot add to Scripture.
The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture should remind us that we should never attempt to add anything to Scripture. We shouldn’t consider any other writings of equal value to Scripture.
In this way, we differ with our Mormon friends who would count the Book of Mormon as having equal value and truthfulness to the Bible.
We differ with Christian Scientists who add the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to the words of Scripture.
And we differ with our Roman Catholic friends in instances where they put the traditions and authoritative teachings of the church as a source equal to—or in practice, sometimes superior to—the authority of Scripture.
The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture also warns us.
God can guide us individually, and we can be led by the Holy Spirit. But no sense of modern revelation from God should ever be placed on a level equal to Scripture in authority. It must always be subject to Scripture and tested by Scripture.
There’s something else that’s very important: we shouldn’t make up lists of additional sins that aren’t forbidden by Scripture or by implication. In our doctrine and ethical teaching, we should emphasize what Scripture emphasizes, and be content with what God has told us in Scripture.
We can be assured that the Bible is enough.
Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us that “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”
The Bible that God has given us is enough.
We should be content with that, praise him for it, and trust him for it.
There is much more to learn about the doctrine of Scripture.
To help you get started, I have worked with Zondervan to create a free online course: Introduction to the Bible: The Doctrine of Scripture.
In this free course, you will learn:
- How we can know the Bible really is God’s Word
- How the biblical canon was formed
- The different forms of the Word of God
- How we can know the Bible is inerrant
You’ll also get access to professional filmed video lectures and readings from Systematic Theology. I think you’ll find it to be a helpful introduction to a very important doctrine.
This online course is free for a limited time, so I encourage you to sign up.
Sign up complete.