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1 Pet 1:23-25 “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.” (NIV)
Did you bring a Bible with you tonight? How important are the words of that book to the hope you have, and the salvation you enjoy?
In our view of contentment this morning we defined contentment as a willingness to be satisfied with what God has provided. Certainly, we can see the applications of contentment to the physical circumstances of life – in times of prosperity and in times of want.
But we might consider another application: Are we content with what God has provided in His word? Is the Bible all we need? Is Scripture enough?
Peter identifies the words of God as the foundational source (seed) of the Christian’s spiritual rebirth. As Christians, our connection to the scriptures is undeniable, inasmuch as a tree cannot ignore or deny its connection to the seed that produced it and that contains its identity.
Does the church (you and I) need anything other than the Bible to do its work? (Of course, we need God and Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit).
To believe in the ultimate sufficiency of the scriptures is to declare a position not very popular today – either in conviction or practice. Modern religion embraces a pragmatic approach that embraces what seems to work and focuses on the felt-needs of the unbeliever. Methods that draw people are more viable than what is Biblical. Preaching has given way to counseling; entertainment has replaced worship; recreation is taking the place of edification; “meeting needs” is more important than repentance unto salvation.
This popular approach is wrong for several reasons, but consider these:
- It begins with the wrong question: The pragmatist begins by asking “What do the unbelievers want?” and then builds a strategy around that. He should begin with the question, “What does God want, as revealed in His Word?”, or “What is Biblical?
- It Redefines the Biblical priorities of the church: assemblies are not supposed to be designed around unbelievers. Notice the activity of the Jerusalem church in Acts 2:42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Their assemblies centered around the preaching & teaching of God’s word and worship that drew attention to God.
- It denies the sufficiency of God’s Word: it is assumed that we need to market the gospel, disguising it and toning it down, so as to make it more appealing to unbelievers.
I. The Scripture Proclaims its Own Sufficiency. Consider again – 2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV) This passage clearly declares the inspiration of the Bible. (The term, “inspired” is the Greek word theopneustos– which means God-breathed.) But this verse also loudly proclaims the all-sufficiency of scripture in meeting the needs of every person.
A. Because Scripture links inspiration with all-sufficiency, the Bible is both wholly inspired AND wholly sufficient, or it is not inspired at all. How does this passage teach the sufficiency of scripture…
1. Scripture Teaches Truth: The word translated “doctrine” or teaching has reference to the content of scripture. The Bible is the operating manual with all the facts. We cannot please God without knowledge of the truth.
2. Scripture Reproves Sin: (profitable for reproof) the Hebrew writer describes God’s word as a 2-edged sword that cuts deep and exposes our innermost thoughts and motives. Heb 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (The term for “naked” was used of criminals who were led to execution – dagger to the throat would force him to look up.) The Bible exposes us for who we are. It not only defines our actions as right or wrong, but it discerns our thoughts and intentions.
3. Scripture Corrects Behavior: The Greek word for “correction” literally means to “straighten up or lift up”. Scripture is profitable for restoring us to a proper spiritual posture. It does not leave us hopelessly groveling in the guilt of our sin (since it has reproved us). It sets on the right path again.
4. Scripture Trains in Righteousness: It disciplines us in the things that are right, or according to God’s desire. Develops in us the positive fruits of the Spirit who delivered it – Gal 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
5. What does it take to bring a person to Christ? Scripture plus nothing.
a. Jesus gave testimony to the sufficiency of scripture in Luke 16– There are several implications from the story of the rich man in Hades. One such lesson is seen in his request to Abraham to send someone back to his brothers. He made the same mistake that many make today. He assumed that something unusual was needed to convince the unbeliever to repent. (Luke 16:30 “And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’) Abraham’s answer forever affirms the sufficiency of scripture in evangelism. (Luke 16:31 -“But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'”)
II. True Discipleship involves trusting in the sufficiency of God’s Word alone. Consider Jesus’ statement in John 6:63; 66-68 –“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life….(66) From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter recognized the sufficiency of Jesus’ words to supply his true need- even apart from the miracles that caused others to follow Him- He was willing to follow w/o the promise of being fed a meal or entertained.
A. The Consistent Apostolic Position – The Apostles called people to the sufficient Word. They displayed complete confidence in the sufficiency of God’ revealed scripture to accomplish God’s purposes.
1. Paul to Timothy– 1 Tim. 4:6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. Paul to the elders of Ephesus) – Acts 20:32“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
• note: Paul displayed an unpragmatic and uncompromising approach when he confronted Felix and Druscilla in Acts 24:24-25 “And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Notice that what Paul preached (scripture) made Felix afraid. He spoke God’s truth to them w/o regard to their status, position, power or prestige. He did not seek to comfort them or console them in order to make them more receptive. The text goes on to tell us that Felix sought to release Paul, if he would just give him what he wanted. If he could get Felix to release him he could preach to others – so why not be pragmatic about this situation? His only concern was the lost souls that stood before him. He was more willing to leave them miserable & terrified knowing their need for a Savior, than comfortable and ignorant.
2. Peter– 1 Pet. 2:2 ...as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
3. James– James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
III. A Need For Discernment of Scripture – Many have lost confidence in the sufficiency of scripture to do God’s work because they have failed to learn its truth and how to apply it to their problems. Paul tells us that the word of God is a vital part of the Christian’s spiritual armor – the only offensive weapon He is given (Eph. 6:17 – And take ..the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God😉
A. The sufficiency of the scripture to answer the temptations of Satan is exhibited through Jesus’ ability to properly apply the right truth in the right circumstance. (Matt. 4:1-11) How is your skill with the sword of the Spirit?
B. In Paul’s description in Eph. 6:17 (sword of the Spirit) He uses a word that doesn’t indicate a large battle sword we often think of. The word described a small sword (like a dagger or knife) that was sharp on both edges, and could be inserted with precision. The term he used for “word” in this verse means a single, specific statement. To apply a single statement of God to the specific circumstances of my life.
1. When Peter preached at Pentecost, people were “pricked” in their heart (Acts 2:38). This word may bring to our mind a small mosquito bite or a pin-prick. But Vines tells us that this word means literally to “strike violently, to stun.” NIV & NKJV say “cut to the heart” – These people didn’t get a pin-prick, they reeled from the stunning punch of God’s word. Jer. 23:29 “Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Notice the power of God’s word to move these people to respond. Peter did not undertake to win them over to Christ, engineering a positive response, so that they might accept Him as their Savior. He didn’t entertain them or make them feel good. He just told them the truth. That’s the only methodology the Holy Spirit uses.
C. The sufficiency of the scripture can only be evident when we seek to communicate all the truth God has revealed. We cannot avoid doctrine because it appears to be confrontational or unappealing to the unconverted. Matt. 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Conclusion: As a follow-up and application to Paul’s declaration on the inspiration and sufficiency of scripture (2 Tim. 3:16) he writes this… 2 Tim 4:1-5 – I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. . But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. “
These words declare our mandate from Jesus. We must strive to preach the word plus nothing. We must be content with what God has provided. In pursuit of that goal we call you to obey the words of the scripture (all the words) on how to be forgiven of sins.
- He that believes and is baptized will be saved… Mark 16:16