Did you know that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service? It’s true! And in fact the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. Sadly, it’s a tenet that has long been under vicious attack from within our own visible, modern churches.
But be assured that no other writings are needed for the Gospel to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith. Everything else – entertainment, extra-biblical revelations, mysticism, spiritual deliverance ministries and some forms of psychological counseling all declare that the Bible and its precepts are not enough. But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is found in every word of the Word; the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.
Consider 2 Timothy 3:15–17:
“…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
The Christian has absolutely no need for additional revelations, visions, words of prophecy, or insights from modern psychology. God’s Word is true and absolutely comprehensive. Rather than seeking something more than God’s glorious revelation, Christians need only to study and obey what they already have. Scripture is sufficient.
Consider the following observations from Psalm 19:7–9, in which David makes six statements, each highlighting a characteristic of Scripture to paint a beautiful picture of the sufficiency of God’s Word:
Scripture Is Perfect, Restoring the Soul In the first statement (v. 7), David says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” This word “perfect” is the translation of a common Hebrew word meaning “whole,” “complete,” or “sufficient.” It conveys the idea of something that is comprehensive, so as to cover all aspects of an issue. Scripture is comprehensive, embodying all that is necessary to one’s spiritual life. David’s implied contrast here is with the imperfect, insufficient, flawed reasoning of men. To paraphrase David’s words, Scripture is so powerful and comprehensive that it can convert or transform the entire person, changing someone into precisely the person God wants him to be. God’s Word is sufficient to restore through salvation even the most broken life—a fact to which David himself gave abundant testimony.
Scripture Is Trustworthy, Imparting Wisdom David further expands the sweep of scriptural sufficiency in Psalm 19:7, writing, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” David’s use of the word “sure” means that the Lord’s testimony is unwavering, immovable, unmistakable, reliable, and worthy to be trusted. It provides a foundation on which to build one’s life and eternal destiny.
God’s sure Word makes the simple wise (v. 7). The Hebrew word translated “simple” comes from an expression meaning “an open door.” It evokes the image of a naive person who doesn’t know to shut his mind to false or impure teaching. He is undiscerning, ignorant, and gullible, but God’s Word makes him wise. Such a man is skilled in the art of godly living: He submits to Scripture and knows how to apply it to his circumstances. The Word of God thus takes a simple mind with no discernment and makes it skilled in the issues of life.
Scripture Is Right, Causing Joy In verse 8, David adds a third statement about Scripture’s sufficiency: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” Rather than simply indicating what is right as opposed to wrong, the word translated “right” has the sense of showing someone the true path. The truths of Scripture lay out the proper path through the difficult maze of life. That brings a wonderful confidence. So many people are distressed or despondent because they lack direction and purpose, and most of them seek answers from the wrong sources. God’s Word not only provides the light to our path (Ps. 119:105), but also sets the route before us.
Because it steers us through the right course of life, God’s Word brings great joy. If one is depressed, anxious, fearful, or doubting, the solution is found not in self-indulgent pursuits like self-esteem and self-fulfillment. The solution is found in learning to obey God’s counsel and sharing in the resulting delight. Divine truth is the fount of true and lasting joy. All other sources are shallow and fleeting.
Scripture Is Pure, Enlightening the Eyes Psalm 19:8 gives a fourth characteristic of Scripture’s utter sufficiency: “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” This word “pure” could better be translated “clear” or “lucid,” and it indicates that Scripture is not mystifying, confusing, or puzzling. God’s Word reveals truth to make the dark things light, bringing eternity into bright focus. Granted, there are things in Scripture that are hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16), but taken as a whole, the Bible is not a bewildering book. It is clear and lucid.
Because of its absolute clarity, Scripture brings understanding where there is ignorance, order where there is confusion, and light where there is spiritual and moral darkness. It stands in stark contrast to the muddled musings of unredeemed men, who themselves are blind and unable to discern truth or live righteously. God’s Word clearly reveals the blessed, hopeful truths they can never see.
Scripture Is Clean, Enduring Forever In Psalm 19:9 David uses the term “fear” as a synonym for God’s Word: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” This “fear” speaks of the reverential awe for God that compels believers to worship Him. Scripture, in this sense, is the divine manual on how to worship the Lord. The Hebrew word “clean” speaks of the absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection. Scripture is without sin, evil, corruption, or error. The truth it conveys is therefore absolutely undefiled and without blemish.
Because it is flawless, Scripture endures forever (Ps. 19:9). Any change or modification could only introduce imperfection. Scripture is eternally and unalterably perfect. It needs no updating, editing, or refining, for it is God’s revelation for every generation. The Bible was written by the omniscient Spirit of God, who is infinitely more sophisticated than anyone who dares stand in judgment on Scripture’s relevancy for our society, and infinitely wiser than all the best philosophers, analysts, and psychologists who pass like a childhood parade into irrelevancy. Scripture has always been and will always be sufficient.
Scripture Is True, Altogether Righteous Verse 9 provides the final characteristic and effect of God’s all-sufficient Word: “The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.” The word “judgments” in this context refers to ordinances or divine verdicts from the bench of the Supreme Judge of the earth. The Bible is God’s standard for judging the life and eternal destiny of every person. Because Scripture is true, it is “righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:9). The implication of that phrase is that its truthfulness produces a comprehensive righteousness in those who accept it.
Source for above study: Gracechurch.org
Is Scripture sufficient for you?
Scofield study bible? Good choice?
Not really. Look for the MacArthur Study Bible.
Thank you for this encouraging article. I find the argument about sufficiency of the bible is sufficient only in a christian realm.
However, when for instance, postmodernism counter-argues that sufficiency right from the insufficiency of any text to claim any absolute meaning beyond context, I cannot deny that I sometime seek comfort in non biblical philosophy. Trying to vehemently use the bible for reasoning with relativist, I am afraid, could result in a premature shrugged off arguments.
Can we not use non biblical reasoning at least for opening the communication?
The Word of God will always be insufficient to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18-21, 1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 4:3) unless God opens their hearts and minds. You can’t reason faith. God commands us to believe spiritual things, not to reason them. Reasoning about spiritual things is what got Eve into trouble.
Well said B.
If one studies the history of the Greek manuscripts which form the foundation of our English Bibles, the case is ironclad in favor of a Textus Receptus bible over an Alexandrian bible and the only true Receptus Bible in English is the KJV. I had zero interest in reading a KJV bible until I spent many months trying to determine why there are so many different translations and which one is the right one. I was truly shocked by what I found. Since it is God’s voice to mankind it does matter. The results of my search can be found if you click on my name and go to my article “The War For God’s Word.”
Berlorac, When I study my Bible , does that mean I don’t trust my Bible alone, if I seek the help of tools that God provides, I.e study bibles, commentaries, etc, etc.
I don’t think so, and I don’t you think so either. As long what they teach is Bible based.Without their help, I would have not the understanding I have now.
And of course solid Bible teachers also help.
BTW The verses you quoted 1Cor and 2Cor have in my view nothing to do with what we are talking about. Those verses are directed to unregenerate sinful men, that don’t have any interest in the Bible at all.
We here are talking about Christians that are willing to learn more, and in turn seek Bible based tools to learn. I don’t see anything wrong in that.
And I noticed also that Sola Scriptura agreed with you, but yet he starts his comment,” If one studies the history of the Greek manuscripts etc.”
My question, why does he have to study these manuscripts, if he knows it all.
It just doesn’t make any sense.
My man Marinus….I know little, other than the fact that the Alexandrian Manuscripts, used by all new versions have been corrupted from day one.
I loved B’s point. It was spot on. Then I decided to throw out a nugget about Bibe translations, because I was deceived for 25 years. The new versions have many critical doctrinal points wrong, and they are wrong intentionally.
Marinus, I think you mis-read what I said. I was responding to the previous comment in which Drma said that he wanted to approach unbelievers by using philosophy. My response was that it is not for us to reason someone into faith. We preach the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit open hearts and minds through His Word. God commands all men to repent and believe the Gospel, not to try to reason it. Either one believes the Father concerning His Son, or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of reason, but of faith.
Excellent point Berlorac. We are to reason from the authority of God’s Word. When we reason from a secular stance, we step away from that authority. The Gospel is good enough, and we must remember that we are not the Holy Spirit; He will convict the heart with truth. Then will the truth be heard and responded to.
In my walk with The Lord, His Word has always been more than sufficient, it’s all there. There’s no need to add man’s wisdom (foolishness) to make it either whole, relevant, or practical. That’s what false teachers do, they attack the sufficiency so they can I never their foolishness, it traps the undiscerning. Subtle and insidious are the marks of those that question the sufficiency of God’s Word.
I was curious to read the comments, but apparently I’m alone in my reading of this article. Does no one else see the irony in this article? You say that you don’t need anything to translate or otherwise interpret the Bible, but then you spend this entire article translating how you read those portions of the Bible? Along the same question, if the Bible needs no translation, why do you need a study bible, isn’t it clear enough?
Peter I agree with you.
Peter, there is a difference between making use of the commentaries and other tools put forth by Godly and capable men, and seeking extra-Biblical revelation, such as what we see coming out of the NAR.
Many men have written commentaries in which there is exposition of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, as well as insights into history and culture that help us to understand the context of the Scriptures. That’s all good.
What is not good are the “revelations” of mystics and “prophets” who tell us things that contradict the Scripture.
And if there’s a revelatilon that does not contradict scripture? “Despise prophesies,” says Paul. “Test nothing, but reject everything.” That’s what he said, right?
America is never named in the Bible, therefore it’s irrelevant to God, isn’t it? God will never say anything to America as a country, not the father, son, nor spirit, will he? Even if He did, nobody listens because God has been written and closed in a book. God is dead. He doesn’t talk to us, he just gave us his memoirs. That’s what Sola Scriptura means. Who needs the Holy Spirit? It’s not like the Spirit is God, and is here on earth.
You’ll be shutting down the blog-site then, I take it?
This is a topic that has always bothered me when it comes to interpreting scripture, discerning its proper context and applying it. I use the Greek/Hebrew lexicon and concordance, which usually offers very little in the way of historical context. I shy away from commentaries because of the writer’s spin that so often accompanies their narrative.
I have debated this issue and have even gone as far as to consider even preaching from the pulpit as commentary. The difference is that I can challenge the preacher’s statements directly in side bar. This I cannot do while utilizing commentaries.
The first tool I was instructed in while learning to interpret scripture is to allow scripture to prove scripture; that most men who write commentaries have an agenda, and I have seen this often. I agree with Manny1962 when he says,” Subtle and insidious are the marks of those that question the sufficiency of God’s Word”.
When I see the Christian Best Sellers list, my fears are realized, and I become skeptical of all writings which are extra biblical, trusting none. My bookshelf if full of half read commentaries, helps, studies and references, which I have determined to be useless in truthfully assisting in the rightly division of God’s Word. I am a slow reader; as such, my study time is valuable and I have no time to waste on erroneous commentary. Therefore I assert the admonition of II Tim3:16, 17, ” All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”, because I find Ps 19:7-11 to be perfect, sure, right, pure, enduring, true, righteous, more desirable than fine gold and sweeter than the drippings of the honey comb. His Word is sufficient and by His Spirit will I learn it.
Oftentimes, it is safer to read commentaries from the respected “old guys” rather than consulting newer commentaries. No teacher/theologian has strengths in all areas of theology. A good teacher will point out legitimate disagreements in how certain passages are interpreted and will explain, based on Scripture, what the likely meaning is.
I love II Timothy 3:16. It does it all.
With it, you never have to explain anything. You don’t have to say what books are scripture, just use it. You can pretend that whatever part of scripture you want can be applied anywhere you want it. You can act like the Holy Spirit died with John at Patmos, so you get to do the spiritual work for Him. You can pretend that all of the Bible attests itself without a list of its own books, pretend that a human-developed canon is the Holy Spirit’s last action on earth, and in general just all-around control God, who, thanks to the closed and self-sufficient canon, isn’t allowed to interpret his own writings to us. All this with that one little verse from a book wasn’t even written by Paul. Best of all you can exclude all truth outside the canon you choose and pretend that nothing but scripture has the full truth, allowing you to make all other truth relative. Who needs the Holy Spirit, anyways?
When we see the destination… the road map makes sense. Proverbs 29:18
Good morning Amy,
It seems to me……..It’s the oldest trick in the book! Isn’t that what he devil did in Genesis? He questioned God’s suffiency! In fact the whole fiasco in Genesis was because man was influenced into questioning the providential suffiency of God! Today, attacking the sufficiency of God’s word is the favorite pastime of wolves everywhere……..Put doubt in the undiscerning sheep, introduce the heresy, standard operating procedure!
Yes, Manny. The first thing the serpent did was to cause doubt. The second step was to make a direct contradiction to God’s word. Third, he enticed Eve with self-dependency, no real need for God.
Hey brother B! Hope you’re doing well! There’s nothing like subtlety and half truths to poison the well…… We must always be on guard!
Yes, brother, we must know the tactics of the enemy. At the same time, we must know the word of God. Knowing what we believe and why we believe it will help to guard against error. The first step in that endeavor is to take God at His word and believe that the Bible is complete and sufficient.
Subtlety and half truths…exactly. As Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not [simply] knowing the difference between right and wrong; it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”
“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
Can it be any clearer? How vital is it that we feed upon His word! The word of God is sufficient, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
2 Timothy 3:16, 17
If David writing in Psalms that the Scriptures are perfect and complete, why do we need the Gospels and Paul’s letters to go in centuries later? Why did Christ need to come, if the Word was sufficient, then?
Jesus went to extreme lengths to show that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were NOT IN ANY WAY sufficient. But Christians like to lug around the Old Testament today even though Jesus came and showed He is so much greater. And Jesus said not a single word about so-called “sufficiency of scripture”. He did say He was sending Holy Spirit that would guide us to all truth.
Later, Church leaders—another thing Jesus warned us not to do—took some letters from Paul, staples them together, and declared that we don’t need the Holy Spirit anymore. NOW—said they—the Scriptures are complete.
Happy to see you all care. We cared enough to read the article, write the article and pursue truth. I have been at different places in my lifetime with this so I understand a little of the differing thoughts. I know extra-Biblical information can be incorrect, it can be as incorrect as the improper reading of a Bible passage or application of that passage. Does that mean we cast it aside?
NAR is apostasy, as are other philosophies. Do we not need to learn how to read the Bible, discern and apply? Sola Scriptura has to do with the Bible being the only inspired and inerrant word of God necessary for salvation. It doesn’t necessarily help us with application in science and things of knowledge. In fact, language of Greek and Hebrew and what it means in English is all extra-Biblical.
The OT is scripture and point to JESUS. How rich these words, they are not just extra,they show the profound Sovereignty and plan of GOD. When Paul spoke of scripture being God-breathed and useful (II Tim 3:16-17) the only scripture there was = O.T. at that time.