The Sufficiency of the Bible – Part 3

Yesterday my family and I finished reading in our after breakfast Bible reading time the section of Chapter 8, “The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (4) Sufficiency,” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology in which he considers seven practical applications of the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Bible.

5. The sufficiency of the Bible means that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by the Bible either directly or by implication. In our family discussion we observed that women’s wearing slacks was considered a sin in the churches that my wife and I grew up in even though slacks were commonly worn by women and thus wearing them was not a violation of Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman shall not wear a man’s clothes, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God” (ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV). Of course churches and families can make rules for their group, such as this one that our family used to have, “Children may watch television
for no more than a hour on school nights.” Such a rule would deny the sufficiency of the Bible only if it were generalized to apply to all Christians.

6. Similarly the sufficiency of the Bible means that nothing is required of us by God that is not commanded in the Bible either directly or by implication. This means that we aren’t required to do what someone claims that God has revealed to them for us to do unless it can be confirmed by the Bible. It also indicates, according to Grudem, that the focus of our search for God’s will should be on the Bible rather than on praying for changed circumstances or feelings or for direct guidance by the Holy Spirit. He says that doing so will enable us to say with the Psalmist, “Great peace have those who love your law, nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

7. The sufficiency of Scripture also means that in our doctrinal and moral teaching we should emphasize what the Bible teaches and be content with what God tells us in it. We should remember that “the secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29) and that God has revealed to us in the Bible exactly what He wants us to know. Unfortunately, as Grudem points out, the doctrinal matters that divide evangelical denominations from one another are mainly matters on which the Bible places little emphasis, such as the “proper” form of church government. That doesn’t mean that the issues are unimportant or that the Bible doesn’t give solutions to them, but it is too bad that they separate denominations.

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