Systematic Theology 7: Necessity of Scripture

So far we’ve looked at CA of SCAN, this post is about N. The next one will be S, I know, I know, we’ve followed a logical sequence.

The Necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the Gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but it is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing about God’s character and moral law.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably want to read that sentence over again. It basically says that we need the Bible in order to do 3 specific things, but we don’t need it to do 2 other  specific things. Grudem, in the chapter, basically runs through these 5 activities providing Bible passages to support each one.

Truthfully (and personally), this chapter was a little difficult to digest. Let me try and explain… On a spectrum of unhealthy relationships to the Bible (with one side being Bible-idolatry and the other being Bible-apathy) – I definitely fall on the side of Bible-idolatry. I love the Bible! Love reading it, and using it. I think Christians everywhere should be making every effort to read it and submerge themselves in it and live it! (All good right? – Yes!) Most of my discipleship efforts involve getting people into the Word and reading it and letting it speak to them and challenge them and encouraging them to live by it.

apathy

However, I was recently reminded of the fact that the early church didn’t have Bibles – certainly not what we would recognise as “Bibles”. They had letters from Paul and probably segments of Gospels to read, but most people couldn’t read! So it had to be read to them. Therefore, the idea of carrying your own personal Bible around, was a completely foreign concept to the Christian. So how did they manage? Good question. Hence why my difficulty with this doctrine…

All this to say, my understanding of the Necessity of Scripture was on questionable ground. Especially when you add into the mix, if these stories are to be believed, that people come to know about the Gospel through dreams and Jesus visiting them in their sleep.

One of the helpful things Grudem does in this chapter, is outline two types of revelation:

  • General Revelation: Which is revelation from God, that comes to all humanity through creation.
  • Special revelation: Which is all the words of Scripture, but is not limited to the Words of Scripture (e.g Prophecies and Visions).

Through General Revelation we can know that God exists (The heavens declare His glory), and we can know something of His Character and Moral Law (Romans 2.14-15). However we need Special Revelation (which usually comes to us, here in the Western 21st century, through the Scriptures), in order to know the Gospel. The Gospel which reconciles God’s Justice and Mercy, which tells of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

I’m still a little stuck on working this all out, luckily I’m part of a Church with others who can help me in this area. But, something that does come to mind is the concept of stewardship which Jesus introduces. Can we be trusted to use and make the most of what we have received? From those who are entrusted with much, much will be expected. The early Church didn’t have “Bibles” as we know them today. But we do. Therefore we are expected to be faithful stewards of them: reading, studying, learning, obeying, praying, meditating on Scripture.

One other thing that encouraged me from this chapter, is that the Bible is necessary for maintaining our Spiritual life. Jesus said in Matthew 4, that Man does not live on bread alone. Deut 32:47 says that His words are our life! May we daily come before God’s word, knowing that it sustains us. That it will give us God’s will.

Let me finish with the Romans passage that most strongly supports this doctrine:

…For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:13-17

Sorry for a slightly messy post. I’m still learning.

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