Systematic Theology 8: Sufficiency of Scripture (Freedom and Challenge)

For those counting – 11 days since my last post. My excuse, training. I was away last week on training and my usual morning routine got scuppered. But we’re back at it now, so for those following along, we’re at the final characteristic of Scripture: Sufficiency. And this is the last chapter on the Doctrine of the Word of God! 1 down 6 to go and with that level of maths, provided I finish a ‘Part’ every two months, this monster of a book will count towards my 52 target (Ooorah!)

The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting Him perfectly, and for obeying Him perfectly. 

I’ve  underlined the second part of this definition because I think that this is where it really matters for Christians today. The first bit has to do with the construction of the Old Testament, which is great for people who lived in those days (and those engaged in study of those days) – but not super relevant for us.

So what three things stood out to me after reading?

  1. Surprisingly, it was what Grudem discussed about the role of the Church – given this doctrine. A natural question to follow the SoS is, what is the point of the Church (it’s teaching, sermons, people, books etc)? Grudem explains that the Church’s role should be to help apply and understand Scripture, NOT to add to it’s teaching. This is where – Grudem explained – there lies a big distinction between the Catholic Church and the Protestant.
  2. Along these lines, the sufficiency of Scripture, means that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by scripture either explicitly or by implication. Therefore we don’t need to add rules and prohibitions for Christians everywhere to follow. There are times when drinking coffee, going to the movies, dancing  etc. are wrong for certain believer(s) at certain times/places, because of the principles provided in Scripture (1 Cor 8, Rom 14) but these prohibitions should not be enforced on other believers universally. Grudem explains that doing this – can lead to severe harm to the Church (unnecessary feelings of guilt/shame, frustrated prayer life – because believers are praying to be “set free” from sins that aren’t sins and division in the Body.)
  3. However the opposite is also true, if we believe that Scripture has all we need to equip us to know God’s will, to trust Him perfectly and come to Salvation, we should be reading it and eagerly searching it. Everything we need to live a godly life has been provided, the Scriptures will equip us for every good work and will sharpen and teach us the way forward.

In addition to reading the book, I am also working through Wayne Grudem’s lecture series on these topics, they seem to finish with a Q&A at the end where his students ask the tough questions. I would recommend it. They can be found in the form of an Itunes podcast but also on the same page where I find the lecture notes: http://www.christianessentialssbc.com/messages/

Next time we start Part 2: Doctrine of God!

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