— By REV. LOU TISCIONE
An often-heard question asked by Christians is, “What do I need to live as a Christian?”
The search begins before looking at the obvious answer. God has provided all that His people need to live in Christ. God calls, regenerates, converts, adopts, sanctifies and promises to bring His people to glory. Romans 8:28-30 clearly reveals God’s sovereign actions in making a people for Himself.
If this is true and it is, then the Christian ought to expect that God has provided everything necessary for living. Jesus said that God, the Father, knows our needs and He will provide everything we need for this life. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Yet, many Christians are ill-informed concerning the means that God has given for everyday life in Christ. The answer to the question, “What do I need to live as a Christian?” is the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Scriptures.
The Bible is God’s word to Man. The Apostle Paul said all Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Apostle Peter equated Paul’s writing with the whole of Scripture. (2 Peter 3:16) God warned His people in Deuteronomy and Revelation not to add to or subtract from His word. The Psalmist declared that all of God’s words are true.
Creation testifies to the existence of God. And the Bible gives saving knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.
The Bible is more than an ancient book. In fact, it is a collection of 66 books. Each one was written by a human author under the inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit.
Four words have been used by the Christian church to describe the Bible: inerrant, infallible, perspicuous and sufficient. Each word points to the nature and essence of its ultimate author, God.
The Bible is inerrant because God is truth and He has revealed the truth. The church has understood that the Bible is without error in the original autographs. The autographs were the actual writings of the human authors in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
Skeptics say at this point, “We don’t have any of the original autographs.” True, but we have thousands of ancient manuscripts for the New Testament and the extremely precise oral tradition copied by Hebrew scribes. The Dead Sea Scrolls supported the oral tradition almost exactly. By using all that is available, the original texts of the Bible are reconstructed.
Next, the Bible is infallible in that it is always reliable. Everything taught in the Bible can be relied upon to give good guidance for life. This doctrine of infallibility rests upon the previous doctrine of inerrancy. We can have confidence in the reliability of the Bible to guide us in the right path.
Third, the Bible is called perspicuous. Perspicuity is an unusual word, even hard to pronounce. But its meaning is simple – perspicuous means clear. The Protestant reformers recaptured the ancient church’s doctrine that light is shed upon the hard parts of Scripture by the clearer parts.
In other words, because the Bible is perspicuous, it interprets itself. As the doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility rest upon the character of God, so too does the Bible’s perspicuity. God, the one true God, is a God of revelation. He gave us the Bible so that we might come to know Him. No man can know all of God. He is infinite and we are finite. But, we can know what God wants us to know.
Finally, because the Bible is sufficient, we may apply it with confidence knowing that the word of God will “light our path.” (Psalm 119:105) The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy not only declaring the nature of scripture but also its efficacy. It was the scriptures that would make him and every Christian complete. (2 Timothy 3:17)
Evangelical churches hold to the first three doctrines of scripture. Yet, by the tremendous and unending list of church programs, the insufficiency of Scripture is demonstrated. Christians seem to be more concerned with meeting “felt needs,” in particular life situations, than learning to apply the Bible so as to live wisely. Now more than ever, we need to major on the sufficiency of the Bible, learning sound doctrine for God’s glory and our enjoyment of Him, so that we will know that the Bible is all that is necessary to live in Christ for His glory!
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is pastor Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).