THE ALL SUFFICIENCY OF THE SCRIPTURES
T. PIERCE BROWN
Normally, before we began a serious discussion of any subject, we should have an understanding of what is meant by the terms we are using. When we speak of “all sufficiency,” we do not mean that the scriptures are sufficient to answer every specific question or solve every specific problem of mankind. Whether one should go to school inTexasorTennessee, name his baby John or Zechariah, what kind of car to buy, and thousands of other questions cannot be found by a study of scriptures. We affirm that the scriptures are sufficient in providing answers to the most basic questions of life. They are sufficient in providing general principles to help us arrive at correct answers to any problems we may face, or needs which we may have. Not only that, but they provide a method by which we may use those principles in arriving at the proper conclusions about any problem we may have. The scriptures are sufficient to do what they were designed to do.
Although we need not expect God to speak to us in a still small voice, or a loud one, telling us the name of the person we are supposed to marry, or the school to which we should go or send our children, he does tell us in James 1:5, “But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” It is our conviction that this scripture still applies, and is actually another indication of the sufficiency of the scriptures. That is, the scriptures tell us specifically what to do in some cases, give us general principles or guidelines in others, then tell us how to get wisdom to apply those principles to all the problems or questions for which no specific answer is found.
So, we affirm that the scriptures are sufficient to meet all of man’s basic needs, whether spiritual, physical, mental, philosophical, moral, emotional, social or any others one might name. For example, man might feel a mental or philosophical need to know, “From whence did man come?” Scientists and philosophers have asked that question for generations, and even the space probes, costing millions of dollars, are said to be for the purpose of discovering the origin of man and the earth. The Bible is sufficient to answer that question, and all others like it. No space probe or other effort, either scientific or philosophical can do that. What is man’s purpose and where is he to go when he leaves here are similar questions that demand answers. The Bible, and only the Bible, is sufficient to answer those. No one who claims a direct revelation from God can give a better answer than we already find in the scriptures.
With that as an introduction, it may be profitable to simply examine some scriptures that indicate the sufficiency of God’s revelation, and make relevant comments on them. At this time, we want especially to contrast their claims with the claims of those who pretend they have direct contact or specific guidance from God. I knew a woman who claimed membership in the Lord’s church who said that God spoke directly to her, and even revealed to her things like which blouse she was to wear. We shall try to deal with such things in a few moments as we examine what the Bible has to say for itself.
We have said that the scriptures are sufficient to do all things they were designed to do. Note a few of the scriptures that show what they were designed for, and that they are sufficient to do that. 2 Tim.3:16says, “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.” (ASV) If you want God’s instruction in how to be righteous, you do not need some additional guidance, whether it be by some feeling that is imagined to be a leading of the Spirit, some information gained by speaking in tongues, or some other means. It comes from the scriptures. Acts20:32says, “And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified.” (ASV) If you want to be edified or go to heaven, you may get it from the Word, without additional helps, imagined or designed by man. In Acts 11:14, we find Peter recounting the reason for preaching to Gentiles. It reads, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” If one is searching for salvation, he finds it in the words of God, as Rom.1:16says, “For the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.”
Perhaps the most comprehensive verses in the Bible that show the sufficiency of the word are found in 2 Peter 1:3,4, “Seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us by his own glory and virtue; whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (ASV) It should be evident that if God has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, and granted to us the promises that allow us to partake of the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world and inherit eternal life, all through the knowledge of his word, that the word is sufficient to do for us all that needs to be done.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission as recorded in Mark 16:15ff, he said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” One should be able to see that the gospel was designed to be sufficient to save a person who believed and obeyed it. The proponents of the charismatic movement make much of what they think verses 17 and 18 teach. That is dealt with in more detail in another article, but let us emphasize here that the signs did follow them that believed, and thus confirmed the word (vs. 20). It is admitted that the words a man speaks are not sufficient if they have not been confirmed and certified. But God’s word was confirmed and certified. Paul said in Galatians 1:11, “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” He had just finished saying that if any man or angel preached any other gospel than what he had preached, let him be accursed (vss. 8-9). Those who claim that something is needed besides the gospel which was designed to save men’s souls and build them up, and give them all things that pertain to life and godliness are preaching a different gospel, and are therefore accursed.
In most cases of which I am aware, those who claim that the word of God is not sufficient, or that we now need to speak in tongues, or have some other direct connection with the Spirit, will admit that a person may be saved, and millions have been saved, without speaking in tongues. A person may be edified or built up through the word of his grace (Acts20:32). A person may be taught, reproved, corrected by the scriptures (II Tim.3:16) and receive all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of the scriptures (II Pet. 1:3). Yet, while admitting all that, they still affirm that there is a need for some miraculous ability in addition to the word. It does not seem to matter that they contradict both themselves and the Bible.
For the past 50 years I have tried to find out from them exactly what man needs in any area of his life that is not provided by the scriptures, and have been unable to get an answer. I am still looking for someone who claims to have this miraculous ability, whether it is speaking in tongues, healing the sick, or any other power or direct leading of the Spirit, who will demonstrate that they are spiritually, physically, mentally, morally or otherwise better than one who does not claim to have that ability, but firmly depends on the word of God for his needs. When some of the leading television evangelists who make the claims, go to prison for fraud, admit their adulterous activities, and none can show anything good they have that is not produced by the word, surely any thoughtful person should be able to see that the Bible is all sufficient, and those who claim otherwise are at least mistaken, if not frauds.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Phone: (615) 528-3600