The All-sufficiency of the Scriptures
Larry Ray Hafley
The terms of our topic and title need little, if any, definition. The word, "sufficient," means, "enough; equal to the end proposed; adequate to wants; as much as is needed" (Webster). The "Scriptures" are the sixty-six books of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Actually, our heading could read, "The Sufficiency of the Scriptures." "All-Sufficiency" represents a "double affirmative," an attempt to stress the adequacy, efficiency, and competency of the Bible. That is our theme in this brief essay.
Sufficient For What?
Road maps are "all sufficient" in making out one's route to a specific destination, but they cannot tell one how to make and bake a cake. The Scriptures are complete for their intended purposes. However, the Scriptures are not sufficient for the following:
1. To Teach One How To Be A Protestant Or Catholic. They were not designed for that goal. One will not learn how to be a Protestant by studying the Scriptures. One will not become a "good Catholic" by searching the Sacred Volume. Why not? Because the Bible was not written for those reasons.
2. To Teach One How To Be A Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Etc. Many honest, sincere, but mistaken people want to please God in a denominational church. The doctrines and instructions that "confirm" one in the Lutheran Church do not make that person a Baptist. If one follows and obeys Baptist doctrine, he does not become a Methodist. Methodist doctrine makes Methodists. Baptist doctrine begets Baptists. Presbyterian doctrine produces Presbyterians. How could one learn to become a "Southern" or a "Missionary Baptist" by reading only the Bible? Could one take the Bible alone and find out how to become a member of the United Pentecostal Church? No, the Bible is not sufficient for those ends. It is not written to teach one how to be a member of any denominational church.
3. To Teach One How To Be A Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, or Christian Scientist. One will not discover how to become a member of any modern cult by, reading the word of God. To be a Mormon, you must follow the doctrines of Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. It requires Studies in the Scriptures and the doctrines of the Watchtower Society to make one a Jehovah's Witness. One must accept something in addition to the Bible in order to be what they are. These groups do not believe the Bible is sufficient or complete. Thus, they deny the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures.
The Scriptures Are Sufficient
1. To Teach One How To Be Saved. One can be saved by reading the Bible only. If he never reads the creeds or catechisms of men, he can find what he must do to be saved by reading the Scriptures. "Sirs, what must I do to be saved" (Acts 16:30,31). "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:37,38).
John wrote "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (Jn. 20:30,31). Are the Scriptures sufficient to that end? Or did John fail? Further, Peter said that God "hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3). So, one can be saved by taking the Bible alone. One can be saved without ever hearing of Joseph Smith or Ellen G. White. Can the same be said about the Bible?
2. To Teach One How To Be Faithful Unto Death. The apostle Peter tells the Christian to add to his faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. He then commands him to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall (2 Pet. 1:5-10). The Scriptures, therefore, are complete; they are all that is essential for the child of God to continue in a saved condition.
3. To Equip One Completely Unto Every Good Work. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Surely, no comment is needed on this passage.
The Scriptures Claim To Be Sufficient
If there were no passages that directly affirmed the completeness of the Scriptures, we would be assured by the material above that the Scriptures assume their own innate finality, authority, and sufficiency. The sufficiency of the Bible is necessarily implied and directly stated.
1. Necessary Implication: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deut. 12:32). "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (Prov. 30:6). "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). Also, see Revelation 22:18,19. These statements imply the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures. If the word of God was not enough, the admonitions and prohibitions in the verses above would not have been uttered. The fact that God forbids addition or subtraction relative to His word indicates that it is all that is required.
2. Direct Statement: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" (Psa. 19:7). "Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints", hide 3). See 2 Timothy 3:16,17, quoted above. The word, "once," in Jude 3 denotes that which is of perpetual validity. The same term is used in Hebrews 9:26,28; 10:10. Jesus suffered "once," one time for all time. He was "once offered to bear the sins of many," i.e., one time for all time. His sacrifice was once for all. It needs no repetition or addition. It is final, complete, sufficient. Just so, the faith, the gospel, has been once for all delivered.
In John 16:13, Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into "all truth." That truth is the word of God (Jn. 17:17). The Spirit delivered all the truth. If He did not, Jesus was wrong, and the Spirit failed His mission. If He did guide them "into all the truth" (American Standard Version of Jn. 16:13), we have it in the Scriptures and alleged latter day revelations are falsehoods. (Cf. Gal. 1:8,9). As a corollary to this, Peter's affirmation that we have been given "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3) shows that latter day revelations pertain unto death and ungodliness. If there is another revelation today that has to do with life and godliness, Peter was wrong when he said God "hath given" (past perfect tense) it all.
If We Need More
First, if revelation apart from the Bible is necessary, to whom should we go? Should we listen to the Pope and follow the traditions of Catholicism? Should-we follow Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon? Should we receive the doctrines of Ellen G. White and Seventh Day Adventism? Should we seek revelation from the "prophets" of Pentecostalism? Should we follow Mohammed and receive the Koran? "Lord, to whom shall we go?" Once one turns from the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures, he is obligated to prove to us where we can obtain true revelation.
Second, if the Bible is not sufficient, it is not even a good book because it claims to be all that is necessary.
Third, if we need latter day revelation to be saved, what happened to all who died in centuries past without these modern revelations?
Fourth, if latter day revelations are of God, why do present day prophets, speaking, as they claim they do, by the Spirit contradict the words of the Spirit in the Bible? Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Some today who claim to speak by the Spirit deny this (cf. Acts 2:38). The Bible says there is "but one body" or church of Christ (1 Cor. 12:20; Eph. 1:22,23; 2:16; 4:4; Col. 1:18,24). Yet, most all modern day "prophets" and revelators tell us that one can join the church of his choice. Some women preachers say they speak as the Spirit leads them as the apostles did. When they preach, they do the very thing the Spirit in the Bible tells them not to do (1 Tim. 2:11,12; 1 Cor. 14:34,35)! If
they speak by the Spirit of Christ, why do they contradict the Spirit in the Bible?
Fifth, if latter day revelations are being given, why do the speakers contradict one another? Paul, Peter and the other apostles and prophets of the Bible taught the same things (1 Cor. 15:11; Eph. 3:3-6). Can one imagine Peter contradicting Paul, or James denying Matthew, or Luke teaching the opposite of John? No, the Spirit who spoke through them was consistent. However, Pentecostal prophets and others contradict one another. Some say there is one person in the Godhead (United Pentecostals). Others (Assembly of God) say there are three persons. Some say they can and should "take up serpents." Others say it is wrong to "tempt God" by doing so. If all these folks are speaking by the same Spirit, why do they contradict one another? Is God the author of confusion?
Sixth, if there are inspired prophets today, should we not paste their words in our Bibles and use them as we do the Scriptures?
The Scriptures are all-sufficient. Men who alter or amend them in any manner are accursed. They are the word of God, and, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11).
Truth Magazine XXI: 30, pp. 470-471