Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE”

Psalm 119.105

 

I would like you to read a portion of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, the forerunner of the Philadelphia Baptist Confession and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession, which summarizes and condenses into brief form what Baptists generally believe about the Bible.

 

THE 1689 CONFESSION

 

CHAPTER I

 

THE HOLY SCRIPTURE

 

1  THE Holy Scripture is the all-sufficient, certain and infallible rule or standard of the knowledge, faith and obedience that constitute salvation. Although the light of nature, and God’s works of creation and providence, give such clear testimony to His goodness, wisdom and power that men who spurn them are left inexcusable, yet they are not sufficient of themselves to give that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation. In consequence the merciful Lord from time to time and in a variety of ways has revealed Himself, and made known His will to His church. And furthermore, in order to ensure the preservation and propagation of the truth, and the establishment and comfort of the church against the corrupt nature of man and the malice of Satan and the world, He caused this revelation of Himself and His will to be written down in all its fulness. And as the manner in which God formerly revealed His will has long ceased, the Holy Scripture becomes absolutely essential to men.

 

Ps. 19:1-3; Prov. 22:19-21; Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Rom. 1:19-21; 2:14, 15; 15:4; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:19, 20.[1]

 

Without in any way seeking to diminish the significance of this entire first paragraph, since our position on the Word of God is obviously foundational to everything else we believe, let me nevertheless focus your attention this morning exclusively on the first phrase that we read, and the last phrase that we read. “THE Holy Scripture is the all-sufficient. . . the Holy Scripture becomes absolutely essential to men.” Thus, the Baptists in London in 1689, and the Baptists in Philadelphia about twenty years later, and then the Baptists in New Hampshire about a hundred years after that, subscribed to the notion that the Bible, God’s Word, this Book comprised of sixty-six books, is not only sufficient to the Christian’s well being, but that this Book is also essential to the Christian’s well being. That position is fully embraced by this church.

It is to that end that we turn to Psalm 119.105: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” This verse shows the Word of God to be indispensable to the child of God on his journey from where he is along the dark pathways of life to where he is destined by God to arrive.

Notice, if you will that God’s Word is not a lamp to my eyes, as though it brightly illuminates everything I want to see, for that is not the case at all for those who walk by faith rather than by sight. Neither does the Bible shine so brightly that we can clearly see every place where we may choose to step. However, scripture truth does shine brightly enough to show me where I am, and where I ought to place my foot to take the next step in my journey. Thus, the child of God, who has accumulated some wisdom since his conversion experience, knows full well that the variables are too many, the surprises come upon you too quickly, the dangers are too well hidden, the enemies are too numerous to keep track of, and the route to travel through life is far too complex, for even the most seasoned of Christians to safely pass without a reliable guide.

What might that reliable guide be? There is the rub with many people professing to be Christians. Who would be so foolish and place so little value on his life that he trusts in his own wisdom to make such crucial decisions? Tragically, so many who recognize their own deficiencies claim that guidance should be obtained by means of the Spirit’s leading in response to prayer. You may frequently hear those of Pentecostal or Charismatic persuasion, and even many evangelicals and Baptists, speak of God telling them to do this or to do that, by means (they believe) of the Spirit’s leading. I would never discount the benefit of praying to God for wisdom. However, those who lean on their misunderstanding of Romans 8.14, where Paul declared, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” assume without proof that the Spirit of God leads by means of supernatural nudges and direct communiqués from heaven. I dispute that. This same Apostle Paul wrote, in Second Corinthians 11.14, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” Thus, our enemy’s capacity for deception is so remarkable as to leave us utterly defenseless in the face of various leadings and influences. This is why the Apostle John encouraged sanctified suspicion with regard to spirits, in First John 4.1, where he wrote, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” How, then, are we to try the spirits whether they are of God? As well, what is it to be led of the Spirit? My friends, keeping in mind that the Spirit of God is the Author of this Book, Second Timothy 3.16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” to be led of the Spirit of God is to simply yield to the dictates of scripture, to obediently bow to the authority of the Word, to just do what the Bible says to do.

I know objections rise up to what I have said, and even honest questions. Some will ask, what about the filling of the Holy Spirit? Does not the Apostle Paul write, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit,” in Ephesians 5.18? He most certainly does. The question, however, is what is meant by being filled with the Spirit? Hold on to Ephesians 5.18 while turning to Colossians 3.16, where we read the first portion of the verse: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Read from Ephesians 5.18 when you get home, and then read from Colossians 3.16, and you will notice two long lists of conduct following both verses. Careful consideration of those lists will show you that the categories of behavior in both passages are identical. Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, submission, love, obedience, honor, and a warning against provoking your son to wrath.

What does this mean? Follow me: If being filled with the Spirit results in predictable behavior that is listed for us by Paul, and if letting the Word of Christ dwell richly in you results in the very same behavior, then to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the same thing as letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. The conclusion your inquiry will lead to is that someone is truly filled with the Holy Spirit of God when he is profoundly affected and influenced by the Word of Christ, the Bible, the Book the Holy Spirit wrote. Thus, God’s plan for you to negotiate the tricky and sometimes winding path along the dark journey called the Christian life is to follow the instruction manual, to stick closely to the road map, to rely upon the only objective and unchangeable source of truth you have access to this side of heaven. That source of truth is the Bible, forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119.89).

 

·         Need wisdom for raising children? The Bible has the answers.

·         Need guidance for finding a spouse? Look no farther than the Bible.

·         Find yourself in conflict with someone? God’s Word shows you how to deal with it.

·         Are you finding yourself strapped for cash in this present downturn? The Bible speaks to that.

·         Trying to gain insight about reacting to disappointment and the afflictions of life? Guess where you find authoritative insight?

·         How about personal sins and shortcomings that frequently plague the child of God? The Bible speaks both to the problem of sins and the problems related to the state of mind, the guilt, and discouragements, which accompany sins.

 

I could go on and on, but I think I have at least begun to make the point I was aiming for, that the Bible is sufficient and essential. Without the objective truth of God’s Word, you will find yourself wandering in the spiritual wilderness, perhaps reading this best seller and then that, and certainly tossed to and fro by every new thing you hear and every supernatural nudge that Satan’s demons conjure up to trick you. No wonder they are referred to as seducing spirits, and what they advocate as being the doctrines of devils.[2]

Oh, Christian, why do you think God went to all the trouble to provide you with a Bible of your very own? More than forty men, over the span of 1600 years, in a half dozen different countries, and in three languages. As well, why did so many godly men and women give their lives to provide us with the Bible in our own language? God did what He did, and so many believers did what they did, because the Bible is sufficient and because the Bible is essential. I will never forget Brother Ibrahim ag Mohamed’s words, “The Bible is enough.” That was his way of declaring to us the sufficiency of God’s Word. No wonder the enemy attacks the credibility of the Bible, challenging its authorship, being blind to its unity, and failing to grasp its genius.

I have to this point spoken only about the sufficiency of the Bible for the Christian, the child of God, the believer in Jesus Christ. God’s Word is the only necessary and the completely sufficient source of truth for the Christian to negotiate the dark and treacherous path we call the Christian life. However, what is to be said about the person who is not a Christian, who is not a believer, who is not a child of God? What about that fellow who does not walk the path of life because he is presently dead in trespasses and sins?[3] The Bible is as important for you who are not Christians as it is for those of us who are Christians, but for different reasons and in a different way.

Let me begin this part of our conversation with a short history lesson. Though there have always been pockets of lively and orthodox Christianity down through history since the time of Christ’s apostles, and many of them identifiable as embracing Baptist principles, the dominant religious entity in the west, of course, was the Roman Catholic Church, which early on had strayed from Christian orthodoxy on such important matters as sin, salvation, and also scripture. When God worked in the life of a Roman Catholic named Martin Luther (who founded the Lutheran movement), to kick off what history records as the Protestant Reformation, a serious back-to-the-Bible movement began five hundred years ago that resulted in a series of Latin phrases coming down to us that very succinctly sum up the Reformer’s position on the main issues of their day. In opposition to what the Church of Rome taught, the Reformers embraced Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, and Soli Deo Gloria. In brief, these Solas refer to salvation by scripture alone, by Christ alone, by grace alone, by faith alone, and for God’s glory alone. The reason I bring these five Solas up this morning is that they effectively and efficiently summarize what the Bible teaches in connection with the salvation of a sinner from his sins.

Let me begin with Soli Deo Gloria, salvation is solely for God’s glory. In other words, God does not need to save any sinner, but does so for His Own glory. Though we have not the time this morning, read John chapters 12-17, and take note of how the Father is glorified when sinners are converted to Christ. John 15.8, Jesus speaking to His apostles, said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.”

Sola Fide is the position that justification is by faith alone, apart from works of righteousness. Romans 5.1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Sola Gratia recognizes that salvation is by grace alone, that is, salvation from the penalty of sins is a gift from God that is neither worked for nor in any way deserved by any sort of effort. Romans 6.23, “. . . the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Ephesians 2.5: “By grace ye are saved.”

Solus Christus asserts that Jesus, the Messiah, is the only Savior of sinful men’s souls. In John 14.6, Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In Acts 4.12, Peter proclaimed this about his master, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Sola Scriptura is really the bedrock foundation of the other Solas, since the Bible is our source of objective truth as opposed to changing opinions. Sola Scriptura means our rule of faith and practice is the Bible and only the Bible. This does not mean we do not read books or listen to the opinions of others, though it does mean the ultimate authority by which we judge and evaluate God’s will for our lives and everyone else’s life is this Book. We declare what we believe and do not apologize for it to anyone.

That said, what does the Bible teach us about the place the Bible has in the salvation of a sinner? Allow me to quickly summarize, in this sermon that is really a shallow survey of the sufficiency of scripture. Four things: First, please turn to James 1.18: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” Remember, in John 3.7, when Jesus told Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again”? Well, that is what the word “begat” refers to in James 1.18, being born again. James 1.18 informs us that when a sinner is born again, his new birth comes about by means of the Word of God, through the instrumentality of the word of truth. Most of you heard Brother Ibrahim’s testimony during our Missions Conference, born a Muslim but saved from his sins through faith in Jesus Christ through reading the Bible. Many of you know my conversion testimony, saved thirty-five years ago through the reading of the Bible. Thus, the importance of the Bible to every sinner can easily be seen in this verse.

Next, turn to John 5.39: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Here Jesus corrects His adversaries, who thought their salvation was in God’s Word. That is a mistake. Salvation is not in the Bible. However, it is in the Bible that the Savior is identified. The only Savior is Jesus Christ, and when one reads the Bible with understanding, he is pointed to Jesus Christ.

As well, First Corinthians 1.21 declares, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Therefore, you see, God’s preachers proclaim and declare the truth of His Word in a persuasive and penetrating fashion, emphasizing the good news that Jesus saves from sin and the penalty of God’s wrath.

Fourth, and finally, the Word of God is not only to be proclaimed to crowds and multitudes, it is also to be explained to individuals, as we see in Acts 8.31-35. Philip ran up to the chariot of a man reading the Bible and asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him . . . Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”

So blinded are the lost to the truth, so difficult to persuade are those of you who are dead in trespasses and sins, that only a genuine miracle can bring about your conversion to Christ and salvation from your sins. What is required is the Word of God, the preaching of the Word of God, and the teaching of the Word of God, all pointing to the unique Savior of sinful men’s souls, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Therefore, you see, from this brief sermon about the sufficiency of scripture, that the Bible, the Word of God, is absolutely indispensable to both the Christian and the unbeliever. There is no possible way the child of God could know the will of God for his life with any certainty apart from the Bible. The Bible alone is our unchanging source of truth, having in that respect the same character as its Author, the Holy Spirit of God, who uses the Bible to lead us and to guide us along the way.

As well, the Bible is indispensable to the unbeliever. One of the tragic realities with the lost is your refusal to admit that a need not felt is truly a need. However, just as every human body needs insulin to properly metabolize the sugar in our bloodstream, even when we do not recognize by our feelings how much we depend upon insulin, and would die without it, so every soul needs the salvation, which only Jesus provides.

The only reliable source of truth available today to inform you of your need of Christ and His salvation is the Bible. Only the Bible reveals God’s holiness and righteousness to us, and our sinfulness because of our ancestor’s fall. Only the Bible speaks the truth to us about our responsibility for our sins and the punishment that awaits those who die without Christ. Only the Bible tells of the Savior Who left heaven’s glory to become a man and suffer on our behalf, the Just for the unjust on Calvary’s cross, that we might be saved from our sins.

What will you do with the Bible? Will you read it and study it as though it is just another book, or will you read it for what it declares itself to be, the very Word of God? As you consider your answer to my question, and the position you adopt with respect to God’s Word, I urge you to keep Psalm 138.2 in mind, where the sweet psalmist of Israel said to his God, “thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”



[1] A Faith To Confess: The Baptist Confession Of Faith Of 1689 - Rewritten in Modern English, (Leeds, UK: Carey Publications LTD, 1975), page 15.

[2] 1 Timothy 4.1

[3] Ephesians 2.1



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org