A.W. Tozer once said that Christians don’t tell lies, they just sing them in church. This statement is more accurate than most of us realize. Strangely, there seems to be a glaring disconnect at times between the truths that we profess as believers and how we live as a result of our profession.
At the very core of this problem lies question of the sufficiency of the scripture. Do we believe the sufficiency claims of scripture to be true? By sufficient, we mean that the Word of God is not only all that we need for teaching and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16), but also that it is the final governing authority in matters of Christian conduct and church polity.
Christians fall prey to sins of omission almost without knowing. We cling tightly to some commands in the scriptures while omitting or turning a blind eye to others. We claim belief in a sufficient canon but betray our words with a lack of obedience. I often use the example of pregnancy to press my point. Either a woman is pregnant or she is not. There is no half way or in between. And in turn, the scriptures are either fully sufficient or all together unreliable. They are either the final authority or man has the last word. There is no in between.
Jesus gave testimony to the power, authority, and sufficiency of scripture after his resurrection and before his assertion.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-19.
The Word of God was the authority that Christ declared to the disciples. And with this authority they were charged to teach the church to observe and obey the commands lain out in the scriptures. Notice that Jesus did not say that the disciples had some authority apart from the Word of God. All authority had come from God was given Christ’s followers with the expectation that they would neither add to or take away from them.
Peter proclaimed that the Word of God was fully sufficient for all things pertaining to life and Godliness.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” 2 Peter 1:3.
Again, we see that Peter was mimicking the words of Christ given in Matthew 28:18-19 when he said “His divine power has grated us all things…” We have no authority of our own that is separate from God’s Word. Everything else falls into the category of either speculation or opinion. All authority comes from the Word of God.
The Apostle Paul acknowledged in his letter to the Corinthians that we have no sufficiency within ourselves, but only in and through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are ministers according to His precepts, not our own.
“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6.
The question is not if we profess the scriptures to be sufficient, because to say otherwise is a denial of what is blatantly obvious. Rather, the question is do we humbly bow to this authority or do we try to add in our own preferences?
When our traditions override scriptural authority, then we are denying the sufficiency of the Bible. When our man made rules ignore God given commands, then we are denying the sufficiency of scripture. And when our personal preferences take precedence over the Word of the Lord, then we are denying and defying the sufficiency of scripture and the authority of Christ Himself.
When it comes to things such as discipleship, how we worship, the church’s ecclesiastical structure, evangelism practices, and all other things pertaining to life and Godliness, God’s Word must be the final authority in our faith and practice. Because our concept of authority is self biased and critically flawed, but His words are fully sufficient in every way.