This summer we are going to tackle a host of topics that are controversial, confusing, talked about a lot, or at least of some interest to the average Christian. We are calling the summer series “Hot Topics.”
The introductory sermon this coming week, while the least exciting, is the most important, because all of the other topics and how we will approach them are based in the topic of the first sermon, namely, the Bible itself. How we view any and all doctrines, point of ethics, ideology, philosophy, or you-name-it goes back to what we believe the Bible teaches.
Now, there are three fundamental claims I will bring to bear about the Bible. One, it is true. Two, it is authoritative. And three (and this is the one that I find folks tend to forget in discussions like this), it is sufficient.
People talk about the Bible’s truthfulness and claim over our lives, but sometimes they forget to claim and prove that the Bible is also sufficient to teach and define all of life, even things like complex social, scientific, and psychological realities known to us in our modern age. Why is sufficiency so important? Let me explain:
One can believe that the Bible is true and authoritative, as far as it goes. One can affirm that everything in the Bible is consistent and appropriate, especially for its immediate cultural and historical context. Nothing in the Bible which is put forth as good and true is in fact wrong and bad. But, is the Bible a full revelation, an ideal revelation, that fully records and teaches the bounty of the kingdom for all ages?
Take for instance gender roles and sexuality. Perhaps those two areas are the most questioned in terms of the Bible’s sufficiency. Does the Bible teach the full story on gender roles and sexuality? There are other areas, of course, like slavery, physical discipline of children, etc, but in my experience, gender and sexuality are where serious Christians with a serious view of Scripture have the most questions.
My answer to the question of the Bible’s sufficiency is: YES! Yes, I believe the Bible is sufficient in its teaching on all matters, regardless of the newer information our world has now that has been provided by the common grace resources of science, social research, and the like. That is not to say the Bible is the most detailed account of each subject, or that it is a science text book or social scientific study per se. It is to say that the Bible, at the very least, provides a theological framework for every subject and creates parameters such that modern data can never or should never theorize over against those parameters.
For instance, if modern research shows that people experience same sex attraction apart from personal whims or choices, does that mean people should act upon that? Some who question the Bible’s sufficiency would say yes. But, if one believes that what is on the pages of Scripture is true, authoritative, and sufficient, I think the answer must be no.
That same Scripture, however, also teaches we must shepherd people with same sex attraction with grace, humility, and familial care, helping that brother or sister persevere in holiness until earthly healing or heavenly healing occurs. So, sufficiency is also holistic and answers all of the what-ifs.
The Bible is true, indeed! The Bible is authoritative, amen! And the Bible is sufficient, oh so important! This triad makes all the difference.
By the way, the Bible is also clear, powerful, brilliant, and beautiful!