Sufficiency of Scripture: Our Rule; Thy Word.
Psalms 119, Matthew 4:4
The date was 4th April, 2015. A group of friends agreed to meet and debate a topic we have been debating in a whatsapp group: "Does God Speak To Us Apart From Scripture?"
Refuting the claim that God speaks apart from Scriptures, I presented my argument for the sufficiency of Scripture. After, I took my seat and listened as others proffered their thoughts on dreams, visions, prophecies, intuitions, gut feelings, etc. These, they pointed out to us -- who hold to the sufficiency of Scripture -- are some of the ways God speaks to His children through the Holy Spirit; even today. Impressive! Some of the dreams and visions were captivating and wittingly convincing to the undiscerning mind.
In my submissions, I contended that, “Scripture is sufficient in our walk of faith". I further reasoned that, "All we need in this walk of faith can be deduced from Scriptures --explicitly or implicitly --through diligent study and faithful application to every life situation (see 2 Tim 2:15). I contended that Scripture is central to our lives as believers.
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.(1) Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word;(2) and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.(3) (1) 2Ti 3:15,16,17; Gal 1:8,9; 2Th 2:2 (2) Jn 6:45; 1Co 2:9,10,11,12 (3) 1Co 11:13,14; 1Co 14:26,40 (WCF1:6).
Overtly, the sufficiency of Scripture is plain in the aforementioned. Charles Wesley rightly penned the words: "Our rule; Thy Word". A rule, by dictionary (google.com) definition is "...a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct or procedure". It is also "control of or dominion over an area or people". Following from the definition of rule, the word of God is the rule over our lives. The word teaches us the way of salvation. The word leads us on to maturity. It teaches us the path of growth to be brought to the full stature of the knowledge of Christ, so we will not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. By the word our minds are renewed. The word under girds all we do as believers.
Psalms 119 is one of the portions of Holy Scripture that encapsulates the Bible's testimony about itself.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (vs 1-18).
Notice the premium David placed on the Word of God. Every single verse in Psalms 119 addresses the uniqueness of the Word of God. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David describes the Word as: Law (vs1), Testimonies(vs 2), Precepts(vs 4), Commandments(6), Statues (vs5), Judgements (vs7), Word (vs 9) and Ordinances. In a commentary on Psalms 119, The Oxford Scofield Study Bible(KJV) explained these different renderings of the word of God as follows:
- Law: Instructions or teaching, legal pronouncements, rules of divine administration, all of God's revelation for life
- Testimonies: Testimonies indicate God's own declarations concerning His nature and purpose.
- Precepts: Precepts relate to man's moral obligations as enjoined by God
- Commandments: Authoritative orders used as religious principles
- Statutes: Civil and religious appointments of the Mosaic law.
- Word: Speech or utterance, a general word for the disclosure of God's will [ In the word of God we see the will of God
- Ordinances: Refers to legal pronouncements, rules of divine administration
In Psalms 119, we see the centrality of the Word of God in in a believer's life. The authority of the written Word is final and sufficient. There is no need for a support system of audible voice of God, dreams, visions, new revelations--clutches and scaffolds--to help the word of God stand on its "feet". The Word is sufficient. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Ps 119:105). The Word of God gives us direction: the direction many in our generation seek from places outside the word.
In Matthew 4--the famous encounter between Jesus and Satan--we see the authority, finality and sufficiency of the Word of God in our Lord's life. Jesus' victory over Satan in this encounter was not won by any esoteric revelations. Jesus wielded "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God"(Ephesians 6:17b). He categorically stated that : “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”(Matthew 4:4).
To be continued