I think it would have been easy for me to reflect on my freshman year of college and convince myself that I’ve been growing, that the spirit had been working. A few aspects of my walk certainly did, namely my non-existent disciplines came around and my respect for the Old Testament jumped exponentially. At the same time, I felt very stagnant, perhaps because of inability to serve in capacities that I’m familiar with, which showed me how dependent I can be on works. Tis a revolting thought indeed.
This Summer I’ve been blessed with many different learning opportunities and ample free time to indulge in all sorts of readings. If I could sum up what I learned this summer in one sentence, it would be this. I suck.
There are a lot of things I could be specific about: a low view of God, a lacking prayer life, few opportunities taken to share the Gospel – the list could go on and on.
However as seen by the title, I want to talk about scripture.
If there’s one thing that has greatly encouraged my conformity to Christ, it is my slow transformation to view the word with a more proper reverence. One of my readings that has most benefited me was the first section of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, which is entitled The Doctrine of the Word of God. It’s split up into eight sections, all which were enormously helpful which include:
- The Word of God
- The Canon of Scripture
- The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (1) Authority
- The Inerrancy of Scripture
- The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (2) Clarity
- The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (3) Necessity
- The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (4) Sufficiency
Over the course of my reading, my countenance began to drop. I did not hold to any of these views. I had never seen the word as authoritative, clear, necessary and sufficient. At best the bible for me was useful, but that reduced its value to the same as any other Christian or moral philosophy book. I’ve realized that more of my so-called “theology” was based off the words of men rather than the words of God. I could tell people what John Piper would say, but I couldn’t tell people what God and his inerrant word would say.
I often think about the four characteristics that Grudem speaks of when I approach the bible. You may think it’s ironic that my love for the bible is not rooted in the bible but what I appreciate about Systematic Theology is that everything said is backed up by scripture. Reading the book is almost like reading paraphrased scripture … all the time. It’s so encouraging to me that all the doctrines so far (well, I’m only on page 720) are supported by scripture and not something that John Calvin or Paul Washer made up in order to tie concepts together.
The reason for this post is to highlight a sermon I heard recently that had a very powerful example that really struck me regarding the view in modern churches about the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture.
This sermon is titled “The Suffiency of Scripture in Ministry” by Paul Washer. For at least today, it is the top downloaded sermon on Sermon Audio. It is addressed to aspiring seminarians and pastors and is a very good sermon that pleads for people to have proper theology when they go into the ministry. Many of what Washer has been saying is driven home in the final minutes in a closing story.
I have cut the specific piece of the message and put it up on imeem for you to listen to. The clip is around four minutes long and much worth your while whether you are a pastor or a part of the congregation.
The reason why I think this clip is powerful because it testifies to our laziness to get in the word. Pastors are fantastic resources no doubt, but they are no substitute for the word of God. This goes for both real life pastors and the abundance of resources on the internet. It’s easy to, in a sense, “idolize” the pastor rather than the word of God simply because it is easier to have things handed to you on a silver platter. I would implore all pastors and people in ministry, such as teachers and small group leaders to adopt this truth. I will do my best to go to the Bible first. I hope you do too.
So often is verse 16 brought up without mention of verse 17.
16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.