Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sola Scriptura: The Sufficiency of Scripture

Sermon:     GM17-0192

Series:         The Pillars of the Reformation

Setting:       Trinity Bible Church (Portland)

Service:      PM Service

Subtitle:     Sola Scriptura: The Sufficiency of Scripture

Scripture:   2 Timothy 3:16-17

Subject:      The sufficiency of Scripture

Scope:        The Scriptures are fully capable to instruct every believer in the truth of God’s revelation of all things spiritual.

Scheme:      To provide strategic information concerning the sufficiency of Scripture which enables you to have full confidence in them for all things that pertain to you.

Scrutiny:    What factors demonstrate that scripture is sufficient in all things spiritual?

Solution:    Our passage this afternoon declares three (3) factors that demonstrate the sufficiency of Scripture in all things spiritual.

Sketch:       1A     The Reason for Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 16a)
                   2A     The Return from Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 16b-d)
                   3A     The Reward of Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 17)

The Sola Scriptura: The Sufficiency of Scripture
2 Timothy 3:16-17

A.      Pre-Introduction

Thank you very much for the opportunity of once again sharing with you truths from God’s Holy Word. I am very grateful for this privilege and trust that you will be blessed because you deem God’s word to be a great treasure that is yours to cherish, to consume, and to commend.

B.      Introduction

1.       Attention Getter

In 1521, Martin Luther was summoned or ordered to appear in Worms, Germany before the Roman Emperor, Charles V to defend what he had written and been teaching. But it became apparent almost immediately that he hadn’t really been summoned to defend his doctrine. He had been ordered there so that he could recant his teachings.

On a table, 25 of his books and articles were arranged. A clerk read all the titles. Then Martin Luther was asked if he was the author of those books and articles. If he replied that he was would he recant of their teachings?

What were these teachings? Boiled down, the real question is, what main issues did Luther have with the Roman Catholic Church? It seems that Luther had three (3) main issues:

·        The sale of indulgences

·        The refusal to allow the bible to be translated into common language

·        The doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope. He maintained that nothing, including the Pope could contradict or countermand the Scriptures.

Well, this was a huge question. Would he recant what he believed?

Luther asked if he could have some more time to consider the question and his response. He was given until 4:00 PM the next day.

When 4:00 came around he stood before the counsel and said these words, “The works are mine, but…unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason, I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other; my conscience is captive to the Word of God I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen."

For Martin Luther, it was all about the Bible. It was all about the teaching of the Scripture. He didn't trust the pope. He didn't trust the councils. He had seen how they contradicted the Bible and each other. He had seen their corruption, and he couldn't and wouldn’t trust them. Martin Luther trusted in the sufficiency of Scripture alone. And so should we, God help us, Amen.

Jacob Andreae wrote in the late 1570’s

“We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and guiding principle according to which all teachings and teachers are to be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments alone…Other writings of ancient or contemporary teachers, whatever their names may be, shall not be regarded as equal to Holy Scripture, but all of them together shall be subjected to it…” [1]

In other words, if you can’t back it up with scripture, then it probably shouldn’t be part of the Christian faith and life.

The doctrine of Sola Scriptura developed out of the perception that certain teachings and practices—especially some teachings and practices formulated during the medieval period of Western Christianity—had little or no Biblical basis.

2.       Raise a Need

If you open the phone book you will find several hundred churches in our Metropolitan area. They all claim to be teaching God’s truth and expect you to believe them and their teaching.

If you turn on the TV you will find a myriad of evangelists, pastors, teachers, and instructors who are all claiming to be a spokesperson for God.

If you turn on the radio you can find channel after channel, program after program, speaker after speaker spewing out their teachings and doctrines. And they all claim to speak for God

If you go to what I call Holy Hardware stores, you will find the same thing. Book after book published with the express purpose of telling you how to think, act, live, and worship. As much as I love books, and believe I do, there is no end to the making of books.

The one common denominator that almost every one of these churches, pastors, teachers, evangelists, or authors have in common is that they believe and teach that you need to hear a personal word from God to you apart from Scripture. The implication implicit or explicit is that the Scriptures are not sufficient for your everyday Christian experience.

For Example:

·        Dallas Willard writes:

God is constantly speaking to people…God wants everyone to hear His messages clearly, and it’s possible to do so. The closer you get to God, the more you can enjoy ongoing conversations with Him, both listening and hearing from Him, and the more God will use those conversations to transform you into the person He wants you to become. 

·        Craig Von Buseck writes:

I have good news for my friend, and for you -- God wants to speak to us, and yes, you can 'know' that you hear His voice.

God wants to fellowship and communicate with us. That's two-way communication. Why? Because you can't really have a relationship unless there is true dialogue. How do we get to know a person? By communicating with them. By talking and listening.

It's the same with our relationship with God. He talks, we listen. We talk, He listens.

·        Roman Catholic Church teaches:

The Bible is materially sufficient but not formally sufficient.
Materially sufficient means that everything the Christian needs to believe is found in Scripture.

Formally sufficient means that in order to understand the Bible, the Roman Catholic Church has to interpret it. The problem here is that this position subjects the Bible to Roman Catholic interpretations and essentially makes Catholic sacred tradition superior to scripture--since it declares that the Bible can't be understood except through the Catholic Church's Magisterium.

Since we don't see doctrines such as worship of Mary, prayer to Mary, her immaculate conception, purgatory, penance, etc., found in Scripture (material sufficiency) we are told to believe it because the Roman Catholic church tells us it is so (formally sufficiency).

·        Peter Wagner recently said at the American Association of Bible Colleges Convention, and I quote,

The simple gospel is no longer adequate without signs and wonders.”  End quote.

Did you catch that? What does he mean? He means that we cannot reach the world, with just the Word of God.  We have to have signs and wonders.  The Scriptures are not sufficient.

·        Sara Young writes:

My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930's by two women who practiced waiting in God's Presence, writing the messages they received as they "listened."

About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but this was one-way communication: "monologue." I knew that God communicates through the Bible (and I treasure His Word), but I wondered what He might say to me personally on a given day.

So I decided to "listen" to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying. Of course, I wasn't listening for an audible voice; I was seeking the "still, small voice" of God in my mind/heart.

It felt a little awkward the first time I tried it, but I did receive a short message. The content was biblical, and it addressed themes that were current in my life: trust, fear, and closeness to God.

I responded by writing in my journal as usual; at that point my journaling changed from monologue to dialogue. Day by day, messages began to flow more freely.

This new way of communicating with God became the high point of my day. I knew that my writings were not inspired (as only Scripture is), but they were helping me grow closer to our living Lord.

Is Sarah Young right. After all, she has now sold over 15 million books. Her radio devotionals reach over 500,000 people a day. Does she really hear from God? Does she really speak for God?

Or does she undermine the sufficiency of Scripture? Does she base her convictions on solid ground or has she built her proposition on a false premise? 

Because people do not believe the scriptures are sufficient or absolutely adequate for all things that pertain to our spiritual lives, we have been told that:

·        God is a black woman,
·        We must do the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey,
·        If you are really filled with the HS you will laugh, vomit, bark, shake, or fall down.
·        Jesus went to hell & some say suffered for his own sins
·        Jesus had to be born again
·        You are a little god
·        God has a miracle specially designed for you

In support of all these behaviors is the fact that someone has “heard” a word or message from God apart from or outside of the Bible. Almost all of these teachers tell you listen for a word, a voice, a message, or a special revelation that is just for you.

Some of these things are patently obvious that they are not from God or are not biblical. We know that God is not a black woman, but does The Shack really teach us something about the nature and character of the true and living God of the Bible? Many Christian think so. People I know personally think so.

Many people struggle with these questions and issues. Can we know what is absolutely right? Do we have a completed and absolute standard that can be trusted? Are the Scriptures absolutely sufficient for all belief and behavior?

3.       Orient the Text

The answer is yes! We do have an absolute and complete standard that is fully sufficient so that we can place our absolute confidence in for any matter relating to faith and practice.

Martin Luther put his life on the line for this standard. The Reformation and genuine Christianity has always maintained and fought for this standard. Thousands upon thousands of men and women have been brutally slaughtered for maintain this principle which we should hold as dear as they did.

That principle is Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.

Our theme today is: The sufficiency of Scripture

Therefore, I propose to you that the Scriptures are fully capable to instruct every believer in the truth of God’s revelation for all things spiritual.

My purpose today is to provide you with strategic information concerning the sufficiency of Scripture which will enable you to have full confidence in them for all things that pertain to you.

What factors demonstrate that scripture is sufficient in all things spiritual?

Our passage this afternoon declares three (3) factors that demonstrate the sufficiency of Scripture in all things spiritual.

[These three factors are…]

1A     The Reason for Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 16a)
2A     The Return from Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 16b-e)
3A     The Reward of Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 17)

Paul’s statement to Timothy in verse fifteen (15) concerning the Scriptures which has made Timothy wise concerning salvation by faith in Christ is supported and is given additional explanation about the nature and purpose of the Scriptures.

The emphasis on this these next two verses is the value and the usefulness of the Scripture because they are absolutely sufficient. The scriptures are sufficient!

[So, let’s begin with the first factor that demonstrates the sufficiency of Scripture in all things that are spiritual, which is…]
1A     The Reason for Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 16a)

Why is scripture so sufficient? Because all scripture comes from God himself. [Look at the first phrase of verse 16…]

“All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God…” [Pasa Grafh

The main point of this phrase is the absolute authority of the Scriptures. So the reason that scripture is adequate is that it comes from God. We see this principle or truth three (3) ways in this first phrase.

The first way that we can see the absolute authority of scripture is in its…

1B     Inclusiveness –

“…All, pasa...]

The word “all” is a noun and it is used in the singular number and is used without the article, “the.” In this form it can be used in two ways.

·        It can be used to infer “every,” as in every passage or verse
·        It can be used to infer “the whole” as in the entire OT

The only issue that we really need to be concerned about is the fact that when it is all said and done, either reference testifies to the fact that every part and all of the whole is authoritative and therefore sufficient. Nothing needs to be added to the scripture to enhance, enlarge, or equip you in any way.

[The second way that we can see the absolute authority of the scripture is by its…] 

2B     Implication – Scripture

          “…scripture grafh...]

The actual word is “writing.” This word refers to either what is written, or the activity of writing.” It can refer to a book itself, the contents of a book, or a certain portion or section of the bible.

Here in our text and for our purposes our word refers to the entire collection of Scripture. This term is used some 30x in the Bible. Why is this so significant or what is the implication for us?

The scriptures are an authoritative document from God which supplies all that a believer needs for their spiritual life including the production of holiness in their life.

Don’t forget, Paul had just reminded Timothy of his previous training. Paul implied that Timothy had been trained from his boyhood in the various sacred or religious writings that were available but Paul makes it clear that we have the scriptures or writings which have been written once and for all and are authoritative because they have been written by God himself.

[So, all of the scripture and every part scripture or the writings are authoritative. Thirdly, we see the authority of scripture by its…]

3B     Instrumentality – Inspiration

          “…inspiration qeospneustos

Our word for inspiration is used only one time in the NT. Paul uses right here in our text.

It is a compound word made from two different words. First, qeos, or God and pnew, or to breathe.

It refers to the fact that all wisdom comes from God. Paul uses this term for a very specific purpose and that is to differentiate all writings from God’s writings.

You are more than aware that it carries the idea of “God-breathed.” Once again the point is to show the authority of God’s writings since these writings came from God. This implies that these writings have a divinely mandated purpose.

This means then that all scripture is to be interpreted and applied in line with their divine purpose. Anything less or for that matter extra contradicts the divine purpose that God designed when he gave them.

I realize that this is a very short compact and probably inadequate definition of “inspiration.” It is not my intent to give a broader definition, defense, or demonstration of this word at this time.

Suffice to say that all, every part and all of the whole of the writings inspired by God have a unique and divine purpose ensuring us of their absolute sufficiency.

[So, let’s move to the second factor that demonstrates the sufficiency of Scripture in all things that are spiritual, which is…]

2A     The Return from Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 16b-e)

ROI is a term that means return on investment. It is used in business to determine the profitability of an expenditure or investment. It’s a tool to measure whether a business is getting its money’s worth or its level of success. In business profit or benefit is the name of the game.

Does the Scripture have a return on your investment in it? Is there benefit or profit from the Scriptures? Yes, there is. As a matter of fact there are four (4) benefits listed in our passage. Each one of these benefits demonstrates the absolute adequacy or sufficiency of Scripture in order for you and me to live our life for Christ.

[So, let’s look at the first benefit that demonstrates the sufficiency of the scriptures. The scriptures are beneficial in establishing our…] 

1B     Coaching (Vs. 16b)

          “…and is profitable for doctrine…” [kai wfelimos pros

The first benefit or purpose of scripture is coaching, or teaching or instruction.

The NT uses two words for teaching, one word means the substance or subject of the teaching, like math, or science, or baptism, or salvation. The other term refers to the act of teaching.

Unfortunately these two terms are usually translated as doctrine and a distinction isn’t apparent in the English.

It may surprise you to know that the meaning here in our text is not the material being taught, but the act or the art of teaching.

In other words, the Scriptures serve as a teacher that teaches us. The scriptures are the teacher and we are the student. Because the scriptures are from God they are able or capable or designed to teach us how to believe, how to live, and what God expects from each one of us.

The scriptures are profitable as a teacher to teach us all that God has determined that we should know in order to live godly in Christ Jesus.

[Secondly, the scriptures are beneficial in establishing our…]

2B     Convictions (Vs. 16c)

          “…for reproof…” [pros elegcon]

A better rendition of this word would be convictions. It comes from a noun that means “to convict.” It means to be persuaded of something.

It carries the idea of refutation. But it doesn’t simply mean “to be aware of a charge or problem, or infraction.”
It implies the basis of the conviction, the truth of the charge and the results that are expected to occur.

The scriptures because they are from God, are also designed to point out an area where a believer has sinned or fallen into error, or where they have violated the standards of God for the express purpose of correcting that sin, or error, or violation.

Restoration is always the purpose of any admonishment. Scripture is never to be read or used in order to simply point out a wrong. We see this more clearly with a similar word used by Paul.

[Thirdly, the scriptures are beneficial in establishing our…]  

3B     Corrections (Vs. 16d)

          “…correction…” [pros epanorqwsin]

This is a companion word, a buddy to reproof. Since the bible as an effective teacher points out sin, or error, or a violation of God’s standard, it also teaches us how to correct or fix that sin, error, or violation of God’s standard.

This word is put together from the word to set right again or correct and from the word that means upon and from a word that means to make straight. So it implies correction or the setting up straight again.

Incidentally it is only used here in our text. This is a good time to kind of stop for just a quick second and make an important observation, even though we have one more word to look at.

These benefits of the word, or the fact that the word is an effective teacher are not isolated or be treated as separate. The benefit of the inspired writings of God are sufficient for the believer. They are so sufficient that you do not need to seek additional signs, wonders, miracles, ecstatic speech, or phenomenon outside of the Scriptures. Why? How do we know this?

These terms demonstrate that this is a process for our growth or spirituality.

First, God’s word is given as a teacher of truth, second it persuades us or convicts of sin or error, thirdly it gives corrective instruction to make things straight. Then as we shall see, the scriptures continue to train us.

[Fourth and finally, the scriptures are beneficial in establishing our…]    

4B     Conduct (Vs. 16e)

          “…instruction in righteousness…” [pros paideian thn en

This noun originally referred to the instruction of children. This word then evolved in its usage to mean the chastening or disciplining of children because the effective training for sinful children includes and implies chastening or correction.

So our word implies and includes discipline. By the way, this idea does not include any idea or design of punishment or retribution.

It means to put into practice on a daily basis all that the scriptures teaches us concerning sin, errors, or violations that it has pointed out to us.

So, the emphasis is on the discipline and correction by scripture. The education process by scripture as our teacher is dominant.

The end result, the goal or the purpose is that we maintain a lifestyle that is consistent with the righteous standards of God.

I think this is the main idea of Psalms 139:23-24. After the Psalmist has asked God to search and try his heart pointing out any sin or wickedness, he desires God to lead him in the righteous ways or standard of God.

This is the purpose of the inspired Scriptures. Why? Because they are absolutely and fully capable of doing so because they are sufficient in and of themselves, needing nothing in addition.

So, the reason that the scriptures are sufficient include the fact that they have been given by the authority of God, because they provide a four (4) fold return of coaching,  for conviction, for correction, and for our conduct. There is one more factor that demonstrates the sufficiency of Scripture.

[So, now let’s look at the third factor that demonstrates the sufficiency of Scripture in all things that are spiritual, which is…]

3A     The Result of Scripture’s Sufficiency (Vs. 17)

“…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” [ina artios h o tou qeou anqpropos pros pan ergon

Before we look at this phrase, please allow me to remind you of a few things that are important to seeing the result of the scripture’s sufficiency.

·        We know that Paul wrote this last letter to his beloved friend, son, and co-worker.

·        We know that Paul after a short two maybe three year release from prison had been re-arrested and was again in prison

·        We know this was not a house, but a dark, dank, dungeon

·        We know that he will soon be executed by the Roman authorities

·        We know that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy for a number of reasons which maybe a dozen or more

But a key reason that Paul wrote to Timothy was to instruct Timothy to continue to develop his spiritual maturity through the authoritative and sufficient Scriptures.

          Verse seventeen (17) gives us two (2) results of the scripture’s sufficiency.
          1B     That Timothy would be effected – to be changed

                   “…that the man of God may be complete…”

The word is sufficient to make Timothy and of course any genuine believer complete, sufficient, completely qualified.

We are to understand I think from this statement that the word of God is sufficient to make sure that all the parts of a Christian are complete or whole and that they are what they are supposed to be in order to carry out or fulfill their designed purpose.

In other words, the scriptures are so sufficient that they can ensure that Timothy or every believer has everything that they need in order to be what God has designed.

This idea has to do with Timothy’s character and we can extrapolate it out to your character. The scriptures are sufficient to make you what you were designed to be in God’s eternal purpose.

          2B     That Timothy would be equipped

                   “…thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The idea here is the scriptures are sufficient in regards to Timothy’s conduct and again sufficient for the conduct of every genuine believers.

ecartizw - is a verb, a perfect, passive, participle
It means to put in appropriate condition, to complete entirely, to fully furnish.

Paul tells Timothy first of all that scripture can make him competent, proficient, adept or capable. Then Paul tells Timothy that Scripture equips, outfits, furnishes the man of God.

So the meaning is this scripture, because it comes from God makes the man of God, and every genuine believer competent or capable of being because scripture has equipped or outfitted the believer with the necessary skills or tools to do any and every good work.

The scriptures given to us by God are so sufficient that they can construct the character of the believer so that the believer is able to conduct him/herself in such a way that the believer is able to execute good works.

It is clear that the Scriptures are the absolute authority for all things spiritual regarding our faith and practice. This means our belief and our behavior. The scriptures supersede our opinions, philosophy, rationalizations, or ideologies.

Well, my purpose today was to provide you with some strategic information which would prove to you that the scriptures are fully sufficient and adequate and that you can have full confidence in them for all things that pertain to your spiritual walk and life in Christ.

[What do you say we wrap this up?]


Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “There can be no doubt whatsoever that all the troubles in the Church to-day, and most of the troubles in the world, are due to a departure from the authority of the Bible. And, alas, it was the Church herself that led in the so-called Higher Criticism that came from Germany just over a hundred years ago. Human philosophy took the place of revelation, man’s opinions were exalted and Church leaders talked about ‘the advance of knowledge and science’, and ‘the assured results’ of such knowledge. The Bible then became a book just like any other book, out-of-date in certain respects, wrong in other respects, and so on. It was no longer a book on which you could rely implicitly.”

The Westminster Confession says this, “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.” —Westminster Confession of Faith.”

Let’s pray! J

[1] The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, eds. Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2000) 486.

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