By Dr. John Greever
Is there a marker in the lives of Christians and Christian leaders that indicates we believe in and follow Scriptural sufficiency – that the Scripture is all-sufficient in matters of faith and Christian living? What I mean by this is: Is there a point in our lives whereby we are able to detect (and other watchers can detect) whether or not we believe in Scriptural sufficiency? I believe there is, and we need to think about this today. There are several items that we must consider as we think about this.
First, I want to say that this issue, Scriptural sufficiency, is THE PRIMARY ISSUE of our evangelical generation! Nothing else equals it, and everything else depends upon it. We have had the battle for the Bible since the last half of the twentieth-century, and many of us falsely believed that the issue was settled in the church. But this is far from true. The battle continues now in a different form, but it is the SAME BATTLE! The battle for Scriptural sufficiency IS the BATTLE FOR THE BIBLE! And, just like before, the Bible is foundational to everything else, including Christian doctrine, Christian worldview thinking, and the gospel itself. Everything is at stake!
Second, this is not a new problem. The New Testament addresses the internal dangers in the church regarding this issue. Read what Paul says to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, or read what Paul says to the young pastor, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 3 and 2 Timothy 3 and 4. Read John’s warnings to the church in his first epistle about the internal dangers in the church, or read Jude’s warnings in that small but vital book concerning false brethren who crept into the church unawares. There is nothing new here, but it feels new to many of us; something different seems to be going on. This new threat feels deceptively compelling and forcefully coercive.
Third, there is a common thread to all threats to God’s Word – the Bible. Even though these threats differentiate from each other in some ways, there is one continual commonality – a refusal to listen to God’s Word as THE ONE AND ONLY AUTHORITATIVE truth of God, the only revelation from God to people concerning all matters of faith and practice. The problem is (especially in today’s evangelical circles) this new threat is soaked in deception, so much so that many leaders thought to be orthodox are caving in. As I have often thought, the problem with deception is that it is SO DECEIVING! And, the deception is contagious; it is passed from person to person, group to group, in such a compelling form that any dissent from the newly formed narrative or even to question the so called ‘new orthodoxy’ view is automatically squashed as imbecility and totally unacceptable, deserving the worst indignation and punishment.
Fourth, the modern version of the threat to Scriptural sufficiency especially in evangelical deception is augmented and made profoundly impactful by leveraging power against the truth; those who hold to this deception do so through a pervasive PRAGMATISM that has become intrinsic in the modern evangelical DNA. Most don’t even question pragmatism anymore, and most assume it as the one presupposition that forms the basis of every thing else. Pragmatism has become the measuring rod for everything, even substituting for the truth. This is especially true when many interpret the highest good to be preserving evangelical institutions and organizations, even if such conceptions lead down a road of disobedience to the truth. Thus, compromise is fitting and normal in such cases. This is the fertile ground in which accommodation occurs and Scriptural sufficiency is often sacrificed on the altar of pragmatic concerns. This is THE context against biblical obedience and faithfulness in our day!
Fifth, let us return to the main point: Is there a place or a marker to show whether or not we truly believe in Scriptural sufficiency? Yes, there is! What is it! Jesus answers this question in John 8:31,47 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples…Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” This is why Jude 4 says that certain people creep into the church causing it much harm. These are ungodly people turning God’s grace into licentiousness. This is why Paul says in Acts 20:30 that men like wolves will attack the church; these are men from the very circles of these pastor elders, men who once seemed to hold to the gospel and the truth. What causes such apostasy? What causes such back peddling? It is this: When the pressure grows so much that to obey the Lord in the truth will cause great risk, then many will sacrifice whatever beliefs necessary to avoid perceived loss of status, money, position, and power. A true follower of Christ abides in the Word, in the truth of the Word, even if it costs him! This is the marker of the faithful.
We just celebrated Reformation Sunday in October. We recalled the Reformers who, through great risk of their positions, power, and even their lives, stood for the truth. We are in need today of a new Reformation, a new and bold stand for the truth against the rising pressure of conformity and capitulation to paganism and disobedience. May we be numbered among those who say with Martin Luther: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason…I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. So help me God.” May God’s Word capture our hearts and minds to the degree that we will be faithful to it, and may we stand faithfully, wisely, lovingly, and unerringly with the truth of the Scripture regardless of how unpopular those views are. All is at risk in this matter. Let us not fail, and may God give us grace to be strong.
John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University . He is a part of the leadership team of Founders Midwest and has been a speaker at the Founders Midwest Conference on numerous occasions. If you would like to attend the upcoming Founders Midwest Conference be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information.