The Bible Plus Nothing
The Protestant Reformation was largely a reaction to the Romanist position that the church is the custodian of truth. The infallible authority in matters of faith and practice was not considered to be the Bible, and the Bible alone, but the magisterium. In contrast, the Reformers asserted (1) that the Word of God is found only in the Scriptures, and (2) that the teaching of the Scriptures is sufficient to make ordinary people wise unto salvation and equipped for every good work.
This Reformed belief is based, of course, on 2 Tim. 3:15-17 – a profound section of Scripture. It asserts that the Word of God is both inspired (breathed out by God) and useful (or profitable) for doctrine, for reproof (rebuke), for correction, and for training in righteousness. In short, it asserts that the Word of God contains everything we need for salvation and for sanctification.
Today’s evangelical world has largely forgotten this great truth. We criticize the Mormons for adding the Book of Mormon to the Bible and the Christian Scientists for adding Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, but we so often fail to see the log in our own eyes. The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture asserts that the only infallible source of knowledge about God and His world is the Bible, which may be illuminated and illustrated by the writings of men. However, we often have this backwards: The only infallible source of knowledge about God and His world are the writings of John Calvin or Martin Luther or C. H. Spurgeon, etc., which may be illuminated and illustrated by the Bible.
Newsflash! The Bible does not need our help. Scripture alone is a sufficient and final court of appeal in all matters of faith and morals. It is when we are not fully convinced of the truthfulness of this doctrine that we begin to look elsewhere for more “revelation.” Some evangelicals have become obsessed with the writings of this or that Christian teacher. This obsession stems from a loss of confidence in the sufficiency of the Scriptures. The Word of God is absolutely adequate for everything pertaining to our spiritual walk with God. Scripture alone is able to make the man or woman of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work. It is not the Bible plus something. It is the Bible plus nothing. That is why we must be totally committed to the daily reading and study of the Word of God.
I well recall when I first fell in love with the Word of God. I was about 16 and part of the so-called Jesus Movement in Hawaii. As I began to read the Bible, I discovered that I just couldn’t put it down. At that time I used the translation called the Good News for Modern Man – line drawings and all. It was hardly the best choice of a version, but in it I discovered that the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It began to convict me of sin. It began to reprove me concerning my false beliefs. It not only exposed my sins and theological errors, it began to correct my conduct and thinking. It began to put the fractured pieces of my life back together again. I found it to be all the spiritual food I needed.
As much as I enjoy and benefit from reading the writings of the above-mentioned authors, and as much as I enjoy writing books myself (!), I pray that God will restore to His people an appetite for His Word. I pray that He will make us aware – perhaps for the first time – that we need to feed ourselves every day on the living Word of God and to stay away from the junk. I pray that He will show us that the words of men are nothing in comparison with His own precious words.
Our week-old calf can hardly wait for its daily milk. Likewise, if we are truly God’s children, we will hunger after the pure milk of the Word of God so that that by it we may grow (1 Pet. 2:2).
April 16, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.