What more can He say, than to you He hath said?
I love the hymn “How firm a foundation” because it has one of my favorite lyrical pieces in hymnology
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
I recently heard one Pastor tell a story of attending a prayer meeting. At the prayer meeting believers were earnestly and sincerely crying out to God, joining their voices in unity, they would request: “Speak to us Lord!” Over and over again people would cry out and implore God, beg of Him and fervently request, saying “speak to us Lord!” To which the Pastor remarked, “if only they would open up their Bibles!”
That sadly illustrates the Christian culture today. Many Christians do not want a book they want an audible voice. They do not want to read God’s Word they want to hear God’s voice. They do not want to take time to study God’s Word they want to instantly receive a word from the Lord. They do not want an old book they want to receive new and fresh revelations. And yet what we have in the Bible is God’s holy, inerrant, authoritative, inspired and sufficient Word. The Bible is all we need for faith and practice, life and godliness (2 Tim. 3:14-16, Hebrews 1:1-3, Jude 1:3, 2 Peter 1:3, 16-21, Revelation 22:18-22). And so ironically, many Christians starve while overlooking the bread of life.
I’ve seen on a few occasions a mother preparing food for her insistent and nagging (beloved) baby. While the baby is busy acting-out his natural impatient nature she would hand the baby a toy or some other kind of distraction that would occupy him until the food is ready. Sadly, that is how many believers treat the Bible, like it’s merely something to keep ourselves busy with while we wait on God to prepare the real food, i.e. fresh words from heaven. Many think of the Bible as something to occupy us while wait for the audible voice, or outward signs and confirmations. The supposed voices heard and outward signs and confirmations supposedly received are treated as more authoritative and sure than the written Word of God (see 2 Peter 1:18-21).
Many times believers would think through major decisions and speak about how they trust the Lord to lead. However the all too familiar refrains that come up during such times are “the Lord didn’t speak yet, so we’re waiting” or “I didn’t hear Him speak yet, I’m waiting on a word from the Lord”. Now it becomes immediately clear what they mean by that when we consider that they are ‘waiting’. Waiting on God to speak gives away how you think He will speak. If you think He will speak to you through the authoritative and God-breathed words in Scripture, then you won’t idly wait for God to speak you. What you’ll do is read the Scriptures, study the Scriptures and draw the necessary application for your life. In doing this you are sure to see that God has already spoken in Scripture and you will find that it is sufficient to help you make decisions. After all the Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12)!
Now if you are waiting for God to speak in your spirit or whisper in your physical ear with some kind of audible voice, presumably in your language and accent, then that reflects your regard for the Scriptures, or lack of regard. Some might say that they are waiting on God to speak to them in their spirit and then they will confirm it in the Bible. However, if confirmation is in the Bible, if the Bible is able to prove supposed extra biblical words, then why not go to the authoritative source (the Bile) in the first instance? Why wait for tentatively uncertain extra biblical words which need confirmation if you have the authoritative, sure Word of God?
Now many make the claim that God has indeed spoken to them and told them specifically what to do and He has spoken to them apart from the Scriptures. Which raises the question: Is God speaking today apart from the Scriptures? Well, the historic protestant position is that God is not speaking apart from the Bible. This position is clearly reflected in the historic Westminster Confession of faith:
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 .
When we study the doctrine of Scripture one of the essential truths about the Bible we learn is that; the Bible is sufficient. In this statement above the Westminster confession of faith is dealing with the doctrine of sufficiency. The sufficiency of the Bible teaches us that all we need for godliness and life is in God’s revealed Word, the Bible and when God speaks to us today, He speaks through His living and active Word, the Bible The Bible teacher Wayne Grudem defines the sufficiency of Scripture as
“The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.”
Waiting for a voice from heaven to whisper in your ear and tell you what to do or for a feeling or impression is not entirely reliable and it is not easily measurable, and frankly it’s unlikely to happen. So this makes the one waiting for that audible voice never finding stability and security because for their next move, decision and action they are always waiting. Grudem again offers some wise counsel when he writes:
“…the truth of the sufficiency of Scripture is of great significance for our Christian lives, for it enables us to focus our search for God’s words to us on the Bible alone and saves us from the endless task of searching through all the writings of Christians throughout history, or through all the teachings of the church, or through all the subjective feelings and impressions that comes to our minds from day to day in order to find what God requires of us”.
We do indeed spend an endless amount of time following and focusing on impressions, and voices and feelings. When the truth of the matter is all we need is provided for us lavishly in the Word of God. Affirming the sufficiency of Scripture then enables us to focus our search for God’s will and word to us on the Bible alone! It reminds me of something Justin Peters enjoys saying “if you want to hear God speak, read the Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read the Bible out loud”. In the next posts I want to demonstrate from the Bible and look at key passages regarding the sufficiency of the Bible with regards to salvation, ministry, and the Christian life.