by Dan Phillips
Last week I launched a few Tweets on a theme I've hit in the past and mean to develop more in the near future. You may have heard of it: the sufficiency of Scripture.
The specific point I was making was that, if we really believed it, we'd start there, rather than making stuff up and then testing it by Scripture. Here was one of my tweets:
If we rly believed in th sufficiency of Scripture, we'd start with Scripture in the first place — not start somewhere else and “test by Scr”
— Dan Phillips (@BibChr) May 2, 2014
Someone who doesn't follow my account (and thus understandably may not “get” where the shorthand of my tweet was coming from) responded, “So then why do we hear sermons in church instead of just Scripture readings?”
I take it that the idea is, if Scripture is enough, why say anything else? Why not just stand up and read it, and be good with that?
The question itself makes my brain itch. But the calmer DJP says “Teaching opportunity!” so, here we go.
The truth of the sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contains everything for which we need a word from God. That's what it does mean. It doesn't mean that, whenever we have a need, we whip out a Bible and read a passage at random without a moment's thought (before or after), and call it good.
The life of faith and obedience that the Bible (the Bible, the words in the Bible, the contents of what Scripture teaches) calls us to means that we read it, study it, understand it, think about it, and apply it.
So here's this “church”-thingie. What's it for? What am I supposed to look for in it? Who leads it? If I'm one of those leader-people, what am I supposed to do?
From what Scripture teaches me, I should start with the assumption that I don't have one clue, no idea whatever — unless I get that idea from Scripture itself. (If you're not clear on why that is, I can recommend something that goes to the literal heart of the matter in great Biblical detail.) So I consciously set aside my assumptions and biases and preferences, and go to the Bible, God's Word, believing that it contains everything for which I need a word from God.
So, let's fast-forward through decades of study and all, and get to the bottom-line: if Scripture is sufficient, then why do we preach sermons, in church?
Because that sufficient Scripture tells us to. See, for instance, 1 Timothy 3:2; 4:13; 5:17; and 2 Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 1:9.
See? That's how it works. It won't teach anyone who is unteachable — nothing does that. But it does give us everything for which we need a word from God.
Like to hear that opened up even further, live and in person? I know this conference that's coming up. We'd love it if you came!