Without doubt, the doctrine of the inspiration of the Word of God is one of the foundational fundamentals of the faith—a core doctrine. The Bible claims for Itself perfection for all of its parts. Every word of God is pure (Proverbs 30:5). It is true; it is infallible; it is inerrant; it is inviolable; it is indestructible (Matthew 24:35).
All Scripture is inspired. And it is essential to recognize both its plenary inspiration—the horizontal aspect—as well as its verbal inspiration. But what do we mean when we claim that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? Many would agree that the Bible is a sacred book. Many are willing to concede that, but they do not believe that it is the only sacred book. They believe that the Bible contains the words of God but is not the Word of God since they think that there are other complements to it.
But if we are not sure that we have an inerrant book in our hands, how can we be sure of the veracity of anything that we read in it? Jesus says in John 17:17b, “Thy word is truth.” The Bible is objective truth. It is fixed. And it is not just true, but it is actual truth.
The Bible stands like a rock undaunted
‘Mid the raging storms of time;
Its pages burn with the truth eternal,
And they glow with a light sublime.
The Bible Stands (Haldor Lillenas – 1917)
It is not enough to believe that the Bible is true—we must believe that it is enough.
The Word of God is adequate for all things that pertain to life and godliness. It is sufficient for the organization, the government, and the worship of the Church. It is sufficient for judging all other branches of knowledge. It is sufficient for informing us of our origin (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 139:13-16), our purpose (Psalm 145:21; I Corinthians 10:31), and our destiny (Hebrews 9:27; Matthew 25:46)—Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?
Sola Scriptura— “the Bible alone”—was the battle cry of the Reformers. In all matters of a life of faith and godliness, the Bible is sufficient. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God [God-breathed] and is profitable for doctrine [teaching], for reproof, for correction, for instruction [child training] in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
“Why else was the Scripture written but that it might profit us? God did not give us His Word only as a landscape to look upon, but He intended for us to hitch the plow to the mule and receive the fruit of it.” – Thomas Watson
But what is the Bible enough for?
It is enough to make us wise unto salvation.
In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul tells Timothy that “the holy scriptures…are able to make [him] wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” God may use any number of instruments (a tract, a sermon, personal witness, etc.) to get the Scripture to us, but it is always the Word of God that does the work. We are born again by the Word of God (I Peter 1:23). Psalm 19:7a says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting [transforming] the soul.” Scripture alone has the power to transform the human soul. The Bible alone has power to give life from the dead spiritually. Only God can make us wise unto salvation (1 Corinthians 2).
It reveals our sinfulness.
We are completely indebted to the Bible for telling us the truth about ourselves. The Bible gives the unvarnished truth about the depravity of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18). No other book of man would tell on himself like that. The Bible alone is adequate to reveal to us our sin and our desperate need of forgiveness through Jesus.
It goes beyond general revelation.
General revelation is what He reveals to us about Himself through creation and nature (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:19-20). However, general revelation is not enough to bring the knowledge of salvation—it’s not enough to save a soul. God did not write John 3:16 in the clouds. Man must see and receive the special revelation of God’s Word in the light of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 36:9).
It is enough to make us holy.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” (2 Peter 1:3)
To be holy, one must be declared righteous in the sight of God, and the comprehensive righteousness that God demands can only be revealed in His Word and must be received by faith (Romans 1:16-17; Psalm 19:9b; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Christian, have you been laboring in your own strength to be holy? And then failing again and getting discouraged? Get your heart and mind filled with the Word of God because that will satisfy your heart and focus your mind on the glorious Christ who died for your purity and lives to intercede for you. Get in the Word of God!
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”
The greatest prescription for the disease of worldliness and habitual yielding to the flesh is taking mega doses of the Word of God. It’s powerful stuff! The Bible supplies us with the knowledge [intimate, full knowledge] of God. And growing in the knowledge of God through His Word is truly an incentive to holiness.
It gives us precious promises about sanctification.
Have you thought about the promises we have that enable us to be overcomers? We have the promise of the Holy Spirit, the One in us Who is greater than he that is in the world (I John 4:4). We have the promise of our Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father praying for us (I John 2:1). We have the promise of the cleansing blood of Christ (I John 1:9).
Beloved, these and more are lavish resources that God has bestowed upon us to escape the corruption that is in the world through sinful desires. They are enough to be victorious if we will avail ourselves of them. The Bible is enough!
[The Bible] is our complete food source; it is our chart and our compass; it is our invincible armor; it is our superior weaponry; it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path; it is an alert system for danger; it is our power for life; it is our pillow in death. – Bob Vradenburgh
The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is under attack in our day more than its counterpart—the inerrancy of Scripture—though certainly that is being attacked as well. The devil knows that better than we do, and that’s why he attacks the sufficiency of Scripture even more than he attacks the inerrancy of it (John 8:44). He knows the power of God’s Word if we depend upon it wholly. So if he cannot get a Christian to doubt the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy, his next ploy is to unwittingly treat the Bible as if it is not enough—the feeling like you have to supplement it with something else (Hebrews 4:12). We must judge the advice given in any other book by the Bible.
“Visit many good books but live in the Bible.” – Charles H. Spurgeon
Beloved, just stick with the Bible! It’s not enough to acknowledge that it’s inspired, but we must believe that only the Bible is inspired. There is no new doctrine. There is no new revelation coming from God after the New Testament canon was closed (Revelation 22:18-19). Jude writes this in his book, “I set out to read unto you about our common salvation, but then I realized it became needful that I urge you to earnestly contend for the faith [the revealed body of truth] that was once [and for all] delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
The sufficiency of God’s Word is a non-negotiable doctrine. We need to be willing to earnestly contend for it. May God help us to do that!
The Bible stands tho’ the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand
When the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands.
The Bible Stands (Haldor Lillenas – 1917)
Senior Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Bob Vradenburgh is the senior pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has spent over 40 years in full-time Christian service: the first 20 years as a missionary and the past 20 years in the pastorate. Bob’s passion is the expository preaching of God’s Word, ensuring that “all the counsel of God” is taught. He loves to impart that passion to the next generation of church planters and missionaries. Bob and his wife Rachel have five children and nine grandchildren. When he’s not in his pulpit or study, you will likely find him hanging out with his family or playing the piano.