The Sufficiency of Scripture

By: Pastor Vincent Nicotra

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The Bible Is Under Attack

     Presently, the Bible is under attack from those, both inside and outside the church, who view it as an archaic book with little or no relevance and application for today.

     The fallout of this unbelief in the sufficiency of the Scripture is clearly evident within the churches of today. Many spend vast amounts of money in vain attempts to entertain their members. Others show their lack of faith in the Word of God by trying to implement business and marketing techniques and church growth tactics, attempting to compensate for a Bible that they view as “insufficient” to do the job.

     Cults add other writings to the word of God believing that it does not contain all the information needed for salvation and sanctification, and that further revelation from God is available through other sources (see The Canon pamphlet). The Roman Catholic Church even holds the belief that the traditions of the church are as equally authoritative as the Scriptures.

     In Charismatic circles, unbelief in the sufficiency of the Scripture results in the constant need for “miracles, signs, and wonders,” believing the gospel to be ineffective without their accompaniment (see Vineyard Movement pamphlet).

     However, far and away the greatest attack against the sufficiency of Scripture has come from the influence of psychology within the church. Seminaries that once trained pastors how to use the Bible in counseling people, now instruct them in psychology and the wisdom of men. Sin is now treated as a disorder in need of treatment rather that repentance.

     All of this, coupled with the ever decreasing attention span of the culture, has caused the church to try to seek ways to entertain its congregations rather than simply preach the all-sufficient Word of God. The Bible is no longer viewed as authoritative in matters of faith and practice by most. Those who believe in an inerrant, authoritative, all-sufficient Word of God are considered by most to be deluded, misguided, or just plain ignorant (see Inerrancy pamphlet).

   What shall we say to these critics and unbelievers? Is the Bible sufficient? Does it contain everything necessary and binding on our consciences? Does it contain everything God requires of us? 1

The Scriptures Are Sufficient

     The sufficiency of Scripture means that the 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. 2

     There are several passages of Scripture which support this view in both the Old and New Testaments. The Nation of Israel was instructed by God to keep His word before them at all times, because it was sufficient to instruct them in how to live according to God’s requirements (Joshua 1:8-9; Deuteronomy 6:4-9). In addition the Psalms are replete with statements speaking of the sufficiency of the written word (Psalm 1:2; 37:31; 119:1, 89, 128; etc.). Psalm 19:7-9 is probably one of the clearest statements in all Scripture which speaks to its own sufficiency:
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

     Little clarification of these verses is necessary however one should notice that each title for the scripture is followed by the statement “of the Lord”. When it says that the Scripture is perfect, it means “whole”, “complete” or “perfect”.3 These words speak for themselves as to the very nature and ability of God’s written revelation to keep believers in a right relation to God, if they will but heed them. There is nothing about God’s word that is deficient. The psalmist goes on to say in the subsequent verses that in keeping God’s law there is great reward. Scripture alone is able to restore the soul, make wise the simple, rejoice the heart, and enlighten the eyes. The words of men may fail, but the word of God alone is righteous altogether, and endures forever.

     The evidence of the sufficiency of Scripture is just as clear in the New Testament. In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy he told him that “From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Again, the evidence is clear and self-explanatory. Instruction in salvation through faith in Christ comes through the written word of Go Scripture alone is sufficient to instruct someone for salvation.

    In addition to these examples, the writer of Hebrews says that the “Word of God is living and active and sharper that any two-edged sword.” It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart and pierce as far as the division of soul and spirit, right down to the very bone (Hebrews 4:12)! Scripture alone is sufficient to divide soul and spirit and judge the thoughts and intentions of the human heart.

     Furthermore, James calls the Scriptures “the perfect law, the law of liberty” (James 1:25), again speaking of completeness or wholeness. The Apostle Paul told the believers at Thessalonica that they had received the word of God “not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God which also performs its work in you who believe” (I Thessalonians 2:13). Scripture alone is the word of God. They are not like the words of men. They alone are able to strengthen, edify, and transform believers into the image of Christ.

     Finally, in 2 Peter 1:19, Peter said that “We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which we do well to pay attention.” The Bible which we hold in our hands contains everything that pertains to “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4). It is sufficient in its ability to save and to sanctify, it is inerrant, and infallible, and it is complete as it is. Nothing can substitute for it, nor supplement it, because it contains all that God intends for us to have. Because all of this is true of Scripture, it is incumbent upon us to submit to its authority in every area of life.  

This article is copyright 2006  by Vincent Nicotra. This article may be quoted, in part or in whole, without permission.

You may contact the author through:


1.) MacArthur, John, “The Sufficiency of the Written Word,” in Sola Scriptura, Edited by Don Kistler, Soli Deo Gloria Publications: Morgan, PA, 1995, page 166.

2.) Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, 127.

3) MacArthur, John, Our Sufficiency in Christ, Word Publishing: Dallas, Texas, 1991, page79.


For further study we recommend the following:
1. Fool’s Gold – John MacArthur
2. The Foundation of Biblical Authority – James Montgomery Boice, Editor
3. Thy Word is Truth – E.J. Young


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