Is the Bible enough to help us live life in our complex world? Is it enough when we’re faced with difficult issues like abuse, neglect, addiction, and sickness? What does it mean when we say God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient and what does it have to do with you and the problems you face?
Also read about how God spared His servants from a fiery furnace, how He caused a prideful man to live like a brute animal, how He removes power from kings and leaders and gives it to whomever He wills, and how a fool allows his emotions to rule him.
Daniel 3 & 4
2 Peter 1.1-21
Is the Bible enough in a complex world?
God-Breathed & Sufficient
The Bible isn’t just a book about God. It is inspired by God, literally, God-breathed (2 Tim. 3.16).
We’re told in verse 21:
“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Charles Ryrie in his book Basic Theology says this about verse 21:
This verse tells us as much as any single verse how God used the human writers to produce the Bible. The Holy Spirit moved or bore them along. The use of the same verb in Acts 27:15 illuminates our understanding of what is meant by “bearing” or “moving” the human writers. Just before the ship that was taking Paul to Rome was wrecked on the Island of Malta, it ran into a fierce storm. Though experienced men, the sailors could not guide it, so they finally had to let the wind take the ship wherever it blew. In the same manner as that ship was driven, directed, or carried about by the wind, God directed and moved the human writers He used to produce the books of the Bible.¹
So while God used men to pen the Scriptures, it was the Holy Spirit who moved or carried them along causing them to write exactly what He desired, without error.
So is the Bible enough to teach us how to live in our complex world or do we need to add something to it?
Let’s look at verses 3-4:
“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (vv. 3-4).
God’s Word contains everything we need for “life and godliness.” It gives us all we need to live life in a fallen world, with sin-cursed bodies, and among other sinners.
The Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture
The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. It means that not only is God’s Word inspired and inerrant, it is also sufficient for all the issues of life. We don’t need to add man’s wisdom to it.
When Paul told us in 2 Timothy that God’s Word is God-breathed, he went on to say it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).
But today we’re told, perhaps not in so many words, but by inference, that the Bible is not enough. Rather than looking to God’s Word for help to solve problems, overcome the past, and deal with life dominating sins, believers are often referred to psychologists and counselors who use worldly philosophies and unbiblical therapies.
Rather than calling drunkards and the sexually immoral to repentance, they are told they have a disease or they can’t help the way God made them. Victims are told that what happened to them explains all their problems, instead of helping them understand their own sinful responses, the sovereignty of God, and the freedom that comes from walking in forgiveness and grace.
Some might think I’m being overly simplistic or unrealistic.
I understand that we are all born with various bodily weaknesses that makes sinning in those areas harder to avoid. Certainly, abuse and neglect make it easier to respond in sinful ways. And I have seen the devastating power of life-dominating sins and addictions, beginning in my own home growing up.
But I’ve also seen the power of the gospel to change broken lives and heal the deepest of hurts. And while I’m not against all medication for depression and other issues, I’ve seen how it is often a substitute for dealing with the heart issues, merely a band-aid on a gaping wound.
I believe that God can and will use the “all things” of life for our good and His glory (Rom. 8.28-29) and that He will not allow us to face any circumstance that we cannot respond to in a righteous way (1 Cor. 10.13). I believe He can set us free from the power of sin (Rom. 6.6), the weight of guilt (Rom. 8.1), and the poison of bitterness and unforgiveness (Eph. 4.32; Heb. 12.14-15).
The psalmist David said it this way:
7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
9 Reverence for the Lord is pure,
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant,
a great reward for those who obey them (Ps. 19.7-11 NLT).
David declared God’s Word to be: perfect, trustworthy, right, clear, pure, true, and more desirable than gold.
And as Peter told us in today’s reading, God’s Word contains everything we need for “life and godliness.” It teaches us how to live godly lives whether married or single, rich or poor, while suffering persecution, sickness, or any other situation in life.
God’s Word does not teach us how to bake a cake, nor does it teach us how to set a broken bone, solve an algebra problem, or assemble a crib. But it does teach us how to respond when we’re missing half the screws for the crib, the cake falls, the pain of a broken bone keeps us awake all night, or we struggle with algebra.
It teaches us how to live in a godly way in a difficult marriage, with an ungodly spouse or no spouse at all. It shows us the way out of addiction and the way of healing for abuse and neglect. It teaches us how to return good for evil, how to love the unlovable, and how to live by God’s principles rather than our unreliable feelings and desires.
Attacks on the Scripture’s sufficiency are nothing new. Paul addressed it when he wrote to the Colossians:
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead (Col. 2.8-12 NLT).
And in Jude he said:
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1.3)
So, let’s first settle the issue in our own hearts, that …
3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. 1.3-4).
Then let’s contend earnestly for it.
Today’s Other Readings:
God in the Fire
These two chapters contain two of the most incredible stories of God’s power and sovereignty! First we see the “three Hebrew children,” as they are sometimes called, thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to bow down and worship a golden image.
Doing so would have amounted to worshiping King Nebuchadnezzar. When they were not even scorched by the fire that had killed their executioners, Nebuchadnezzar was forced to acknowledge God’s intervention.
The Kingdom Departs
But even more awesome to me is the story in chapter 4. It is such a picture of God’s total and complete sovereign control of His universe and everything in it, including power and politics. God doesn’t just see into the future and reveal what He sees. God plans and purposes what He desires according to His will, His wisdom, and His good pleasure. He sometimes declares in advance what is to happen, but He is always working to bring about His desired result.
In chapter 4, God who knew Nebuchadnezzar’s heart, warned him in a dream that all he had would soon be taken from him. A year later, forgetting that warning, he pridefully declared, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
“… that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” Oh, really? (emphasis added)
Verse 31, “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven. ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!’”
Then God caused Nebuchadnezzar to lose his ability to think and reason and he became like a beast, grazing in the field. He lived outside covered in dew. His hair grew out and his nails became like claws. And he lived like an animal for seven years.
Even more amazing is the fact that at the end of the seven years, he acknowledged God as God and gave Him glory and his kingdom was restored to him.
If you have been reading through the Bible with me or you know history, kingdoms do not just wait seven years for a leader to get his act together. Apart from God’s sovereign control, a power vacuum guarantees someone else will come in and take over.
Not only did he regain his power, but he also regained his influence:
“At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me” (v. 36).
Whether or not Nebuchadnezzar became a true believer, I don’t know, but he understood one thing, “… those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” Again we see the recurring theme of pride verses humility. Repeatedly God makes the point that He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (Jas. 4.6).
This is an amazing illustration of God’s sovereign control of kings and kingdoms. What was true in Daniel’s day is true with our nation, our world, and our leaders today! He may use ungodly leaders for a time and a season, but He can just as easily remove all power and authority from the same, and even, make them just as irrelevant as brute animals.
Our Good & Merciful Creator
That God is the Creator of the universe is reason enough to worship Him, but as the psalmist reminds us in these verses, He is also good and merciful to His creation.
A Fool & His Feelings
“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”
Although feelings and emotions are real and can be very powerful, we do not have to be led or controlled by our feelings. Instead, as believers, we are to be led by God’s principles and submit ourselves to the control of His Holy Spirit.
It is a fool who does otherwise. Even when we think we are controlling people or circumstances by the strength of our personalities, our anger, etc., all we are really doing is revealing our foolishness to others.
Have a great day as you grow in Christ,
Getting ready for 2017
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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