When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he wrote that the Spirit of God had revealed the teaching of God to them. In 1 Corinthians 2:13, he said the teaching of God comes “not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches.”
Marvelous. The wisdom of God comes to us not through human sources. God dispenses His wisdom to us by the Spirit of God, revealing His teaching in the Word of God. Our sufficiency is of God.
In fact, it is so comprehensive, so effective, so complete, he says in verse 15, that by that Word of God through the Holy Spirit, we can judge or appraise and evaluate and comprehend “all things.” Tremendously comprehensive statement. For, he says, the Scripture, the revealed Word of God, gives us the mind of Christ.
Now is there any insufficiency in the mind of Christ? Is Christ limited? Not hardly. The mind of Christ is the consummate mind of God. It is omniscient, supreme, knows no insufficiency. Paul says we have a word from God, taught by the Spirit of God. That word allows us to judge, evaluate, appraise, comprehend and reason all things. All we need to understand about any problem, any need, any issue, is how God sees it.
In Mark 12:24, Jesus affirmed a very important thing: To know the Scripture is to experience “the power of God.” Now, people say they want power: “We can’t just give out the Bible. We’ve got to do signs and wonders. We’ve got to have supernatural power over demons, over the devil, over disease, and we’ve got to be binding that and binding this, and calling on this and calling on that.”
But the Scripture says that to know the Scripture is to experience the power of God. When the devil came to tempt Jesus up on the mount, what did Jesus do? Did He say, “I bind you, I condemn you, I send you to the pit”? How did He deal with the devil? It’s very simple — in every case, He said, “It is written.”
There’s the formula. The power of God was expressed in the Word of God, and when those three temptations were over, the Bible says the devil left Him and the angels came and ministered. When you speak the Word of God, when you live by the Word of God, when you believe the Word of God, there is sufficiency.
Now think about another familiar passage that speaks to the same issue in Hebrews 4:12. “For the Word of God is living and effective” – or active – “and sharper than any two-edged sword.” The greatest weapon is the Word of God. That’s what the writer says. It pierces “as far as the dividing of soul and spirit.” In other words, it gets way down into the heart and soul and nature of a person. And it will cut cleaner and truer than anything that exists, to reveal the deepest thoughts and intentions of the human heart, so that verse 13 says, “All things are uncovered and laid bare.” It will do what psychoanalysis will never do. The Word of God opens the soul. It penetrates. It breaks up the heart. It reveals.
I take exception to those who would deny the Word of God the power to penetrate deeper than anything else. I believe if you say that the Bible, the Word of the living God, cannot deal with a problem, you’re sinning against God. Can there be more sufficiency than the mind of Christ and the Word?
Jesus also said in Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.” The concept of “blessed” means a blissful state of life, life with peace and joy, life with meaning and value, life with hope and fulfillment, life with happiness. This belongs to those who hear the Word of God and obey it. And that, dear friend, is the testimony of the lips of Jesus.
I once spoke with a woman who had a terminal disease. She told me, “I’m absolutely living in fear. I am so afraid.”
I said, “Why are you afraid?”
She said, “I’m afraid that I won’t go to heaven.”
I said, “But you believe the gospel, don’t you?”
“And you’ve committed your life to Christ?”
“And your deepest desire is to obey Him?”
“And you love Him?”
“Well, what are you afraid of?”
“Well, when I first got this disease, I cursed God, and I’m afraid that He can’t forgive me and I’m going to go to hell for what I did. I did a terrible, terrible thing. I spoke to God and I used profane words.”
Now what are you going to say to a person like that on the edge of death? “Well … that’s a very deep problem, you need some analysis.” Or, “You better bind the demon of doubt.” Or, “You better visualize, just visualize yourself in heaven.” That’s what’s being advocated.
No, you know what you say to someone like that? First, I said, “Let me quote you a passage of Scripture. Even if you cursed God, there was someone who cursed God even more than you did. His name was the apostle Paul.” And I quoted her 1 Timothy 1:12 and following, how Paul says that the Lord “regarded me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.” And he says that, “It is a trustworthy saying … that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost.”
And I pointed out to her that the reason Paul gave that testimony as being the chief sinner was that he might be set forth as an example. And I said, “God saved the worst blasphemer who fought against Jesus Christ Himself, who persecuted and killed His beloved saints. And if He can forgive him, He can forgive you.”
There was great hope in her voice. You see, the answer for someone in that kind of anxiety is simply to open to them the Word of the living God, which they believe, and which when read and heard is energized in them by the living Spirit of God. There’s no insufficiency there. And if there is confidence in the Word, even for someone on the edge of death, there can be a blissful life.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1985, titled “The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 1.” In addition to serving as the pastor of Grace Community Church and the voice of Grace to You, Dr. MacArthur is the chancellor of The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif. You can learn more about TMU at www.masters.edu.
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