We have been going through a few of the issues that drive the vision of our church. The first one we looked at was the hope-filled eschatology of Postmillennialism. There are very few things that have given me such motivation, enthusiasm and strong faith as this hope-filled vision of the Puritans. The second issue we looked at was the full-orbed grace of God. Last week we spent quite a bit of time looking at the antithesis – what grace is not, so that we could see the richness of what grace is. We were looking at grace through the perspective of each of God's attributes. And apart from grace, all that we establish as a church is a deck of cards. We need God's empowering, and we need to act day by day consistently with the fact that apart from Christ we can do nothing. But we also need the hope of believing I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).
Today I was going to look at our Puritan view of law. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is far more than law that enables us to bring blueprints to society. Law is important. But the application of the Old Testament promises for today are just as important. The application of Old Testament descriptive statements on science, economics and other issues are also important. The general worldview is important. And so I thought a better way of describing where our church is at is that we seek to bring the whole Bible to the whole person. That's what I'm passionate about. That's one of the things that drives me – it's the whole Bible to the whole person. It's the bible applied to education, politics, economics, recreation, sleep, marriage, child raising, farming or whatever. And the whole Bible has answers to the whole person.
Now that's nice in theory, and it's a neat vision to give to those who are outside the church. But I'm preaching to you. And I want to make this practical to where we are at as a church as well. One of the things that the book of James drives home is that we only really believe as much of the Bible as we practice. If a person says that he believes in saving up for retirement, but never does so, we might legitimately question whether it is a true belief or whether it is simply a weakly held opinion. True beliefs are fundamental and factor into a worldview that shapes and drives us. If a person in California says that she believes that the whole coast is going to drop off into the ocean one of these days, but they don't intend to move, we question whether they really believe it will be in their lifetime. Now obviously it is possible to have a mixture of belief and disbelief. There was a man who brought a child to Jesus to heal. When Jesus asked him if he believed, he responded, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24). But the fact that he did come shows that there was a strong enough faith to drive him to action.
This past week I sent John Edmiston's book Biblical EQ to you, and I want to give a quote that I thought was very good along these lines. He had been discussing how our beliefs profoundly affect our emotional life. But then he made a statement that relates to what we are talking about today.
Someone may say "I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting". That is good. Such a person should then do works consistent with a belief in an after-life and a reward in heaven. For instance they should be able to sacrifice material reward in order to gain spiritual reward. Or they should do good deeds that no-one notices believing they will be rewarded in heaven. But if they live entirely materialistically then they are denying their professed faith. If we were to look at the true "thoughts and intents of the heart" of a materialistic person their real beliefs would probably have very little to do with eternal life. Their belief in the resurrection is simply held for the sake of doctrinal conformity or intellectual conviction and has little power in a person's life. It is in effect a very sick or "dead" belief.
Works are a guide to us as to whether or not our faith is truly alive, saving, living and productive. Our works indicate to the world which beliefs we hold that are strong enough for us to live by and act on. Works are a reliable guide to what we truly believe in our heart. In a sense our works are our true doctrine. Our works are the outworking of those beliefs, which we are prepared to act on, live by and stand for in daily life.
Edmiston then goes on to show how Jesus' beliefs resulted in action and how emotions factor into the equation. I will let you read his book or ask the men who attended our class on sanctifying the emotions how all that works out. But this morning we are aiming at not just a doctrine of the whole bible to the whole person, but a true belief in that doctrine that affects us emotionally, psychologically, actively in terms of priorities and goals and desires.
All evangelicals profess to believe these verses that we have just read, but often their lifestyle is out of accord with what these verses are really teaching. Let's look first of all at the foundational belief of Christianity, and that is that all Scripture is inspired. If we don't believe that, then we have no basis of believing what it says about God, Christ, salvation, culture, economics and any other themes. I think the actions of evangelicals reveal that they are not driven by the belief in the inspiration of Scripture because they live as if modern experts are more reliable than the bible is.
All Scripture Is Inspired
The NIV translates that first phrase, "All Scripture is God-breathed." That's what inspiration means. Every word in this book was spoken by God. Even though it was written by men, God moved them to write it in such a way that every word was also God's word. God just used men as an instrument to write the words. Look with me at 2 Peter1:20-21 as an example. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Moses didn't wake up one morning and think, "Hey, it would be neat if God's people had a Pentateuch." No, the Pentateuch did not originate in the will of man. It originated in God's will. God moved Moses to write. God used Moses' writing style, his vocabulary, his personality to communicate God's word.
Paul said in 1 Thes. 2:13 "when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." So the Scripture is God's Word, inspired by Him.
If you really believe that this is God's Word, you will hold it with reverence. It's not bibliolatry to tremble at God's Word. Scripture commands us to tremble at His Word. It commands us to honor the Word.
But Paul also said, "all Scripture." What is included in that? It clearly includes all the Old Testament. He refers to the Old Testament in verse 15. that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures… When he was a child, the New Testament hadn't been written yet. The Scriptures he was brought up on were the Old Testament. That means that the imprecatory psalms are inspired by God. It means that the tough passages are inspired by God.
But Paul also included all the New Testament Scriptures, some of which had already been written at the time that Paul wrote 2 Timothy. Turn with me to 1 Timothy 5:18. I'm not going to give you an entire lesson on how we know what is included in the Canon, but Scripture refers to Scripture. That's one way we know, and here is a place where Paul quotes the Gospel of Luke. "For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages." He lists two things that the Scripture says. One is taken from Deuteronomy 25:4 and the other from Luke 10:7. Paul is calling both Luke and Deuteronomy Scripture. So that's one reason why we know that Luke was inspired. Paul says that Luke was inspired. He treats Luke as Scripture in 1 Timothy, and in 2 Timothy he says that all Scripture is inspired.
And we won't look at it now, but 2 Peter 3:15-16 lumps all of Paul's letters in with the rest of the Scriptures. So Peter treats Paul's epistles as Scripture. And Paul treats his own writings as Scripture. They were canonized the moment they were written. It wasn't the church that determined the canon. God did. There are other verses we could look at, but these are sufficient to show that Paul is saying that every verse in the whole Bible is the very word of God.
What difference should this make in our lives? For one thing, if it is the very word of God, then it cannot contain error. I had a pastor tell me that Paul was wrong in his contradiction of feminism. I had another pastor tell me that the imprecatory psalms are mistaken. But look at the syllogism on this overhead. A syllogism is an elementary form of logic. And I have three premises there that lead to a conclusion.
First premise: God has told us that He cannot lie (Tit. 1:2 "In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago")
Second premise: He has also told us that He is not ignorant. He knows all things. (Heb. 4:13 "But there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.") He is spoken many times as all-knowing or omniscient.
Third premise: All Scripture is the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Thes. 2:13)
Well, if you hold to those three premises, the only conclusion you can come to is that: Therefore, Scripture is inerrant. There's only two ways that you can say wrong things: either by ignorantly (in other words making mistakes), or deliberately (in other words by telling lies). Well, if God can do neither, then His Word cannot have error. That is an irrefutable piece of logic. I don't know how you can be a Christian and say that the Bible has errors.
Now in this room we all believe the inerrancy of Scripture in theory, but let's get practical and test it out in in our lives.
Many evangelicals implicitly deny premises1 and 2. And you might wonder, how so? Let me give you some examples.
1. So-called academic respectability I think is a great example. This is a plague in the evangelical church. Over and over and over again I have heard evangelicals trying to accommodate the word of God to the so-called findings of geology, anthropology, biology, psychology and sociology. In recent years there have been major compromises in missionary practices because people have felt pressured to stay in tune with sociology and anthropology. Academic respectability has ruined Calvin College on the question of evolution. There are teachers there who because of their desire to be respectable geologists have said that Moses was not aware of what we now know, and therefore we should not expect him to be geologically accurate in Genesis 1-11. What are they forgetting. Moses didn't write the book on his own. It wasn't his will and his ideas. God wrote it through him.
Now they use glowing language about the spiritual lessons that can be learned from those passages, but they say that they do not give accurate information about geology. I might say that I don't expect the Bible to be a text book on Geology either, but I know that when God makes statements on geology He is not lying to us, and He is not ignorant. After all, He is the one who made the world and continues to sustain the world. He was there 6000 years ago, we weren't. And He ought to know. According to the logic of the syllogism, either God was ignorant of geology or geology is wrong. I would rather trust the God who made this world and presently holds every atom of it together, than some geologist who has a few years of experience.
Now this does not mean I am an obscurantist. There are geologists out there who believe that the evidence of geology all points conclusively to exactly what the Scripture says – to a young earth, no evolution, and a universal flood. But that is not the question. Our attitude should always be, in the words of Isaiah, "to the law and to the testimony, if they [that is, these people] do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." In other words, it's because they are ignorant. Scripture judges the Geologist, not the geologist the Scripture. And evangelicals have compromised on so many areas like this because of a lust for academic respectability.
3. But let me just give you one more example from the Omaha World Herald that is a little closer to home. (Prov. 29:15; Heb. 12:5-11) I clipped out an article on the constantly changing theories of the experts on raising children from the 1920's on. And there are several areas that these experts have contradicted Scripture. I'm just going to look at spanking. Christians many times have submitted to the tyranny of the experts and ignored the Biblical commands as being outdated. Dr. Walter Alvarez, Emeritus Consultant for the Mayo Clinic, wrote that doctors disapprove of spanking. Well, you can find plenty of doctors who don't, (and he didn't mention that). But the implication of his statement is that doctors are more expert than Scripture and they are certainly more expert than parents are on whether spanking is good or bad. I'd like to see these doctors try to cope with juvenile delinquents for a couple months and see if their perspective changes.
Fifty years ago, John B. Watson the leader of behaviorist psychology gave an entirely different regimen on raising children than this gentleman, and actually it astonishes me that so many people of my grandparents generation followed it. But again, he said, "no one today, knows enough to raise a child." That was why he wrote a book giving his expert advice. During my parents generation Dr. Spock was the big authority on raising children and he said that spanking was psychologically destructive and no one should spank their child. And that view has for the most part prevailed till today among many developmental psychologists. A professor at a large university in the South said that spanking is child abuse, and Sweden has said that for a long time.
Well, Proverbs says the opposite. It says that you abuse your child if you fail to discipline him. You demonstrate hate, no matter how much you might profess love. Proverbs 13:24 says, "He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Another Proverb says, "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother." Hebrews says that discipline "yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness." It's good for the child. Dr. Don Dinkemeyer in his book, Raising the Responsible Child rejects that notion and says that the rod is an outdated approach. And so we need to ask the question, "Is Scripture outdated in its instructions on spanking? Were its people ignorant of the wisdom of modern science and therefore unable to inform us of the full truth?"
Unfortunately, it is easy for Christians to bow to the tyranny of the expert, and to think, who am I to question them, and to think that perhaps the Bible is outdated on these social matters. But if we take that approach we are charging God with ignorance, or maybe even worse.
The question concerning the tyranny of the expert is the same here as in geology, psychology, sociology and other areas. They are constantly changing their dogmatic opinions. It's not just child rearing experts who are changing their opinions – this article gives a long history of the changes of opinion. But we need to realize that all science is changing. The only absolute that does not change is the Bible. Why? Because it is given by the God who cannot lie and who knows all things.
All Scripture Is Profitable
And so Paul goes on to say that all Scripture is not only inspired, it is profitable. It is profitable. We need the Scriptures in this topsy turvy world. It is profitable.
For Unbelievers (v. 15)
And it's not just profitable for believers, but also for unbelievers. And that's important to realize. A lot of people are embarrassed to bring God's Word to bear in the lives of unbelievers, but the law has at least three uses in an unbeliever's life. The first is mentioned in verse 15: "and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." It's not your testimony that saves someone. Your testimony may give a context and example of Scripture, but it is Scripture itself that has the power to save. It is the Scripture which is sharper than any two edged sword and can pierce through the tough outer skin into the conscience. And how we witness will bear testimony to how deeply held our belief is that Scripture alone has this power.
And by the way, it is the law that has the primary task of leading people to Christ. All that most modern evangelists are willing to talk about is the Good News. But unbelievers could care less about the good news until they have heard the bad news. And so Galatians 3:24 says "the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." He didn't say the Gospel was. He said the law was. Why would the law lead us to Christ? Why would it push us to justification by faith? Well the answer is that a strong preaching of the law makes sinners aware of how impossible it is for them to be saved by works. The more the law is preached, the more they realize that they need a savior. J. Gresham Machen once said, "A new and more powerful proclamation of that law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law. So it always is; a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace. Pray God that the high view may again prevail." The Puritan method of evangelism was to speak 90% law to unbelievers and 10% Gospel. If they were prepared by the law, the Gospel would be received immediately. They found that otherwise we tend to pick green fruit – and people fall away. That's one of the reasons why I like Ray Comfort's tape "Hell's Best Kept Secret." It helps people to return to the evangelistic methods of the Reformers, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley and other greats. So the first use of the law is to show unbelievers their sin and lead them to Christ.
The second use of the law is to restrain sin. Turn to 1 Timothy 1:8-11.
1Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, [He is going to speak here about civil law, which the Pharisees had abused. They used an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth civil law for their personal relationships of getting even. No. God intended that for the state, not for the individual. Paul goes on]
1Timothy 1:9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Timothy 1:10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, … etc [Good citizens don't need to worry about the law. It was given to restrain the evil of these kinds of individuals. We have a tendency to not want to bring God's law to these kinds of people or to introduce it into government, but that is exactly the place where it is profitable. It's the unbeliever and especially the criminals who need God's civil law.]
And so we have to say, Scripture is profitable for an unbeliever's salvation, secondly to restrain criminal behavior and thirdly, to give blueprints for social transformation. The fourth use of the law that the Reformers gave was as a standard of righteousness and loving behavior for believers. But I want to look at the third one a bit – social transformation. If we've got the answers to the problems that plague society, why would we keep those answers in house. It's profitable for unbelievers when society runs by the free market principles of the bible rather than by the state-run economies of other religions.
I really appreciated the fact that one of the professors at Bellevue University has been boldly showing how Biblical economics is the only philosophically sound economics. He is not apologetic in the least of the profitability of the Scripture. He is convinced that the Bible is profitable for the unbeliever.
For One In Christ (vv. 16-17)
Gives the Standards of Appropriate Behavior ("doctrine")
But it is also profitable to the one who is in Christ. And that's what verses 16-17 say. Let's break down this profitability. First of all he says that it is profitable for doctrine.
And keep in mind that he says that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine. Maybe you don't like doctrine. Maybe there's portions of Scripture that you don't care for. Maybe you don't like vegetables. But God says it is good for you. All of it. My wife had an excellent recipe for making zucchini not taste like zucchini, and in much the same way I am trying to grow in my ability to get heavy doctrine across in a more palatable way while still giving you every last drop of nutrition. I think I frequently fail, and I sometimes lose some of you. Hopefully over the coming years you will grow in your appreciation of vegetables, and I will grow in my skill at cooking them. But lets's realize that doctrine is good for us; it is profitable.
I found a cute analogy for how we grow in our appreciation of the whole counsel of God. It said, "There are three stages of Bible Study . . . the Cod Liver Oil Stage (you take it like medicine because it is good for you), the Shredded Wheat Stage (dry, but nourishing), and the Peaches And Cream Stage (a delicious treat)." And I think we all tend to go through these various stages from time to time. We tend to have our favorite doctrines, but every last section of Scripture is important. Christ once said, "Man shall not live by bread alone by by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
Turn to Hebrews 5:12-14. If the writer of Hebrews were alive today he would no doubt tell over 90% of Christians in America the same words he told the Jews. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses excercised to discern both good and evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14). He told them that he was giving them milk in the book of Hebrews. Now that may shock you. Milk??! Hebrews is the easy part!? A lot of Christians have set their sights so low for what they want to get out of the Bible that they would consider mastering the principles in Hebrews to be a major task that only super-Spiritual Christians would try. The writer to Hebrews said something quite different. He said, you need to master the principles in Hebrews, the milk, the basic presuppositions in Hebrews before you can even begin to go on and master the meat of the word, which he defines as applying Scripture to the tricky decisions that we make in life. So meat is for every one who wants to walk in holiness, and the milk are the presuppositions that will help you think straight to even get there. Notice verse 14. He says, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (v. 14) It is talking about ethics, holiness. Meat is the substance of complicated decisions of holiness. Doctors face some pretty tricky decisions in their practice and it takes Biblical maturity, deep knowledge of Biblical ethics to come to the right conclusion. Politicians are forever being pressured into compromise, and Christians have fallen into sin unawares because they were not prepared with the meaty stuff of Biblical principles relating to politics.
All of Scripture is profitable for giving those standards. And if you haven't read the whole Bible, you are acting as if it is not profitable. Right? And if you haven't read through the whole Bible numerous times, you are treating it as being less profitable than it should be. Now obviously, if you are not a politician, you won't need to know as much about the Biblical standards for that area, but since every citizen is involved to some extent in politics, we should at least know the rudiments. There is a three volume set on God and Government out on the library shelves that would be an excellent start. That gives what I consider to be the rudiments. It's very interestingly laid out with lots of pictures and lots of application. If you are domestic engineer, as someone once called Kathy, then you need to be proficient in the Scriptures that go along with your calling as a housewife. There are standards that God sets. He gives teaching concerning discipline, budgeting, family bonding, eating habits, manners, provision for the future. God wrote an entire book on the joys of sex in marriage. He has written to every conceivable area of family life. So don't think you don't need in-depth study just because you are not in business. Study Scripture as it relates to your field.
Gives the Authority to Change Inappropriate Behavior ("reproof")
The next thing that Paul points out is that all of Scripture is profitable for "reproof." What does reproof imply? It implies that the Bible has authority over you. Unfortunately, many evangelicals believe that only the New Testament can reprove our behavior because we are not under law but under grace. But that contradicts Paul. Paul says, all Scripture has the authority to reprove. That means that we continue to be under the regulative authority of the Old Testament. We aren't just New Testament believers. Turn with me to Matthew 5:17-19.
Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
Matthew 5:18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
Matthew 5:19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, [What was the least of the Old Testament commandments – it was the commandment that you couldn't take the mother bird and its young together. He says, "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments] and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is saying the same thing that Paul said – that all Scripture, even the tiniest laws, continue to have authority over us and continue to be profitable to rebuke our behavior and to tell us "stop doing that."
So on the one hand we need to throw out dispensationalism that throws out the law. On the other hand we need to be careful that we don't bring reproof without the authority of the Bible. In myself I have no right to say that anything is wrong or right. A parent has no right to say anything is wrong apart from the bible. And that's why Scripture admonishes parents over and over to discipline children with the Word of God. They've got to see that we are not the highest authority, but God is. We don't want to train our children to have the fear of man. We want them to have the fear of God. The fear of man can lead to pride or the loss of self-esteem. It can lead to consciences bound by man rather than being bound by God.
It is God's word that gives me the authority to stand before you and instruct you on how you should change. My opinions mean nothing. Even when it came to Paul's preaching, he commended the Bereans for checking out what he said by the Scriptures to see whether what he said was true. That's why Peter said, "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God." (1 Pet. 4:11). In other words, our words should reflect God's words. We have no right to expect people to change unless God's word gives the same reproof. We're not adequate for reproof, but hey, the Scriptures are profitable for reproof.
For instance, what right does the government have to reprove a murderer? Think about it sometime. Philosophers and ethicists who have rejected God have been plagued over this whole question, and some of them have finally admitted that it is not a question of right or wrong. It is a question of who is stronger. The ancient Greek writer, Thrasymachus said, "Might makes right." It's right because the government says so and they have the fire power to back it up. Now no politician would dare be that brash today, so they still talk about morals, and they have their ethics committees, but the question can still be asked them: "What right does the government have to reprove a murderer or a thief if we're simply animals?" Biologists defend the right of animals to act in this way, and if we are just higher forms of animals, it is hard to come up with any rational that would make these things wrong. And who defines those things anyway?
For the Christian, the question of authority is no problem, for all authority is appointed by God and the right to reprove is given by God. Christ told Pilate, "You could have no authority at all against Me unless it had been given you from above." (John 19:11) Authority comes from God. Romans 13 says that government is to be a minister of God and an avenger of evil. And God defines what is evil. God has given them authority to reprove, and ultimately, there is no authority apart from God-given authority. So Scripture is needed to give the authority to change behavior. It's needed for parental authority, for pastoral authority, for state authority. That's why government has no authority to command you to be a communist, or to command you to cease preaching the gospel, or to command you to stop disciplining your children. Authority comes from God's law and those who act within the sphere of that law.
Gives Principles To Change Us ("correction")
The next step beyond reproof is "correction." Where reproof tells you what you are doing wrong, correction tells you what to do right. Gary North says that you can't beat something with nothing. Some people are good at criticizing what is wrong in our land, but then they refuse to go to the Bible for telling them what is right. They go to natural law. They don't think that the Old Testament blueprints are profitable corrections. They want to come up with their own humanistic corrections.
And you know, we can do that as parents. We can tell them a "No," from Scripture because it's usually very easy to tell our children the "Thou shalt nots." But if we then just come up with our own preferences on how things should be done, we have become the authority. That makes us just a nicer form of humanist. The corrections; the blueprints need to come from the Bible as well. And in case we doubt that those corrections are adequate, Paul assures us, "they are profitable." All Scripture is profitable for correction.
John tells us, "He who says he abides in Him, must himself also walk even as He walked." Have you ever wondered what kind of a carpenter Christ was? or what kind of a child? You children need to imitate Christ in being godly children. Now how do you do that? Scripture tells us that Jesus kept the Old Testament law. The problem with the "What Would Jesus Do" movement is that it has no definition. One relative said that she just imagines what Jesus would do. No. That's humanism. That's treating the Bible's blueprints as not being profitable. What would Jesus do? He would have kept the Old Testament blueprints in their tiniest details. All Scripture is profitable for correction.
Gives Principles To Reconstruct Us ("instruction in righteousness")
Fourth, all Scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness. It's not enough to live the Biblical blueprints. We need to also teach them. Remember what we read in Matthew 5. Whoever therefore breaks one the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. We all teach either humanism or Scripture. If we justify our behavior by saying, "But everyone's doing it," then we are humanists. We are teaching people to trust public opinion, not the Bible. Jesus wants us doing and teaching the biblical blueprints.
The last thing that Paul says the Scripture is profitable for is equipping us for every good work. Far more important than university training is Biblical training in economics, business, communication, ethics, relationships, leadership and other works. The bible is profitable for your vocation. Do you believe that? Then in what ways has it been made the foundation for your vocation?
All Scripture Is Sufficient
Now what I want to end with is a third major point. The bible is not only inspired, not only profitable, but it is also sufficient to do all this. Verse 17 says, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. There are so many evangelicals today who deny that the bible is sufficient. They think we need to supplement the Bible with natural law, psychology, or other things. But let's look at each phrase in verse 17
For Making Us Complete (v. 17)
Verse 17 says, "That the man of God may be complete."
I don't know if your realize it, but those are radical words. There are a rising number of Christians who do not like Old Testament law, and yet who do not like anarchy either. And they are saying that we need to supplement Biblical law with what they call natural law. Listen to what Cannaught Marshner (a New Ager) said, ". . . the Bible and other revealed documents do not answer explicitly all the ethical questions that arise." Now that statement is important because it is contradicting Paul here. Listen to what a so-called evangelical by the name of Alan Johnson wrote in his article, "Is there a Biblical Warrant For Natural-Law Theories?"
Therefore an evangelical ethic, which is a fully Christian ethic, though it will necessarily be a serious Biblical ethic will never be merely a Biblical ethic. Not all moral obligation is rooted in Scripture. . . While Scripture will always be primary and final, it will always stand beside Natural Moral Law knowledge. Evangelicals must come to grips with this more complete understanding of the Christian ethic, especially in the area of social ethics." (p. 197)
This is where the rubber meets the road on why people oppose theonomy and substitute their own laws. What he is saying is that life is too complicated in the social arena today for the Bible to be sufficient. We need experts who will determine laws from reason and common consensus to deal with these new problems that the Bible had not anticipated. Examples like modern medicine are brought forward. How do we determine whether to terminate Baby Doe's life, or Anne Quinlin's life. They believe the Bible gives no answer. The Bible does not address the need for socialized medicine they might say. It does not tell us how to deal with inflation or deficit spending. And they could rattle off a list of complex issues the length of an arm that they believe the Bible does not deal with. Most of that is due to sheer ignorance of the Old Testament. Remember Paul said that all Scripture is sufficient to make us complete. If we restrict our law to the New Testament then of course we are in trouble because the New Testament was never intended to replace the Old. If we only had the New Testament then we would have no prohibition of bestiality or of marriage withing the bounds of consanguinity. We need to take the word "all" in Paul's statement seriously. And when we do, we will find that it is sufficient to make us complete. Everything that we need to know to please the Lord in our ethical decisions is found there, whether that is in politics or medicine, or science or whatever.
For Thorough Equipping to Every Good Work (v. 17)
And Paul re-emphasizes his point in that last phrase, "thoroughly equipped for every good work." Not partially equipped for some good works, so that we can sort of stumble our way through life. God has not left us half-provided for. Do we really believe that? There are many areas where we could test ourselves on this. As John Edmiston said, your true theology – your true belief system that governs your life is shown by your works. The person who is driven by an eternal perspective is going to make economic decisions that don't seem wise to a materialist. But they are wise because he is laying up treasures in heaven. He is preparing for an eternity without end knowing that what we do in our few short years here will affect us and limit us for all eternity.
What we do shows which belief systems have captured our hearts. It's my desire that you would be captured by this vision of the whole Bible to the whole person. You know, what we talked about in men's meeting on the Wednesday before last opens up whole new vistas of information on what the bible says about our bodies and how they are affected; about our emotions and how they are affected by our worldview. Be radical Christians. Be people of the book. Devour the bible and let the bible capture you. If you want to be whole Christians in body, mind, emotions, social relations, and every area of life you need to take seriously the whole Bible to the whole person. Amen.