God’s Word: Authoritative and Sufficient for Equipping
Yanadi encourages us to trust and rely on God's word alone as authoritative and sufficient for equipping us toward Christlikeness.
Ephesians 4:11-16 is probably the most familiar passage in the Bible relating to equipping Christians for the work of ministry:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, ... Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
And it is always relevant until Christ comes again to renew us to “the stature of the fullness of Christ”. Until then, we are to continue growing as our Pastors-Teachers equip us. But thanks be to God, He does not leave us, and our Pastors-Teachers, on our own. He gave us His word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 is a familiar passage to most of us that says:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
While we often use this passage to defend the Bible for its authority, infallibility, and inerrancy, which are all rightly understood from this passage, it also teaches that the Bible is sufficient. In this context, the passage says that God’s word is sufficient for equipping Christians “for every good work”. If it was sufficient for Paul and the local churches back there and then, it should also be sufficient for us and our local church here and now. And if the “All Scripture” that Paul had back there and then only included our Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible), what privilege we have here and now that our “All Scripture” has the record of the good news who has come to redeem us from our sorry condition of sin and how it applies in our lives. If what Paul had back there and then was sufficient, the Bible that we have here and now is sufficient-and-complete.
Our good news is Jesus Christ himself, who believes that the Scripture is sufficient for him and His disciples by reading and teaching from it (Lk 4:16-21) and applying its fulfillment to himself (Lk 24:25-27, 44-47). If Jesus himself thinks that the Scripture is sufficient for us to be a complete man of God, would we look to other things to complete us? He himself is that Word.
If God’s word is authoritative, it only follows that it is sufficient. Why? Because there is nothing else that is authoritative. Other things can be helpful, but nothing else is authoritative. As such, because God’s word is the only thing that is authoritative, it is sufficient.
Therefore, if God’s word is sufficient (because it is), what do we do?
- We read and study God’s word.
If God’s word is authoritative and sufficient, our lives depend on it. Literally. Jesus quotes from the Old Testament that “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Deut 8:3; compare with Lk 4:4). Here, Jesus equates God’s word to the food that sustains us daily. He is suggesting that we require God’s word to grow into Christlikeness. If we as Christians are what Paul describes as “the spiritual person” (1 Cor 2:14-15), should we not need our regular intake of “the spiritual food” too?
- We obey and be faithful to God’s word.
If God’s word is authoritative and sufficient, there is no better response but to submit and follow through. Beautifully, God’s word is not only authoritative in a way that is most associated with by us, that is the authoritarian way. It is authoritative in a way that loves and cares for us. God’s word is authoritative because it is the only way that dust can turn into human (Gen 2:7), dry bones into a vast army (Eze 37:1-14), and the foremost sinner into a gospel minister (1 Tim 1:12-16). In fact, one evidence of Christlikeness is when we obey and be faithful to God’s word. Therefore, if God’s word is authoritative and sufficient in a way that loves us, should we not love it too? If Jesus is our Lord and “the word who became flesh” (Jn 1:14), should we not obey and be faithful to the word too?
- We minister by God’s word.
If God’s word is authoritative and sufficient, there is no better place to help one another grow toward Christlikeness, also to help others find and be found by Christ, whose likeness we are to grow into. Perhaps we may think that ministry is only the work of church leaders and staff. But we all are called to minister to one another in ways that are faithful to God’s word. This is why we cannot afford to have groups or gatherings in our church that are not anchored on the desire to see one another grow into Christlikeness through the ministry of God’s word. Besides, if we believe that only God’s word can do the impossible, like transforming the worst sinners such as each one of us to become Christ's disciples who are holy and blameless by Christ's own imputation (meaning: attributing what is Christ's to be ours by God's grace), should we not want to anchor our service on it too?
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
I am grateful that we have reached the halfway point of the current EQUIP series on “The Gospel at Work”. More than that, I am thankful that we have started by covering the biblical theology of work and continue the teachings on work anchored on the teachings of the Bible. During the next session, if the Lord wills it, we will see how the Bible helps us answer this question: “How should I choose a job?” This coming session is also good for those of us who may be considering to pursue full-time ministry: “Is full-time ministry more valuable than my job? Do I stay on full-time ministry once I have started?” Join us on Tuesday, 2 March 2021, 8-9pm over Zoom: http://gracebaptistchurch.sg/equip.
We will have our Prayer Meeting this Friday, 26 Feb. If our Lord wills it, we will hear Elder Tan Chong Tien share from the Bible on prayer. Our dear brother Soh Swee Kiat and missionary Esther Yap (Malaysia) will also share God’s faithfulness in their lives and works. Let us gather to pray for one another and others this Friday, 26 February 2021, 8-9:30pm over Zoom: http://gracebaptistchurch.sg/gbcprays.