Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | October 18, 2006

It is Sufficient

It’s been a long day and I cannot sleep, rather than toss and turn for a couple of hours.  I thought it would be helpful to “spill my brain” for a little while.  That is a great line by the way, my apologies for employing it here.  Well, it’s been about three weeks since our last entry on the topic and it is not out of neglect that I have failed to write to you.  No, it’s simply a matter of having too many balls in the air and barely enough hands to catch them.  Nonetheless, I have digressed and its time to embark upon the topic we’ve been covering for the last few months.  We have reached the culmination of this topic as we encounter Article 7 of the Belgic Confession.  It is our opinion that for Christianity to remain viable it must recover an understanding of the sufficiency of the Scriptures. 

It is important to emphasize that the confession states the “Scriptures fully contain the will of God” and all that we need to know concerning salvation are contained within it.  That is the inerrant, infallible (inspiration-inerrant-and-infallible), canonical books (the-canon-all-required-books-are-included), which carry the authority (whos-to-say) to govern the life of the Church and the believer.  If we are to understand that the Scriptures are sufficient or complete then all the special-revelation has reached its culmination (the-nature-of-special-revelation-progressive) after a period of progressive epochs. Although, we affirm that the nature of special revelation is progressive it does not follow that it must continue to be improved to our day.  No, the progress nature has reached a culmination in the compilation of the New Testament as Francis Turretin states in his Institutes as follows: 

If the Old Testament was sufficient, then so much the more the Old and New together.  The sufficiency of the Old Testament for its time does not prove the superfluousness of the New, for as the age of the church varies, the grade of revelation also varies; not that it becomes more perfect as to substance of doctrines, but only as to the circumstances and their clearer manifestation.  If the New Testament was added to the Old, it does not follow that another can be added to the New because now the canon of Scripture is perfect in every way, not only as to the substance of matters of faith, but also as to the mode and degree of revelation which we can have in this life.  2.16.17 (Emphasis Mine)

Thus, we reject any claims that Scripture are silent as it relates to addition of more books within the canon.  And we can confidently reject claims by Mohammed or Joseph Smith for adding further testaments to the canon. 

We will continue to develop this idea in the next series of entries.  Stayed tuned for why we should believe the New Testament is the final culmination of God’s special revelation in history.



  1. Where have I seen that “spill my brain” thing before?

    Was the Old Testament sufficient? Sufficient for what, to be sure, but what does Turretin mean “sufficient for its time?” Standing at the far end of the canon, I’d say that the O.T. alone is not sufficient, because it requires me to sacrifice bulls & goats for atonement.

    But since we (probably) agree that faith-ful Israelites were also recipients of that atonement yet to come, perhaps the OT was “sufficient for its time”.

  2. I agree with your last statement. However, the middle paragraph implies that the Gospel was absent from the Old Testament. The OT saints were saved by their faith in the promise (the Gospel) not the sacrifces.

    If this was sufficient for there salvation then it must be sufficient on its own in some way. Shouldn’t it?

  3. But sufficient implies nothing more is needed, and we can judge from the fact that God gave us a New Testament (revelatory testimony of a New Covenant) that the old was not sufficient.

    Maybe there is some equivocation between sufficient = “all we need” vs. sufficient = “good enough (but not perfect?)”. Because we certainly know that the New Testament is “better”.

  4. Sorry, I had to go back and check the context.

    The context of Turretin’s statement is made in light of 2 Timothy 3:15-17. His point is that Paul’s comments are made in light of the Old Testament being the recognized Scripture at the time. In fact he explicity states: “it only refers to the Scriptures of the Old Testament”.

    So, the OT was sufficient at least for all those things that Paul listed.

  5. Hmmm. I guess at that time, the OT was the canon. Which raises the speculative question — did any of the NT writers consciously realize the Holy Spirit was pouring through their pens additions to the canon? (Or for that matter, what about the OT authors?)

  6. To that question, here’s a verse Dad just showed me: Eph 3:3-5:

    3how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

    That certainly looks like Paul knew he was receiving and transmitting special revelation from the spirit.

  7. I like Colossians 1:24-29 and Romans 16:25-27. These statements really communicate the significant message of the Christ in the NT. It certainly was a climactic moment in church history, let alone world history. How much more is that true, in light of the OT already being sufficient? This is Turretin’s point.

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