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Is the Bible sufficient to know God?

In the world today, lots of different people have many different ideas about God. Some of those ideas come from the Bible, but some don’t. Is the Bible alone enough to know God and to follow Him? Or do we need to look elsewhere for extra knowledge or secret knowledge about God? Let’s take a look at what the Bible itself says, and then think about the limitations of what the Bible can tell us.

The Bible equips for good work

First of all, the Bible says that the contents of the Bible are profitable for equipping the people of God for every good work. Not just some good works, but every good work: “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” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

The Bible teaches how to serve God

The Bible informs and equips all of our efforts to obey and serve God. It is the Bible that should direct what we are to believe and do as Christians. In order to know who God is and what He requires from us, we look to the Bible, and not to other sources. As Peter points out in his second epistle: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).

The Bible teaches how to live holy

There are a couple of important things to notice in this verse. First, we notice that God has given us all things for life and godliness. The Bible does not contain all there is to know about everything in the world. But rather, it contains all that we need for life and godliness. In other words, the Bible is a sufficient guide in teaching us to live a holy, Christ-honoring life.

To know God and Christ we need to read the Bible

And how does the Bible teach us about life and godliness? It teaches us through the knowledge of Him, namely Christ. The key to the Christian life is knowing Christ. Lots of people talk about Christ and write books about Christ, but the only infallible, inerrant, inspired source of knowledge about Christ is the Scriptures. Many people want to hear from God, and to know what He wants to say to them today. But as the famous church leader Martin Luther once said, “Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scripture.”

Know God through Christ and know Christ through the Bible

The Bible affirms that the Bible is the place to hear God’s voice because the Bible is the place where the Son of God is revealed. The writer of the book of Hebrews begins his letter with these words: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2). If we want to know God and what he requires of us, and if knowledge of Christ is the key to life and godliness, and the Bible is the perfect revelation of Christ, then why would we want to look anywhere else?

General revelation versus special revelation

The Bible is designed to reveal Christ and equip us for all godliness and every good work, but it is not designed to tell me tomorrow’s weather, why my wife is mad at me, or which job offer I should take. God has given us both general revelation (nature) and special revelation (Bible), but we need to use our minds to understand and apply the things that God has revealed to us.

We need to study His word to know God

Some people expect God’s truth and His specific will for their lives to be handed to them in a neat, detailed package like some kind of divine download. But Jesus expects us to know God and His will by thinking hard about what God has already said. Sometimes we ask God to tell us what to do, but we neglect studying what He has already told us. We need to pay close attention to what He has told us already and learn to make good decisions based on that.

Know God through the Spirit, nature and reasoning

The Bible is sufficient for knowing and obeying God as long as we are reading it together with 1) the leading of God’s Spirit, 2) what we can learn from nature around us, and 3) the reasoning of the minds God has given us. The Bible is sufficient, but that does not mean that we must stick our fingers in our ears and block out the rest of the world and the Holy Spirit in order to think we are depending on the Scriptures alone. However, we must keep other sources of knowledge in their correct places. Realize that the work of the Spirit, the knowledge we gain from creation, and our own reason are tools that God uses to point us to the perfect revelation of Christ, namely the Bible.

How does this Bible teaching speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!

Read more The Clarity of Scripture: can we understand the Bible?

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Karl Dahlfred

Karl Dahlfred has served as a missionary in Thailand with OMF International since 2006. From 2012-2016, he taught church history and missions at Bangkok Bible Seminary, assisted in editing and translation of Thai Christian books at OMF Publishers Thailand, and was a founding elder of Grace City Church, Bangkok. In 2017, he began a Ph.D in World Christianity at the University of Edinburgh. Karl earned a Masters of Divinity (M.Div) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology (Th.M) at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Karl is married and has three children.

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Is the Bible sufficient to know God?