Nathan Brewer, Grace Harbor Church, Oklahoma City –
Jason Goodwin and I rarely have an interaction where I don’t end up laughing hysterically by the time the conversation ends. His passion and intensity have brought about many moments of laughter between us, but as we gathered for the BMA of America meeting in Springfield, Mo. in April, God used these traits to grip our hearts for the seriousness and sufficiency of God’s Word.
Within minutes of him stepping off the stage, I tracked down Jason and was intent to have a serious and heartfelt conversation with him. I expressed my gratitude for his bold and clear sermon from II Peter 1.
I want to take some time here to share three immediate responses I had following the message he preached at the national meeting:
• Always be prepared to defend the sufficiency of God’s Word. During and since Jason’s sermon, I have found myself asking “Would I be ready to preach or defend the sufficiency of Scripture on a whim?” I think this is a profoundly important and relevant question for us as preachers to be able to confidently answer in the affirmative. Due to the illness of the scheduled speaker, Jason was asked mere days before the meeting to bring this message. This led me to really evaluate how firm I am in my conviction and familiarity with the subject of the sufficiency of the Scriptures. Clif beautifully set up on night one that II Tim. 4:3 is no mere theoretical musing of Paul, but a reality that we are experiencing at an alarming rate today. Then Jason challenged via II Peter 1 that we ought to have a firm conviction in and make a faithful practice of teaching God’s Word. Brothers and sisters, the time to be confident and learned in the sufficiency of God’s Word is now. On a whim, you very likely will need to be prepared to both defend this truth and to encourage others with this truth who may be doubting and struggling. May we be confident, may we be prepared and may we show grace with those who God allows us to disciple.
• God’s Word is actually sufficient. The other thought that has dominated my mind is the result of conviction of the Holy Spirit in my own life — God’s Word is actually sufficient. What I mean by that is that the sufficiency of Scripture is more than a doctrinal affirmation. It certainly is not less than something that must be affirmed, but it is certainly more than that. It is something that must shape my own life as a Christ-follower, husband, father and pastor. It is something that must at times, wake me early in the morning and keep me up late into the night.
If I verbally and intellectually affirm sufficiency, yet fail to allow it to be what shapes my activity in each of these spheres in life, do I really believe it? Is sufficiency something on our websites but not in our pulpits? Is this something you find yourself evaluating and maybe sensing some deficiency in? If so, be confident that God will graciously and mercifully supply you with a hunger for His Word if you’ll ask Him to give it. He is patient, He is kind and He stands ready to give you an unquenchable hunger for His Word. May we believe sufficiency not only in word, but in deed.
• God’s Word a more certain word than my own experience. The final thing I want to share is actually a point that comes from the text itself. In II Peter 1:16-21, Peter is recalling his first-hand experience with what we refer to as the transfiguration. Peter was there and he was not only an eyewitness to this appearing, but an eyewitness to the majesty of God. This seems to be (and is) a very reliable and definitive first-hand account. These kinds of accounts are invaluable and often are great validation for testimony. In fact, you often see those with this kind of first-hand exposure insist that it’s true because “I saw it and I was there.” We know Peter saw it and was there, but he takes the opportunity later in his life to affirm an even greater and more certain reality — the sufficiency of the written Word of God. He follows this affirmation up then with an exhortation: “you will do well to pay attention (to the prophetic Word of Scripture).”
These three things I have listed are not necessarily linear, but cyclical — always be prepared to defend the sufficiency of God’s Word because God’s Word is actually sufficient and is a better word than my own experience so I must always be prepared to defend God’s Word because it is actually sufficient and is a better word than my own experience. We all know how prevalent it is for ourselves and those around us to trust and be guided by our own experiences rather than the more sure and full Word of Scriptures. May we be convinced and may the Spirit guide us in those moments is the more fully confirmed Word of God.