Reminders that the Bible is sufficient, clear, authoritative, and necessary are always welcome. Kevin DeYoung offers them in “Taking God At His Word”.
Kevin DeYoung, in his latest book Taking God At His Word, encourages us to use the acronym SCAN so we might better remember that the Bible is sufficient, clear, authoritative, and necessary for all of life. I’ve taken him up on that encouragement, and now have a greater appreciation for the Scriptures. Don’t be fooled, however; you nonetheless won’t find Kevin claiming that God’s Word will answer our every question, be wholly understandable, or that we won’t still give in to the temptation to tackle life by our own devices after spending time in it. Sometimes believers just need to be reminded of the fundamental principles and concepts of Scripture. Taking God At His Word brings those reminders and provocative questions to boot.
Very interestingly, Kevin uses Chapter 1 to describe how King David in Psalm 119 did not spare the least of his emotive vocabulary to express how one ought to feel about Scripture, why Scripture must be believed, and what to do as a result of it. Kevin explains that he especially chose Psalm 119 due to the Christian’s general attitude about it… that it’s long, repetitious, and difficult to understand. All that may be true, but it doesn’t change how the particular psalm informs the follower of Christ that he/she should delight in, desire, and depend upon Scripture. Or as Kevin states, Psalm 119 is a Hebrew love poem about God’s Word, and rightfully so. Why should the Christian revere the Bible in this way? It goes back to SCAN.
Take the Bible’s sufficiency, for starters. It seems that many genuine Christians crave extra-biblical revelation from the Lord, whether in the form of prophetic dreams and visions, or straight one-on-one conversation, etc. It’s as though they think that hearing a mystical, low-bass sounding voice from somewhere that appears to be in the direction of heaven would make one closer to God than ever. Such ideas seem wonderful and desirable, but they’re truly anti-biblical, and create a sense of false hope and awe. The worst is that the source of this could very well be the army of the devil himself. After all, Satan masquerades as an angel of light. The point, as Kevin makes in Chapters 2 and 3, is that God has already spoken, and is still speaking to each of us on an individual basis in His written Word, and ultimately through His Son Jesus Christ. Sure, it would have been incredible to be nearby when Moses encountered the burning bush, or among Christ’s inner circle while He was being gloriously transfigured, etc, but we have God’s sufficient and complete revelation. It just happens to be written down, but that makes it no less exactly what we need. And also don’t forget that no one in the Bible actually had the Bible. We are privileged to have it, to say the least. And if we are convinced that God is actually speaking as we read the Bible, then we won’t itch to hear a disembodied voice that claims to be Him.
The Bible, as Chapter 5 of Taking God At His Word states, is also clear. That doesn’t mean Christians will know everything. Only God is omniscient. It also doesn’t mean that every passage is wholly comprehensible, otherwise child-like faith in God’s altogether unsearchable wisdom wouldn’t be required on our part. What it does mean is that God has made sure every human being can grasp the things that matter most. Whether it’s the most important concept of salvation or the doctrines that ought to impact every-day living, Scripture is clear, regardless of what naysayers claim.
Chapter 6 is a straight arrow. In it, Kevin discusses why on any subject you might consider, Scripture is the sole authority. God is King. He created all things and everyone. He governs all affairs, does as He pleases, and has rightful claim on our lives. And because He is also Scripture’s Author, the buck stops at His throne. He is above all, and answers to no one. Case closed.
Chapter 7 then, if you’ve been following, takes us to the Bible’s necessity. Without Scripture, it is impossible to know God factually or personally. That is, again, because He has chosen to reveal Himself to the extent we need in the inspired Word. If Scripture was not available to us, we also wouldn’t know history as only God can know it to be true. Without God’s written revelation, we wouldn’t understand that Israel is His chosen people. If the Bible did not exist, it would be impossible to know, let alone understand, why and how [fallen] man needs to be saved.
The final chapter brings it all together. In it, Kevin points out Paul’s instruction to Timothy to stay the course, to stick with the Scriptures as taught by his mother Lois and grandmother Eunice. Believers today would be wise to obey that same instruction. We ought to cherish the Bible teaching we received growing up. And if you weren’t raised in a Christian home, or didn’t grow up a Christian, then cherish what you received from the shepherd(s) that led you to faith in Christ. Yet of course along with that, there’s nothing more important than refusing to waver from what God has given us in the Bible. It contains all we need for this life, and the next. What the words of Scripture actually do, where they ultimately came from, and the all-wise training they provide, makes the Bible the only perfect written work. It is the only truth, and is to be obeyed. Paul understood that, as did Timothy; we must imitate their faith and faithfulness.
Thank you Kevin DeYoung, for refreshing our souls by revisiting the Bible’s fundamental, unchanging, everlasting truths. Your passion for the Word is contagious, and I hope everyone that reads Taking God At His Word will now start to view Scripture through the same lens King David did in Psalm 119!