Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
It’s plain to see that if we see prayer as a conversation and communion with the king on his throne then we will approach God as such–with humility and reverence. We can be bold, indeed, but not foolhardy or arrogant.
And if grace is the characterization of the divine throne then we should approach with joyfulness.
And because it is a throne, a place of decision, we should approach it with complete submission. We do not pray to God to instruct him as to what he ought to do. We can ask, but not dictate. Ultimately it must end with “Thy will be done.”
And yet because it is a throne of grace we ought to approach it with enlarged expectations. It does not become a king to give away pennies; he distributes large pieces of gold.
The “clarity” or “perspecuity” of Scripture is a seldom-taught doctrine that stipulates that the main things we need to know, believe, and do can be clearly seen in the Bible. That which is necessary for salvation can be understood even by the uneducated, provided that they make use of study and learning. The Bible may not be understood perfectly, but it can be known sufficiently.
This doctrine is under constant attack. There is a lot at stake.
1. The gift of human language is at stake. Some say, “We can’t fully define God with human language.” Of course that’s true in a way. But can God be described truthfully even if not exhaustively? YES!
2. The gift of human freedom is at stake. This doctrine recognizes that individuals have responsibility and ability to interpret Scripture for themselves, yet not apart from community or without attention to history and tradition.
3. What God is like is at stake. Without this doctrine you have to wonder: Is the Bible only for pastors and priests? Do you need to be a scholar to really understand God’s word? NO!
All of Jesus’ recorded prayers in public were short. When alone with God, he could spend the whole night in communion with God.
My experience is that those who pray most in their closets generally make short prayers in public. Long prayers are too often not prayers and they weary people. How short the publican’s prayer was: “God, be merciful to be me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The prayer of the thief on the cross was a short one: “Lord, remember me when I come into the Kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Peter’s prayer was “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30).
If you go through the Scriptures you will find that the prayers that brought immediate answers were generally brief.
We seek to control our lives and the lives of others to make ourselves feel more secure and important. Many of us don’t realize we do this. We employ these controlling behaviors and strategies so quietly and invisibly that we’re blind to them. Yet we push people’s buttons to create the experiences and relationships that serve our purposes.
There are many ways we seek to control others. Some of us are perfectionists or intimidators or worriers or constant planners or micromanagers. But why do we seek to control? Where does this desire come from? No doubt it derives from core issues in our lives, struggles we have with deep feelings of inadequacy, pain, and fear. We seek to control because otherwise we are scared we won’t measure up or be accepted.
Control is all about trying to remove the unknown. It keeps us from trusting others and trusting God. The upside-down thinking of the world says, “The unknown is scary. I don’t know who I can trust. If I take matters into my own hands, if I control things, I can eliminate the fear of the unknown.” But right-side-up thinking says, “The unknown is a place of trust. Perfect love casts out all fear. Only when I release control and trust God can I experience real love.”
It’s so discouraging trying to control your problems and other people when neither will cooperate. Trying to control always ends in failure because trying to control is really trying to play God. There’s only one God, and you’re not Him!
When we come to the place where we say, “I give up. I can’t control this situation,” then God enters the scene of our lives. Once we stop trying to fix the problem, change the person, or control the situation, then God can get involved. After we give up control, we have to give over control.
The doctrine of the “sufficiency of Scripture” takes away any excuses for disobedience. No one can say God has not revealed enough for us to be saved or to live a life pleasing to Him. We do not need to add to it to meet today’s challenges or subtract from it to mesh with today’s ideals.
What difference does this doctrine make in the life of the Christian?
1. With the sufficiency of Scripture we keep tradition in its place. Traditions certainly have a place in understanding God’s word but its role is not equal with the Bible. Tradition has a confirmatory, illuminating, and supportive role.
2. Because Scripture is sufficient, we will not add or subtract from the Word of God. Revelation 22:18-19
3. Since the Bible is sufficient, we can expect the Word of God to be relevant to our lives. This doesn’t mean that the Bible tells us everything we want to know about everything. It does tell us what we need to know about what matters most.
4. It invites us to open our bibles to hear the voice of God.
1. Sufficiency:The Bible contains everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living. We don’t need new revelation from heaven.
2. Clarity: The saving message of Jesus is plainly taught in the Scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it. We don’t need a “professional” to tell us what the Bible means.
3. Authority: The last word always goes to the Word of God.
4. Necessity: General revelation (what we observe in the world and nature) is not enough to save us. We need God’s word to tell us how to live, who Christ is, and how to be saved.
God’s word is final, understandable, necessary, and enough.
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable,and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
1. Scripture is the Word of God: Peter uses three different terms to refer to the Word of God in these verses: “prophetic message (19),” “prophecy of Scripture (20),” and “prophecy (21)”. The Greek word in verse 20 for Scripture is “graphe,” which refers to something written down. So the Word of God is an objective reality outside of us.
2. The Word of God is no less divine because it is given through human instrumentality: God used the intellect, skills, and personality of fallible men to write down what was diving and infallible. The Bible is, in one sense, both a product of humans and God. But this in no way implies any fallibility in the Scriptures.
3. The Bible is without error (20): The ideas did not spring from confused minds. No prophecy was ever produced by the “will of man (21).” Scripture did not come from the will of man; it came from God. And if it is God’s Word then it must be true, for in Him there can be no error or deceit.