It’s tough believing that Scripture is enough for building and leading churches. The “old man” in us is continually tempted to build our churches on other things, things we can see and measure. We want to rely on marketing research, personal charisma, good music, force of personality, or other natural devices.
It’s fine to rely on what the eyes can see in many areas of life, but Christian ministry is about supernatural change. Paul observes, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3-4).
Trusting God’s Word and Spirit to build our churches is an act of faith. Faith in God. Faith in his Word. And such faith is not natural, even for the Christian. It’s super-natural. God must give it. “Is not my word like fire,” he says to us, “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (Jer. 23:39).
In this issue of the 9Marks Journal we take up the topic of Scripture’s sufficiency for the life of the church. Bobby Jamieson’s piece on the prescriptive nature of New Testament polity anchors the whole issue. Start here. The interview with Ed Roberts asks the inevitable follow up question to Jamieson: shouldn’t our context affect how we lead and build our churches?
From there we plunge into several discussions about what the sufficiency of Scripture means for our philosophy of ministry, with pieces by Jeramie Rinne, Carl Trueman, Jamie Dunlop, Benjamin Wright, and myself. Let me especially commend Rinne’s first-hand testimony, “I Was a Pragmatist.”
Several articles on the sufficiency of Scripture for our church gatherings follow. Hello, regulative principle. I argue that the regulative principle may seem more restrictive to churches, but it actually frees Christians. Trip Lee and Aaron Menikoff consider what the principle looks like practically in the life of a church. And Robert Letham answers a somewhat common question about whether or not churches should only sing the psalms.
I’ll admit upfront that this issue frustrates me. So many topics remain untouched; so many conversations cut short. But I hope it offers us all a good start.