Pursuing Scriptural Holiness

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 competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Our True Rule

The United Methodist Church, by way of its denominational standard, addresses the sufficiency of Scripture. The 2008 Book of Discipline reminds us, Scripture is “necessary for salvation” and is “the true rule and guide for faith and practice.”

The “practice” referenced is the practice of our faith, the exercise of living this life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and preparing for the next. We believe God expects us to live such a life in accordance with Scripture’s direction, rules, laws, commands, examples, teachings, principles, and all the rest. That covers a great deal of ground.

Scriptural Holiness

United Methodists believe that what John Wesley called scriptural holiness relates to both our inward walk with Christ and the outward expression of that relationship with our neighbors. Our Doctrinal Statements, GeneralRules, and Social Principles cover an enormous variety of topics, such as God, the Church, the Bible, discipleship, economics, environment, bioethics, justice, marriage, parenting, politics, poverty, and yes, our precious Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that comes through him. In all these spheres and more, Scripture is our “true rule and guide for faith and practice.”

The 2008 Discipline says this about scriptural holiness,

We insist that personal salvation always involves Christian mission and service to the world. By joining heart and hand, we assert that personal religion, evangelical witness, and Christian social action are reciprocal and mutually reinforcing.

Scriptural holiness entails more than personal piety; love of God is always linked with love of neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.

Every Sphere

In other words, Scripture is sufficient for every sphere of life. This is what our Discipline means when it reminds us that Scripture is “necessary for salvation” and is “the true rule and guide for faith and practice.”
So, while the Bible doesn’t, for example, teach me how to change the oil in my car, it still directs and guides me to do even something as mundane (and as important) as that to God’s glory. It teaches me to be a good steward of what God has provided. And caring for my car in such a manner shows my love for my closest neighbors – my family.

The Apostle Paul teaches us,

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 competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Scripture is profitable for every area of your life. He doesn’t use the same language here, but Paul is saying Scripture is sufficient for every sphere of life. Bishop Mack Stokes addressed this by writing,

Immediately following the “General Rules,” Wesley wrote, ‘These are the General Rules of our society; all which are taught of God to observe, even in his written Word, which is the only rule, and the sufficient rule, both of our faith and practice.’ (The Bible in the Wesleyan Heritage, p. 21)

Understanding that Scripture is sufficient for faith and practice is not the same as saying the Bible is a science textbook, a political constitution, or a manual for how to care for your car. But the Bible clearly does have something (and something important) to say about those areas of life and far more.

Wayne Grudem, (who is not a United Methodist), shares this definition for the sufficiency of Scripture, which I believe is helpful. He writes,

The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly. (Systematic Theology, p. 127)

God commands us to submit to our Lord in every sphere of life and he guides us in that quest in and through his Word. It is sufficient for such a grand pursuit.

Walking Points

  • We rightly think of Scripture’s sufficiency for things like salvation, doctrinal belief, prayer, and worship. But consider the list below and discuss with your Christian brothers how the Bible is sufficient for topics such as these:
  • Art
  • Music
  • The Environment
  • Your Workplace
  • Caring for Your Car
  • Your Finances
  • Entertainment and Leisure
  • What are some ways you can start expanding your view of Scripture’s relevance in your life?

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