When I was a child I never had any problem cleaning my plate. As far back as I can remember, I have always loved food. When something especially delicious was available to me, I would always have this irrational fear that I wouldn’t get enough of said dish. I would load up my plate to a heaping pile to be sure that I could eat it until fully satisfied, and to my shame, beyond that point. But I didn’t start writing this to talk about the sin of gluttony (an issue for another time). I give this example because I know that human beings long to be satisfied. When something is good to us, we want to make sure we will always have that thing to enjoy whenever we wish. We want to have enough. This is a desire God has put within us that cannot be satisfied by anything but himself. That is why we try to fill it with all other kinds of things to no avail. So how do we “eat” what is good? How to we find that never ending supply that puts our souls at rest by reassuring them that we will always have enough? In the 1689, we confess that holy scripture is what God has provided for us to “eat”, and that it will always be enough for us. It says,
“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.” -1689 LBC, Ch. Paragraph 6
The Full Course Meal
All of God’s word is given to us that we may know all things that are necessary for the Christian life. All that we need to know for faith and practice is there. There is no substitute for this. Our souls long to know God, and his word is the way he has chosen to reveal himself to us. It is when we begin to add things to what he has given that we find ourselves once again dissatisfied and longing. To add traditions or supposed “new revelation” cannot enhance what is already perfect. When a steak is prepared and cooked right, and the steak itself is an exquisite cut of meat, it is nothing short of heresy to cover said steak in A1 or Heinz 57. Don’t even fight me on this. I’m right. It is the same concept when we try to add to the sufficient word that God has given us. You cannot add to perfection. So taste and see, and keep your condiments of tradition and “God told me” far away.
The Illumination of the Spirit
There is one thing that must happen in order for us to taste and see that the Lord is good in his word. We must be born again. The Bible teaches that we naturally love to stuff ourselves with every rebellion against God. He is what our souls need and long for, but our sinful hearts prefer anything else. We seek satisfaction in all of his stuff, but not in him. Though we may not say it out loud or even know we feel this way, in our natural state we hate God. We want nothing to do with what he says is good. But for the Christian, God sweetly wafts the aroma of his goodness toward us. We resist at first. But the aroma of the gospel flows gently through the air and the Holy Spirit of God does a miracle in our hearts. He overcomes or natural rebellion and hatred of God, and he opens our eyes to see the beauty of Christ. When he moves in us, the aroma of the gospel becomes irresistible. As he quickens our souls, we know that the gospel is the very thing that we have always needed to be satisfied, but selfishly rejected like a child refusing to eat what is good for them. But when we taste and see, we know that his word is life.
Observe the Word
Because the Bible is sufficient for those who have been born again, we look to it as our final authority. There are still some disagreements among Christians about many things we would call secondary issues. The Bible is still our guide in these things, and there is good reason for many views on things such as end times, church government, and baptism (a bit more of a serious one). Disagreements on these things are not to separate us as brothers and sisters in Christ. The disagreements come from scripture on each side, at the end of the day we must defer to the Bible for all things regarding faith and practice. The 1689 itself takes stances on these issues, and that is a good thing. But before it even gets there, it lays out for us a more important truth. The Bible is enough for us to draw from. It is a never ending well of delight that Christians should drink from over and over, day in and day out, until they are dead and their faith is made sight. So we confess Sola Scriptura, scripture alone.