What does it mean for us – individually and corporately – to become creatures of the Word of God? How can the Word of God reverberate into lives, into our songs in worship, into conversations around the dinner table, into our friendships, and into our community like those small silver balls in an old-school pinball machine? How do we stand today solely upon the Word of God (sola scriptura) like Martin Luther five hundred years ago when he posted his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517?
Historically, the Protestant tradition has underscored four essential attributes of Scripture which can be helpfully remembered by the acronym SCAN: Sufficiency, Clarity, Authority, and Necessity. In Taking God at His Word, my friend Kevin DeYoung expounds upon these four chief characteristics. Let me directly quote and loosely paraphrase him thus:
Sufficiency: The Scriptures contain everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living. Scripture needs no additional words to make the revelation of God more personal or more direct. God’s word is enough.
Clarity: The saving message of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the Scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it. We don’t need an official magisterium to tell us what the Bible means. God’s word is understandable.
Authority: The last word always goes to the word of God. We must never allow the teachings of science, of human experience, or of church councils to take precedence over Scripture. God’s word is final.
Necessity: General revelation is not enough to save us. We cannot know God savingly by means of personal experience and human reason. We need God’s word to tell us how to live, who Christ is, and how to be saved. God’s word is necessary. (See Taking God at His Word, p. 44-5.)
My suspicion is that many Christians struggle with one (or more) of these characteristics as they seek to live out and apply the Word of God to their daily lives. Part of becoming a “creature of the Word of God” is returning to and delighting in these practical attributes of God’s Word!