“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Does this verse indicate that the Bible is all I need in order to be a good Christian? Does having only my Bible make me “thoroughly furnished” and “perfect” in my doctrine? “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12). But is a sword the only equipment a soldier requires to be “thoroughly furnished?” Is Paul telling Timothy, “All you need is your Bible?”
Soldiers require lots of things in order to be effective. Imagine the U.S.A. sending troops overseas with nothing but their rifles. The soldiers would have no training, no clothes, no helmets, no armor, no food, and no water. They might not even have proper officers. Sound silly? Well, it takes more than a sword to be fully equipped. However, soldiers with all the gear and provisions, but no rifles are also not fully equipped. Paul is not telling Timothy, “All you need is your Bible to be fully equipped.” He is telling Timothy, “In order to be “perfect” and “fully equipped,” you need to add the Bible to the rest of your essential gear.” The sword is profitable but not sufficient by itself.
Ephesians 6:13-17 sheds some light on this principle:
“Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”
The word of God, the sword of the Spirit, is not the only necessary item on the list. It is part of an ensemble. The Christian needs more than just a Bible. The Christian also needs “truth,” and “righteousness,” and “the gospel of peace,” and “faith,” and “salvation.” The Bible is not the “whole armor of God.” The Bible is one piece of essential equipment.
For example, if one has a Bible, but misinterprets it, then one’s loins are not girt with truth. Instead, one is wearing heresies and falsehoods. Heresies and falsehoods do not promote faith, righteousness, peace or salvation. They also help the wicked rather than quench the fiery darts of the wicked. How then, does one obtain truth from the scriptures?
The Apostle, Philip, saw a man sitting in his chariot reading scripture. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading? The man said, “How can I except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:31) He had the same scriptures as Timothy, but he was obviously not “thoroughly furnished” with “the whole armor of God.” He did not yet have truth, or faith, or righteousness, or peace, or salvation. He needed a man with apostolic tradition and authority to teach him.
Paul says in 2Thess 2:15, “Stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” Having the “sword” is not enough. A soldier must be properly trained to wield it. Otherwise, there is a good chance you will cut yourself or others. The Apostle Peter tells us that there are things in scripture that are hard to understand, and that untrained people use the scriptures to their own destruction (2Peter 3:16). We need the scriptures. However, to be thoroughly furnished, we also need proper training lest we fall upon our swords and slay ourselves.
Catholicism has it all. If you want to be “thoroughly furnished,” we have the scriptures and the truth, and the righteousness, and the gospel of peace, and the faith, and the salvation. We also have the authority to provide proper training free from heresies and falsehoods. It is the same authority used by Paul, Peter and Philip. It is the apostolic authority given by Christ himself. No other church has it all. Be “thoroughly furnished.” Be Catholic.