Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Only Scripture

ne of the non-negotiable essentials of orthodox Christianity has always been the completeness of Scripture. By completeness we mean that the Bible (66 books) is the complete and final revelation of God to man. Nothing is to be added to the Scriptures, nothing is to be taken away from it, and nothing is to be placed above, or next to it (in authority or priority). The Bible stands on its own, is complete, and is the final measure by which every other doctrine, statement, creed or revelation is to be judged.

Over the centuries various groups have strayed from the principle of the completeness of Scripture. Most notably the Roman Church places the Apocrypha, the Magisterium, Canon Law, the Ex Cathedra statements of the Pope and a bunch of other stuff at the same level, or higher than Scripture.

One of the things that most cults have in common is that they all have their books, prophecies, and teachings that are equal to, or that supersede, the Bible.

Some historic churches hold their traditions, creeds and council decisions as equal to Scripture. Many also believe the teachings of deceased teachers above God’s Word.
Most (not all) Charismatic and Pentecostal churches place prophecy, visions, revelations, experiences, and the teaching of special gifted leaders (often called apostles or prophets), above the Bible.

This is an old problem, but it has recently been escalating to new levels. Many evangelicals who previously held to the completeness, inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture are abandoning those truths.

Others who previously would have denied that they add to Scripture now openly and boldly defend their move beyond Scripture. I quote two examples:

C Peter Wagner
is the “grand-apostle” and “founder” of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) which now embraces almost all Charismatics and Pentecostals and a huge portion of Evangelicalism. According to Wagner “…the NAR embraces the largest non-Catholic segment of world Christianity. It is also the fastest growing segment, the only segment of Christianity currently growing faster than the world population…”[i]

Wagner therefore represents a huge portion of modern Christendom and has in the last week openly stated that the NAR rejects the completeness of Scripture: “Some object to the notion that God communicates directly with us, supposing that everything that God wanted to reveal He revealed in the Bible. This cannot be true, however… He also reveals new things to prophets…” He continues to say that he does not believe that the Bible is complete in its 66 books, and that all this new revelation supplements what is written in the Bible

Tom Horn
is one of the writers and teachers that has taken the church world by storm with his wild speculations about mutant life forms in the Old Testament, alien visits and abductions, as well as all sorts of fantastical science fiction sold as new Christian revelation (sounds very similar to Scientology – and it is). In addition to his own wild imagination and twisted use of Scripture, Horn has based many of his doctrines on apocryphal books as well as astrology. He strongly defends his use of extra-biblical sources and many evangelical Christians agree with him. He is endorsed by many Evangelical pastors and leaders.

These are but two of dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of “Christian” leaders rejecting the truth that the Bible is complete and closed.

So, is the Bible complete? Does God continue to reveal new truths that were not revealed to the holy men who were moved by the Holy Spirit to produce the Scriptures (2Peter 1:21)?

Well, we need to examine the Bible’s testimony in this regard.
Hebrews 1:1-2 says: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son. These verses deal with three aspects of God’s speaking: The agents through whom God spoke, the method God used to speak, and the timing of when God spoke.

God spoke to the fathers in the Old Testament through prophets who acted as mouthpieces for God. But the text clearly says that that has changed. God is no longer speaking through prophets but through His Son. Yes, God still uses people to expound His Word and to speak to His people but all man can, and should say, is repeat what God has already said. For that reason, Paul goes to great lengths to prove that his writings are the things Jesus Christ told him to write (Galatians 1:12, 1Corinthians 11:23, 1Corinthians 15;3 etc.). John does the same in 1John 1:1-5, Revelation 1:1-2 etc. And so does Peter in 2Peter 1:16ff.

Those who claim that God still uses prophets like He did in the Old Testament clearly are dissatisfied with God only speaking through His Son (in the New Testament) and want to return to the Old Testament when He spoke through prophets.

Hebrews announces that God no longer speaks through men, but through His Son; and also that the way in which God speaks (the method) has changed. It says that in the Old Testament God spoke in various ways. He spoke through thunder and lightning, a donkey, visions, dreams, prophets (good and bad), through signs, types, angels and so on. He even wrote on tables of stone and on a wall. But He has now reduced all those different methods down to one single means: His Son.

Please note, this is not my opinion, but is clearly and obviously what the text teaches. Once again, to insist that today God continues to speak through the methods of the Old Testament, is to reject the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thirdly the text speaks to timing. It says that God spoke at “various times.” Various times refers to the fact that not one of the OT prophets received a full revelation. Each one received a piece of the total revelation and God spoke sporadically. Sometimes there were a number of prophets all speaking at the same time and at other times God was silent for long periods of time. But this is contrasted with the fact that He has spoken through Jesus Christ and that in Christ we have the full and final revelation of God’s message to man. Once again note that the text is drawing a clear contrast between a partial and sporadic revelation and a once for all, full and final, revelation.

Now look at the grammar. In the Greek the words “God… has… spoken” is in the first aorist indicative. Aorist marks a completed, one-point action. The verse is correctly translated into the past perfect in English. God is not still speaking he HAS spoken. He is done, He does not continue - He has spoken.

So to suggest that God continues to speak and give more revelation is a clear contradiction of Hebrews 1:1-2. Yes, we talk about God speaking through the sermon, some experience or His Spirit. If we mean He is reminding us of what has been said through Jesus Christ, we are correct. If we mean he is telling us new things that are not written in the 66 books, we are misled and hearing some other voice that is not His.

To be continued....

The Truth:

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." (2 Peter 1:16)

[i] C Peter Wagner. The New Apostolic Reformation. An Update. August 18, 2011. http://www.globalspheres.org/
[ii] Ibid

For additional reading on this topic see: