Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | October 26, 2006

A Precious Cornerstone/Completed Foundation

We continue the debate going on here and exploring the implications of our belief in the sufficiency of Scripture as outlined in Article 7 of the Belgic Confession.  In our last entry we discussed the implications this has on the relation between the gift of tongues and the covenant.  Today we would like to pick up on a common theme in many of the verses quoted yesterday, which is the idea of a foundation.  However, before we go any further we need to challenge a statement that has been made:    

Finally, you simply fail to hear what I continue to tell you about the Bible.  It is our FINAL AUTHORITY AND JUDGE OF ALL SERMONS, BIBLES STUDIES, BLOGS ENTRIES AND WORDS OF PROPHECY. 

Essentially, this view condones the continuation of prophecy and the rationalization is that as long as it’s in accordance with Scripture, its okay.  This view misses the point on how special this revelation truly is.  A prophet spoke God’s authoritative word, which was validated by miraculous signs and wonders (real-versus-false-revelation).  In addition, Peter makes an important point about prophecy in 2 Peter 1:19-21:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The prophetic word is a “lamp shining in a dark place”, which should not need to be corroborated with existing light.  Furthermore, it should not require an interpretation (unless it was a foreign language) it should be evident because it was delivered by an authorized agent.  The Scripture is comprised of the “prophetic word”, thus any prophecy carries the same weight and authority.  Would the modern proponents of the continuation of prophecy be willing to affirm this? 

In addition to this series, we have also been posting a bible study on the book of Colossians.  This book is very relevant to our current discussion, since it was written to address false teachers who were seeking additional revelation or “secret knowledge” apart from God’s authorized agents (the Apostles-NT and Prophets-OT).  In Colossians we read that the New Testament (NT) era is the climax of redemptive history Colossian 1:24-29: 

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me: 

God, prior to this, had been revealing this plan progressively to His covenant people Israel.  However, in the NT era He is making His will fully known through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).  The Colossian false teachers, however were preoccupied with pursuing their own revelations and teachings apart from Christ (Colossians 2:16-20).  The Apostle goes on to make the case that God’s revelation is fully sufficient in Christ: 

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossian 2:1-3 

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are completely revealed in Him.  We know this is the case since Christ is the Prophet Par Excellence, God’s full revelation to mankind:  

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily… Colossians 2:9 

In fact Christ is the very Word of God John 1:1-18 who dwelled in bodily form.  In other words, the fullness of revelation that God had is in Christ.  This precious cornerstone was a stumbling block to Israel, who rejected God in the flesh.   

However, our Lord lived here on earth only during the first century.  Does this mean that we missed out on the most important thing God had to reveal in history?  The answer is an emphatic NO, but how are we to realize this great benefit?  Our Lord never recorded anything about Himself, but commissioned and authorized a group of men to accomplish this everlasting record for the future generations.  It was granted to these men the task of putting the Word of God into a permanent testament (remember the power of attorney analogy) as we see in Ephesians 3:1-6: 

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles– assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 

The Scriptures preserve for future generations the fullness of God’s revelation in Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  This is now the foundation of the Church, which is built upon these Scriptures recorded as a permanent testament by the His authorized agents as we read in Ephesians 2:19-21: 

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 

And also inferred in Revelation 21:14: 

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 

It is the Scriptures, the record of Christ who is the fullness of God’s revelation, we have our foundation laid (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).  The task of the Church is not to add to this foundation, no this foundation has already been completed, the Church is only authorized to build on the foundation that has been laid.  In this sense the office of apostle and prophet is continued in the Church.  Not through a succession of men from generation to generation, but in the everlasting testament of the full revelation of God which is Christ Jesus our Lord.  

The problem at Colossae was that people were seeking additional “revelation” that was diminishing their focus on the fullness of God’s revelation in Christ (the Word of God, the Scriptures). Although not as destructively as the Colossians, modern advocates of extra-biblical revelation also detract from God’s perfect revelation in Christ (the Word of God, the Scriptures) by seeking more.  However, God’s revelation in Christ needs no addendum.  Prophecy and tongues (un-translated prophecy) were only necessary until the eternal testament of Christ was completed.  Thus, the means employed to authenticate prophecy, miracles, signs and wonders, would also pass with the completion of the Word of God.  The Scriptures are all that we would ever need to know from God.  They are sufficient and completely perfect to edify us in our faith and contain all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Thus, we can rejoice in the Apostles statement in Romans 16:25-27:   

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith– to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Ok, one last statement 🙂 Gosh, once I get sucked in, I can’t get out…

    Your theory fails when you fail to address all the prophesying that the Corinthian church was doing that Paul condoned. Was that part of the canon too? What about the prophecy spoken over Timothy when the body of elders laid their hands on him? Was that part of the canon? Man, you know how to push my buttons!

    Love you, bro.
    Jim

  2. […] In v22: “Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers” — what makes more sense as a sign to unbelievers (what was the sign to unbelievers at Pentecost?) — foreign languages, or babble? I’ll give you a hint. Paul answers this question in the verses before, (as Mike noted), by quoting Isaiah: 1 Cor 14:20Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers […]

  3. My direct questions are never answered. Ugh…oh well.

  4. Albino,

    That’s an easy one and can be handled in two ways. One is stronger and the other I need to do a little more homework on.

    The first is that all true prophecy is the authentic Word of God. The canon includes only that true prophecy that God has ordained to preserve (see this earlier post the-canon-all-required-books-are-included). In God’s providence He has chosen not include an exhaustive account of all special revelation revealed throughout history. Who knows it may be redundant with what we already have.

    The second, in which I need to do a little more homework, is that the prophecy reference in 1 Corinthians 12-14 is actually preaching from the word of God. I have heard this view before and believe and has a lot of credence. However, I am not confident that an equivocation of the word prophecy is merited.

    These 20 posts on revelation are being nailed to the door of the charismatic tradition appealing to you guys to rejoin the reformation.

    Mike S.

  5. Like Jim I have grown weary of the round and round and not getting anywhere. So this also will (maybe) be my last post.

    I can totally see where Mike is coming from in not wanting to give in to the arguments for the validity of speaking in tongues (if he did it would totally ruin his blogs), nevertheless I can not see how you can honestly buy your arguments against speaking in tongues. They are so incredibly weak. My perception is this… The reformed church of today trying very hard to maintain all of the doctrines established by the early reformers. Thats fine except for one thing, the early reformers wouldn’t even do that. They understood the time that they were living in was a time of gaining understanding that had been repressed by years and years of Roman liturgy and Greed. Do you really suppose that they felt they had cornered the market on understanding the scriptures? Even your own Belgic confession doesn’t support the cessation of Spiritual gifts, but rather leaves the door open for them (probably) in the hopes that there would be a resurgence of them (THE TIME WE ARE LIVING IN!). Listen to your boy JOHN CALVIN commenting on I Corinthians 14:32 “Today we see our own slender resources, our poverty in fact; but this is undoubtedly the punishment we deserve, as the reward for our own ingratidue. For God’s riches are not exhausted, nor has his liberality grown less; but we are not wothy of his largess, or capable of recieving all that He generously gives.”
    Does that sound like a man who thinks spiritual gifts have ceased forever or like a man who hopes for the day when men and women of God recieve these awesome gifts and the church explodes in growth. This time is now! 1945 16 million charismatics, 1975 96 million, 1985 247 million! (5 percent of the worlds population). Calvin, Luther, Wycliffe, Tyndale etc wouldn’t be standing here writing blogs about how fake these gifts are, but rather would be embracing and crying out for the greater gifts. Why didn’t it happen to them then? Calvins own words… “this is undoubtedly the punishment we deserve.”

    Brothers, It isn’t as difficult as you may think to acknowledge the clear teachings of the Bible and embrace the liberality of God. I have no gripes with the belgic confession. I do not at all disagree that the Bible is the final standard of authority by which everything must be judged or that indeed the canon is closed.

    You need to stop arguing what you THINK charismatics believe (the canon is open) and argue what they actually say.

    By the way Calvin also argues agains the “I Corinthians 13:8-13 tells us that tongues have ceased” by saying “It is stupid of people to make the whole of this discussion apply to the intervening time.”

    I would think it would be difficult for you to argue with John Calvin considering most Calvanist I know take his words as infallible (J/K). But honestly I ocnsider myself to be reformed in regards to salvation. I believe strongly in Covenant theology. But I also like contemporary music. I like practicing the spiritual gifts God has given me. I believe it is important for me to exercise those gifts so that the church grows. What gifts has god given you to help you grow the church? It’s in your belgic confession that you need to do that, so what are they?

    Lastly I do want to point out that Rube makes a good point that Paul commands us to pray for the ability to interpret tongues. I can rembemr praying for that a long while ago and on missions trips, and then letting it fade from my memory. I am now again praying for the gift of interpretation. I hope that you too will all begin to eagerly desire spiritual gifts (esp the gift or prophecy) and that you will pray for it. I also hope that you will begin to follow the command to not forbid others to speak in tongues.

  6. Daniel,

    I was getting worried…I’ve been driving to the hole and scoring a series of unanswered point on Albino. Nice one (really). I would like to do a more careful response, later (I “feel” it deserves that).

    However, would you agree that there was a period of cessation between Malachi and John the Baptist?

    Church growth does not = correct doctrine. In fact it could even be the opposite.

    I think you are missing the point on the purpose of miracles, signs, wonders and revelatory gift’s of the spirit. I’ll get to that later though.

    Also, I would like to do more dialogue with you on my previous post. I believe that is another important factor in this debate.

  7. Well, after further review I believe that your comments in regards to the reformers just exposes your unbridled obsession of imposing, the theology you have been raised with, into the text. Clearly in light of Calvin’s statement quoted here why-its-sufficient the probability of your interpretation of his view is wrong.

    Furthermore, I was able to transcribe a quote from Luther recently heard on the white horse inn. This was Luther’s take on your counterparts of his time, the Enthusiast’s, who were the Charismatics of the reformation:

    All this is the old Devil, the old serpent who made enthusiasts of Adam and Eve when he led them from the external word of God to spiritualizing and to their own imagination. In short enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendents from the beginning to the end of the world. Accordingly we should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through His external word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such word and sacrament is of the Devil.

    If you assume that I am not fairly characterizing the charismatic view on revelation, I think you are in denial. I know that when I was exposed to it, it was far too common that people would state the God told them X. There was also encouragement to believe in modern day prophecy, in other words, “thus says the Lord”.

    How can you hold to a closed canon, if God is still speaking? For the life of me, I cannot figure out how that passes the smell test.

    Even if I was correct, would you change your view?

  8. […] this and this contradict with this or this or […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: