Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | October 31, 2006

The Scriptures Alone

Well, there is still a debate going on here (kind of), which is a testament to the significant differences amongst Christians on this issue.  Today we will conclude our examination of the implications of our belief in Article 7 of the Belgic Confession.  Since it is Reformation Day we thought it appropriate to entitle this entry with one of the great truths, which was the formal cause of this Spirit led movement within the Church. It is apparent that the crux of the disagreement lies within two differences of opinion.  Either God has in these last times spoken to us completely in His Son, as Jude implies in the following: 

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 

Or, the view that upholds that the Scriptures are not sufficient, thus God must continue to speak to make up for their inadequacies. So are the Scriptures sufficient or not?  A few days ago we had a discussion about the sufficiency of the Old Testament.  The point was, if the Old Testament Scriptures were sufficient in themselves, how much more sufficient is the canon now that it includes the New?  However, to further demonstrate the sufficiency of the Old Testament let us look at the following passages Luke 16:27-31:

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers –so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'” 

In the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, Christ upholds the sufficiency of the Old Testament by denying the need to send Lazarus back from the dead.  Apparently, direct private extra-biblical revelations were not to be commonly expected for God’s covenant people.  We have further example in Christ’s victory over Satan in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-4: 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” 

If anyone should expect to receive direct private extra-biblical revelations, it should be Christ.  However, He does not employ this tool in His battle with the Devil.  In all the examples given in this passage He points back to the written Word to achieve His victory.    These were examples of just the Old Testament, which was sufficient alone for the man of God to be equipped.  Now that we have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ, how much more should the Scriptures alone be sufficient?  Nonetheless, we will press on in advocating the sufficiency of Scripture by reviewing the Apostles Paul’s final charge to his disciple Timothy which reads: 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.  I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 

All the components that are necessary to edify the Church are said to be contained within the Scriptures.  Furthermore, what is strangely silent within this passage is any mention of pursuing or acquiring direct private extra-biblical revelation.  Paul’s admonition to Timothy was to preach the word, unquestionably he is referring to the word of God contained in the Scriptures.  In fact, he solemnly warns Timothy that men will arise to draw the saints away from the Word towards words that suit their own passions.  And as it has already been written, I believe many people are using their experiences to interpret the Scriptures and be their authority rather the rest of Scripture. 

God’s word is authoritative, whether it is spoken directly from Him, through a prophet or apostle or if it was written by a prophet or apostle.  What some are claiming is that even though the canon is closed God still speaks through prophets.  In order to answer this question (can God still speak through prophets while maintaining a closed canon?) we should look at God’s pattern throughout redemptive history. 

The Old Testament is a perfect example of why this cannot be true.  Moses, the mediator of the Old Covenant, fully revealed God’s law (John 1:17).  After the completion of the Torah, God still continued to speak through prophets (i.e. Samuel, Isaiah, Daniel, etc).  The prophets primary role, however, was not to add to the Torah but to enforce it among the covenant people of God.  The prophets also were used to reveal the secret will of God from time to time by foretelling future events.  Some of these events were directly related to the people’s situations and some of it was to further unfold the plan of redemption (keeping with the progressive nature of revelation).  Some of these events foretold have nothing to do with most of God’s people, yet they are recorded.  They were spoken by prophets not adding to or changing the Mosaic economy.  Nonetheless, God’s authoritative word was added to the canon of Scripture.    

Now it seems peculiar to me that in the New Covenant era, a better covenant with a superior mediator, that the prophets in this era would not follow the same pattern.  You would think that prophets, who had access to the mind of God, would continue to record His authoritative word for His people as before.  This has not happened beyond the first century, however, at least nothing authentic has attempted to be added.  Maybe it’s because God’s word is already sufficient having revealed completely everything we need to know in His Son.  

Are these modern “prophets” speaking something less than God’s word maybe and are not as authoritative as their Old Testament counterparts?   Is it because this “prophecy” is not accompanied by the validating marks of revelation (Hebrews 2:1-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Acts 2:22; Psalm 74:9; Deuteronomy 4:32-39, there are a lot more but hopefully the point is made)?  And let’s suppose that we only need to test their words with Scripture.  What happens if they speak something contrary to God’s word?  Would they be subjected to the same consequences as the Old Testament prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)? 

The Reformers had the right answer to these questions and advocated that the Scriptures are sufficient for all that we need.  In fact, this was there stand against Rome who could only support their claims through extra-biblical means.  A high price has been paid for the privilege of having access to God’s word.  And now that we have it, is it not enough?    We don’t need any other information to live our lives in accordance with God’s will Ephesians 1:1-10: 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  

Fellow brothers in Christ, be satisfied with God’s holy and perfect word.  The claim to possess continued access to the mind of God is no small thing.  Biblical prophets received special callings and were authenticated by their God given ability to perform signs and wonders.  They placed their lives as collateral for the authenticity of their message.  Don’t make light of this: 

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. Proverbs 30:5-6

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] Spartan of O.E.C. you are going to have to read Chapter 3 of this work and all the posts here  or here  to correct your misguided view of Scripture.  Essentially your view is denying that […]


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: