Vol. 6, No. 9
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The Bible is all-sufficient in that it thoroughly equips man for life with God (2 Timothy 3:15-17). When it is asserted that the Bible is all-sufficient, what is meant is that the Bible contains everything needed to enable man to have forgiveness, live righteously and prepare for eternity. We are therefore thoroughly equipped for every good work (NKJV). Nothing pertaining to our relationship with God is lacking, and therefore additional revelation is not needed.
Given the all-sufficiency of the Bible, any new revelations must be superfluous, erroneous or repetitious. One should be very cautious of anybody who claims additional revelation of the Divine will beyond the Scriptures. Jeremiah warned, in behalf of God, "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD" (23:16). Further, he wrote: "Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD" (23:32).
Some still claim that God speaks directly to them apart from the Scriptures. They embrace the idea of progressive revelation, but the doctrine cannot be sustained from the Bible. A number of questions need to be considered. Why do new revelations often contradict the clear teaching of the Bible? Why do the new revelations of some contradict the new revelations of others? If the source of these new revelations were God, would the message not be consistent? Why are new revelations needed? If we are thoroughly equipped,what is lacking? If we possess all things pertaining to life and godliness, what else do we need (2 Peter 1:3)?
A faith not built upon the Bible is a faith that will not stand. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). The Bible is all-sufficient. If we can't find authority for it in the Bible, we had better reject it. When we speak for God, we must speak from the Word of God (1 Peter 4:11). Is your faith based on the all-sufficient Word or on the progressive revelations of men? The former will stand you in good stead with the Almighty; the latter will provide a weak foundation that will surely crumble.
There was once an army divided
Who then fought side by side.
The two stood shoulder to shoulder
But one another couldn't abide.
The enemy laughed,
"I've got them now",
Division being one of his goals,
"If I can keep dividing them,
I'll win a few more souls."
If reading syrupy prose like this
Your literary senses does offend,
Then, two camps, get together,
Or I'll be forced to write again.
We will simply always be more comfortable around some people than others. That gives us no right to elevate one faithful brother over another. It gives us no right to exclude fellow Christians because they are not a part of "our usual circle." Such exclusions and elevations hurt others and can lead to the divisions addressed below.
What more beautiful picture of forgiveness exists than the words of Jesus spoken from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). The men for whom he prayed had not repented nor asked for God's forgiveness. And yet, in our brotherhood today there are Christians who are at odds with one another over non-doctrinal issues and neither side will forgive the other because no one has admitted fault and asked to be forgiven.
The problem may have come from wrongdoing by one or both parties or from a misunderstanding of motives that were attributed to certain actions. The result was hurt feelings. Years later there is still division between the two sides even though both parties are doctrinally rock solid.
I write to my faithful brethren who do not fellowship my faithful brethren. The church of Christ does not need division. Be the peacemaker (Matthew 5:9).