ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF THE BIBLE
In this study we will be looking at the Bible, God's inspired book and communication to mankind. The Bible (the written word of God) is THE authority in the life of everyone who lives on this earth whether they recognize it or not. Despite this fact, there seems to be a general disrespect for the written word of God. We see this in the fact that there are folks who claim "latter-day revelations." We are all familiar with the fact that every denomination has it's creed book, church manual or confession of faith. We know that the Roman Catholic Church as well as some of the denominations have their "Church traditions." There is also the claim of many that they are led by the Holy Spirit through dreams or visions.
Every one of these things is a direct attack on the all-sufficiency of the written word of God. Every one of these things is a direct contradiction to what the Bible claims for itself as we will see as our study progresses.
In John 8:31-32 Jesus, speaking to "those Jews that believed on Him" said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." In this passage Jesus shows that the truth that will make a person free is His word. This ought to make us realize that the word of Christ is of utmost and essential importance. This is something that every person must recognize and accept before the freedom that Jesus speaks of can be his.
Another important passage is found in John 17:17. Here Jesus said, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." Here Jesus teaches that it is by the truth that one is sanctified. To be sanctified is to be "separated unto God" (Vine). It is to be separated from the evil things and ways of the world and to be dedicated and consecrated to God. This is accomplished, Jesus says, by the truth. But He says the truth is the word. Thus, we conclude that we are sanctified, separated unto God, separated from the evil things of the world, by the word of God.
In John 14:23-24 we have more vital teaching concerning the word of Christ. Here Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." This passage clearly teaches that if we truly love Jesus we will keep His word. If we do not love Him we will not keep His word. To keep Jesus' word is to obey His word. Jesus further teaches that His word is not His but the Father's who sent Him. When we obey Jesus' word we are obeying the Father's word. Thus, it would be impossible to please the Father without keeping the word of Jesus. You cannot separate the Father's word from the Son's word - they are one and the same. If you do not keep the words of Jesus, it shows that you do not love Him and thus do not love the Father.
Who is the authority for our lives today? Notice the following verses:
Jesus Christ is the One who has "all authority" today. There is not a person living today, who has ever lived, or who will live in the future, who can rightfully exercise this authority. Paul wrote, ". . . which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:20-23). Jesus is far above all authorities that exist anywhere and at any time. There is no person, government, ruler or authority that is greater than He. He has ALL authority! And that authority applies to His body which is the church. This means that anything the church does must be done by Christ's authority. If we do ANYTHING without the authority of Christ we sin.
To show how serious it is to reject the word of Christ, read what He says in John 12:48: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." Now that you have read this verse, let me ask a question: Does it sound like we can just take or leave the word of Christ? Does it sound to you like Jesus' word is unimportant and that we can just let it lay on a table or on a bookshelf somewhere, ignoring it, rejecting it, leaving it out of our lives, failing to study it? Jesus said that if we reject Him and do not receive His words, we will be judged by the word He has spoken. Don't you see how important Jesus' word is? Don't you see that you can't separate Jesus from His word? Don't you see that it's through His word that He exercises total authority over this world and over you and me?
There was a time when Jesus taught some things that were hard for His disciples to accept. The Bible says, "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66). When this happened Jesus turned to the apostles and ask, ". . . Do you also want to go away?" (John 6:67). To which Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). The apostle Peter realized what many people fail to accept today. Jesus is the ONLY ONE who has the words of eternal life! Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White, Joseph Smith, nor any other human being has the words of eternal life. ONLY JESUS HAS THEM! Thus to follow any of the people mentioned above is to reject the words of eternal life.
Those words of eternal life have been given to us through an infallible process of inspiration. This is what we want to study now.
THE WORDS OF
When Jesus lived on this earth, He chose twelve men to be His apostles. These men were given a very special mission to preach the gospel to the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). In order to complete this mission the apostles were given very special help. Jesus promised them, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit would be sent in the name of Christ. This means He would be sent by the authority of Christ. Remember, it's Jesus who has all authority in heaven and on earth. Thus the Holy Spirit operated under Jesus' authority -- the highest authority that exists.
What did the Holy Spirit do for the apostles? He taught them all things and brought to their memory all that Jesus had taught them. When the apostles began to preach the gospel of Christ they did not have to rely on human wisdom or their fallible memory. They were given what to say by the Holy Spirit.
The beginning of the fulfillment of this great promise is found in Acts chapter two. It was here that the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and they began to speak "as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). From that time, all of their preaching, teaching and writing of God's word was inspired. It was given to them directly by the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus promised in John 16:13: "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." It was the work of the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth. Notice that the truth did not originate with the Spirit. He simply spoke those things that He heard. The authority He spoke by was the authority of Christ. This promise of direct inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit is not for us today. The Holy Spirit finished the work He was sent to this earth to do in the first century when He inspired the preaching, teaching and writing of the apostles and evangelists (such as Luke) who wrote down that word in the New Testament and confirmed that teaching with spiritual gifts. We no longer need inspired men today nor the spiritual gifts, because we now have the inspired book. We don't need the Holy Spirit to directly guide us into all truth today, because that truth is now in the inspired book. The Bible is THE inspired book, and the ONLY inspired book given to us from God.
THE INSPIRED BOOK IS OUR ONLY GUIDE TODAY
What the above conclusion means is that we have the truth today. It is the inspired word of God, the Bible. It is only by hearing/reading the Bible that saving faith can be produced. This is the reason that God gave us the Bible. Look at John's words: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31). Why did John say these things were written? "That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." The only way that we can come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and hence have the life that is in His name is to hear and read the Bible. Thus, we begin to come to an understanding as to how important the written word of God is, and how important it is that we study it. It is the ONLY book we can go to that will produce saving faith!
The apostle John wrote, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13). Why did John write the book of 1 John? So that the readers could "know that" they had "eternal life", and so that they could "continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." John was inspired to write the book of 1 John so that those who believe in the name of the Son of God would continue to do so. We need to understand that we must continue to study God's word if we would remain faithful. Thus, not only does God's word produce faith in the hearts of unbelievers, but it continues to shore up the faith of believers making it possible for us to remain faithful and continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. Are you beginning to understand how important studying the Bible is? It is the ONLY book we can go to that produces faith in the hearts of unbelievers so that they can be saved and that continues to make the faith of believers stronger and stronger.
Paul wrote, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). The word translated "by" in the phrase "faith comes by hearing" is the Greek word "ek." This word means "from" or "out of." Paul is saying that "faith comes FROM hearing." Hearing what? The word translated "by" in the last phrase, "and hearing by the word of God," is the Greek word "dia." This word means "through" or "by means of." Thus faith comes from hearing, and the faith produced from hearing comes through or by means of the word of God. Thus, faith is produced from hearing God's word. Saving faith comes in only one way. It is through hearing the word of God. Can't we see from this how important God's written word is?
James wrote, "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). The inspired James tells us that it is the implanted word which is able to save our souls. The word of God implanted into our minds (by hearing what the Bible teaches) is what is able to save our souls. This does not mean our souls are saved by the word of God alone. It just means that when one hears the word of God, faith will be produced and that person will obey the gospel of Christ. The written word is the means that God uses to produce in our hearts (minds) the desire to obey the gospel and be rid of our sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
This is why Peter said, "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23). Here Peter teaches that the word of God is the means by which one is "born again." This happens when a person hears the word of God, faith is produced in his heart, and that faith leads him to obey the gospel.
The point we must make is that the word of God is revealed to us in only one book. That book is the Bible. There is no other source we can go to for salvation. Now do you think the Bible is unimportant? Do you not see the need to read, study, accept and obey it? Your salvation depends on IT!
THE BIBLE IS
THE ONLY INSPIRED WORD
One of the great truths that many people have not accepted is that the Bible is the ONLY INSPIRED WORD WE HAVE FROM GOD! There are writers of other books who claim that those books come from God. Those who follow Joseph Smith claim that the Book of Mormon is "another revelation from God." We know that almost every denomination has a separate book from the Bible called a creed book (or manual, or confession of faith) in which their particular doctrines are specified. The followers of Mohammed have the Koran. The followers of other "world religions" have their books which are different than the Bible. There are those who make the claim of "latter day revelations." That is, they make the claim that God makes additional revelation directly through them today. Of course, all they have is their word that such is taking place.
But I want to emphasize that everyone of those things must be rejected because they all originated with human beings. We have the Bible today and IT IS THE ONLY INSPIRED WORD WE HAVE FROM GOD! Everything that we need is revealed in the Bible. We don't need further revelation from God. When the Bible was completed over 2000 years ago in the first century, God ended His revelation. He gave us all that the world would ever need. The Bible is just as up-to-date today as it was then. Notice the following verses that teach that the written word of God (the Bible) is all that man needs.
Paul wrote, "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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The word "Scripture" refers to the written word of God or the Bible which consists of the Old and New Testaments. It is not referring to any other book. The word "inspiration" literally means "God-breathed." It teaches us that God originated the Scriptures. Not one word in the original manuscripts originated with any human being. Every word was put there by God. Peter puts it this way: "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21). The Scriptures were not of "any private interpretation." The word translated "interpretation" is not being used here like we often use it today. The original word actually carries the idea of "origin." The scriptures did not originate privately or did not originate with the men who wrote them down. Prophecy did not come by the will of man. How did it come? "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." When Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:16-17 that the Scriptures are given by inspiration of God, He is going back to John 14 and 16 where Jesus promised to send the Helper who would guide the apostles into all truth. That's the inspiration of God.
Notice that Paul says that the Scriptures are profitable for a number of things which he lists. Then he says, "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." If the Bible makes the man of God complete and it thoroughly equips him for every good work, what else does he need? Doesn't that mean we don't need any latter day revelations? What would a latter day revelation do for the man of God if the written word of God already gives the man of God everything he needs to make him complete and to equip him for every good work? Doesn't this mean that the "book of Mormon", the Koran, denominational creed books, manuals and confessions of faith could not add one thing that the Bible doesn't already give the man of God to make him complete and to thoroughly equip him for every good work? Doesn't this mean that the Holy Spirit could not do anything directly for the man of God that the word does not already do for him to equip him for every good work and to make him complete?
Friends, we don't need the "latter day revelations" of Mormonism, nor the "visions" and "dreams" of Ellen G. White, nor the creed books of denominationalism. We don't need the "traditions" of the Roman Catholic Church or the direct leading of the Holy Spirit, BECAUSE THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD MAKES THE MAN OF GOD COMPLETE AND THOROUGHLY EQUIPS HIM FOR EVERY GOOD WORK!!!
WE CANNOT ADD
TO, SUBTRACT FROM,
The person who does so stands accursed in God's sight. Paul wrote, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9; See also 1 Corinthians 4:6; Revelation 22:18-19). Anyone who preaches a different gospel than the apostle Paul preached stands accursed. This simply shows that if anyone has a "latter day revelation" that is different than the gospel that Paul preached (thus, different than the written word of God), he stands condemned by God. This shows that anyone who writes and abides by a book that is different than the Bible stands condemned by God. Anyone who follows "visions" and "dreams" that are different than the gospel that Paul preached is accursed. Since this is so, and since we have the Bible, doesn't this show that the "latter day revelations", "visions", "dreams", creed books, traditions and such like are not needed. If they teach the same thing that Paul taught then why have them because we already have the Bible? If they teach something different than what Paul taught then they must be rejected because the person who follows them stands accursed. We don't need any other book to lead us! We don't need any other book to make us complete and to thoroughly equip us for every good work!
The apostle John was inspired to write, "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds" (2 John 9-11). The "doctrine of Christ" is speaking about the teaching of Christ or Christ's teaching. When the apostles and other inspired men wrote down the words of the Bible, they were writing down the words of Christ -- the teaching of Christ, because the Holy Spirit who inspired these men operated by the authority of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the doctrine of Christ not only refers to what Jesus taught personally, but everything that was written by every writer of the Bible. The word "transgresses" means to go beyond the teaching of Christ. If one does this he does not have God. That means he doesn't have God's approval or fellowship. But John doesn't stop there. He says that if you "greet" the person who transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ you are just as guilty as he is. You share in his evil deeds. The implication is that you will receive the same punishment that he will receive. If we "greet" (which means to support, fellowship, encourage) the person who does not bring the doctrine of Christ then we are no better than he is. We share in his evil deeds, and if we do that we will suffer the same consequences. That's how serious this matter is, and we need to take it seriously.
The Bible is the inspired word of God. The Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is the written word of God. If we want to find out what to do to please God, it is the ONLY book we can go to. If we want to be saved, it is the book that produces saving faith. If we want to find out how to live to please God while on earth so that we can go to heaven, it is the book we must follow. THERE IS NO OTHER INSPIRED BOOK!
You cannot separate this book from its Author no matter how hard you may try. I would simply encourage you to read it, study it, accept it and obey it.
This is the only book that tells us what to do to be saved. Notice the following verses:
This is the only book that tells the erring child of God what to do to come back to God.
It is our prayer that you will study, accept and obey God's written word, the Bible. (See also: "The Inspiration of the Bible").