The Totality of God’s Word
There is some question today about whether or not the canon of scripture is closed.
(A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts which the Christian church regards as authoritative scripture. In this case the 66 books of the Bible, the Old and New Testament).
If we are to listen to the Pentecostal and the Charismatic movement, we are told that God is still speaking to men and women by revelation, in one form or another.
They tell us that the revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit are still in operation in the Church today.
If that is the case, then how do we understand the scripture in the book of Hebrews.
The bible in Hebrews chapter one says, Heb 1: 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
If the canon is closed and final revelation from God has been received and the Bible is sufficient for all that is necessary to salvation and the Christian walk, why are there Christians in the churches today saying that they are receiving words from God.
Whether this be by prophecy, tongues and interpretation, visions, dreams or words of knowledge and so on.
Surely if these people are really receiving words or revelations from God, then these are also equal with scripture.
The Bible teaches that we are complete in Christ.
Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Of course, whether these people are experiencing these manifestations of the Holy Spirit is debatable and the argument is whether the revelatory gifts are still in operation in the church, or whether they have ceased or faded away as we read in 1Cor 13: 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
I personally believe that "that which is perfect", is the completed mature Word of God.
If these manifestations are correct, then the canon of scripture is not closed and these revelations would be in addition to the Word of God.
We hear such statements as, “God has given me a word for you”, or “God has told me to tell you”, “God revealed to me in a vision, a dream”.
We hear of men and women professing to be Prophets of God and giving predictions about certain things that will come to pass in the future. Needless to say, that over the years, there have been numerous “prophecies” that have quite obviously failed.
All this seems to be in contrast to the word of God.
The Bible declares that if someone prophecies something and it does not come to pass, that person is a false prophet.
Deuteronomy 18: 21 “But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’
22 If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.
So, Are these people really being spoken to by God in this way?
Based on my understanding of scripture, I personally don’t think so. I do think that it is more likely that these manifestations are not of God but of man, they are of the flesh, otherwise they are contradicting the already accepted Word of God.
Also, if these so called manifestations of the Holy Spirit are real then we are seeing extra revelation, new revelation.
So then, does God speak to men and women today? Of course He does. Through the Word of God that has already been given.
Quote from Justin Peters:
“If you want to know what God is saying to us as the body of Christ, read the Bible. If you want to hear what God is saying, read it out aloud”.
End of Quote.
If you are one of these Christians that says, "I'm waiting for God to tell me what to do." You can be sure of one thing, "God has already spoken, He gave us a book telling us what he wants us to do."
Believers, God has spoken, the only real question is, "Are we listening?"
Quote from Grace to You:
“There is no fresher or more intimate revelation than Scripture. God doesn't need to give us private revelation to help us in our walk with Him. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16 - 17; emphasis added).
Scripture is sufficient. It offers all we need for every good work.Christians on both sides of the charismatic fence must realize a vital truth: God's revelation is complete for now. The canon of Scripture is closed.
As the apostle John penned the final words of the last book of the New Testament, he recorded this warning: "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and from the holy city, which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19).
Then, the Holy Spirit added a doxology and closed the canon. When the canon closed on the Old Testament after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, there followed four hundred "silent years" when no prophet spoke God's revelation in any form. That silence was broken by John the Baptist as God spoke once more prior to the New Testament age. God then moved various men to record the books of the New Testament, and the last of these was Revelation. By the second century A.D., the complete canon exactly as we have it today was popularly recognised. Church councils in the fourth century verified and made official what the church has universally affirmed, that the sixty-six books in our Bibles are the only true Scripture inspired by God. The canon is complete.” End of Quote.
Some religions claim to have a newer revelation of God: the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an are presented to be the latest revelation of God.
There have been others that have had new revelation from God, like Ellen G White whose prophecies are followed and quoted by Seventh Day Adventists, although some SDA are rejecting her writing.
Joseph Smith of Mormonism, Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are two others.
The Roman Catholic Church receives new light through Ex Cathedra statements via the Pope. (Which means, that when he speaks “ex cathedra”, his words are infallible and he cannot err.) These statements are then accepted as extra Biblical revelation.
Most of the extra Biblical revelation by the cults are easily recognisable by the denial of the deity of Christ, the rejection of the Triune God, the personality of the Holy Spirit or the denial of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
However there are more subtle false prophets and false teachers around that are not as easily recognised. Especially, the ones that hide behind the gospel and preach some truth, along with error.
I am speaking of those that belong to the groups known as the Prosperity Gospel, or others known as Word Faith Movement.
Names such as, Kenneth/Gloria Copeland, Paul & Jan Crouch, Jesse Duplantis, John Hagee, Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Rod Parsley, Joseph Prince, Oral Roberts, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Paula White and Mike Bickle.
These are just a few of the well known TV evangelists and self proclaimed prophets preaching today. There are hundreds more around the world.
Many of these are subscribers to the Emerging Church or what is known as New Age church or The Seeker Sensitive church.
Not only are these preachers and teachers guilty of preaching a different Gospel but they are arrogant in the proclamation of it.
Here are a few quotes from some of these people that show that there is something wrong.
Benny Hinn: “Poverty is from the devil and that God wants all Christians prosperous”.
“You are a little god on earth running around”.
“God will not move unless I say it. Why? because He has made us co workers with Him. He set things up that way”.“If you will come back and make that pledge, God will heal your heart tonight”.
“I'm a sample of Jesus. I'm a super being”.
"Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun. I'd blow your head off!"
Kenneth Copeland: “I was shocked when I found out who the biggest failure in the Bible actually is...The biggest one in the whole Bible is God...I mean, He lost His top-ranking, most anointed angel; the first man He ever created; the first woman He ever created; the whole earth and all the fullness therein; a third of the angels, at least - that's a big loss, man....Now, the reason you don't think of God as a failure is He never said He's a failure. And you're not a failure till you say you're one”.
“There is something wrong if a Christian doesn't become rich”.
“I say this with all respect so that it don't upset you too bad, but I say it anyway. When I read in the Bible where he [Jesus] says, 'I Am,' I just smile and say, 'Yes, I Am, too!'
“You don't have a god in you, you are one”.
“On the cross, Jesus won the right for believers to be born again back into the god-class. Adam was created, not subordinate to God, but as a god; he lost it, and in Christ we are taken back to the god-class”.
Paul Crouch, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar teach that we are gods.
Paul Crouch. "I am a little god. I have His name. I am one with Him. I'm in covenant relationship. I am a little god. Critics be gone!"
Creflo Dollar: "You are gods (little 'g')"
Todd Bentley: “And there is this old lady worshipping right in front of the platform. And the Holy Spirit spoke to me, the gift of faith come on me. He said: ‘Kick her in her face,
Mike Murdock asks his viewers to donate $1,000. “God will erase a donor's credit card debt if he or she will donate with a credit card”."As you use your faith, God is going to wipe out your credit card debts".
Joyce Meyer: Meyer has said, “some of her teachings require a special revelation from God to understand what she teaches because it is not written in the Bible itself”. "The Bible can't even find any way to explain this. Not really. That's why you've got to get it by revelation. There are no words to explain what I'm telling you. I've got to just trust God that He's putting it into your spirit like he put it into mine"
Not all guidance comes from God, according to Meyer's audiotape, "Witchcraft & Related Spirits" Now spirits don't have bodies, so we can't see them. OK? There probably is, I believe there is, and I certainly hope there are several angels up here this morning that are preaching with me. I believe that right before I speak some anointed statement to you, that one of them bends over and says in my ear what I'm supposed to say to you."
Referring to Jesus. “He could have helped himself up until the point where he said I commend my spirit into your hands, at that point he couldn’t do nothing for himself anymore. He had become sin, he was no longer the Son of God.”
“The minute that blood sacrifice was accepted Jesus was the first human being that was ever born again”.
“I am not miserable and I am not a sinner. That is a lie from the pit of hell. That is what I were and if I still was then Jesus died in vain. I'm going to tell you something folks. I didn't stop sinning until I finally got it through my thick head I wasn't a sinner anymore. And the religious world thinks that's heresy and they want to hang you for it. But the Bible says that I am righteous and I can't be righteous and be a sinner at the same time.”
It is quite simple to recognise that most of these are false prophets, Especially the prosperity preachers.
By examining the lifestyle that these people lead, Multi million dollar homes, cars, private planes and so forth.
These are the ones that prey on the widows, the old, the sick and infirmed, with promises of prosperity and physical healing's.
However there are the more subtle ones. The wolves in sheep’s clothing.
There is a more sure way for any Christian to recognise these false prophets and false teachers and that is through the inherent, infallible word of God.
Acts 17: 11 Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true.
We must stick to the revealed scriptures, this is how God speaks to us today. We are to test everything that is said by the Word of God. There is no extra revelation.
God has given us all that we need for salvation, for teaching for correction and reproof. 2 Tim 3: 15 From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17 so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.…
Hebrews says that God spoke in two phases: one before the coming of the Son of God into the world, and one through the Son's coming into the world.
The words and phrases by which God spoke in the Old Testament are all brought together into one complete message in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, God's word to man has been fully spoken in the Son.
There is nothing more to be said. Jesus Christ is God's final word to man.
God has not just spoken to us by inspiring prophets and apostles. He has spoken by coming to us in the person of his Son. The Logos, the Word of God incarnate.
Jesus Christ is greater than the prophets and greater than any revelation in the Old Testament, because he is the embodiment of all revelation.
God has fully expressed himself in Jesus Christ. Immanuel, God with us.
We are told that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness:
2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
We have all we need in the Bible to live a faithful life to the Lord.
We don’t need to keep wondering when God is going to tell us what to do, and look at what He has told us to do through His word.
Hebrews 1:2 (NKJV) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
The past tense of the verb "spoken" indicates that God's speaking is finished. God's word in Christ has been spoken, fully and finally. The story of revelation is a story of progression up to Christ, but there is not progression beyond Him. Revelation is Complete!
There are no prophets today who could write something that would have the authority of Scripture There aren't any prophets today because the Word of God gives us all we need. If you want to know God is saying to us today.
Read your Bible.