Sufficiency & Finality



One of the hallmarks of true New Testament Christianity is its insistence that the scriptures are the complete revelation of God’s will, and that they alone are sufficient for us to know how to please God.  This principle is often stated as our belief in verbal, plenary, inspiration.  This means that every word of scripture is inspired by God, and the scriptures are complete as He revealed them through the Holy Spirit.  For many generations this fundamental belief underscored the practices of every church that called itself Christian.

In the last century, however, some have forsaken this principle.  There are now some who deny this principle in favor of what they call “new” or “latter-day” revelations.  In some churches supplementing the Bible with additional revelations, whether written or oral, is central to their belief systems.  Indeed, in these churches many of their doctrines and practices can only be justified on the basis of these additional revelations.  The very existence of such a point of view casts doubt on the veracity of the Bible, although proponents of it seem oblivious to this truth.

In order to justify new revelations from God one must believe that the Bible is somehow incomplete.  If these new revelations are necessary for us to please God, then the scriptures cannot be truthful, and cannot be depended upon for any aspect of our faith.  This may seem a radical conclusion, but there is no alternative because of what the scriptures say about their sufficiency.

Before Jesus went to the cross He promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all the truth (Jn. 16:13).  If the Lord fulfilled this promise, then there is no further truth necessary, or forthcoming.  On the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles (Acts 2:1-4).  The scripture says they were “filled” with the Holy Spirit.  This power enabled them to preach the whole gospel from that day forward, and to record God’s will in the books that we call the New Testament (2 Pet. 1:20, 21).

The testimony of the apostles is that they received and communicated, both orally and in written form, the whole purpose of God (Acts 20:27).  In the letters of Paul and Peter the sufficiency of the revelation they received is asserted in unmistakeable terms.  Paul said that all scripture is inspired by God and equips Christians for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).  Peter said that God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).

These statements raise serious questions about faith in Jesus Christ if additional revelation is needed today.  If additional revelation is needed today, then Paul and Peter have misled us.  But, if they have spoken the truth, no additional revelation is necessary.  Consider this:  If the scriptures equip us for every good work, then what good work is there for Christians to do that might come from some other source?  If God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, what else is there that we need to know?  If additional revelation is necessary today, then the assertions of Paul and Peter cannot be true, and if they are not true, then nothing in the scriptures is trustworthy.  If, however, God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, as Peter proclaimed, and if the scriptures are sufficient to equip us for every good work, as Paul testified, then there is no further revelation forthcoming.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead the apostles into all the truth.  The scriptures testify that the apostles received and communicated all the truth.  Therefore, the Bible is complete and inerrant (that is, it contains no errors).  All we need to know in order to please God is within its pages.  It is sufficient for all our needs and complete in every respect.  Therefore, it is God’s final word for mankind.

In Jn. 12:48 Jesus said that the words He spoke will judge us at the last day.  He communicated His word to the apostles and inspired writers of the New Testament though the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20, 21), and it is all we need in order to please God.  The Lord told some believing Jews to continue in His word and they would know the truth and the truth would make them free (Jn. 8:31, 32).  Instead of looking for new revelations, we would do well to follow the Lord’s command and continue in His word, which was handed down once for all time to the saints (Jude 3).