7 Cogent Arguments Which Prove the Bible to be the Word of God — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)

Click to view at WTS Books


Thomas Watson,

Q.II: WHAT RULE HAS GOD GIVEN TO DIRECT US HOW WE MAY GLORIFY AND ENJOY HIM?

A: The Word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

2 Tim 3:16. ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’By Scripture is understood the sacred Book of God. It is given by divine inspiration; that is, the Scripture is not the contrivance of man’s brain, but is divine in its origin. The image of Diana was had in veneration by the Ephesians, because they supposed it fell from Jupiter. Acts 19:95. The holy Scripture is to be highly reverenced and esteemed, because we are sure it came from heaven. 2 Pet 1:11. The two Testaments are the two lips by which God has spoken to us.

How does it appear that the Scriptures have a Jus Divinum, a divine authority stamped upon them?

Because the Old and New Testament are the foundation of all religion. If their divinity cannot be proved, the foundation on which we build our faith is gone. I shall therefore endeavour to prove this great truth, that the Scriptures are the very word of God. I wonder whence the Scriptures should come, if not from God. Bad men could not be the authors of it. Would their minds be employed in inditing such holy lines? Would they declare so fiercely against sin? Good men could not be the authors of it. Could they write in such a strain? or could it stand with their grace to counterfeit God’s name, and put, Thus saith the Lord, to a book of their own devising? Nor could any angel in heaven be the author of it, because the angels pry and search into the abyss of gospel mysteries, I Pet 1:12, which implies their nescience of some parts of Scripture; and sure they cannot be the authors of that book which they themselves do not fully understand. Besides, what angel in heaven durst be so arrogant as to personate God and, say, ‘I create,’ Isa 65:17, and, ‘I the Lord have said it,? Numb 14:45. So that it is evident, the pedigree of Scripture is sacred, and it could come from none but God himself.

Not to speak of the harmonious consent of all the parts of Scripture, there are seven cogent arguments which may evince it to be the Word of God.

[1] Its antiquity. It is of ancient standing. The grey hairs of Scripture make it venerable. No human histories extant reach further than Noah’s flood: but the holy Scripture relates matters of fact that have been from the beginning of the world; it writes of things before time. That is a sure rule of Tertullian, ‘That which is of the greatest antiquity, id verum quod primum, is to be received as most sacred and authentic.’

[2] We may know the Scripture to be the Word of God by its miraculous preservation in all ages. The holy Scriptures are the richest jewel that Christ has left us; and the church of God has so kept these public records of heaven, that they have not been lost. The Word of God has never wanted enemies to oppose, and, if possible, to extirpate it. They have given out a law concerning Scripture, as Pharaoh did the midwives, concerning the Hebrew women’s children, to strangle it in the birth; but God has preserved this blessed Book inviolable to this day. The devil and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light, but could never blow it out; a clear sign that it was lighted from heaven. Nor has the church of God, in all revolutions and changes, kept the Scripture that it should not be lost only, but that it should not be depraved. The letter of Scripture has been preserved, without any corruption, in the original tongue. The Scriptures were not corrupted before Christ’s time, for then Christ would not have sent the Jews to them. He said, ‘Search the Scriptures.’ He knew these sacred springs were not muddied with human fancies.

[3] The Scripture appears to be the Word of God, by the matter contained in it. The mystery of Scripture is so abstruse and profound that no man or angel could have known it, had it not been divinely revealed. That eternity should be born; that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle; that he who rules the stars should suck the breasts; that the Prince of Life should die; that the Lord of Glory should be put to shame; that sin should be punished to the full, yet pardoned to the full; who could ever have conceived of such a mystery, had not the Scripture revealed it to us? So, for the doctrine of the resurrection; that the same body which is crumbled into a thousand pieces, should rise idem numero, the same individual body, else it were a creation, not a resurrection. How could such a sacred riddle, above all human disquisition, be known, had not the Scripture made a discovery of it? As the matter of Scripture is so full of goodness, justice and sanctity, that it could be breathed from none but God; so the holiness of it shows it to be of God. Scripture is compared to silver refined seven times. Psa 12:2. The Book of God has no errata in it; it is a beam of the Sun of Righteousness, a crystal stream flowing from the fountain of life. All laws and edicts of men have had their corruptions, but the Word of God has not the least tincture, it is of meridian splendour. Psa 119:940. ‘Thy word is very pure,’ like wine that comes from the grape, which is not mixed nor adulterated. It is so pure that it purifies everything else. John 17:17. ‘Sanctify them through thy truth.’ The Scripture presses holiness, so as no other book ever did: it bids us live ‘soberly, righteously, and godly;’ Titus 2:12; soberly, in acts of temperance; righteously, in acts of justice; godly, in acts of zeal and devotion. It commends to us, whatever is ‘just, lovely, and of good report.’ Phil 4:4. This sword of the Spirit cuts down vice. Eph 6:67. Out of this tower of Scripture is thrown a millstone upon the head of sin. The Scripture is the royal law which commands not only the actions, but affections; it binds the heart to good behaviour. Where is there such holiness to be found, as is digged out of this sacred mine? Who could be the author of such a book but God himself?

[4] That the Scripture is the Word of God is evident by its predictions. It prophesies of things to come, which shows the voice of God speaking in it. It was foretold by the prophet, ‘A virgin shall conceive,’ Isa 7:14, and, the ‘Messiah shall be cut off.’ Dan 9:96. The Scripture foretells things that would fall out many ages and centuries after; as how long Israel should serve in the iron furnace, and the very day of their deliverance. Exod 12:2I. ‘At the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day, it came to pass that the host of the Lord went out of Egypt.’ This prediction of future things, merely contingent, and not depending upon natural causes, is a clear demonstration of its divine origin.

[5] The impartiality of those men of God who wrote the Scriptures, who do not spare to set down their own failings. What man that writes a history would black his own face, by recording those things of himself that might stain his reputation? Moses records his own impatience when he struck the rock, and tells us, he could not on that account enter into the land of promise. David relates his own adultery and bloodshed, which stands as a blot in his escutcheon to succeeding ages. Peter relates his own pusillanimity in denying Christ. Jonah sets down his own passions, ‘I do well to be angry to the death.’ Surely had their pen not been guided by God’s own hand, they would never have written that which reflects dishonour upon themselves. Men usually rather hide their blemishes than publish them to the world; but the penmen of holy Scripture eclipse their own name; they take away all glory from themselves, and give the glory to God.

[6] The mighty power and efficacy that the Word has had upon the souls and consciences of men. It has changed their hearts. Some by reading Scripture have been turned into other men; they have been made holy and gracious. By reading other books the heart may be warmed, but by reading this book it is transformed. 2 Cor 3:3. ‘Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.’ The Word was copied out into their hearts, and they were become Christ’s epistle, so that others might read Christ in them. If you should set a seal upon marble, and it should make an impression upon the marble, and leave a print behind, there would be a strange virtue in that seal; so when the seal of the Word leaves a heavenly print of grace upon the heart, there must needs be a power going along with that Word no less than divine. It has comforted their hearts. When Christians have sat by the rivers weeping, the Word has dropped as honey, and sweetly revived them. A Christian’s chief comfort is drawn out of these wells of salvation. Rom 15:5. ‘That we through comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.’ When a poor soul has been ready to faint, it has had nothing to comfort it but a Scripture cordial. When it has been sick, the Word has revived it. 2 Cor 4:17. ‘Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ When it has been deserted, the Word has dropped in the golden oil of joy. Lam 3:3I. ‘The Lord will not cast off for ever.’ He may change his providence, not his purpose; he may have the look of an enemy, but he has the heart of a father. Thus the Word has a power in it to comfort the heart. Psa 119:90. ‘This is my comfort in mine affliction; for thy word has quickened me.’ As the spirits are conveyed through the arteries of the body, so divine comforts are conveyed through the promises of the Word. Now, the Scriptures having such an exhilarating, heart-comforting power in them, shows clearly that they are of God, and it is he that has put the milk of consolation into these breasts.

[7] The miracles by which Scripture is confirmed. Miracles were used by Moses, Elijah, and Christ, and were continued, many years after, by the apostles, to confirm the verity of the holy Scriptures. As props are set under weak vines, so these miracles were set under the weak faith of men, that if they would not believe the writings of the Word, they might believe the miracles. We read of God’s dividing the waters, making a pathway in the sea for his people to go over, the iron swimming, the oil increasing by pouring out, Christ’s making wine of water, his curing the blind, and raising the dead. Thus God has set a seal to the truth and divinity of the Scriptures by miracles. (excerpted from the Introduction to A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson)

♦ Thomas Watson was one of the greatest of the English Puritan Ministers and authors. To learn more about him read Charles Spurgeon’s Brief Memoir Of Thomas Watson.

“Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 2” by John MacArthur

“Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 2”

by John MacArthur

John MacArthur


Modern Roman Catholic Apologetics and Sola Scriptura

As we established yesterday, the official Catholic position on Scripture is that Scripture does not and cannot speak for itself. It must be interpreted by the Church’s teaching authority, and in light of “living tradition.” De facto this says that Scripture has no inherent authority, but like all spiritual truth, it derives its authority from the Church. Only what the Church says is deemed the true Word of God, the “Sacred Scripture . . . written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records.”

This position obviously emasculates Scripture. That is why the Catholic stance against sola Scriptura has always posed a major problem for Roman Catholic apologists. On one hand faced with the task of defending Catholic doctrine, and on the other hand desiring to affirm what Scripture says about itself, they find themselves on the horns of a dilemma. They cannot affirm the authority of Scripture apart from the caveat that tradition is necessary to explain the Bible’s true meaning. Quite plainly, that makes tradition a superior authority. Moreover, in effect it renders Scripture superfluous, for if Catholic tr adition inerrantly encompasses and explains all the truth of Scripture, then the Bible is simply redundant. Understandably, sola Scriptura has therefore always been a highly effective argument for defenders of the Reformation.

So it is not hard to understand why in recent years Catholic apologists have attacked sola Scriptura with a vengeance. If they can topple this one doctrine, all the Reformers’ other points fall with it. For under the Catholic system, whatever the Church says must be the standard by which to interpret all Scripture. Tradition is the “true” Scripture, written in the heart of the Church. The Church–not Scripture written in “documents and records”–defines the truth about justification by faith, veneration of saints, transubstantiation, and a host of other issues that divided the Reformers from Rome.

To put it another way, if we accept the voice of the Church as infallibly correct, then what Scripture says about these questions is ultimately irrelevant. And in practice this is precisely what happens. To cite but one example, Scripture very plainly says, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Nonetheless, the Catholic Church insists that Mary is her Son’s “co-mediatrix.” And in the eyes of millions of Catholics, what the Church says is seen as the final and authoritative Word of God. First Timothy 2:5 is thus nullified by Church tradition.

If Rome can prove her case against sola Scriptura, she overturns all the arguments for the Reformation in one fell swoop. If she can establish her tradition as an infallible authority, no mere biblical argument would have any effect against the dictates of the Church.

Modern Roman Catholic apologists have therefore mounted a carefully focused attack against sola Scriptura.Hoping to turn the Reformation’s greatest strength into an argument against the Reformation, they have begun to argue that it is possible to debunk sola Scriptura by using Scripture alone!This line of argument is now being employed by Catholics against evangelicalism in practically every conceivable forum.

For example, from some articles posted on the Internet:

• The Protestant teaching that the Bible is the sole spiritual authority–sola Scriptura–is nowhere to be found in the Bible. St. Paul wrote to Timothy that Scripture is “useful” (which is an understatement), but neither he nor anyone else in the early Church taught sola scriptura. And, in fact, nobody believed it until the Reformation.

• The Bible nowhere teaches that it is the sole authority in matters of belief. In fact, the Bible teaches that Tradition–the oral teachings given by Jesus to the apostles and their successors, the bishops–is a parallel source of authentic belief. (Quotes from 2 Thess. 2:15 and 1 Cor. 11:2 follow).

From some books written by Catholic Apologists:

• Nowhere does [the Bible] reduce God’s Word down to Scripture alone. Instead, the Bible tells us in many places that God’s authoritative Word is to be found in the church: her tradition (2 Th 2:15; 3:6) as well as her preaching and teaching (1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pet 1:20-21; Mt 18:17). That’s why I think the Bible supports the Catholic principle of sola verbum Dei, “the Word of God alone,” [with “Word of God” encompassing both tradition and Scripture], rather than the Protestant slogan, sola scriptura, “Scripture alone.”

• The Bible actually denies that it is the complete rule of faith. John tells us that not everything concerning Christ’s work is in Scripture (Jn 21:25), and Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition that is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2). He instructs us to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle” (2 Th 2:15). We are told that the first Christians “were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles” (Acts 2:42), which was the oral teaching given long before the New Testament was written–and centuries before the canon of the New Testament was settled.

And from a public debate on the question of sola Scriptura:

• Sola Scriptura itself must be proved from Scripture alone. And if it can’t be done, sola scriptura is a self refuting proposition, and therefore it is false.

• [In] 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul commands the Church to stand firm and hold fast in the traditions that they had been given, whether orally, spoken, or through an epistle of theirs. So in other words, tradition is one major category, and there are two subsets in the one category:oral tradition, written tradition. That’s what the Word of God says.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

First, it is necessary to understand what sola Scriptura does and does not assert. The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.

It is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. The most ardent defender of sola Scriptura will concede, for example, that Scripture has little or nothing to say about DNA structures, microbiology, the rules of Chinese grammar, or rocket science. This or that “scientific truth” for example, may or may not be actually true, whether or not it can be supported by Scripture–but Scripture is a “more sure Word,” standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty. It is “more sure,” according to the apostle Peter, than the data we gather firsthand through our own senses (2 Pet. 1:19). Therefore Scripture is the highest and supreme authority on any matter to which it speaks. But there are many important questions on which Scripture is silent. Sola Scriptura makes no claim to the contrary.

Nor does sola Scriptura claim that everything Jesus or the apostles ever taught is preserved in Scripture. It only means that everything necessary, everything binding on our consciences, and everything God requires of us is given to us in Scripture.

Furthermore, we are forbidden to add to or take way from Scripture (cf. Deut. 4:2; 12:32, cf. Rev. 22:18-19). To do so is to lay on people’s shoulders a burden that God Himself does not intend for them to bear (cf. Matt. 23:4).

Scripture is therefore the perfect and only standard of spiritual truth, revealing infallibly all that we must believe in order to be saved, and all that we must do in order to glorify God. That–no more, no less–is what sola Scriptura means.

The Westminster Confession of Faith defines the sufficiency of Scripture like this:

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (1:6).

The Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church include this statement on sola Scriptura:

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation (article 6).

So sola Scriptura simply means that Scripture is sufficient. The fact that Jesus did and taught many things not recorded in Scripture (Jn. 20:30; 21:25) is wholly irrelevant to the principle of sola Scriptura. The fact that most of the apostles’ actual sermons in the early churches were not written down and preserved for us does not diminish the truth of biblical sufficiency one bit.What is certain is that all that is necessary is in Scripture–and we are forbidden “to exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

Scripture clearly claims for itself this sufficiency–and nowhere more clearly than 2 Timothy 3:15-17. A brief summary of that passage is perhaps appropriate here as well. In short, verse 15 affirms that Scripture is sufficient for salvation: “The sacred writings . . . are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Verse 16 affirms the absolute authority of Scripture, which is “God-breathed” (Gk. theopneustos) and profitable for our instruction. And verse 17 states that Scripture is able to equip the man of God “for every good work.”

So the assertion that the Bible itself does not teach sola Scriptura is simply wrong.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
This article originally appeared here at Grace To You © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Renewing the Mind by Meditating on God’s Word — Dr. Richard Mayhue


Dr. Mayhue,

To hear something once for most people is not enough. To briefly ponder something profound does not allow enough time to grasp and fully understand its significance. This proves to be most true with God’s mind in Scripture. Psalm 119 testifies to the importance and blessing of lingering long over God’s Word.

The idea of meditating sometimes lends itself to misunderstanding. Meditation involves prolonged thought or pondering. The American figure of speech for meditating is “to chew” on a thought. Some have likened it to the rumination process of the cow’s four stomach digestive system.

The most vivid picture comes from a coffee percolator. The water goes up a small tube and drains down through the coffee grounds. After enough cycles, the flavor of the coffee beans has has transfered to the water, which is then called coffee. So it is that Christians need to cycle their thoughts through the grounds of God’s Word until they start to think like God and then act godly.

Scripture commands that believers meditate in three areas:
1. God Ps 27:4; 63:6
2. God’s Word Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2
3. God’s works Ps 143:5; 145:5

All 176 verses of Psalm 119 extol the virtue of knowing and living out the mind of God. Meditation is mentioned at least seven times as the habit of one who loves God and desires closer intimacy with Him: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day….My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (vv. 97, 148; see also vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 99).

Meditating on God’s Word will cleanse away the old thoughts that are not of God because meditation places and reinforces new thoughts from Scripture. Also, it puts a protective shield around the mind to block and reject incoming thoughts that contradict God. That is the Scriptural process of renewing the mind. A part of Eve’s fall can be attributed to her failure to adequately meditate upon God’s clear and sufficient Word (Gen 2:16-17).

Taken from Think Biblically: Recovering a Christian Worldview by John MacArthur (general editor) et.al., © 2003, pp. 49-50. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Dr. Richard L. Mayhue is Executive Vice President and Dean of The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California, and serves there also as a professor of both theology and pastoral ministry (read full biography at The Master’s Seminary homepage).

The Authority of Scripture Over Scientific Theory — Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)


Charles Spurgeon,

True science may say what it will and never lack for an attentive listener while I live—the more loudly it shall speak the better—if it will speak facts and not theories—if it will tell me what God has done and not what man has dreamed! All that true science ever can discover must tally with the Word of Revelation, for God speaks in Nature nothing but the same Truth as He has written in the Holy Scriptures. Let our wise men ransack earth to its center and climb to Heaven and make inquisition through every star—the testimony of universal Nature, if heard aright, shall never contradict the Inspired utterances of the Holy Spirit!

The evil is that the wise men add their own inferences to the facts as if they were of equal authority. What, then, is to be done? Shall we alter the deductions of the fallible or try to shape the declarations of the Infallible? The question is not difficult to answer! We are not to revise the statements of the Bible, but the inferences of the philosophers! When philosophy contradicts Revelation, what do I say? So much the worse for philosophy! In spite of the perpetual restlessness which I see in many who are forever mending that which is perfect in itself, my understanding is happy to delight in the Infallible testimonies of Jehovah! Let those fellows change—we shall not! Let them come up to us—verily, believers in God’s Revelation will never go down to them, for that would be to be disloyal to our Master, Christ, whose teachings are too sacred for us to knowingly alter a letter of them! (excerpted from: Forts Demolished and Prisoners Taken, Sermon #1473, delivered by C.H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on Lord’s Day Morning, May 11, 1879)

John Frame: On the Absolute Authority of God’s Infallible Word


Dr. Frame,

The written Word is the covenant constitution of the people of God, and its authority is absolute, because the authority of its author is absolute.

Without authoritative words from God, there would be no story of redemption. Everything we know about salvation comes through such words. The law that we have broken to deserve hell is a divine word. The gospel that promises forgiveness to those who trust Jesus is also a divine word. And we prove our love by obeying Jesus’ commands—again, divine words.

So without authoritative, divine words, it is quite meaningless to claim that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. As our Lord, he speaks words that we must obey. And as our Savior, he brings a reliable promise, without which we cannot be saved. Without words from God of absolute authority, there can be no gospel and no Christianity.

Absolute authority entails infallibility. A word of ultimate authority is beyond human criticism. We may never judge it to have failed or to have been mistaken. So God’s word in Scripture, as all his other words, must be judged to be infallible and inerrant.

Theologians who try to play down the importance of God’s authority—whether to avoid “patriarchalism,” to promote the freedom of human thought and choice, to allow greater latitude to science and philosophy, or whatever—have lost something that is central to the biblical revelation. Everything in Scripture comes to us as an authoritative communication. Pervasively, Scripture claims our thoughts and decisions. To miss that is in one sense to miss everything, for it is to miss the lordship of Yahweh and the lordship of Christ.

Reprinted from The Doctrine of God by John M. Frame, copyright 2002 P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ. (pp. 91-92)

Dr. John M. Frame serves as J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

Has There Ever Been an Orthodox Christianity? — Phil Johnson [VIDEO]

A great interview with Phil Johnson by the folks at Jesus.org

“The standard of whether we’re right or not is not what any church body says, or what any confession of faith says, but what does the Bible say.” – Phil Johnson

Click on link below to watch this short video:

Has There Ever Been an Orthodox Christianity?

(HT: Thabiti Anyabwile)

“We Owe to the Scripture the Same Reverence We Owe To God” — John Calvin

“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

John Calvin (1509-1564)


John Calvin,

In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he [the Apostle Paul] declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it. ¹

¹ Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries, “The Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon,” trans. from the original Latin. Rev. William Pringle (Christian Classics Ethereal Library: http://www.ccel.org) excerpted from commentary on 2 Tim 3:16, accessed April 25, 2011. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom43.iv.iv.iii.html

Part of this quote cited in: James Boice, Standing on the Rock: Biblical Authority in a Secular Age (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994) pg. 23

“Prophecy and the Closed Canon, Part 3” by John MacArthur

“Prophecy and the Closed Canon, Part 3”

by John MacArthur

From the time of the apostles until the present, the true church has always believed that the Bible is complete. God has given his revelation, and now Scripture is finished. God has spoken. What He gave is complete, efficacious, sufficient, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative. Attempts to add to the Bible, and claims of further revelation from God have always been characteristic of heretics and cultists, not the true people of God.

Although charismatics deny that they are trying to add to Scripture, their views on prophetic utterance, gifts of prophecy, and revelation really do just that. As they add–however unwittingly–to God’s final revelation, they undermine the uniqueness and authority of the Bible. New revelation, dreams, and visions are considered as binding on the believers conscience as the book of Romans or the gospel of John.

Some charismatics would say that people misunderstand what they mean by prophetic utterance and new revelation. They would say that no effort is being made to change Scripture or even equal it. What is happening, they assume, is the clarifying of Scripture as it is applied or directed to a contemporary setting, such as the prophecy of Agabus in Acts 11:28.

The line between clarifying Scripture and adding to it is indeed a thin one. But Scripture is not clarified by listening to someone who thinks he has the gift of prophecy. Scripture is clarified as it is carefully and diligently studied. There are no shortcuts to interpreting God’s word accurately (cf. Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15).

Christians must not play fast and loose with the issues of inspiration and revelation. An accurate understanding of those doctrines is essential for distinguishing between the voice of God and the human voice. Men who professed to speak for God but spoke their own opinions were to be executed under the Old Testament law (Deut. 13:1-5). New Testament believers are also urged to test the spirits and judge all supposed prophecies, shunning false prophets and heretics (1 John 4:1; 1 Cor. 14:29).

The Holy Spirit is working mightily in the church today, but not in the way most charismatics think. The Holy Spirit’s role is to empower us as we preach, teach, write, talk, witness, think, serve, and live. He does lead us into God’s truth and direct us into God’s will for our lives. But He does it through God’s Word, never apart from it. To refer to the Holy Spirit’s leading and empowering ministry as inspiration or revelation is a mistake. To use phrases such as “God spoke to me,” or “This wasn’t my idea; the Lord gave it to me,” or “These aren’t my words, but a message I received from the Lord” confuses the issue of the Spirit’s direction in believers’ lives today.

Inviting that kind of confusion plays into the hands of the error that denies the uniqueness and absolute authority of Scripture. The terms and concepts of Ephesians 5:18-19 and 2 Peter 1:21 are not to be mixed. Being filled with the Spirit and speaking to one another in psalms and hymns is not the same as being moved by the Holy Spirit to write inspired Scripture.
__________________________________________________________________________
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2011. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org
__________________________________________________________________________

“Prophecy and the Closed Canon, Part 2” by John MacArthur

“Prophecy and the Closed Canon, Part 2”

John MacArthur

John MacArthur


How the Biblical Canon Was Chosen and Closed

Jude 3 is a crucial passage on the completeness of our Bibles. This statement, penned by Jude before the New Testament was complete, nevertheless looked forward to the completion of the entire canon:

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

In the Greek text the definite article preceding “faith” points to the one and only faith: “the faith.” There is no other. Such passages as Galatians 1:23 (“He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith”) and 1 Timothy 4:1 (“In latter times some will fall away from the faith”) indicate this objective use of the expression “the faith” was common in apostolic times. Greek scholar Henry Alford wrote that the faith is “objective here: the sum of that which Christians believe” (Alford’s Greek Testament, 4:530).

Note also the crucial phrase “once for all” in Jude 3. The Greek word here is hapax, which refers to something done for all time, with lasting results, never needing repetition. Nothing needs to be added to the faith that has been delivered “once for all.”

George Lawlor, who has written an excellent work on Jude, made the following comment:

The Christian faith is unchangeable, which is not to say that men and women of every generation do not need to find it, experience it, and live it; but it does mean that every new doctrine that arises, even though its legitimacy may be plausibly asserted, is a false doctrine. All claims to convey some additional revelation to that which has been given by God in this body of truth are false claims and must be rejected. (Jude, 45).

Also important in Jude 3 is the word “delivered.” In the Greek it is an aorist passive participle, which in this context indicates an act completed in the past with no continuing element. In this instance the passive voice means the faith was not discovered by men, but given to men by God. How did He do that? Through His Word–the Bible.

And so through the Scriptures God has given us a body of teaching that is final and complete. Our Christian faith rests on historical, objective revelation. That rules out all inspired prophecies, seers, and other forms of new revelation until God speaks again at the return of Christ (cf. Acts 2:16-21; Rev. 11:1-13).

In the meantime, Scripture warns us to be wary of false prophets. Jesus said that in our age “false christs and false prophets will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24). Signs and wonders alone are no proof that a person speaks for God. John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Ultimately, Scripture is the test of everything; it is the Christian’s standard. In fact, the word canon means “a rule, standard, or measuring rod.” The canon of Scripture is the measuring rod of the Christian faith, and it is complete.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2011. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“The Weapon Which Overthrew Roman Catholicism During the Reformation” — J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)


No man can read the history of Christendom as it was five hundred years ago, and not see that darkness covered the whole professing Church of Christ, even a darkness that could be felt. So great was the change which had come over Christianity, that if an apostle had risen from the dead he would not have recognized it, and would have thought that heathenism had revived again. The doctrines of the Gospel lay buried under a dense mass of human traditions. Penances, and pilgrimages, and indulgences, relic-worship, and image-worship, and saint-worship, and worship of the Virgin Mary, formed the sum and substance of most people’s religion. The Church was made an idol. The priests and ministers of the Church usurped the place of Christ. And by what means was all this miserable darkness cleared away? By simply bringing forth once more the Bible.

It was not merely the preaching of Luther and his friends, which established Protestantism in Germany. The great weapon which overthrew the Roman Catholic Church’s power in that country, was Luther’s translation of the Bible into the German tongue. It was not merely the writings of English Reformers which threw down Roman Catholicism in England. The seeds of the work carried forward were first sown by Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible many years before….The excellence of the pure Gospel became a rooted idea in their hearts. It was then in vain for Popes to thunder forth excommunications. It was useless for Kings and Queens to attempt to stop the course of Protestantism by fire and sword. It was all too late. The people knew too much. They had seen the light. They had heard the joyful sound. They had tasted the truth. The sun had risen on their minds. The scales had fallen from their eyes. The Bible had done its appointed work within them, and that work was not to be overthrown. The people would not return to Egypt. The clock could not be pushed back again. A mental and moral revolution had been effected, and mainly effected by God’s Word. Those are the true revolutions which the Bible effects. What are all the revolutions which France and England have gone through, compared to these? No revolutions are so bloodless, none so satisfactory, none so rich in lasting results, as the revolutions accomplished by the Bible! — J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) (excerpted from Practical Religion, J.C. Ryle)

Christian: Examine Everything by Scripture! — J.C. Ryle

This is from a different tract, but similar to this post [here]

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” — I Thessalonians 5:21

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Commenting on the above verse Ryle writes,

Here, we must remember, the Apostle Paul is writing to the Thessalonians,—to a Church which he himself had founded. Here is an inspired Apostle writing to young inexperienced Christians,—writing to the whole professing Church in a certain city, containing laity as well as clergy,—writing, too, with especial reference to matters of doctrine and preaching, as we know by the verse preceding the text: “Despise not prophesyings.” And yet mark what he says,—“Prove all things.” He does not say, “Whatsoever Apostles,—whatsoever evangelists, pastors, and teachers, whatsoever your Bishops,—whatsoever your ministers tell you is truth, that you are to believe.” No! he says, “Prove all things.” He does not say, “Whatsoever the universal Church pronounces true, that you are to hold.” No! he says, “Prove all things.”

The principle laid down is this: “Prove all things by the Word of God; all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices,—prove all by the Word of God. Measure all by the measure of the Bible.—Compare all with the standard of the Bible.—Weigh all in the balances of the Bible.—Examine all by the light of the Bible.—Test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, re-ceive, hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away.” (from: Prove All Things, J.C. Ryle)

The Absolute Supremacy and Authority of Scripture — J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)


J.C. Ryle,

The first leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the absolute supremacy it assigns to Holy Scripture, as the only rule of faith and practice, the only test of truth, the only judge of controversy.

Its theory is that man is required to believe nothing, as necessary to salvation, which is not read in God’s Word written, or can be proved thereby. It totally denies that there is any other guide for man’s soul, coequal or co-ordinate
with the Bible. It refuses to listen to such arguments as “the Church says so,”—“the Fathers say so,”—“primitive antiquity says so,”—“Catholic tradition says so,”—“the Councils say so,”—“the ancient liturgies say so,”—“the Prayer-book says so,”—“the universal conscience of mankind says so,”—“the verifying light within says so,”—unless it can be shown that what is said is in
harmony with Scripture.

The supreme authority of the Bible, in one word, is one of the cornerstones of our system. Show us anything plainly written in that Book, and, however trying to flesh and blood, we will receive it, believe it, and submit to it. Show us anything, as religion, which is contrary to that Book, and, however specious, plausible, beautiful, and apparently desirable, we will not have it at any price. It may come before us endorsed by Fathers, schoolmen, and catholic writers; it may be commended by reason, philosophy, science, the inner light, the verifying faculty, the universal conscience of mankind. It signifies nothing. Give us rather a few plain texts. If the thing is not in the Bible, deducible from the Bible, or in manifest harmony with the Bible, we will have none of it. Like the forbidden fruit, we dare not touch it, lest we die. Our faith can find no resting – place except in the Bible, or in Bible arguments. Here is rock: all else is sand. (excerpted from Knots Untied, J.C. Ryle)