Details of the Canon, part 4

The foregoing material demonstrates that God has revealed himself in his Word which is necessary, inspired, authoritative, sufficient, and clear; this Word, the Bible, is self-authentifying so it does not depend on an outside source for its authority. God promised to preserve this Word for all future generations and providentially did so. God predicted there would be times when prophesy would be absent and ultimately a time when prophesy would cease. All of these conclusions are drawn from his own statements which we know are true because God cannot lie.

The reactions to and implications of these teachings are multifold. As we have done throughout this study we will turn to the pages of God’s Holy Scripture to see how to respond to these reactions and process the implications.

God Speaks in the Scriptures

Reactions

Some people respond, “What a pity that God has stopped speaking to us. There are so many urgent needs today; wouldn’t it be wonderful if he would tell us exactly what to do?” This response presumes two things which are both false: A) God has stopped speaking, and B) What God has said is not enough to answer our particular needs.

First, though God has ceased giving new authoritative infallible revelation that is recorded in his Book, he has not stopped speaking to us. The Holy Spirit continues to speak to us through the Bible. In the Old Testament he said that an ox should be allowed to eat grain as it is treading that grain during harvest (Deut 25.4). In the 1st century the Apostle Paul heard the Holy Spirit’s instruction and based on this law in Deuteronomy a pastor is entitled to receive financial support from his congregation (1Cor 9.9). Today we hear the Holy Spirit’s instruction based on this law and know that bosses should not cheat their workers but rather let them enjoy the fruit of their labors (see the Westminster Larger Catechism #141-142). The Bible is not a cold dead word… it is a living and active word.

Second, the Bible gives us a significant reason why the canon is closed and this gives us due cause to rejoice! God has closed up revelation for our good that we may grow & mature and be protected from liars who would venture to deceive us: ‘be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive’ (Eph 4.14). As we grow into maturity we know we have everything we need: ‘All scripture is given … That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’ (2Tim 3.16-17) — Scripture equips us for ALL good works.

As is often the case people see God’s blessings as burdens. We should be thankful that our father in heaven is looking out for us and knows what’s best for us. Instead of being subject to the vacillating claims of modern prophets we can succinctly answer, “The Bible, the Bible! We have the Bible! We don’t need anything else!”

Implications

The validity of other religions depends on the veracity of their canon. Note below the implications for the Bible’s statements as enumerated in our study:

Key Point
from the Bible
Implication Response to impossible claims
of other religions
+prophets write scripture -mere men don’t write scripture [Athiests:] the Bible is not the production of mere men; it comes from and was preserved by God.
+prophets operate at some times and not others -prophets aren’t always operating
-there are silent periods
-after the canon was closed there is no more prophesy
[Mormonism:] Joseph Smith came after prophesy ended so he cannot be a True prophet
[Islam:] Muhammad was not a True prophet
+prophetic writings are often immediately recognized as canonical
+prophets confirm the canonical status of other prophets’ writings
-prophetic writings do not await the decision of a Council or the consensus of the public [Roman Catholicism:] the Church did not determine the canon
[Mormonism:] the Council of Nicea did not mess up the canon
+prophetic writings are compiled in God’s Book – the Bible (“Bible” means “book”) -writings outside “the Book” are not true prophesy [Islam:] the Quran is not God’s Word
[Roman Catholicism:] the Apocrypha is not God’s Word
[Mormonism:] the Book of Mormon and Doctrines & Covenants are not God’s Word

Conclusion

The Bible’s explanation of its development and preservation strikes a fatal blow to the claims of other religions. A religion is only as good as the prophet & revelation that begat it. By virtue of the Bible’s explanation of how revelation comes and is compiled, we know that other religions are based on false prophets and false revelation.

It is with gratitude that we embrace the framework of revelation that God has laid out and fulfilled. He tells us what his Written Word is so that we will not be confused. His written word is “the Book”, i.e. the Bible. In John 17.17 and Psalm 119.160 the word that sanctifies, the word that is truth, and the word that endures forever is the word of the Bible. May you embrace it to the saving of your soul.