In your article you say that we cannot expect that God still speaks to us through the church. How do you think He speaks to us? Or do you think He speaks to us at all? You point to Gal1:8-9 as proof that the Bible is it, and there isn’t anything else. True, the Bible is the word of God, but can you or any man claim to fully understand it – to fully understand God?? I talk to God. I ask Him for help in understanding…and He answers. He gives me understanding of His word that I didn’t have by merely reading the words written in man’s language.
When we consider God’s communication to us, the New Testament Scriptures speak very plainly: Although in days gone by, He spoke to mankind in many different ways and in different manners, in the days during the gospel age, He now speaks to us ONLY in His son, Heb. 1:1-2. It is dangerous for us to suppose the manner in which God speaks, we must KNOW. In John 1, we are told that in the beginning, the Word was with God and the Word was God (vs 1); then in verse 14, it says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. While upon this earth, Jesus did not speak His own words, but spoke what His Father had told Him to speak (John 14:10). In John 17:8, while in prayer to the Father, He said that the words the Father gave to Him, He had given to His apostles. The way He did this was by sending the Holy Spirit to them. You can read about this in John chapters 14-17. Some highlights: John 14:15-26: Jesus promised to send the Spirit. Remember, in this context, only the apostles were present (it was during the last supper). John 14:25-26: He said that the Spirit would teach them all things and bring to remembrance all things that Jesus had said to them. John 15:26: He said the Spirit would bear witness of Jesus along with the apostles (because they were with Him from the beginning, so they could be witness also). John 16:7-15: We learn further that the Spirit would convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment; that by the Spirit the apostles would be guided into all truth, and would have the future disclosed to them. We see these things fulfilled in the lives of the apostles in Acts chapters 1 and the first part of chapter 2, in which Jesus tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit which had been promised to them (1:1-9). The Spirit came upon them in the form of a baptism (the were “immersed” in the Spirit) in 2:1-4.
Now regarding two points that you raise, it is crucial to understand that, yes, the Bible can be understood by most anyone who works at it. If not, then the Scriptures themselves lie. Consider these passages:
John 20:30-31 “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.” How does John say that one might come to believe in Christ? By reading what he (John) has written concerning Jesus. What sense is there in writing to someone who isn’t going to be able to understand? Eph 3:3-4 “…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)…” Was Paul lying when he said that his readers could understand what he understood? Or were his readers somehow smarter than us?
I Jn 1:3-4 “…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” John says that we can have fellowship (which means a sharing, literally, “commonality”) with the apostles through the things they wrote. Did they write in vain to people who couldn’t understand?
1 Cor 2:12-13 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches…”
There are more passages than these, but you get the point. The Scriptures were MEANT to be read and understood. Even those so-called difficult Old Testament Scriptures could be understood. We are told that they were written for our learning, our instruction, and our comfort (1 Cor. 10:11, Rom. 15:4). What could we possibly learn and would comfort could we get from something we can’t understand? You see also by this that these are not words written by men, but by the Spirit of God. There is no difference in what was spoken and what was written. The same Spirit directed men in both.
Of course, you have a point when you imply that we can not know EVERYTHING, either about the Scriptures, or about God. But what we are concerned with is that men are not bothering to learn what CAN be learned about the Bible and about God. The vast majority of people, if they seek God at all, do so by their own devices and philosophies. He can not be found that way. You say that God speaks to you in other ways than through His written word. If by that you mean that we learn how to apply God’s word by putting into practice the things that it teaches, then I would agree. Well, not I, but the Scriptures. That’s what Hebrews 5:14 says. But if you mean that God teaches you truths that are not written in His word, then I would ask you to tell me what those truths are. I have never come across a truth regarding God or His will that has not already been revealed in His word. I have been informed of many so-called truths that contradict His word. In such cases, I must stand on the word. 1 Peter 4:11 teaches that if anyone speaks, he should speak as it were the utterances of God. When I speak from Scripture, I know I am speaking the utterances of God. All else is human wisdom and reasoning.
By Doug Focht