What Does the Bible Say about Modern Day Revelation?
Not long ago, I received an email from one of our website visitors who made some comments regarding a lesson he had downloaded and listened to. He based his opinions on the belief that God is still making his will known through the means of modern day Revelation. In other words, it is his belief that God communicates directly with man today through prophets and/or apostles just like He did in the past.
The purpose of this lesson is to examine what the word of God teaches regarding modern day revelation in order to ascertain whether or not this is the truth. The purpose of examining any doctrine which is different than our beliefs is so that we can ultimately compare it with our own and if need be, make any necessary corrections. Paul commanded the Christians in Corinth to, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). We are to subject ourselves to a critical self examination. Our beliefs and practices must be “in the faith”, meaning according to God’s will.
We have before us today a doctrine which claims modern day Revelation. We in the churches of Christ believe that the written word of God is the inspired and complete Revelation of God, and that it is accurate, authoritative and sufficient to give us the information required for salvation. In short, we believe everything we need to know in order to be saved is contained within the written record of God’s word. It cannot be both ways, one or the other is truth. What does the Bible teach about this?
1). The Bible states that God’s complete will for man was revealed in the first century when the church was established.
Peter wrote in his second epistle chapter 1 starting in verse 2, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” According to Peter, all things that pertain unto life and godliness through knowledge of God was delivered at that time. Peter stated in words impossible to misunderstand that all knowledge which was necessary to live a life of Godliness had already been given.
If we will turn to Jude 3, we will find an interesting verse. Jude 3, “…it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” The word I want to call our attention to in the original language is “Hapax” which is translated in the KJV and as “once” delivered. This Greek word has a very specific meaning. It carries the meaning of “once for all” of what is of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition. Simply stated, The faith that was “once for all” [hapax], “delivered” is forever valid, and it will never need to be repeated.
The Bible plainly teaches that all we need to know in order to live a godly life has been fully revealed, is forever valid and does not need to be revealed again. One must ask why additional revelation today would even be necessary since we know the early church had all the knowledge they needed revealed to them almost 2000 years ago?
2). The Bible states that scripture is inspired and sufficient.
Now if we will consider 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which reads, “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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” “All scripture”, meaning there is no scripture left out, is “inspired”, meaning revealed by God. So we see now that everything we have recorded for us in the Bible is revealed by God. That means all scripture is accurate, authoritative and trustworthy. Paul went on to say that the man of God may be perfect, meaning complete. Thoroughly furnished, or equipped, unto all good works. When one is equipped with the knowledge required for all good works, that means there are no good works out there for which we are not equipped. The Bible claims to be complete. The Bible claims to be sufficient.
So far we have learned that the Bible teaches that all we need to know in order to live a godly life has been fully revealed, is forever valid and does not need to be revealed again. And what has been recorded for us by the direct revelation of God can make us complete and furnishes us totally. Why would additional revelation be required today since the Bible teaches that everything we need to know was revealed and recorded almost 2000 years ago?
3) The Bible teaches us that the word of God lasts forever.
Since the Bible teaches that everything we need to know was revealed and recorded, the only other possible reason for revelation today would be if what was revealed and recorded has been corrupted and that we don’t have an accurate account of what was revealed in the first century.
Let’s consider 1 Peter 1:23-25, “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (NKJV). Peter taught that the word of God is living and abiding which means continuing in its present condition. He then taught that it endures forever which means to hold out against damage or corruption for all of time.
If what we have today is not what was revealed and recorded in the first century then God’s word did not abide (continue on its present condition) and it did not endure (hold out against damage or corruption) for all of time. 1 Peter 1:23-25 is our assurance that what we have recorded for us today is what they had revealed for them in the first century.
The Bible teaches us that everything we need to know for a life of godliness was revealed and recorded in the first century and preserved for all of time. Since everything we need to know was revealed, recorded and preserved, then there is no reason whatsoever for additional revelation. The early Christians had what they needed and we have today what they had then.
4) The Bible claims to be the exclusive source for truth.
Not only does the Bible teach that it is inspired, accurate, authoritative and sufficient, it also forbids going to any other source other than itself for instruction. The inspired writers commanded their readership to not think, or go, beyond what has been written (1 Corinthians 4:6). John wrote in 2 John 9, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God” (NASB). I used the NASB translation because it more accurately communicates what the original language meant. The Greek carries the meaning of going beyond where one is authorized to go. One can depart and abide not in the doctrine of Christ if one goes beyond, or goes too far.
In Revelation 22:18-19 we read of God’s curse on those who add to or take away from His words. This attitude echoes His sentiments regarding the Old Testament law as well. In Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32 we see God’s express command not to add to or take away from the law of Moses. Concerning this very thing, Solomon wrote in Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” We do not live under the law of Moses today, but we can surely see from an examination of scripture that additions or subtractions of God’s will from any covenant was, and is, forbidden.
5) The Bible teaches us that we are to reject the teachings of men.
The Bible gives us severe warnings over perverting the gospel message. Paul pronounced a curse on any who teach a gospel other than the one delivered in the first century (Galatians 1:8-9). When John warned his readership not to go too far in 2 John 9 he went on in verses 10 and 11 to forbid any association with false doctrine at all. 2 John 10-11, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (NKJV).
Which doctrine is John talking about here? John says “does not bring this doctrine”. Which doctrine is “this doctrine”? This doctrine is the one John had, which was, and is the complete revelation of the knowledge of God’s will for man at the dawn of the Christian age. This doctrine is the faith that was once for all delivered. This doctrine is the one that thoroughly furnishes us unto all good works. This is the doctrine that is capable of making complete and thoroughly equipping us for every good work. This is the doctrine that lives and abides forever. The scriptures teach us to reject anyone teaching any other doctrine and then warns us that if we do, we are a partaker in their evil.
If a doctrine does not come from God, it has to come from man’s additions or subtractions from God’s word. The Bible also teaches us that our worship is vain if we follow as doctrine the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7).
The only way I know of to assure myself that I am not worshipping according to the commandments of men is to adhere strictly to the Bible which claims to be inspired, or coming from God.
If there is divine revelation today, then the scriptures which recorded all the knowledge required to live a Godly life in the first century cannot be the exclusive source for truth which it claims to be. If there is divine revelation today, then we would have to transgress the word of God in order to follow it. God is not the author of confusion. He is not going to forbid going to any source other than what was revealed and recorded in the first century and then 18 centuries later, turn around and reveal something we need to know and then expect us to violate His original word in order to live faithfully.
So now are we to believe we have two sources for God’s truth, separated by 1800 years? The oldest one claims to be inspired, accurate, authoritative, sufficient, perpetual and forbids us to go to something else for instruction. And now, are we to believe that roughly 1800 years later we have… something else for instruction? We have the new testament from the first century which forbids us to go to another testament and now in the 21st century we have another testament?
The Bible teaches us that we do not need modern day revelation. When God delivered the knowledge necessary to live a Godly life, He delivered it all. (2 Peter 1:2)
The Bible teaches us that the scriptures are inspired. God inspired them all.
The Bible teaches us that the scriptures are sufficient and equip us to every good work. Concerning the works of righteousness and obedience to God’s will, we have it all. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) We do not need additional Revelation.
The Bible teaches us that God’s word will endure and is preserved for us. He preserved it all and it endured it all. (1 Peter 1:23-25). We do not need additional Revelation.
The Bible claims to be the exclusive source of God’s word today. Concerning any teaching more than or less than what can be found in the Bible, it excluded all. (1 Corinthians 4:6, 2 John 9, Revelation 22:18-19) There cannot be any additional Revelation.
The Bible is our sole instruction manual for living a godly life. Any teaching which is less than what can be found therein is incomplete. Any teaching which is more than what is revealed and recorded is too much. Our course of action is clear and true. God says his word is complete, we believe Him. God says His word completely equips us, we believe Him. God says His word is recorded by His inspiration, we believe Him. God says His word endures forever, we believe Him.
People living in the first century who obeyed the word of God then were saved. They had what they needed, they were complete, they lived according to the revealed truth and were saved. We have what they had. We can obey the same faith they followed, believe how they believed, worship the way they worshiped and live how they lived in absolute assurance of the hope we have in Christ.