part of the what is truth? series

Whether or not the Bible is the complete revelation of God has profound implications on Christianity today. If the Bible isn’t the complete revelation of God, then the door remains open to “other” revelation.

“Other” could be other scriptural authority such as the Quran or the Book of Mormon. Or, evangelists claiming to speak for God or church leaders holding a title of apostle or prophet. It gives license for individuals to dream their own interaction with God and His special revelation just to/for them. In fact, all of these exist today. They are often justified as an activity through/by the Holy Spirit or simply “hearing the voice of God”.

So what does Scripture say about if the Bible is the complete revelation of God?

Wikipedia, on his chief theological work, Der christliche Glaube nach den Grundsätzen der evangelischen Kirche: “Its fundamental principle is that the source and the basis of dogmatic theology are the religious feeling, the sense of absolute dependence on God as communicated by Jesus through the church, not the creeds or the letter of Scripture or the rationalistic understanding. The work is therefore simply a description of the facts of religious feeling, or of the inner life of the soul in its relations to God, and the inward facts are looked at in the various stages of their development and presented in their systematic connection. The aim of the work was to reform Protestant theology, to put an end to the unreason and superficiality of both supernaturalism and rationalism, and to deliver religion and theology from dependence on perpetually changing systems of philosophy.
Friedrich SchleiermacherFriedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), German theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar

how Scripture answers "Is the Bible the complete revelation of God?"

The Bible’s own claim is that it represents the complete revelation of God1,2,6,7,9. While there was a time God spoke to man through prophets5,8, that time was replaced by the gospel revelation through His son, Jesus Christ and His time on earth5 and His appointed apostles9.

As of the first century, God’s word had been proclaimed throughout the whole world4,6,8. If the word was sufficiently complete in the first century to save individuals1,3,4,6,8,9, how is it any less complete now and why would it be necessary for God to reveal more? Is the foundation9 really still being laid? (No, of course not!)

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks
1

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Anyone that looks into the perfect (or complete) law of liberty and stands firm in it – not just hearing it but doing it – will be blessed.

James is writing to the dispersed Christians and encouraging them to act out their faith, because faith that is not acted out is dead.

How does it inform?

The law of liberty (e.g. the gospel of Christ) is complete. It includes all that someone needs to act out their belief in Christ.

Does it apply? Yes

2

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Love never ends, unlike prophecies, tongues and knowledge [certain miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit] which will all pass away. Prophesying was “in part”, so when “the perfect” (or complete) came it would logically no longer be needed.

Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth.  He has just expounded on what Godly love and acts like making the final point that love as he’s defined it (e.g. Godly) never ends. In the immediate context, Paul is clearly speaking of those miraculous gifts from God (prophecies, tongues and [special] knowledge) that are “partial” and “will pass away” when “the perfect [complete] comes.”  He goes on to invoke the logic of a man that gives up childish things as he grows up and matures.

How does it inform?

Paul doesn’t explicitly say what the “the perfect” is here but it is juxtaposed with all of the spiritual gifts involving God’s word and how it was conveyed at that time (through prophecies, speaking in tongues, and knowledge). It’s written at a time, maybe around 55BC, before all of the New Testament as we know it had been written.

Does it apply? Yes

3
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Souls that have been purified by obeying the truth should earnestly and sincerely love one another from a pure heart.  They should be doing this since they were born again of an imperishable seed through the enduring word of God. Unlike grass which grows, blooms and dies, God’s word remains forever and it’s this same word that was preached to them.
Peter is writing to the “elect” of the “dispersion” – Christians that have been scattered throughout Galatia and Asia Minor.  He is encouraging them to stand firm in the face of current persecution and reminding them of the promise they have in and through Christ.

A portion of this passage is quoted from

Isaiah 40:6-8
.
How does it inform?

These first century Christians were saved (“born again”) through the word of God.

Does it apply? Yes

4

if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Paul was a preacher of the gospel that had been preached throughout the world.  Those that believed it should continue in it without shifting from it.

Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae confronting false teaching in the form of “human philosophies and traditions”.  Earlier in this chapter he references “the word of the truth, the gospel” which came to them and “indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing” (vs 6).

How does it inform?

The gospel had been spread throughout the whole world in the first century.

Does it apply? Yes

5
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

In a previous time God spoke to man through the prophets, but now (“these last days”) He has spoken through His son, Jesus Christ. Additionally, God appointed Him heir of all things and through Him created the world.

Opening to the letter of Hebrews, written to Jews that had believed and obeyed the gospel.  The writer is beginning his argument and evidence for why everything is better in Jesus by pointing to the prophets (and angels) that had, in times past, delivered God’s message.

How does it inform?

There was a time that God revealed Himself to man through the prophets. But these last days He “has spoken” (past tense) through Jesus Christ.

Does it apply? Yes

6

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Brethren, I was anxious to write about the salvation we share, but instead need to appeal to you to fight for the faith that has been fully delivered to all the saints.

Jude, the brother of James, is writing to Christians to warn them about false teachers.  He encourages them to be “building” themselves up (vs 20) and “keep” in the love of God (vs 21).
How does it inform?

Jude, written very late in the first century, possibly after Revelation, confirms that they need to fight for their common belief in Jesus (i.e. the gospel, the truth, “the faith”) that was (past tense) given “once for all” (complete).

Does it apply? Yes

7
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
All of your word is truth, and all of your commands endure forever.

A great Psalm (119) dedicated to the merit and beauty of God’s word.

How does it inform?

All of God’s word is truth, not just portions. Or, said another way, truth isn’t possible with only parts of God’s word.

Does it apply? Yes

8
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Therefore, to the one that can give strength according to the Word and preaching of Jesus Christ — the revealing of the mystery that was concealed for past ages but now is disclosed and through the prophetic writings made known to all people by the command of God — that which brings about the obedience of faith. To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ, amen.

A prayer to God that serves as Paul’s closing to his letter to the Christians in Rome.

How does it inform?

Paul makes it clear that the gospel of Jesus Christ, while once incomplete (e.g. a “mystery”), is now fully revealed to all people – Jew and Gentile (e.g. “nations”).

Does it apply? Yes

9
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

You are no longer set apart, but now are fellow citizens with the saints of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Himself is the chief cornerstone, in whom the entire building joins together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In Christ, you also are adding together to form a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Paul is pointing out to the Ephesians and Gentile Christians, that though they were at one time “called the uncircumcision by the circumcised” (vs 11), they are now part of the inheritance in Christ as a result of the “peace” that has been preached (vs 18).

How does it inform?

The preaching of “peace” (vs 18) was a foundation that consisted of Jesus (the “cornerstone”) and the apostles and prophets. A foundation is laid once.

Does it apply? Yes

Do you agree? If so, share this question and the Bible Study Framework with others.

If you know of some other verses or you have something to add to the verses already listed for this question please leave a comment below! We welcome the public discussion and will incorporate your input into the Framework above. We have nothing to hide and invite your help in considering all that God’s word has to say.

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