The Scriptures Alone?

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: II Peter 1


I.         A fellow preacher received a question and he asked me what I thought about it.

            A.        “Where in the Bible does it tell us that the Bible is the only or ultimate source of authority? I cannot find it anywhere! II Timothy 3:16 is the closest, but it does not say ONLY! Where in history, the Bible, or the writings of the early Church was this concept ever taught? Since the church did not have a complete Bible until hundreds of years after Christ ascended to heaven, how did the early church teach and spread Christianity?”

            B.        I pointed out to the preacher that the question comes from a Catholic apologist. I have received similar questions in the past and the purpose seems to be an attempt to establish that the Catholic church was the means by which Christianity and the Bible was defined. Thereby, if the Catholic church decides to redefine Christianity, it has that right.

            C.        The problem is the assumption that if a particular idea is not expressed in the Bible in precisely the wording desired, then it is assumed that the concept does not exist.

II.        The hierarchy of authority

            A.        The ultimate source of all authority lies with the Creator of the universe. God, the Father, is the highest authority - I Corinthians 11:3

            B.        That authority has been given to His Son, Jesus - Matthew 28:18

            C.        However, the Father remains supreme - I Corinthians 15:23-28

            D.        Since Christ holds all authority, we must ask, “Through what means has Jesus chosen to make His will known to mankind?”

                        1.         We do not want to address what Jesus was capable of doing or what was possible for him to do. God’s power is boundless, so the number of possibilities are without bound.

                        2.         We will only look at what he actually did.

            E.        When Jesus left, he told the disciples that they would not be left on their own

                        1.         The Spirit would guide them in all the truth - John 16:13-15

                        2.         By Christ’s command, they were to then teach that truth to all the nations - Matthew 28:19-20. Notice that Jesus said they were to teach all the things commanded by Jesus.

                        3.         This is what happened to the disciples - I Corinthians 2:15-16

                        4.         And as Paul told the Ephesian elders - Acts 20:27

                                    a.         Notice that Paul’s statement directly contradicts the questioner’s assumption.

                                    b.         He claimed that the church did not have a compete Bible until hundreds of years after Christ ascended.

                                    c.         Yet, Paul, just a few years after Christ ascended, emphasized that he had taught Christians the whole council of God.

III.       The completeness of the revelation

            A.        Peter claimed that through our knowledge of God we learn everything pertaining to life and godliness - II Peter 1:2-4

                        1.         That knowledge of God comes through the writings of the Apostles.

                        2.         All Scripture is able to make a man complete - II Timothy 3:16-17

                                    a.         “Scripture” are the written words of God

                                    b.         What good work has been left out? Nothing!

            B.        The apostles knew they would not always be present. They knew God’s people would need constant reminders of what needed to be done - II Peter 1:10-15

                        1.         Hence, they wrote them down as a permanent record.

                        2.         John said much the same - I John 1:3-4

IV.      The unalterability of the message

            A.        Since the apostles gave a complete account of all that Jesus taught them through the aid of the Holy Spirit, it becomes important that no one alters this message.

            B.        The teachings were not the apostles’ own opinions - II Peter 1:16, 19-21

            C.        They were not the teachings of other men - Galatians 1:11-12

            D.        Being the words of God, once delivered, they were not to be changed - Galatians 1:6-9

            E.        This does not leave any leeway. The Bible is a set standard which cannot be altered or contradicted

V.        No further revelation

            A.        Jesus’ words will judge us - John 12:48

            B.        The apostles’ writings will serve as the basis of judgment - Romans 2:16

            C.        Could there be continuing revelations from God?

                        1.         If there were, then what was later revealed could only match what the apostles already taught, since alterations are not allowed

                        2.         Nothing new could be revealed without contradicting the apostles’ claim that their message was complete.

                        3.         If something new was revealed, then how could those who live prior to the revelation be judged by it?

            D.        Jude said the message was only delivered once - Jude 3

                        1.         There would not be multiple deliveries.

                        2.         It was delivered for all times and for all people.

                                    a.         There isn’t one message for one nation and something else for another nation.

                                    b.         The message doesn’t change over time.

            E.        Hence, we must conclude that the Bible claims it is complete.

                        1.         It has everything we need to know.

                        2.         Being complete and unalterable, it then is our only source for establishing what God has authorized for us to do.

                        3.         Anyone claiming the right to modify the message falls under a curse - Galatians 1:8-9

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