Thursday, November 18, 2010

Scripture and Charisma

Do charismatic gifts conflict with the sufficiency of Scripture?  Now we are told that Scripture can make us adequate for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16,17) and that we are not to add to Scripture (Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:6). But this sufficiency is for faith and practice, for teaching, rebuke, correction, and training in righteousness (see 2 Timothy 3:16,17).  It is obvious Scripture does not teach us how to cook or drive a car or do mathematics.

Now what are the limits of Scripture?  Is it limited to the books found in our Bible or can more be given?   I would very much like to believe that the books we have in our Bible are all there are, but can this be proven?  Revelation 22:18,19 clearly refers to the book of Revelation.  It is a warning against adding to Scripture, but does not say there will be no more revelation.  1 Corinthians 13:8-12, in context, clearly refers to the Second Coming.  Hebrews 1:1,2 states that revelation is ultimately summed up in Christ. But much of the information about Him was not given by Him directly, but by His followers (John 16:12), and no limit is placed on this.  Ephesians 2:20 is somewhat to the point; you do not lay a foundation again at the tenth story (also, Revelation 21:14 mentions only twelve apostles), but this is not inarguable.  The real answer to those who want to add to the Bible is to put their new revelations to the tests for Scripture, the chief of which is that it must agree with existing Scripture (Galatians 1:8,9; Isaiah 8:20; Jude 3).  From what Scripture says, this is how, I believe, God expects us to approach the issue (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1-3). I do not know of any candidates that pass all the tests.

We all have decisions we need to make in our lives where the answers are not taught in Scripture. How do we make them?  We can go with what makes sense to us, but, if so, we end up basing things on our understanding (Proverbs 3:5,6).  In this case, God cannot get us to do anything unusual or unreasonable (Acts 8:26-40; 16:6-10). (These examples may involve inspired revelation, but are we to believe today God only wants us to do things we find reasonable?)  We can go by circumstances, but those are chancy (Ecclesiastes 11:4).  To trust totally in experiences is also to trust in our own understanding; we must carefully test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22).  But to totally reject experiences (which may include such spiritual gifts as word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discernment of spirits, or tongues and interpretation) is to put us at the mercy of the questionable standard of what makes us feel comfortable.

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