By Ron Halbrook
When the apostle John wrote the short but rich letter known as 2 John, he said he was writing “for the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever” (v. 2). Before leaving this earth, Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit (whom he called also “the Spirit of truth”) to directly and miraculously guide the apostles. “He will guide you into all the truth”-or, “the truth in all its parts.” Christ kept his promise. The apostles spoke “as the Spirit gave them utterance,” which means they spoke “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth” (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 2:13). They not only spoke the truth in all its parts, they were also guided or inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the truth in all its parts (2 Tim. 3:1617; 2 Pet. 1:13-15; 2:1-2). Men should not place one another or human thoughts “above that which is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). “Whosoever transgresseth (goeth onward, ASV), and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9).
One who speaks “for the Truth’s sake” will teach only the doctrine of Christ, only what Christ revealed by the Spirit to the apostles and inspired men who wrote the Bible. We must give book, chapter, and verse for all we teach or else apologize for teaching anything for which we cannot give book, chapter, and verse when it is pointed out to us. We have no right to claim God is revealing through us new truths in the form of “prophecy,” “visions,” and “dreams.” Rather, we must strive to teach the whole Truth as God has already delivered it .through men who were inspired with prophecy, visions, and dreams. We dare not claim the Spirit is whispering a “revelation” in our ear or heart, nor in the clouds or sky or any other such place. In 1 Tim. 4:1, Paul (an apostle, miraculously inspired by the Holy Spirit) said, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly . . .” And then Paul told us exactly what the Spirit said. “Expressly” means “in stated terms” or “in words.” The words Paul wrote are the words of the Holy Spirit, All the revelations of the Holy Spirit are found in exact words of the Spirit in the Bible. Therefore we can not claim any new messages from the Spirit, but can preach and teach the exact message of the Spirit, the whole message of the Spirit, the only message of the Spirit . . . which message is found in the Bible alone. The Spirit spoke the truth in all its parts (according to the promise of Christ) to inspired men in the First Century, and they wrote it down by miraculous direction of God. We write for the Truth’s sake only when we teach the truth revealed by the Spirit in the Bible, “the holy writings.”
2 Tim. 3:15 sneaks of “the holy scriptures” or “the holy writings.” Verse 16 says of these writings, “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 (or mature, complete), throughly furnished unto all good works.” Let us determine to teach `for the Truth’s sake” strive to teach only “for doctrine” what is found in “the holy writings.” We can then reprove, correct, and instruct in righteousness only according to what is found in “the holy writings.” The truth will make us free. The gospel will save. The words of the Lord are spiritual and life-giving. Only as men teach the Lord’s word do they teach for the Truth’s sake.
Truth Magazine XIX: 50, p. 790
October 30, 1975