By Tommy L. McClure
Does the word of God contain all we need relative to our spiritual well-being and religious guidance, or must we look to some other source? Is it complete or incomplete? Many religious people, by their acceptance of and adherence to human rules of faith in the form of manuals, disciplines, and catechisms, show a disbelief in the completeness of God’s word. Considering their denominational affiliations and their zeal to enlarge the membership of their respective denominations, the reason for their position is easily seen. Consider: A Baptist preacher cannot take the Bible and the Bible only and make a Baptist Church member with it to save his life! He will use a lot of Baptist Manual mixed with a small grain of Scripture (usually taken out of context) to accomplish his purpose. The Baptist Church, as a distinctive body, is nowhere mentioned in the word of God; the term “Baptist” was not worn as a religious name in Bible times; distinctive Baptist doctrine is contradicted at every turn in the New Testament; and the terms for entering the Baptist Church are not therein contained! There is no evidence that any inspired man ever wrote of it, spoke of it, encouraged anyone to enter it, or even heard of it! Now, can you not see why they use a rule-book other than the word of God? What is said of the Baptists can be said of every other church which subscribes to human rules of faith manuals or latter-day revelations!
This lesson is designed to show: (1) if the word of God is not complete it is not true; (2) if it is true it is complete; and (3) if it is complete we need no other guide-book and no latter-day revelation!
The Lord’s Promise To His Apostles To His apostles, Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (Jn. 14:26). Again, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (Jn. 16:13). The Holy Spirit was to: (1) teach them all things, (2) bring to their remembrance all things Jesus had told them, and (3) He was to guide them into all truth! Not much truth, most all truth, but all truth! Did the Holy Spirit do for the apostles what Jesus said He would do? Or, did Jesus make a false promise? Answer that question and the matter of completeness is settled!
The apostles, guided into all truth, delivered what they received (1 Cor. 11:23; 15:3; Gal. 1:11,12), spoke what the Spirit revealed in the words the Spirit gave (1 Cor. 2:6-13; Matt. 10: 18-20), and wrote the commandments of the Lord (I Cor. 14:37; 1 Jn. 2:7,8; 3:23; 4:21; 2 Jn. 4-6; 1 Cor. 16:1, et al.,) and what they had seen and heard (1 Jn. 1:3,4) in the New Testament of which they were made able ministers (2 Cor. 3:6). If we must depend on latter-day revelations or human rule-books for any truth we need, the Lord’s promise to His apostles was false! God forbid!
God’s Word Contains All That Pertains Unto Life And Godliness
“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; Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: by that these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:3,4). Note that His divine power hath given (not will give) unto us all things (not some things) that pertain unto life and godliness (not social acceptance and worldly entertainment)! How and where are “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” given? Answer: “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue”! Where is that knowledge contained? Answer: in the word of God (Eph. 3:3-5). When the Ephesians read what Paul wrote they could understand what Paul knew about the “mystery of Christ” which in ages past was not made known but was then revealed unto the apostles and prophets by the Spirit! In the writings of those apostles and prophets, Spirit guided men, “the knowledge of him ” is contained, by and through which all things pertaining to life and godliness are given. Admit that Peter told the truth, and you admit the completeness of the word of God; deny its completeness, and you deny Peter’s statement! Take your choice – and, its consequences!
Any religious doctrine or practice not contained in the word of God, not therein authorized either by specific or general authority, does not pertain to life and godliness! The fact that millions may think “it must be the will of the Lord because it seems so right to me” matters not – God does not think like they do and vice versa (Isa. 55:8,9; Psa. 50:21). Reader, if you are interested in “life” and “godliness, ” turn to God’s word; it contains all things that pertain thereto! It is complete!
The Scriptures Thoroughly Furnish Unto All Good Works
“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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). What else, I ask, does one need in order to conduct his life so as to be pleasing to God? Either the word of God is complete — will thoroughly furnish unto all good works – or it is incomplete and, therefore, false! I will stay with Jesus who said to the Father, “Thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:16).
Note the following list (not exhaustive by any means) of spiritual needs of man supplied by the word of God: (1) Faith (Rom. 10: 17); (2) Light (Psa. 119:105,130; 2 Cor. 4:3,4); (3) Cleansing (Jn. 15:3; 1 Pet. 1:22); (4) Salvation (Acts 11:13,14; 13:26; Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:1,2; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 3:15; Jas. 1:21); (5) Strength (Acts 20:32); (6) Growth (I Pet. 2:1,2); (7) Understanding (Psa. 119:130); (8) Wisdom (2 Tim. 3:15; Psa. 119:98); (9) A reliable standard (Tit. 1:2; Rev. 21:5,6; Matt. 24:35); (10) Deterrent to sin (Psa. 119:11); (11) Joy (Psa. 19:8; 119:14; 1 Jn. 1:4); (12) New birth (1 Pet. 1:23); (13) Sanctification (Jn. 17:17); (14) An inheritance (Acts 20:32); (15) Life (Psa. 119:50; Phil. 2:16); (16) Begetting (Jas. 1:18); (17) Conversion (Psa. 19:7); (18) Spiritual weapon (Eph. 6:16; Heb. 4:12); (19) Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19); (20) Freedom from sin (Rom. 6:17,18); (21) Purity (Psa. 12:6; 119:140; Prov. 30:5)! The list could be multiplied a hundred-fold! I challenge any man to produce one spiritual need of man which the Bible does not supply! The challenge will not, and cannot, be met! The word of God is complete!
The Word Of God Constitutes The Perfect Law Of Liberty
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jas. 1:25). What is the “perfect law of liberty”? It is not the law of Moses – Peter called it a “yoke” (Acts 15: 10); Paul referred to it as a “yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1)! It surely cannot be law set up by man (Jer. 10:23; 17:9; Prov. 14:12; 1 Cor. 1:21)! The perfect law of liberty is the New Testament, the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” by which Paul said he was made free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). The word “perfect” fteleios) “signifies having reached its end. . . , finished, complete, perfect” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of N. T. Words, Vol. III, pp. 173, 174). Since the New Testament is perfect it is complete; it needs no additions from men, nor will subtractions be allowed! The wrath of God is expressed against all who do so (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18,19; 1 Cor. 4:6)!
The Faith Has Been Once For All Delivered
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, 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” (Jude 3). Note the faith was once delivered!
“The faith” is the body of teaching given by the Lord and contained in the New Testament – the gospel (Gal. 1:22,23)! “Once” is from the Greek word hapax and means “once for all, of what is of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of N. T. Words, Vol. III, p. 137). The word is rendered “once for all” (ASV, RSV, Phillips Modern English, NASV, Chas. B. Williams Translation, Moffat, and Goodspeed); it is rendered “once and for all” (NEB); and, surprising as it may be, it is rendered “once for all time” (NWT, the perversion by the Watch Tower Society).
The fact that the faith was once for all delivered to the saints shows its completeness, and the futility of expecting present-day revelations of additional truth. The same word (hapax) was used by the Hebrew writer to describe the offering of Christ. Note carefully the argument: (1) The faith was once (hapax) delivered (Jude 3); (2) Christ was once offered (Heb. 9:28); (3) Therefore, we may as well deny the sufficiency of the offering as to deny the sufficiency of the faith, and, if we can’t depend on the faith as being sufficient, we can’t depend on the offering as being sufficient! See? This false doctrine of a need for latter-day revelations and additional guidebooks, when driven to its logical end, would destroy the very offering made by Jesus Christ for the sins of men! Treat it softly? Handle it easily? Not on your life!
Do We Stand Alone On The Completeness Issue?
Note some quotations from human manuals and disciplines – as contradictory as they are to the practice of the respective denominations!
(1) “Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation. The Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation . . . … Then the Holy Scriptures are defined as “those canonical books of the Old and New Testament” which have never been in doubt and the books as contained in the KJV, ASV, etc., are listed (Methodist Discipline, pp. 26, 27). If the Methodists believe their statement why do they have their discipline? That question is for them to grapple with, not me!
(2) “The Scriptures. We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried” (Baptist Manual, Edward T. Hiscox, p. 58). If Baptists really believe their statement, why don’t they discard Hiscox’s manual – along with Pendleton’s and McConnell’s which contain the same statement? That is a question for Baptists to struggle with, not me!
(3) “Of The Holy Scripture. VI. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. . . ” (Presbyterian Confession of Faith, p. 13). In the rest of the section, their belief in a direct operation of the Holy Spirit as “necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word” is expressed; but, the statement quoted certainly expresses the idea that the word of God is sufficient, complete! If they truly believe their statement, why do they cling to their Confession of Faith? That is a problem for the Presbyterians to solve, not me!
The “bottom line” of the matter is: There is nothing in the spiritual realm which we need to know, believe, do or teach which the Bible does not reveal! Real preachers never want for something to preach, for they have the word (2 Tim. 4:2) which contains all truth (Jn. 16:13), all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1: 3), which will throughly furnish unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16,17), which constitutes the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25), and is the faith once for all delivered (Jude 3). What a storehouse of preaching the Bible is! Book, chapter, and verse preaching is the crying need of the hour. As Ezra of old, let us: (1) prepare our hearts, (2) to seek the law of the Lord, (3) and to do it, (4) and to teach the statutes of God (Ezra 7:10), for those statutes are right (Psa. 19:8)!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 24, pp. 744-745, 763
December 19, 1985