Right handling of the Bible begins with a right valuation of the Bible, as the written Word of God (2 Tim 3:16). Irrelevant are the Pentecostal claims that Christians idolize the Bible. Simply put, the Bible does not need your petty judgment regarding what it is in fact.
When one reads the Bible with illumination of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he or she is made privy to the Word of life that is also called, “the Word of truth(2 Tim 2:15; Jas 1:18).” Together, the Word and the Spirit communicate timeless truth that demonstrates the power of God in the work of saving His chosen people, Christ’s church, the Israel of God (Gal 6:16; 1 Pet 2:9).
False teachers abound in stimulating their spiritualist flocks into claiming that they “have a word from the Lord.” Imagine if every so-called Christian claimed that they, too, had a “word from God.” The result would be nothing but chaos and confusion. For those who already frequent these congregations’ gatherings, the frenzy is real. Whose word is true? Jim? Romi? Achmed?
What has kept the church with one message through history? It is the Bible brought to us and maintained by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20–21). Yes, God’s revealed message came through over forty authors in a span of 1,500 years. Think about the miracle that fact represents. How does something so incredibly diverse have such unity, as a single message of redemption (ie. the Person and work of Jesus Messiah). Now, imagine 40 Pentecostal pastors, gathered for 15 minutes or even 15 hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia each with their fresh “word from God” and I guarantee you will have no unity of message.
God has spoken through the holy prophets of Israel, concerning His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1–4). When the incarnate Son of God dwelt among the people of Israel, at that time God spoke to the people with even greater clarity. Jesus insisted the Scriptures were about Him (Jn 5:39). The Spirit of God was upon the Son of God to preach Good News to the people (Is 61:1; Lk 4:18) The message did not change when Jesus came into the world. It has not changed since His ascension to the throne of God (Ps 110:1). This is the eternal Gospel, the one message from God (Rev 14:6).
The Holy Spirit is the responsible agent of inscripturation (2 Pet 1:20–21). Employing each writer, the text of Holy Writ was supernaturally brought together exactly as God intended. Inspired, the human authors were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16). Infallible were each of those original manuscripts because they were without error. Today, the Holy Bible remains the most well-attested book in all of history. No other written literature from history even comes close to the accurate transmission of the biblical text over millennia. This, too, is a miracle of God preserving His Word.
The Pentecostal diviner with his new “word from the Lord,” cannot even keep his own “words of prophecy” consistent from one day to the next. Instead of repenting of this tomfoolery of “prophecy for today,” the modern-day prophet attacks the Bible and Bible believers, instead. He even claims that Christians who value Scripture alone (sola scriptura) are biblical idolaters. Is this even a possibility?
To clarify for my reader, there are two parties in this dispute regarding the nature of God’s Word spoken to His people. One says, “God speaks to us through His inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word, the Bible, which is alone authoritative. The second one says, “God speaks to us through the Bible and through direct revelation.” Each party claims that it is the Holy Spirit who is doing the communicating.
In the argument, there is the claim that direct revelation is utterly unreliable. “God spoke to me,” could be a demon…or a bad bout of flatus following Taco Tuesday. Who knows? The counterargument is that Bible-only revelation adherents are idolaters for deifying the biblical text itself. The solution would be to allow God to speak to you directly (because the Bible and the Holy Spirit are not sufficient).
The fallacy in the latter argument is the presumption that the Holy Spirit has been neutered and utterly immobilized by the sola scriptura adherent. Nothing could be further from the truth. The hearer or reader of the Bible has no understanding of what God is saying without the Spirit. At the same time, the Spirit will never deviate from what He Himself brought forth in Holy Scripture, and what He Himself has made plain to Christ’s church through the millennia (Luther read Augustine, Augustine read Paul, Paul read the Old Testament aligned with direct revelation given to him as a chosen apostle). In this way, Christians have a sure way of knowing they have a sure Word from God. It does not change, and although heaven and earth will pass away, God’s Word will not pass away (Mt 24:35).
The Bible has proven itself in every generation to be the Word that facilitates salvation. It is never Bob’s dream or Betty’s vision that implants faith in the unbelieving friend or relative. The dangers of misleading spirits are far too great in leading people astray. This is why the Bible places the utmost emphasis upon itself as the exclusive revelation of God Himself. Do you rejoice with the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 119? Or are you reveling in what Shaqueefa said on Wednesday morning?
The Bible is the written Word of God. Not that it is the entirety of God’s communication, for the Bible tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God (Ps 19:1), and even the rocks would cry out if Jesus’ disciples had not done so at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Lk 19:40). God has the prerogative to communicate by whatever means He deems appropriate.
God has deemed the Bible to be the appropriate means to communicate the message known as, “the Gospel of salvation (Rom 1:16; Eph 1:13).” The Bible is marvelously simple and infinitely deep. As noted, the clarity of the Bible is expressly linked to illumination by the Holy Spirit, who is the sole Teacher of the Bible for giving understanding (Jn 14:26).
The message of the Bible is both necessary and sufficient for salvation to manifest. For those who have God’s Word implanted in them (Jas 1:21), they are said to have “received Jesus (Col 2:6),” not by their own will or works but by the will and work of God (Jn 1:12–13). The Christian is daily nourished and cleansed by this same Word of grace, as a demonstration of the power of the Spirit of grace (Rom 1:16–17; 1 Pet 2:2–3).
As an eyewitness to the power of the Word in sanctification (Jn 17:17), it is right for the Christian to “talk up” the merits of the Bible. This will never warrant the false charge that adherents of sola scriptura are Bible idolaters. May it never be! That would be impossible because the Bible alone points to Jesus Christ, alone.
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 29, 2021