Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Canon is Closed

There is much talk today in the Charismatic, Neo-Pentecostal and Pentecostal circles that the sign gifts are still functioning. Furthermore, they would argue, special revelation is still being given by God. The “Thus saith the LORD” formula we find over 2,000 times in the Old Testament can be (and is!) still given today by God through His people. I disagree with this because I believe the Scriptures teach otherwise.

I was reading a recent article entitled, Does God Still Give Revelation? And the answer was a resounding “no.” Here’s why:

1. Christians in the early church applied similar tests to prove which NT books were authentic and which were not. A key test, therefore, was apostolic authorship. Every NT book had to be written by an apostle or a close associate of the apostles.

2. Content was an important test. For example, Acts 2:42 says that, for the first time, the church met and gave themselves to prayer, fellowship, breaking of bread and the apostles’ teaching. Later on, they all asked, “Does it agree with apostolic doctrine?” This test was very important because of all the heretics that tried to worm their way into the church (Marcion, Arius, Montanus, etc).

3. The response of the (early) churches must have been present. In other words, if God’s people accepted it, used it for worship, and made it part of their lives, and if Christians were universally being taught and blessed by the book, that was another important stamp of approval. Therefore, the early church had to be unanimous that this was an authoritative letter which should be incorporated into the canon.

Let it be known that from the time of the last apostle (John) until the present, the true church has always believed that the Bible is complete. God has given His revelation, and now Scripture is finished. God has spoken. What we have is complete, efficacious, sufficient, inerrant, infallible and authoritative. Attempts to add to the Bible, and claims of further revelation from God have always been characteristic of heretics and cultists, not the true people of God.

How important it is, therefore, that we treasure God’s Word as God’s true Word given to us. There is nothing that can be added (Rev 22:18-19). May we rest assured recognizing that we have the exact Word of God which He intends for us to have for “life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3-4). May we rest assured in the absolute sufficiency of the Bible.

SOURCE: John MacArthur, “Does God Still Give Revelation,” TMSJ 14.2 (Fall 2003): 217-34.

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