Circling the Bunkers

Circling the bunkers
A Russian Bunker Source: Flikr.com

Sometime ago, I met a learned man. My aunt in the United States introduced me to him and he gave me an appointment to see him at the faculty.

Aside from being a respected professor in his field, he is also a clergyman in the Anglican Church.

My meeting with him was purely regarding my career, but as we began talking, he started to admonish me on my personal life. He began to tell me stuff about my thoughts and relationship with God which no one – not my relatives or anyone else – could have known except by supernatural means.

I looked on in surprise with my mouth almost ajar as he probed into my life and appealed to the biblical story of David and Goliath and how with God on my side, I will become victorious in life. I knew right there that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through him.

By the way, that’s not the first time that God would send someone to strengthen me in my time of despair. The first time I experienced that was in 2014 during my Masters at the University of Ibadan.

A Christian professor from another faculty suddenly walked up to where I was seated before the lecture started and told me a certain thing which no one else knew. At that time I was depressed and was about throwing in the towel, but what he said gave me hope and confidence in God.

In the case of this Anglican Venerable, although I treasured his counsel, I didn’t expect that a man in “that” denomination would be a mouth piece for God. You see, my family were baptized and raised in the Anglican Church, but the controversy that occurred when my parents exited the denomination left a degree of cynicism in my mind.

I had little trust in anyone in a position of leadership in that church because I perceived them to be opposed to the move of the Holy Spirit. Later as I reflected on this experience, God spoke to my heart: “You can’t pocket My Holy Spirit!

How true!

All along, I had been putting the Holy Spirit of God in a test tube of sorts. I had concluded that He could only speak to me through certain pastors or ministers that I revered or those from the denomination I approved of. That was a “we alone” mentality, and thank God for demolishing it.

This mentality is what I call “circling the bunkers.” A bunker is a defensive military shelter designed to protect people and valued materials from falling bombs or other attacks.

A bunker is mostly built underground – and metaphorically speaking – it is a fortress of ideas or practices that is specially protected or defended by individuals with an agenda.

Circling the bunkers is a preconditioned thinking in which a believer invests so much in church traditions, denominational positions, theological systems or outward labels as criteria of spiritual legitimacy and is more ready to defend these than the gospel of Jesus Christ itself.

Many believers today have sadly missed out on God’s intervention in their lives because they assumed that He can only speak or supernaturally work through their preferred or “our own” vessels.

But God can and does ministers through vessels who don’t meet up with our self-made conditions.

I want you to understand that God is not limited by denominations, institutions or human vessels. In fact, God can use a weak, despised, uneducated and a very young person to confound the strong, influential, wise and mighty of this earth.

Yet, many people have a problem accepting others on the basis of minor doctrinal differences or finicky rules:

An Arminian is teaching theology? I’m not interested.

He’s a pre-triber? Nope. Bye.

A Christian woman wearing make up and jewelries? She’s a Jezebel!

An evangelist dancing disco, wearing jean trousers, a hand chain and a even a tattoo? Have mercy Lord, he’s a false convert.

You are from that denomination where you speak unknown languages and raise your thighs when praising God? Out.

That pastor doesn’t use the King James bible? Heretic alert.

I remember when I started a Facebook Christian group six years ago, one guy demanded I put a Bible verse on all my articles because as far as he’s concerned, if a Christian doesn’t have a Bible verse for everything he writes, he’s going by “human wisdom.” He’s defending his fundamentalist bunker.

Couple of years ago, a friend tagged a pastor of a popular Nigerian Pentecostal church to my Facebook post, Unmasking the Queen of Heaven, and the man said something like:

“I was following along when he was quoting the Bible to expose this spirit, but you see when he began quoting these historical and religious non-biblical sources, he lost me. I don’t give attention to such write ups.”

Nothing new here. In the cute little world some people live in, the Bible is the only authority that must be appealed to: history must be scorned, logic should be rejected, science despitefully spat on, arts (especially African arts) demonized, theology should be relegated and unless it’s Jewish culture, it should be trampled upon.

This is what I call a “fundamentalist heritage.” It’s a constructed mental box that is obsessed with dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” at the risk of being labelled an apostate. They can take just one sentence you made and turn it back at you with a polemic of 2000 words and quotes from an entire chapter of the Bible.

We must not fall into the delusion that unless a person speaks or writes like our own pastors or reverend or elders, he must be messed up or absolutely false. This is how people miss out on God’s treasures.

I have known people who found the truth of Scripture even while they were still trapped within a religious system of deception and by God’s leading, they eventually found their way out, especially when they realized they couldn’t change the system.

God used a mute donkey to convey His message to a recalcitrant prophet. And there are times He will use poor, broken vessels to reprove, instruct, reveal His will or work in the lives of His people. That’s the sovereignty of God.

In the Bible we have an example of a prophet who discredited God’s revelation because he felt only his “clique” could legitimately speak for Him.

When God permitted a deceiving spirit to lead Ahab to his death, out of 400 prophets, Micaiah had a different message – a genuine insight into the heavenly conference. When he prophesied Ahab’s death at Ramoth Gilead, a respected prophet reacted:

“Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked” (1 Kgs. 22:24)

Such arrogance! Notice, he was not dedicated to God’s truth but a “party line.” Just talk like we do and you belong. This prophet felt he had a patent on the Spirit of God. He thought he had a corner on His revelation.

This is why it is dangerous to follow anyone who tells you he is the only mouth piece of God, or that his ministry is the only one that carries God’s approval.

Elijah nearly fell into this trap when he said, “I am the only one left” – the only one jealous for God. But God made Him realize that He has marked out for protection seven thousand in Israel who have neither kissed Baal nor bowed to him.

I do not have a corner on God’s truth. I am not the only contender. My blog is not the only place where truths are being shared. There are many others who have been labouring before me and will continue when I am no more here. That leaves no room for arrogance.

In Matthew 23, Jesus assessed the situation and rightly called the religious leaders of His day, “blind guides” (vs. 16, 24), “fools and blind” (vs. 17, 19), and “blind Pharisee” (v. 26). They were blind because their hearts were hardened and they idolized their outward piety above their inner spiritual state.

In Romans 11:25, Paul explained Israel’s mistake: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”

Their hearts were hardened because they were blind to what God is doing. The same can happen to a Christian too – stuck up in a traditional or denominational rot and blind to the move of the Holy Spirit.

The key is to accept others just as Christ has accepted us. He “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which he made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4, 6).

It was by His grace – not our works – that we were accepted, so we should extend that same grace to others. We need the ministry of the brothers and sisters outside our bunkers.

Finally, our focus should be on Jesus Christ as the sole standard (Heb. 12:2). It’s self-righteousness when we judge people by their outward labels rather than their devotion to Jesus Christ and His Word. It’s self-righteousness when we compare ourselves to others and judge them on that basis. God has only one standard for righteousness: Jesus Christ.

Harmony on the Ship

Paul Billheimer in his book, Love Covers, expressed a basic truth:

The continuous and widespread fragmentation of the Church has been the scandal of the ages. It has been Satan’s master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined.”

We were all lost in darkness and sin when God in His mercy found and rescued us. The Captain called us to join the navy ship that will carry us safely to the other shore.

The Master accepted us with our sins, failures and foibles, yet we came on board and soon started to pick on others who were different.

“Why are you not wearing our uniform?” one group asks another.

“You don’t use the 1611 translation of our manual, stay in your deep, dark sea!” says one group to another.

Some sailors even said, “Anyone who doesn’t have a Tulip pass code belongs to a pirate ship.”

We are all on the ship of Faith to serve. Different tasks for different folks.

Some rescue others from the water; some train the crew on how to work diligently.

Some help others detect warning signs and avoid dangers; some nurse the sick back into health; some ward off the enemies with mighty weapons and some work on the engines – the power house. Yet there’s schism in the ship.

Some members speak to the Captain in a personal language; critics said that language is fake, jibber jabber and extinct.

There were debates over payments of one tenth. There were quarrels over music – some wanted hymns, some preferred contemporary music.

Some wanted fixed patterns of meeting, others desired spontaneity.

There were arguments over timing of the tribulation storm – some said it would hit after we landed safely on shore, others said before it, and a third category said we are already in it.

Each group blasted the other as heretics.

Fights broke out. Some sailors were no longer on speaking terms. Members began to spite members from other groups.

Like children squabbling at the dinner table, they were pointing cutlery at each other, cutting one another off from supplies of cooked rice and stew right in the Father’s presence.

Some broke away to form their own “elite” groups – little empires built around their sailors – while attacking ex-colleagues from afar.

But the Captain had prayed: “That all of them may be one…” (John 17:21). That was His purpose. We have one Captain – Jesus Christ; one deck – the Kingdom; It’s one ship but many rooms. So why are there schisms?

Many Christians have made an idol out of their denominations. They carry it on their heads like a bag of cement.

I have reached a point where I don’t let anyone pigeon-hole me with denomination. I leave people to speculate on that. I simply want to be known as a Christian. It’s the content of a bottle that matters, not the label on it. Regrettably, many still refuse to see beyond the labels.

I was raised in an Anglican church. My childhood memories were of bright Sunday mornings; of ringing church bells, classic hymns and big church pews.

When I was 7, my mother began attending a Pentecostal church. Being that the Anglican communion was a ‘family church,’ that change earned my parents some flak from family and friends.

We were scorned for attending a “penterascal” church “where young pastors sleep with other men’s wives.” Our family patriarch became so hostile that he withheld his pecuniary promises to us.

Years later, in my undergraduate days, I began to attend a fervently praying church close by. Soon, I began to get snide remarks and mockeries – from fellow Christians – each time I mentioned the fellowship I attended. I had to put up some reticence as a barricade.

Even my home church began to attack this other praying church as heretical and fanatical, urging members to dispose of their books.

I soon observed that my recent church, though it claims to be “non-denominational,” also had a dim view of other churches. If you didn’t keep up with their litany of regulations, you were treated like an outcast.

In spite of the rigid rules, the same vices they decried in other groups were also in theirs. I decided to join another fellowship.

When the news broke that I now attended a Charismatic church, feathers were ruffled; some old friends instantly distanced themselves.

Apparently, they expected negative things to befall me as “proof” that I left the right way, but my life actually improved to the glory of God.

During my service year, I began to attend a Fundamentalist church close to where I lived, but during a sermon one Sunday, the leader of the church rather facetious said: “All these other denominations are no longer following the truth. They used to, but not anymore.”

That was it: the same mentality I had encountered time and again – “we alone” have the whole truth and others don’t.

Even online, I saw unnecessary battles among Christians. They seem to deploy more efforts in running down fellow Christians than reaching out to the lost and the hurting. It was tragic.

A friend once sent me a link to David Cloud’s Way of Life February 2016 article. I read it over and again and what I saw there was a ministry of condemnation.

There’s no way we will ever achieve anything good together if we keep engaging in denominational cat fights.

Romans 14:1 “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters.”

Some matters are essential e.g the Divine Trinity, the Deity of Christ, exclusive salvific role of Christ, salvation by grace through faith and the final authority of the Bible etc.

On the other hand, some matters are disputable and non-essentials e.g. type of music, dress codes for women and jewellery use, use of anointing oil, church administration, observance of Christmas or Easter etc.

We must learn to accept Christians who differ in disputable matters just as God has accepted them.

Romans 15:7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Christ didn’t accept us because we were perfect; He didn’t accept us because we met up with a standard of traditions, a labyrinth of denominational regulations or a 5-point theological system. Therefore, our acceptance of others shouldn’t be conditioned on them.

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

This “one another” must transcend denominational, ethnic, national or racial barriers. Otherwise, we are not living up to our Christian discipleship.

It’s a shame how the church in Nigeria has been so ethnically divided to the point that a politician would mandate his kinsmen never to attend any church led by another ethnic group. Anyone defending such hateful rhetoric needs to examine whose disciple he/she really is.

Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

That means we must emphasize what unites us instead of what divides us.

If we really adhered to this, a number of combative Christian Facebook groups would be taken down. While some of these discussion forums do foster mutual understanding, most of the time, they engender strife and needless debates on trivial matters.

In Mark 9:33-34 Jesus asked His disciples “What were you arguing about on the road?” They “had argued about who was the greatest.”

Notice that this was also in the apostles – the primal tendency of assuming superiority over others.

No matter the ministry God has called us to; no matter what gifts, talents or anointing we have; no matter our level of knowledge and achievements, we are all equal before God who called us.

Those working in the power house must not denigrate those warning others of dangers.

Those providing meals should not discredit the work of those rescuing the drowning.

Those removing the barnacles from the ship must not repudiate those warding off the sharks.

Our callings and ministries cannot all be the same. The foot should not say “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body” and the eye shouldn’t say to the hand “I don’t need you” (1 Cor. 12:15, 21).

In Mark 9:38-39 John said to Jesus “We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me.”

Doesn’t the charge of the disciples sound familiar yet?

“Shut up! You’re not part of our little group!” or “Unless you are in our mould, your works in His name are fake.”

But Jesus pointed to the inner content of their faith. If their faith is truly in Christ and the fruits of their life testify to it, even if they are not in our group or agree with us in every detail, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m neither approving of blind tolerance nor blanket rejection, but love and acceptance of all who truly believe in Jesus and adhere to His Word.

Recently, I’ve had to challenge a Christian guy:

“If you are truly serving Christ; if you were redeemed by His blood and if your citizenship is in heaven, where is your ethnicity? Where is your heritage? Where is your identity? We all gave up our earthly class, earthly heritage and tribes to become citizens of a different Kingdom.”

We cannot see eye to eye on every issue but we must be willing to build bridges and learn something from fellow Christians instead of cutting them off in arrogance or attacking them from afar in ignorance.

Anglicans taught me orderliness. Pentecostals led me to salvation and taught me how to walk in the Spirit. Charismatics taught me how to love and worship.

Fundamentalists helped me to be grounded doctrinally. Calvinists taught me apologetics and the non-denominationals taught me spiritual warfare.

I’m still learning from others.

 

The Sufficiency of Scripture

The sufficiency of Scripture, or sola Scriptura, is often a focal point of attack by Rome’s apologists, which is understandable, since the Bible alone is a big blow to Catholicism. Thus, there’s a need to be enlightened about this fundamental doctrine.

What is Sola Scriptura?

The term “sola Scriptura” is an oblative from Latin meaning “by Scripture alone.” The doctrine states that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the rule of faith for the church. In essence, all that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source.

Consequently, the Scriptures are not in need of any supplement and its authority is as a result of its nature as God-breathed revelation. The Bible’s authority is not dependent upon man, church or council. Therefore, the Scriptures are self-interpreting, self-consistent and self-authenticating. This is a historic, orthodox principle of Bible Christianity.

Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox have this habit of misrepresenting sola Scriptura as “taking the Bible as the only authority” or “holding to the Bible alone as our guide.” That is solo Scriptura, not sola Scriptura.

Sola Scriptura means taking the Scriptures as the only infallible authority and the only infallible standard of truth and morals. It does not mean that one cannot appeal to history, tradition, councils or reason in arriving at truth, rather, the Scriptures alone carry the highest authority.

What Sola Scriptura is Not:

1. It is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. “Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books…” (Jn. 21:25)

The Bible is not exhaustive in every detail and it doesn’t have to be, in order to function as the sole rule of faith for the church. We don’t need to know details about all the miracles Christ worked, the apostles’ dress codes, or where they were buried.

The purpose of the Scripture is to record all that is necessary for us to be saved and which pertains to “life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

2. Sola Scriptura is not a denial of the church’s authority to teach the truth. The church can have its creeds, councils or confession of faith, but these are subordinate to the God-inspired Scriptures, and are subject to correction.

Thus, the church is being refined and purged by Christ and since the church hears the voice of her Shepherd from the Scriptures alone, the church does not add revelation or rule over Scripture (Rev. 1:19).

3. Sola Scriptura is not a denial that God’s Word was at a time spoken orally before they were committed into writing. Not everything the prophets spoke was written down however, because, not everything they said was inspired. That which God wanted preserved was carefully recorded

During the writing of the NT, the apostles could still appeal to an authority outside the Bible because at that time, God was still giving normative (standard-setting) revelation for the faith and morals of Christians.

This revelation was first communicated orally to the Believers alive at the time, and finally committed to writing for the believers today. Sola Scriptura applies to the normative stage of the church which we are in.

4. Sola Scriptura is not a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the church. That one adheres to sola Scriptura doesn’t mean one has rejected revelation from the Holy Spirit. There is a relationship between the Word and the Spirit – a balance that must be maintained – as Abraham Friesen notes in his work, Wonders of the Word:

“The Word was not merely a ‘testimony’ or ‘witness’ to the experience of the Spirit. Any experience, even one of the Spirit could not be self-authenticating; it need always to be tested by the revealed Word of God. Not the experience but the Word was the final arbiter of God’s truth.”

Objection I: “Nowhere does the Bible teaches sola Scriptura.”

Now, whether one is Catholic, Protestant or Eastern Orthodox, the basic truth we all agree on is the divine inspiration of the Bible. It is on this basis that the Bible authenticates itself. God doesn’t need men’s authority to be Who He is. In other words, the supreme authority of the Bible rests on its inspiration.

Lutheran theologian, Francis Pieper pointed out that: “The divine authority of Scripture rests solely on its nature, on its theopneusty – that is, its character as ‘God breathed’.” It is a travesty of Christian theology when people attempt to subjugate God’s inspired Word, the Bible, to traditions or a church magisterium.

From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2Tim. 3:15)

The “sacred writings” being referred to are the written words of Scripture. This indicates that the words of God which we have in Scripture are all the words of God we need in order to be saved; these words are able to make us wise “for salvation.” There is no justification for limiting this statement to the OT as Catholic apologists do. It is inconsistent to claim that the OT is sufficient, while the NT is not.

That passage says that God gave Scripture in order that we may be “complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17) The Bible is sufficient without traditions. The Greek adjective translated as “complete” is artios. Vine’s Expository Greek work defines artios as “fitted, complete.”

Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon defines it as “qualified.” Greek scholar, Richard Trench in Synonyms of the New Testament explains that artios implies that the man of God is “furnished and accompanied with all which is necessary for the carrying out of the work appointed.”

In other words, all that a believer needs to be complete, qualified and capable in the faith is in the Scriptures.

Ps. 119:1 says “Blessed are those whose walk is blameless who walk in the law of the LORD!”

This verse shows an equivalence between being blameless and walking in the law of the Lord. All that God requires of us to blameless before Him is recorded in His written word.

As mentioned earlier, sola Scriptura is a norm for the readers of Scripture, not its writers, so it would be anachronistic to expect that a NT writer would make a systematic appeal to the NT to advance a claim.

Notwithstanding, the sacred authors appealed to prior revelations, even though they could speak on their own authority. Jesus and His apostles for instance, appealed to the Hebrew Scriptures as the final court of appeal. The phrase “it is written” appears 90 times in the NT (e.g Mt 4:4, 7, 10, 5:22, 28; 31, 28:18 etc). By this, they emphasized the principle of sola Scriptura.

John 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

This means that a person could take John’s gospel account, read it, believe it and receive eternal life just like that. The other gospel accounts have a similar purpose. They were written for us to read, believe and have eternal life. Since the Bible admits not to contain everything, it has said enough to us to believe and be saved (Heb 9:5, Col 4:7-9).

Objection 2: “There is no such thing as ‘Scripture only’ in the Bible

Let this be clear: sola Scriptura is a negative claim. It is saying that there is nothing else like Scripture. To equate a human tradition to the level of Scripture, you will first have to prove that it’s inspired like Scripture. “God forbid; yea let God be true but every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4).

Paul warned the church not to go beyond what is written – what is written? The Scriptures (1Cor. 4:6).

Objection 3: “How can the Bible be self-interpreting? Where does the Bible say this?”

This is based on the nature of Scripture itself. Since God has spoken through the whole of Scripture, one can understand what it says by taking one part in relation to the other. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#102) agrees:

“Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, that one and same Word of God extends throughout Scripture and one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables…”

This is why the Old and New Testaments fit in perfect. Jesus and the apostles appealed to the Hebrew Scriptures to interpret what they taught and the New Testament frequently appealed to the Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in Christ. Rome seeks to present the Bible as complicated or incomprehensible in order to hold people under her spiritual bondage.

Objection 4: “Sola Scriptura is bibliolatry nonetheless.”

Such an argument is self-refuting, because the very concept of idolatry has Biblical precedent. To accuse someone of it presupposes Biblical authority and Scriptural appeal. In the same vein, a person who looks up to an institution for salvation or as his final authority is guilty of idolatry.

Objection 5: “Sola Scriptura is a blueprint for anarchy. It has resulted in thousands of quarreling denominations with different interpretations.”

This argument has been addressed in another article refuting the 33,000 denomination harp from the Catholic echo chambers. It must be added however, that every denomination does not represent a different interpretation of Scripture and every difference doesn’t represent a disagreement.

Much of the denominational differences was due to nationalism or geographical distribution, particularly as monarchs and state churches arose. Liberalism is another reason. It is allowed (and necessary) for believers to split with a dying and liberal preexisting denomination overrun with heretics in order to serve God in truth.

In God’s plan, a variety of denomination works for His purposes. And it’s better to have a variety of young, growing leaves than a big, dead old rotten tree. Yes, there are false churches, but in this dispensation, we can’t weed out all the tares. They will continue to grow together with the wheat until the harvest (Matt. 13:24-30).

We don’t judge the condition of the field by the presence or even dominance of the tares. That some cults misuse the Bible doesn’t diminish its authority just as multiplication tables do not become wrong because a cashier uses it to defraud a bank.

If I write a book on Genetics, for instance, I won’t expect all my readers to arrive at the same degree of understanding. Some would read a little of my book and stop there. Some will read it and mix it with contents of another book by another author and some will memorise it without understanding. Will these diminish the credibility of my work? No. The same applies to Scripture.

The Catholic assumes his “church” is the standard by which all denominations are to be judged, so he glosses over the internal differences in Rome while he lauds the “scandal” of Protestant sectarianism and points his accusing knife at the Bible. This is hypocrisy.

Objection 6: “Sola Scriptura could not have been possible all through the centuries because most people were illiterate, and even if educated, couldn’t have had access to the Bible.”

This is a vapid line. From well-travelled 1st century Christians like Apollos, Paul, Philip, Aquilla and Priscilla, it’s clear that the early church had a good communicative network and the spread of the Bible couldn’t have been a problem.

On the other hand, how did the common people all through the centuries read or have access to the Papal bulls, Church missals or Council decrees? What was the express creed of the average Medieval peasant or village priest?

Folk religion and illiteracy were very common those times, so which core Catholic creed was mouthed by the masses? Or does the writings of Athanasius or Aquinas stand for the beliefs of the masses? Sola ecclesia entirely left out the laity and the lower clergy all through the centuries until the Reformation when Bible literacy and education were emphasized.

Respected theologian, Wayne Grudem, defines the sufficiency of Scripture as meaning that Scripture contained all the words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting and obeying Him perfectly. He explained:

(a) We can find all that God has said on particular topics and issues by searching the Bible alone. We do not need to search through all the writings of Christians throughout history, or through all the teachings of the church or the subjective feelings or impressions that come to us, in order to find what God requires of us. We find God’s requirement by “examining the Scriptures” (Acts 17:11).

(b) At each stage of redemptive history, God’s word has always been sufficient. God has not spoken to mankind any more words He requires us to believe or obey than that we have in the Bible. Man cannot add any more words to what God has already spoken to His people.

(c) There is a strong warning not to add to Scripture and consider no other writings of equal value to Scripture (Is. 8:20, Gal. 1:8). This principle is violated by almost all cults and curious sects. Catholicism adds tradition and the Magisterium to the Bible. Christian Science adds Science and Health to it and Mormonism also adds the Book of Mormon and other false books.

(d) No modern revelations are to be placed on the same level as Scripture. We are to test visions or revelations with Scripture. There is a danger when a spiritual gift is directly or indirectly given a status that challenges the authority of Scripture in the lives of Christians (Is. 8:20).

(e) We are warned not to add more sins or requirements to those named in Scripture. Unless a specific teaching or general principle of Scripture is shown to prohibit an acitivity, if it’s not forbidden explicitly or by implication by Scripture, its not sinful (Ps. 119:44-45) (Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Inter-Varsity Press, 1999, 58).