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Question and Answer – What Does 2 Kings 15-36 Say About Extra-Biblical Books, Canonization, And Our Inspired Bibles? – Pastor John Barnett
Ultimately, Scripture is the test of everything; it is the Christian’s standard. In fact, the word canon means “a rule, standard, or measuring rod.” The canon of Scripture is the measuring rod of the Christian faith, and it is complete.
Of course, throughout history spurious books have been offered as genuine Scripture. For example, the Roman Catholic Bible includes the Apocrypha. The Roman Catholic Church accepts those books as Scripture, but it is clear that they are not.32 They contain errors in history, geography, and theology.
Although Jerome (345–419) clearly was a spokesman for excluding the apocryphal books, some of the early church fathers (most notably Augustine) did accept them, though not necessarily on a par with the Hebrew OT. Finally, in the sixteenth century, the Reformers affirmed Sola Scriptura, the truth that the Bible alone is authoritative revelation, and thus denied the Apocrypha a place among the inspired writings. The Roman church reacted against the Reformers in the Council of Trent (1545–63) by stating that all the Apocrypha was canonical. Protestants and Catholics have maintained the disparity to the present time.
The OT canon was generally agreed upon by the people of God from the time the last OT book was written. How did the Jewish people know which books were inspired? They chose the books written by those known as spokesmen for God. They studied those books carefully and found no errors in history, geography, or theology.
Christians in the early church applied similar tests to prove which NT books were authentic and which were not. A key test was apostolic authorship. Every NT book had to be written by an apostle or a close associate of the apostles. For example, Mark, who was not an apostle, was a companion of Peter. Luke, who was not an apostle, worked closely with the apostle Paul.
A second test used by the early church was content. Acts 2:42 tells us that the first time the church met, they gave themselves to prayer, fellowship, breaking of bread, and the apostles’ doctrine. Later, in considering which writings were to be revered as Scripture, they 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. But their doctrinal errors were easily spotted because they contradicted the apostles’ teaching.
A third test was the response of the churches. 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.
By A.D. 404 the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible was complete. It was the earliest known translation of all sixty-six books of the Bible. They were the same books we still have in our modern English Bibles. God spoke once for all, and His Word has been preserved through the ages.33
From the time of the apostles 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 He gave 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.
Contrast that view with Scripture:
a)1 Corinthians 2:13–Paul said, “We speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth.” Paul claimed it was the words, not just the thoughts that are inspired.
b) John 17:8–Jesus said to the Father, “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.” In the Old Testament phrases such as “thus saith the Lord,” “the word of the Lord came,” and “God said” are repeated over 3800 times. Clearly God communicates by words.
c) Galatians 1:11-12–Paul said, “I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Paul got the gospel from God, not men.
d) Exodus 4:12–God said to Moses, “I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou shalt say.” Forty years later Moses said to Israel, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I commanded you, neither shall ye diminish anything from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). Words spoken by God are not to be taken away from or added to.
e) 1 Peter 1:10-11–Peter wrote that “the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify.” This verse is a power argument against thought inspiration. The Holy Spirit gave the prophets a message about the Messiah, which they recorded. Then they sought to understand the meaning of their own proclamations. So there were times when the prophets received and recorded words that they did not fully understand. So it was words not thoughts that they pondered on, which again is evidence that inspiration is verbal.
f) Matthew 24:35–Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” It is the words in the Bible that God has given. Pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions are important.
g) 1 Corinthians 14:37–Paul said, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” A spiritual man will recognize that Paul’s writings are the very words of God.
So, inspiration is not extended to thoughts only. The very words of the Bible are given by inspiration of God.