There is a chasm between God and man that only God can cross. We cannot know about God if He does not tell us about Himself and does not reveal Himself.
God has done this. He has spoken to man through the patriarchs and the prophets and through His own son, Jesus Christ. This immediate and direct revelation was entrusted by God to the prophets and the apostles and through them to other people. They did not speak their own words but words given by God, instructed by the Holy Spirit.
The Work of Christ Continues
After the Ascension of Christ the apostles continued His work. According to Jesus´ promise, the Holy Spirit taught the apostles and recalled into their minds everything Jesus had spoken (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit instructed them to know the entire truth of Christ, not only part of it. The Holy Spirit revealed to the apostles what He had received from Christ. (John 16:12-16).
According to the Scriptures, Jesus Christ Himself is the truth and the grace. Knowledge may change but the truth remains always the same, unchanging. (John 1:17, 14:6; Heb. 13:8) This unchanging truth of God was fully revealed to mankind in Christ. Although the time of revelation ended after the time of the apostles, the work of Christ continues through the work of the Holy Spirit in His congregation.
Since the whole truth was revealed to the apostles, no further additions are either required or possible. Christ in Himself is enough. The Apostle Paul reminds us to keep the gospel of Christ similar to that originally been preached by the apostles. Paul and Peter emphasize in their letters that the message of the gospel should be kept unchanged in the congregation. Even a small change may distort the whole doctrine. They warn of false teachers who try to introduce destructive heresies into the congregation (1 Timothy 6: 20-21; 2 Peter 2: 1).
A sermon should always be evaluated on the basis of its content, not based on the preacher’s personality or authority. In the book of Galatians Paul says unequivocally that if someone - either the apostles themselves or even an angel from heaven - preaches the gospel contrary to what the apostles have originally preached, let him be accursed (Galatians 1: 6-12).
The Bible as the foundation of work
The revelation through Christ and the saints of the Old and the New Testament is recorded in the Bible. The Holy Spirit of God teaches us to understand this revelation (Luke 24:32). Therefore, all instruction must be based on the Bible. Instruction not based on the Bible is only opinions of people, which do not have the authority of God’s word. For example, Paul made a very clear distinction between his own opinions and the Lord’s commandment, which was revealed through Christ (1 Cor. 7:25, 40).
The Acts of the Apostles describes Jews who received the word preached by Paul and studied every day whether the preached word was accordant with the Bible or not (Acts. 17:11). It is still good to both preachers and listeners to study the Holy Bible, so that we would stay on the foundation of God's word both personally and together as a congregation.
Guidance by the Holy Spirit
It is good to remember that faith opens for us the understanding but does not make us unerring. One may err even as a believer, just as Peter did. He did not want Jesus to die on the cross. Peter's thoughts were understandable, but they arose from his human nature and were contradictory to the thoughts and plans of God. Right before this Peter had confessed Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. He understood this correctly through the revelation of God, not by his own nature. (Matt. 16:13-17, 21-23). The two portions were clearly visible even in the Lord’s Apostle: the corrupt human nature and the new nature, God’s power, the grace.
Because we can err but the word of God can not, it is very important for us always to return to the Bible’s teachings and to ask that the Holy Spirit would open for us Christ, the truth of God. In the Bible God has revealed His will and how to fulfil it. The doctrine has always been simple: through faith in Christ.
The Bible text used here: 2 Peter 1:21
Published in Siionin Lähetyslehti 3/2016
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