What is extra biblical revelation?

It is common today to hear this term used to describe everything from someone who read their bible that morning and was really blessed by it to those who would start new cults by insisting their “revelations” were on par with Holy Writ. Let’s dissect these terms and come to an understanding that will help us rightly discern error from truth.

General Revelation

General revelation can be defined as what God has revealed to all men as is stated in:

Romans 1:19-20 ESV
(19)  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
(20)  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God has revealed Himself to mankind in such a way that morally they are accountable to Him for their acts.

Special Revelation

Supernatural or special revelation is when God reveals something otherwise unknown to a man.  This is often accompanied by the inspiration to write that down to be preserved as Scripture.  Moses was given both revelation and was inspired to write the Torah.  Pharaoh was given revelation in coded form in a dream and Joseph was needed to interpret it while Moses was charged with writing it down.

In the sense that revelation and inspiration are used to write Scriptures and we know that the canon of Scripture is closed (Rev 22:18-19) there is no more special revelation or inspiration today.

Illumination

This is what happens when God makes His word “alive” to the reader through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Many times in Scriptures we are told that only those who are saved can rightly understand His Word.

1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
(18)  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For the vast majority of people, when they say God spoke to them or they heard God, what they mean is that the Holy Spirit illuminated a portion of Scripture to their spirit – in a sense making it come alive.

Extra Biblical Revelation

Any supernatural knowledge that cannot be directly attributed to Scripture may be called extra biblical revelation. This may range from someone who believes God lead him to take an alternate route to work only to find out his usual route had a bad car wreck to someone like Joseph Smith who started the Mormon religion who wrote an entire book that Mormons hold parallel to the Holy Bible.

Where do we as discerning Christians draw the line? We draw it right along with the Bereans:

Acts 17:11 ESV
(11)  Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

 

Any teaching whether given by supernatural revelation or by man’s reasoning that does not line up with the full weight of Scripture must be rejected.

There are some of the cessationist camp, who believe that all spiritual gifts have ceased and that God does not reveal new information but rather illumines the bible to believers.  John MacArthur sums up this position well:

Contrary to the teaching of many, neither special revelation nor inspiration are occurring today. The Bible contains God’s final and complete written revelation to man (cf. Jude 3 and Rev. 22:18–19). Currently the Holy Spirit instructs and guides a believer, not by revealing newly inspired data, but by bringing illumination to God’s already revealed Word.

MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Rediscovering expository preaching (105–106). Dallas: Word Publishing.

To those in the charismatic camp who believe that God continues to operate through the agency of the Holy Spirit such gifts as word of knowledge and prophecy, what standards are given to judge such revelations?

1 Corinthians 14:29 ESV
(29)  Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

Those who are spiritually mature should judge the words given as to whether they are given at the right time, the right place, in the right manner and to the right audience as well as whether or not it lines up doctrinally with Scripture.

Such prophecies or words of knowledge do not carry the authority of Scripture.  It would be more helpful to consider them in the same light as sermons.  No one claims when preaching that their words should be written down and considered Scripture.  Sermons can be judged as to whether the preacher was faithful to the biblical text and the bible’s overall message. So it should be with spiritual gifts – they should be judged and never accepted as being on par with Scripture.  Prophecy today is defined as:

1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV
(3)  On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

It would be helpful to realize that not everyone who believes in the gifts of the Spirit is a heretic. We should quit using that term so broadly and reserve it for those who are speaking outside of the bounds of solid biblical doctrine.  Judge all things by the Scriptures.

Isaiah 8:20 NKJV
(20)  To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Wycliffe still doesn’t get it

This from Charismanews: (my comments in blue brackets)

Medieval pastor John Wycliffe continues to cause a stir among churches—even in the 21st century—as his Bible translation ideas upset Christian leaders once again.

In the 14th century Wycliffe used indigenous language to convey Scripture. He angered church leaders with radical moves like replacing the Latin Deus with the English God.

Today’s Bible translators follow in his footsteps, using alternative terms for the Trinity and heavenly beings to reach new audiences—and they’re encountering the same resistance Wycliffe did.

[Wow.  Just wow.  Comparing yourself to Wycliffe and saying your opponents are the mean, nasty Catholics who oppose the truth. What happened was Wycliffe (the bible society not the man) got caught watering down the word of God to make it more acceptable and less threatening to Muslims.]

The most recent controversies surround an artistic retelling of the New Testament by Thomas Nelson,The Voice, and an Arabic Scripture linked to Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). The two separate initiatives use different words to convey Scripture to their audiences.

Written in a screenplay format, Thomas Nelson’s version uses the Voice instead of the Word; sometimes Eternal One when it refers to God; and messenger of the Lord instead of angel. Meanwhile, the Arabic text uses Allah instead of Father and Messiah in place of Son of God, to connect with readers in Muslim cultures.

[Voice and Word are two totally different words in the English language.  This is not a matter of translation but of rewriting.  Allah is not the equivalent of Father nor should it appear in any translation of the bible because of its use by Muslims.]

Fierce opposition has come from the Assemblies of God USA and Presbyterian Church in America. The Presbyterian Church has condemned removing references to God as Father or Jesus as Son.

“Our colleagues in SIL are taking a brave step in suspending the publication of Scripture in parts of the world where controversy has been stirred up,” says Eddie Arthur, executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, noting that the headline-making translations are a “tiny fraction” of Wycliffe’s 1,400-plus programs. “We look forward to the outcome of their period of global consultation.”

In the meantime, scholars from both sides of the Atlantic have expressed concern about these controversies. They’re challenging Christians to grasp the issues and consider the challenges facing translation teams.

[The critics are telling Wycliffe not to desecrate scripture!]

“There are many issues in Bible translation,” says Nick Ellis, managing editor of BibleMesh Biblical Languages. “We are communicating an ancient text into a new culture. It’s not an easy job.”

[Culture has nothing to do with it.  Language is language and what Wycliffe has done is compromise the word of God in an attempt to appease Muslims.]

For example, the argument supporting the Arabic text is that father and son imply a sexual relationship with Jesus’ mother. Yet these tensions aren’t new; they reflect an old debate of how to describe the first and second Person of the Trinity.

“It’s not just a problem of translation, it’s a theological problem,” Ellis says. He encourages these questions to lead to “contemplation and medication” on key issues like the Trinity with a spirit of love. Ellis’ prayer is that fundraising for the translation community will spike in the wake of this type of debate.

[Read – we hope our source of income doesn’t dry up since we goofed big time.]

Jon Riding, leader of the linguistic computing team at U.K.-based Bible Society, agrees that the translation community is a set of people honestly trying to do their best—and they need prayer support.

[Repentance would be good too.]

Focusing on the general issues surrounding translation, Riding says the word Allah comes from the Semitic group of languages. Close to Hebrew and Syriac, it is the equivalent of theos in Greek.

[Allah is the name of a pagan moon god not the name of the Creator of the universe.  God’s proper name is YHVH]

“If you’re going to translate Scripture for a culture that has a strong Arabic influence, you need a really good reason to give God a different name from the one He has. Otherwise, you’re importing a foreign god,” Riding says. “And that’s potentially unhelpful.”

[Allah being the foreign god that is being imported into the bible here.]

Similar challenges can be seen in conveying Psalm 23 to Eskimos. “The Lord is my shepherd” has no meaning for a culture that better understands “the Lord is my husky team handler.”

The scholarly view is that there could be unnecessary alarm over particular issues taken in isolation. “People want a conspiracy,” warned Ellis. “They want a smoking gun. We need to be working together as a church.”

[Unnecessary alarm? Are you kidding me?  Conspiracy? (slapping my forehead here in amazement) The only conspiracy is that Wycliffe caved into fear of Muslims and perverted the scriptures in a weak attempt at appeasement.  The alarm was raised by bible believing Christians and now Wycliffe is whining.  End of story.]

Wycliffe to submit new translation for review

From the Washington Post:

One of the largest Bible translators in the world is undergoing an independent review after critics claimed language in some of their translations intended for Muslim countries misses the essential Christian idea of Trinity: the father, son and the holy spirit or ghost.

Critics argue that using words like “Messiah” instead of “Son” and “Lord” instead of “Father” badly distorts the doctrine, in which God is said to be one being in three persons.

“If you remove ‘son,’ you have to remove ‘father,’ and if you remove those, the whole thread of the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation is unraveled,” said the Rev. Georges Houssney, the president of Horizons International, a Christian organization that works extensively with Muslims and himself a translator of the Bible into Arabic.

Orlando, Fla.-based Wycliffe Bible Translators argues the translations have never been about avoiding controversy, but choosing words that most accurately reflect the Gospels: Some concepts relating God to family members don’t make sense in some cultures, so the language needs to reflect that.

There is a word for what Wycliffe has done and that is appeasement. As has been often quoted:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. ~ Sir Winston Churchill
Because Islamists are so violent and bloodthirsty and prone to outrage over the least little offense, Western civilization has taken the stance of appeasement – hoping if they don’t offend the Muslims, then they will get beheaded last.  To wit, Rick Warren and his efforts to find common ground with a religion that is diametrically opposed to everything Christianity stands for.

Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther and other Church fathers died or were martyred defending the faith that today’s milquetoast Christians are so willing to compromise.  If there was any doubt that The Apostasy is now here – let it be banished.

2 Thess 2:3 NASB 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

The Human One?

The Christian Post reports that the new version of the Common English Bible (CEB) will change the phrase ‘Son of Man’ to ‘the Human One.’

The publisher of the new version is hoping it will make the Bible understandable and attractive to as many people as possible. To that end, the new edition of the CEB has made several “bold” translation choices, including changing Jesus’ “Son of Man” title to “the Human One.”

In keeping with postmodern apostasy and the latest Emergent heresy – I hereby offer some more “updates” to the bible to make it more “culturally relevant.”

  • Change ‘holy’ to ‘relevant’ as in be hip and cool just as your Pa in heaven is hip and cool.
  • Born again becomes ‘spiritual renaissance’
  • The Ten Commandments would become the Ten Conversation Starters.
  • A ‘New Creation’ becomes a spark of the divine within you.
  • Hell becomes ‘the dark night of the soul.’

Feel free to modify and change the bible to your liking!! Just make it say what you want – right?

Note: for those lacking a sense of humor or who just can’t comprehend irony – the above is said in jest to make a point.

Dear Rob Bell: Have you read the bible?

By now, everyone has heard of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s latest book Love Wins.  Since I haven’t read the book, I can’t do a book review.  What I can rightly judge is the promotional video here:

Rob Bell promotional for Love Wins

Rob objects to someone putting a note on an art piece by Gandhi saying “Reality check.  He’s in hell.”  Just so we’re clear, Rob did not address the propriety of using an art show to make a theological point, nor the abruptness of the message as being unloving – rather he took offense at the notion of Gandhi being in hell.

Since my current bible reading is taking me through the book of Romans, I find myself almost every day crying out “Rob, have you read the bible?”  The answers to your questions are right there in black and white.  Paul addressed all your concerns about the righteousness of God and the “rightness” of His judgments.

Romans 2:2-8 ESV

2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
6 He will render to each one according to his works
: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Please Rob, please read the first three chapters of Romans carefully.  Paul answers your questions in depth and with amazing clarity.  God is love – yes – but He is also a righteous judge that will not be ignored or discussed into oblivion.  His love is revealed in the redemption He provided for us through His Son Jesus.

We love because he first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19

Are You Kidding?

Today The Blaze reported that  PETA wants to include animal friendly language in the next translation of the bible.

If this proposal goes anywhere, it would be the second PC-inspired assault on the Good Book in less than a month–the first one being that the New International Version of the Bible will now use “gender neutral” language.

Gothamist reports:

After they heard that the latest translation of the New International Version of the Bible will now use gender-inclusive language such as “he or she” instead of just “he”, PETA saw an opportunity to change one other thing. The organization has petitioned the Committee on Bible Translation to suggest that its next translation remove “speciesist” language, by referring to animals as “he or she” instead of “it.”

I can somewhat understand if the underlying Greek or Hebrew word refers to ‘mankind’ as opposed to ‘male’ there should be some reflection of that in the English so that the reader understands it applies to all humans regardless of gender.

I do believe we’re all quite capable of realizing that animals have genders and whatever commands that God gives us equally applies to both male and female animals.  Such a change would only reflect a political agenda and has nothing to do with proper interpretation of the Scriptures.

My vote then would be ‘nay’ to politically motivated changes to the translation of the bible.

Me? A winner?

Got news today that I won Logos Bible Software’s iPad giveaway. Looking forward to testing it out and seeing how it does – will post more on this blog once I get it and have a chance to use it 🙂

Why is Deception Flourishing?

Before this summer and the Lakeland fiasco, I never paid much attention to “heresy hunters.”  I had been active in a charismatic church up until 2000 and had seen some of the “fruit” of the Toronto Blessing and wasn’t much impressed by it.  The “holy laughter” was anything but holy – it was shrill, out of order and irritating.

Since 2000, I have visited churches, watched Christian TV and been to conferences but had never really perceived the deception that is running rampant throughout Christianity.  Oh yes, I had seen hype and exaggeration – but I just chalked that up to overzealousness and wanting the anointing so bad you faked it until it really showed up.

I admit to watching Lakeland for three months.  I wanted it be real – I prayed that it would be real.  Night after night, I asked God “why don’t You show up?  These people are so hungry for You!”  Yet God never showed up.  I lived through the charismatic outpouring of the late 60’s and 70’s and I remember the hunger that people had for God.  I have waited throughout the spiritual drought hoping for a revival again.

The answer to the original question “why is deception flourishing?” is easily answered – lack of solid bible teaching.  Why though, are men of God not preaching the bible? Why are Christians not studying it?  Why is there this vacuum in the Christian world of biblical doctrine?

I thought about the time factor – people seem so much busier now than they used to but that is just a cop out.  You will make time for whatever you want to make time for – plain and simple.  In the “old days” people had to work hard just to get their house heated.  A warm house in winter meant chopping logs and hauling coal and fixing the fire in the potbelly stove every few hours.  Today we adjust the thermostat.  In the old days, cooking a meal meant standing over a stove for hours – making your own bread,  gathering your own eggs and milking the cow.  Today we zap a microwave dinner for six minutes and sit down and eat.  We should have plenty of time to do what we want to.

What about passivity? Reading used to be a pleasure and entertainment was often with friends and family over a board game or a good conversation down at the local store.  Today people watch TV – has that changed us into mindless robots who can’t be bothered to read or hold a conversation anymore?

Maybe it’s the lack of a moral standard in our lives.  People used to respect the bible.  It was held up as a moral compass in the lives of people – even those who weren’t practicing Christians at least had respect for morality.  Today – no one wants to offend anyone, so we’ve ended up not standing for anything and being politically correct. 

I’m not sure of the exact reason why we’re seeing this apostasy but I can say that in the last ten years it has gotten exponentially worse.  Paul said:

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

2 Thessalonians 2:3 (ESV)

Perhaps that day is here?

Blank Page Bible

I was just blog surfing when I stumbled upon this wonderful idea here.  The idea is to take a hardback bible text, cut off the binding, insert blank pages in between the bible text and then rebind so as to make yourself a note taking bible.

You could also print the bible text on standard 8.5×11 paper and then save your work in a notebook.  Make your own study bible!

Quality Bibles

Recently, while web surfing, I came across this blog by Mark Bertrand.  He reviews various bibles as they are published and gives not only good quality photos but details about binding, typeset, design, readability and layout.

If you’re a bibliophile like me, you’ll love the photos and good discussions on this site!!