A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 8

Perspicuity and Sufficiency

From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of several key aspects related to the Bible. You will learn about the concepts of perspicuity and the sufficiency of scripture, emphasizing that the Bible contains essential knowledge for salvation and godly living, even though it may not cover every specific detail. The lesson also explores the authority of the Bible, addressing differing views on whether it is the sole authority or the supreme authority alongside other sources.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 8
Watching Now
Perspicuity and Sufficiency

I. Characteristics of Scripture

A. Perspicuity (Clarity and Understandability)

B. Sufficiency (All Necessary Knowledge for Salvation and Conduct)

C. Sola Scriptura vs. Suprema Scriptura (Scripture as Sole or Supreme Authority)

II. Canon of Scripture

A. The Right Books of the Bible (Agreement Across Jewish and Christian Traditions)

B. The Apocrypha and Different Canons (Hebrew Canon vs. Septuagint)

C. The Gnostic Gospels and Apostolic Witness

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Perspicuity and Sufficiency
Lesson Transcript

One more lesson on Bible, just so we close this up and there's a lot more we can say, but we can't do everything. There's some characteristics of scripture I think are important in your notes there. One of them is the fancy term is perspicuity. Whoever heard of perspicuity?

What it means, is that all things which are necessary to be known and observed for salvation and conduct are revealed with sufficient clarity for all to understand. This is from the Westminster Catechism, and what it's saying is, that people who read the Bible and read it in context, and read well, and read in community, can understand the central points of what are being saying.

It doesn't mean you understand everything that's there. That's not the case. But you do not have to have a degree in history and archeology, or in biblical studies, in order to understand the main message of scripture. It's with sufficient clarity that an ordinary person reading the whole Bible, in a context of community context, can read the Bible and come up with good understandings, but recognize there will be things we don't understand. Do we believe that there are hard things to understand in the Bible? And my answer is yes, it's biblical. Peter talking about Paul said, "My buddy has written some stuff that's hard to understand." And some of it made it into the cannon.

What does he mean in one Timothy 2:15 when he says, "Through childbearing, women will be saved."? Paul, could you have been a little clearer? I think there's an answer to that. I think it's through the childbearing, because that has the article in Greek, and I think he's looking and thinking about the birth of Messiah through the childbearing when it'll be saved. But I'll do that memory four levels. That's down in the decide four level.

So perspicuity, I'm not anti-biblical scholars, I'm very pro that. But I don't think you have to have all that background to understand and get the basic meaning of scripture. And that goes back to the Reformation, because the argument at that point was the Pope and Councils are the only authoritative, trustworthy interpreters of the Bible. And the Catholic Church was saying, ordinary people should not read the Bible. They should go to their priests, and ask for the priest to tell you what it means, and I radically disagree with that.

One of the very good things in the Second Vatican Council, back in the '60s, the hierarchy of the Church encourage ordinary people to read the Bible for themselves. And I think it's a huge development within Catholicism, and why so many Catholics are actually really pretty close to evangelical in their theology, because they've been reading the Bible. And I really encourage that perspicuity, clarity. It's sufficiently clear for ordinary people to understand if they give themselves to meditate a reading of the scripture. And there are lots of helps to do that. But I think the Bible is clear, but you got to read the whole thing and read it well.

Another term is, sufficiency of scripture. And this ends up being a very debated point. Sufficiency, it tells us all we do know about God's salvation and how to live a godly life. It does not tell us everything we need to know, it does not. Just hear what it said? It does not tell us everything we need to know. And everybody would agree.

We are just in a project at home to replace windows in my house. There's reasons why you need to replace those windows. And we've got a little reconstruction in the walls. What does the Bible say about how to put windows in a house when you've got to change the basic construction of walls? And the answer is, nothing. The Bible tells us we must be forgivable people. Yep. That's a command. It's true. How do you get there from here? What's the emotional work you have to do if somebody has just... And I just talked to a fellow this morning at our preaching team, who was deeply hurt by some stuff that was said to him that was, it was slanderous, really. And he was really hurt. Now, he's a good man. He's a pastor in a church. What does he do to come back to forgive this guy who is unrepentant about hurting his pastor with his comments? The Bible doesn't tell us how to do that. It says the Holy Spirit and the community will help us do that. But it didn't tell us how to, so there's certainly stuff in scriptures not there.

So what we're thinking here, the terms are sola scriptura or suprema scriptura. And what I'd like to say, is the Bible the sole authority? That's a fill in the blank, if you're looking in the notes. Is it the supreme authority, or is it an authority? And you find all those things. Sola scriptura, kind of the example of this is the Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, a certain crew of them anyway. That said, there's nothing in the Bible that has instruments for singing in the New Testament, therefore, we sing without instruments. So non-instrumental is because the Bible does not describe using instruments to sing with, so we don't, because that's sole authority, that we don't use Bible. We don't use instruments because the Bible doesn't describe it, and we sing as the Bible describes. Now, I think that view is wrong, but I respect them for trying to be biblical.

Suprema scriptura says the Bible is the supreme authority and nothing can contradict it. What the Bible says is accurate. And that's why we find in the New Testament of Peter saying, "We must obey God not humans." And so, what that says is that it's the supreme authority, but there are other authorities. Parents, government, elders of the church, and a number of other authorities. But what you can't do is disobey God in order to obey parents. And that gets rugged.

So the Bible's supreme authority or final authority, which says that the Bible, what it says is truthful, must be obeyed, but there are other authorities. So how long should a sermon be on Sunday morning? I've got a teaching pastor sitting here. How long should a sermon be on Sunday morning according to the Bible?

Bible. 29 minutes.

29 minutes. Right out of the Texas scripture. Yeah. Good job. All right. We all know that. Now the question is, how many sermons should there be according to the Bible? The Bible doesn't say. Should we have a sermon? The Bible doesn't say. It should be teaching, but it never describes one guy or one woman standing up in front, and the rest of the people taking notes.

And we look at the Bible actually says it does not command sermons. Why do we do it in our evangelical churches? Because we've believe in teaching the scripture, and that's a good way to do it. So what's biblical? And so the hours in our church, say in our church, we have a lot of freedom. We do 35 minutes. Yes. So last Sunday, I squeezed generosity of time into 35 minutes, and quit on time twice. I mean yes. And we laughed.

But when I'm in Ukraine, which I was until fairly recently, taught regularly, what a tip there, and was in churches, they have three services. And each service in that weekend has three sermons. So they have nine sermons a weekend in the Ukrainian churches. And I understand that's true in the Russian churches too. So we wimpy evangelical, and I have one sermon. For crying loud, you don't believe in the word of God. Well see, that's supreme authority versus sola. So we're saying as the final authority, you must teach the word, but how you do it to open up?

The much more common thing now is an authority. And that's a big issue, because the Bible is an authority, that means I get to pick and choose. And the Bible is an authority, but it may be wrong. And where we find this coming up in a number of places is some of the stuff around some of the whole thing with gay marriage and such. As I read scripture, marriage is one man, one husband and wife for life. I think that's clear in scripture. But I know people who say, "Yes, that's what the Bible says, but we know more now. We know more about monogamous gay relationships. And we believe now that monogamous gay relationships can be blessed of God and should be called marriage."

And see, that's an authority of scripture thing. Is the scripture an authority? We know more today, so we can ignore what scripture said. Or is scripture the ultimate authority? And it's true for all times and all places. I come to the latter. I think the scripture authority is for all times and places. And I disagree with the scripture's an authority.

So John Wesley, in the Wesleyans and the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, have four sources of authority, Bible, tradition, reason, and experience. And the Bible is the first and primary, and would be supreme authority, but not the only authority for doing theological things. That's a significant question. A place where it comes out, and it's an important statement, and that is, what do you do with counseling? This is a huge battle in the current church. Can we use research-based counseling methods in the church, or should we use what's called biblical counseling?

So it comes back to what do you do with somebody who can't rejoice? Because the scripture says, Philippians chapter four, "Rejoice always. Again, I say rejoice." And you're not rejoicing. And I had a friend actually tell me this. He said, "Gary, the problem is sin." Really. By sin, we're talking about somebody who's severely depressed and couldn't rejoice, he's saying is sin. God says, "Rejoice.", and He'll supply everything you need to do to follow His commands, and your friend needs to repent. Discover the sin, discover the source of sin, repent to the sin, bring it before God for His healing, and then rejoicing will happen. I said, "I think depression's a little more complicated than that. Maybe you should go to the doctor. Maybe you should talk about trauma." And he's, "No, no, no, it's sin." All of this stuff gets away from the real problem. And he was adamant. I first thought he was joking, but he wasn't.

And it turns out, there's a major theme in church life that says, no, the problem is always sin. And when you start digressing from the real problem, and trying to explore traumatic history or something like that, you're not doing the biblical way of doing things. And that's a question of sufficiency of scripture. And it's a big battle in the church today. And it comes out in how you do business with the church. It comes out in how you do counseling in the church, a number of other things where that comes up. And they cite, the citation is Second Peter chapter one, where it says that... Well, let's look at it, Second Peter. Can't talk about the Bible without it open. Second Peter, chapter one, verse four. It says this. Second Peter 1:4, talking about God here. He has given us... Sorry, 1:3. "His divine power has given us everything we need for a Godly life through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."

So there's the sufficiency. We have everything we need for a Godly life, but where does it come from? He didn't say through scripture, it said through His divine power. That passage does not teach sufficient to His scripture. It teaches sufficiency of His divine power and His precious promises. It does not say sufficient to His scripture. So I think citing this passage to support that is an interpretive mistake, because it doesn't say scripture. Now, it does come through knowledge of Him. And you have to know God, know Him intimately and personally to have that transformative power, but it does not say His scripture.

So that's a big issue to work with, sufficiency of scripture. What is the sufficiency? I think it gives us the worldview level stuff clearly and authoritatively. But when it comes down in techniques, it does not. And I don't think the Bible forgot to say it. I think it's purposely silent on some of those things, like organization of the church, to allow for different cultures, different sizes of churches, different eras. So how you organize the church beyond the basics is just not in scripture. So that sufficiency of scripture is a big, big, big, big, big questions.

Let me do one more here. And that is the question of Canon. Do we have the right books? Do we have the right books of the Bible? And when we look in the typical Bible, we find that there are 27 books of the New Testament. And when I look at different tribes, if I look at Evangelical, Protestant, if I look at Roman Catholic and Greek, Eastern Orthodox, what I find, is that every branch of the Christian Church accepts the same 27 books of the New Testament. Across the entirety of the Christian tradition, current and ancient, the same 27 books are accepted universally.

Now, there's seven books that are called the Antilegomena. The book of James, Jude, because there's questions about authorship. But I went back and did firsthand the Canon research and really different. There were questions about them, but they were never a rejected. They're always saying, are these the right ones? And it was done with one tradition, not across the church. And it was within the first century, following the writings, those were settled. Well, I thought it wasn't done until 397 AD at the Council of Carthage. Well, that was when the Roman Catholic Church was just forming, and becoming a Roman Catholic Church, put their imprimatur on those books. But they'd been accepted as the books long before that. I think they were accepted, with the possible exception of those seven books. They're accepted way within the first century.

And the question is, how were they selected? And my answer is they went viral on YouTube. Why was the letter of Laodicea not there? Because it didn't go viral, it got five views. That's a little sarcastic, to be sure, but that's what it was. It was immediately recognized by the church as a whole, this is word of God, those 27 books. So we can say across Christiandom, yep, 27 books.

What about the Old Testament? If I pick up the Bible that I use in my church, there is 39 Old Testament books. If I go to the Roman Catholic Church, the England... Well, not the England Church here, the English Anglican Church, there will be more of them there. Which is what we call the apocrypha.

And in the early church, well, even before the church, and if you go back into Jewish history pre-Christian, there are two textual strains. There's the Hebrew Bible train, that would've been done in Israel, what we call Israel. And then there was the Greek Bible. There was a translation called the Septuagint, and the Septuagint was done by Jewish translators a couple hundred years before Christ. And in the Hebrew Bible, there are 39 books. In the Septuagint, the apocrypha is also included. Why? The answer is, we have no idea. We have no idea why the difference between the two. There are some theories, but we just don't know, except that they're two different groups. The people who stayed in Israel used the Hebrew Bible and it was never different than 39 books. One was Canonized, but the Septuagint always had the apocrypha.

So the Roman Catholic Church, when there was some debate, but it used the broader Septuagint version. And the order of the books was the Septuagint order of the books. The Hebrew has a different order, the Tanach order, and that just became normal through Roman Catholic. Then what happened in the Reformation era, when Luther, and Calvin, and the others began to question... Because the question wasn't about the Bible, the question about the authority of Pope and Councils. And what they said, it will go back to the scripture and bypass the authority of Pope and Councils is the ultimate authority. Huge debate in the church. But I think the Protestants are right. Bible's authority, not Pope and Councils, though Pope and Councils in tradition are a helpful lens. And so, they said, "Let's go back to the Bible Jesus used." And so I said, "Not the Septuagint. Go back to the Hebrew text." And the Hebrew text is 39 books.

So my take on this is, I will use the Hebrew Canon, the 39 books, as my authoritative text. Ironically, put it in the Septuagint order, not the Tanach order, which is really strange. But again, that's just tradition speaking. They weren't fighting about the order of the books. Why did the reformers push that out? It was not about anything that's in the apocrypha. In fact, there's really nothing objectionable in the apocrypha. There are some seed texts that have been used for heretical teachings in the bodily Assumption of Mary, for example. A purgatory, one of the seed texts is from the apocrypha. But the primary seed text, Rowan Catholic teaching on purgatory, is First Corinthians three, a Canonical text. "If they be saved yet, so as by fire.", that's a seed text for purgatory.

So when I read the apocrypha, it was always viewed as Deutero Canonical, a second order Canon, by the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox has slightly different, but they're basically the same. And they always saw them as second Canon, not at the same level as the primary Canon. And I would be happy having books like First and Second Maccabees. You look at some of these, the Bell and the Dragon, which is an addition to the book of Daniel. Well, that's weird. Have you read the book of Daniel recently? Yes. It's weird. It may be a little weirder, but it's still in the same apocalyptic tradition. So I don't have any problem with the apocrypha, but my Old Testament, the 39 books of the Old Testament in the Hebrew Bible, and if I could print Bibles, I'd put them into Tanach order. But I don't think it really makes that much difference, or different emphasis.

So Canon, do we have the right books? And I'd say we do, because now, this is a crazy thing. How many things do all Jews, all Catholics, and all Protestants agree on? And the answer is, not much. But all agree, those 39 books are Canonical books, and to be received as word of God. All Jews, all Christians, agree completely on those Old Testament books, the 39 books. Now, we disagree on the apocrypha, but the 39 books are received by all Jews, all Christians of every stripe. Again, widespread agreement.

What about the so-called Gnostic Gospels? These are things we discovered. They come much, much later. Part of the answer is, in the first century, there are only four Gospels and we've got them. The Gospel of Thomas is the best known of the Gnostic Gospels, so-called. It's 114 sayings. It's not really a Gospel, it's just 114 sayings. And whenever somebody comes up with that, I say, "have you read the Gospel of Thomas?" I've never had anybody say yes. Okay. Well, I'll tell you what. Pick up your phone, search for Gospel of Thomas, and let's read it. You know what happens? Because I point them, I say, "It's long. Why don't we go to the last one? Let's go to the first one and the last one." The last one, I'll summarize it here. Peter says to Jesus, "Kick Mary out of here, because women are bad." They would have only men are acceptable in the kingdom. I don't know exactly what he said, but that's the point he was saying.

And so, what should Jesus say to Peter when he says kick Mary out because she's a woman? What should He say to Peter? There you go again, Peter. What does He say in the Gospel of Thomas? You're right. But Mary could become a man and then she'll be accepted in the kingdom of God. Why do we not accept the Gospel of Thomas? Because it says trash like that. That's why you don't accept it. It also comes like 300 years after they're the Gospels. They weren't accepted because there's some masculine patriarchal conspiracy. It's because they're just trash. It's actually anti-women, nuts.

So my conclusion, we have the right books. We do. And the Canon is closed. Nothing will be added to it. Now there's another question I'll look at later. And that's the fact, is there continuing revelation? And I think there is, but we'll do that in another lesson. Questions? Corrections?

You said you were going to come back to it later, but I was just thinking about those first couple of years of the church seemed a little bit like the Wild West, where they're like, "Well, it seemed good to us. So here's kind of a list of rules." But at some point, that stops, and this is the Canon. What were the major forces that led it to go, "Okay, we're done. This is the Bible." And you have Revelation at the end, obviously, but I've never been clear on why that wrapped up?

The test that was used was the initial apostolic witness to the event of Jesus. And when the Apostles died, there could be no more firsthand eyewitness witness to Jesus. And that was the test in the beginning.

So if the Holy Spirit's still working-


I mean, I could guess in the answer, but I'm just curious. If the Holy Spirit's still working, what was significant about people being there with Jesus for the Apostle Paul that made those?

Because they're the ones who actually saw what was happening. I'm a continuation. I think God continued to speak with authoritative revelation. But it's not for the whole church in all ages. It's Acts 16, where Paul, "Nope, don't go there. Nope, don't go there. Yeah, go there." I think that continues to happen. But apostolic revelation for the whole church, which is Canon of scripture, I think that's closed. And that was done in, effectively, the Canon of scripture closed in the first century. But that's the authoritative for the whole church in all ages thing. And that was tied to that apostolic eyewitness, because eyewitnesses are really important in the first century. Well, they are today too, if they tell truth.

I see that. Yeah.

So that's the answer to it. And it's been two questions. One, if we found the letter of Laodicea digging around over there, if we found that, and could confirm it actually was Paul's letter to the Laodicean church we added to the Cannon and the end to be no, it did not shape the faith and teaching of the church. It'd be interesting. We'd look at it, but we wouldn't publish in the Bible, I think. And what happened if some apostle, apostolic person today said, "I got a new revelation from God, and it came to me in a cave in Palmyra, New York.", we'd say, "Nope." So when Jesus comes back, He can add to it, but not till then. That'd be the answer. Would you add a book to your Bible?

Could I?

Yeah. Would you? Would you?

Man, that was a good question. If Jesus came back and said He was going to do it, I could be really torn.

Well, if Jesus comes back, we're redoing a lot of stuff in the Bible.

That's what I was saying.


So why do we accept Hebrews in Canon, if it's an anonymous author?

The answer is simply, it went viral on YouTube. I mean, seriously. It was widely viewed as this is a very helpful book, but we don't have any idea who wrote it. There are a lot of theories about who the preacher is, and we don't know who it is. In the early church, they all thought it was Paul. Well, not all, but most of them thought it was Paul wrote it. But today, most people think Paul didn't write it. If it did, it's a completely different style than all the other stuff he did.

But there are several books that we don't know. Hebrews is complete knowledge, but most of the Old Testament books, we don't know who actually wrote them. Who wrote First Samuel? We don't know. Who wrote Isaiah? It was probably not Isaiah the prophet. We know Baruch wrote Jeremiah, or at least a big piece of it. We don't know who wrote Isaiah. I'm guessing it wasn't Isaiah, but it could have been. We just don't know. But Hebrews, we just don't know. And that's why it was in the Antilegomena. It was questioned, because we don't know the author of it, but people read it and said this is the word of God for the church.


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