Question and Answer

New Revelations of the Spirit

Question:

Could you please further explain why “new revelations of the spirit” would not be allowed to be “added” to the Scripture (WCF 1.6)? So the scripture cannot even be “added” to by God?  I must be missing something.

Answer:

Well, in a vacuum, yes, of course, God is God, and he can do whatever he wishes to do, consistent with his nature. So, if he had planned to add more portions to the Scriptures (which is the argument of Mormons and Muslims), he could do so. But, when we say that new revelations of the Spirit would not be allowed to be added to the Scriptures, we are saying two things. First of all, that the Scriptures are sufficient, that is, that we need no new revelations. And, secondly, that God has indicated in the Scriptures that there would be no new revelations. In other words, although God could have left open the possibility of adding new revelations to the Bible, he has very deliberately declared that such is not the case.

First of all, on the question of the sufficiency of the Scriptures, we read passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16–17, where the Lord says to us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Lord says two things here. First of all, he says that the Scriptures are enough to make us “complete,” that is, that there is nothing lacking. Secondly, he says, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” That is, we need nothing more than the Scriptures to do every good work. Or, conversely, we read passages such as Galatians 1:6–9, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” That is, the good news, the gospel, that has been preached to us is the only gospel, and if someone were to preach another gospel, it would not be the true gospel.

And secondly, God has indicated in the Scriptures that there would be no new revelations. Many of us believe that the last book to be written in the New Testament was the book of Revelation. At the end of that book we read that the Lord says to us, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). Some people take these verses as applying only to the book of Revelation, but I and many others believe that these are the final words of the Bible, and a warning not to add nor take away from it. But there are other passages which indicate the same thing, for example, when the Lord says in Ephesians 2:19–21, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” Our faith is built upon the apostles and prophets, because they were the ones who wrote down the words of God in the Holy Scriptures, which point us to the Savior, Jesus, who is the chief cornerstone. Again, the Lord says to us in Ephesians 3:3–5, “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets.” Notice that he says that the mystery of Christ has now been revealed to the prophets and apostles. It is an accomplished fact. It has already been done. Again, the Lord says through the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:2, “that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior.” Notice that the two groups that are mentioned, once again, are the prophets and apostles. The Lord never says that others are the source of the truth of the Lord, because these are those through whom God has chosen to reveal himself. To say that God could have chose others is true. But, even on the occasions when he chose to do so (such as speaking through a donkey), even these are recorded by prophets and apostles.

A few comments: First of all, why would we need new revelations? What has God, in the past, failed to do, that we need to know now that we have not known in the past two thousand years? Secondly, even in the times of the Apostles, there were false traditions that were not true, and they circulated among Christians, but were specifically rejected as not a revelation from the Lord (cf. John 21:23). Finally, I myself come from a family in Russia that believed that God was constantly giving new revelations, and so they added books to their Bibles. But, I think about the fact that they didn’t actually have complete Bibles, due to persecution, and when they came to America and had access to complete Bibles, they understood their errors, and returned to accepting only the inspired Scriptures.

I’m not sure I’ve completely answered your question, but perhaps it’s a start. There is, of course, much more that can be said. May the Lord bless you in his grace, now and forever.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

Return to Formatted Page