A Glass Darkly: Do We Have All God’s Revelation?
Do we or don’t we have the complete revelation of God?
Depending on how you answer this question says a lot about your theological viewpoint. If you believe the Bible is complete then it is only a matter of fitting the pieces together properly. If you believe that the Bible is not complete you are open to God revealing more His plan for mankind. In essence those who believe the scriptures are incomplete are open to further revelation while those who believe the scriptures are complete are not. I submit to you, though, that Paul states we look through a glass darkly because we do not yet have the complete revelation of God.
The scriptures are not complete
At the end of the first century A.D., most Christians believe the apostles completed the Bible. It is my contention that this doctrine is incorrect. I propose that our Father did not stop speaking when the apostle John lay down His quill. The fact that no known writings have since risen to the level of scripture does not preclude God from authoring more holy writ. This is a crucial point to ponder; for in order to receive new revelation it is necessary to believe it is possible.
I have yet many things to say
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
At the time Jesus said these words the revelation that He wished to give to His disciples was incomplete. Jesus said that when the Spirit of Truth came He would lead and guide His disciples into all truth. Therefore, the Holy Spirit both leads us into new truth and shows us, through revelation, things that will come to pass.
We see through a glass darkly
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12,
The apostle Paul admits, that at present, we look through a glass darkly and only have partial revelation. Paul prophesies that there will come a time when we do see clearly and all shall be revealed. God declares a day will come when we shall stand face to face with Him as Moses did.
“…the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.”
Presently, our knowledge of God is partial because we do look through a glass darkly. Therefore, we must admit that, because we lack clarity, our knowledge of God only approximates the truth.
New Testament inspiration differs from the Old Testament
A critical understanding of the Bible is that the New Testament is not inspired in the same way the Old Testament is. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit, when He spoke, simply “fell” upon individuals and possessed them.
“…when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
1 Samuel 10:10,1
Whereas in the New Testament we see that the spirits prophesy by permission.
“And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”
The New Testament also differs from the Old Testament in the degree that it is God breathed. Scripture declares that the entire Old Testament is inspired,
“…that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
1 Timothy 315-17
The writings that Paul refers to as “the holy scriptures” are the Old Testament writings and I do believe that they are 100% God breathed. However, in the New Testament Paul states such things as,
“Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.”
1 Corinthians 7:25
Asking someone to pick up your cloak is not inspired scripture
We must admit that the apostle Paul really meant that he was only giving us his best judgment on the issue.
And again we read,
“The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.”
2 Timothy 4:13
Paul means that he just wants them to bring some things he forgot at Troas. There is is really nothing more God breathed about this passage than that. We must believe Paul when he makes a distinction between the “commandment of the Lord” and “my judgment”. Moreover, we should not give both types of scripture the same divine weight because he obviously did not.
Our faith and confidence rests upon God
To many, it is unnerving, to consider that the New Testament is not absolutely inspired. It is uncomfortable to think that we ook through a glass darkly. However, we understand that because the Holy Spirit now dwells within us He are a partnership. Now days, we yield to the Spirit of our Father “by choice.” God no longer forcefully falls upon us as in times past. As the penmen of the New Testament did not write the scripture by force but merely yielded to the Holy Spirit. Mostly they did it perfectly, but sometimes their humanity and/or imperfection shines through.
Our faith and confidence in God rests not upon how perfect the scriptures are but upon our personal relationship with Him. The New Testament is a remarkable document that is 99.9% accurate to the original texts. It really does not matter, though, if the New Testament is 100% accurate because we still look through a glass darkly anyway. In truth, the New Testament is a springboard to know our Father through personal experience. It is written,
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
The Spirit of Truth
Scripture demonstrates the revelation which God intends to give His people is not complete. The Holy Spirit continued to speak even with the completion of the book of Revelation. God is not against further writing. God is just against altering what has already written. Men who walked with Jesus wrote down, through inspiration, the words he said and their experience with Him. As we mature in Jesus revelation will flow through us in a similar manner.
Until the prefect comes, we continue to know in part and prophesy in part because we yield to God in part. We see through a glass darkly and find our way through listening, hearing, and obeying God’s voice. Paul says,
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Finally, we seek to have the mindset of Paul,
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded…”
How can I apply this teaching to my life?
Challenging deeply held religious beliefs causes some to fear. An incomplete Bible is a notions that many do not dare even consider because of strongly held dogma. Of a truth, there are many false gospels such as the Catholic Apocrypha or the Book of Mormon. The fact that there is error exists, though, does not preclude further truth.
Moreover, all truths that claim to be new must integrate seamlessly with both the Old and New Testaments. Further revelation will always exhibit a commensurate level of inspiration as previous, established scripture. The Holy Spirit does not author confusion, therefore, anything He writes will agree with what He has already written.
Dare to consider that God may have further revelation to share and be open minded to that possibility. Old Testament saints looked through a glass darkly until Jesus came. Paul says that the New Testament Saints still look through a glass darkly too. While nothing that has been written currently rises to the level of biblical inspiration;it may happen. If it does, do not reject it “out of hand” but prove all things, holding fast that which is good.