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Thursday, August 25, 2022

No Inheritance in The Kingdom of God – Part II

This is a continuation of an article I started awhile back on Paul’s statements that those practicing certain sins would not inherit the kingdom of God.  As a text I used three  passages as follows:

1 Cor. 6:9-10

Gal. 5:19-21

Eph. 5:5-7


“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Cor.  6:9-10 NKJV)


“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21 NKJV)


“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Eph. 5:5-7 NKJV)

As is evident I used the New King James Version of the Bible (underlining by me - DS).  The first two sins mentioned by Paul in Galatians – adultery and fornication – were covered in my first article.

Some of the sins listed can be grouped together due to the features they share.  Uncleanness, lewdness, homosexuals, and sodomites all relate to sexual sin in part or altogether.  All involve sexual immorality.  Why list them at all then since Paul has already given us the umbrella term “fornication” (translated “sexual immorality” in modern versions) under which term they could all be sheltered? 

We can only speculate on that as we are not told.  I think it likely that when we use terms that can be broadly interpreted there can be some danger that we will miss the mark in our understanding.  For example, in my last article I talked about sexual immorality.  There is a bit of a problem.  Sexual immorality has to be defined.  Where do you draw the line; what is sexually immoral and what is not?  I thought about listing a large number of such sins, not just from my own thinking but from reading others (commentaries, etc.).  I hesitated and did not do it.  Why not?

Paul said in Ephesians 5:12, “It is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”(NKJV)  So, did I want to dare to be so specific and graphic in light of what Paul told the Ephesians?  No, I felt it best to just be general and leave it at “sexual immorality.”  But, again, the danger is a person may not be aware of their specific sin when one is so general in such broad declarations.  Things may be excluded that ought to be included.

My speculation, that is all it is, says that perhaps Paul did at times get specific in naming sins that could have been closeted under a more general term not wanting to take the chance that some sins would be overlooked if not explicitly mentioned.  Sometimes we need to be told straight up that what we are engaged in is sin, no guessing or wondering about it.

I begin today’s discussion with the sins of homosexuality and sodomy.  Paul says neither homosexuals nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10 NKJV).  Instead of using those two terms the Christian Standard Bible says, “males who have sex with males” and both the English Standard Bible and the New International Version have footnotes that are similar.  The NIV footnote says, “The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.”

The Bible knows nothing about homosexual marriage which is solely an invention of sinful mankind and a very, very recent invention at that.  Man cannot invent a right in order to circumvent God’s condemnation and think that if God exists they will get by with it eternally.  Kick sand in God’s face and see what happens when his patience is exhausted and you face him in judgment.  God never gave man the authority to overrule his decrees.

The next term is uncleanness.  What is uncleanness?  It is hard to find any commentator on this term who will actually define it with any specificity.  It is another broad inclusive term.  We can only do our best.  We know uncleanness is a work of the flesh from our Galatian passage and that an unclean person has no inheritance in the kingdom of God from the Ephesian passage.

By comparing other Bible translations we learn that the Greek word behind the English word “unclean” can be translated as “impure.” The Christian Standard Bible translates in Gal. 5:19 using the phrase “moral impurity” and in Eph. 5:5 with just the word “impure.”  The English Standard Bible in Eph. 5:5 uses the word “impure” and in Gal. 5:19 the word “impurity.”  The New International Version, the New American Standard Bible 2020, and the New Living Translation all do the same thing.  So, the question arises as to what makes one impure (unclean).

If we were living under the Law of Moses (the Old Testament) it would be easy to name many things that made one unclean, things that separated from God until cleansing took place, but we now live under the new covenant sanctified by the blood of Christ.  So how about for us living today? 

We can get an idea from Ezra 9:11 where we read, “The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity.” (Ezra  9:11 NKJV)  Ezra is going back in time here referencing the days long gone by when the children of Israel were told to enter the promised land and drive out the inhabitants (destroy them).  What kind of uncleanness had those inhabitants practiced?

Idolatry was perhaps the most egregious sin but there was far more to their idolatry than just a spiritual devotion to an idol.  It often involved what one commentary said was “little else than sexual orgies with a religious scenario,” there were male and female temple prostitutes, and there was offering as burnt sacrifices their own sons and daughters.  They were involved in witchcraft, soothsaying, interpreting omens, sorcery, mediums, etc.  You can find a listing of these things in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 and another listing with regards to the general immorality as related to sexual sin in Leviticus 18.  Leviticus 18:27 reads, “For all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled” thus unclean. (Lev. 18:27 NKJV)  When one reads the word “defile” in his/her Bible we immediately understand we are talking about uncleanness.

One can conclude that anything related to idolatry would make one unclean in God’s eyes, the only eyes that matter.  Would the same apply to false worship or false doctrine?  I am not the judge of where such things begin and end, where the exact line is to be drawn, but it seems the wise man or woman would want to stay as far away from any kind of false religion as possible including within Christendom when one finds it. 

One can also say any kind of sexual immorality being practiced would make one unclean.  In fact, uncleanness is such a general term that one could say almost any and every sin one would practice would make one impure or unclean.  If not, why not?

Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.  These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man." (Matt. 15:18-20 NKJV)  This would seem to me to be a listing of things that would make one unclean or impure.  If you are defiled you are unclean.  Again, one is led to the conclusion that uncleanness is a broad all-encompassing term for any and all sin that is practiced.

I would suggest that a person find any listing of sins in his/her New Testament, go down the list, and ask themselves with each sin listed “if I did this thing would it keep me pure (clean) or would it make me impure and unclean?  That is probably as good a way as any of deciding what is clean versus what is not.  Is the thing I am contemplating doing leading me to holiness?

I will close the comments on uncleanness with this from 2 Cor. 6:17 where Paul quotes from the Old Testament and applies it to the present.  “Therefore ‘come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’" (2Cor. 6:17 NKJV)  God wants us to be holy and undefiled by the world, separate from the world, and certainly separate from idolatry in whatever form it might take.  We need to live pure and holy lives.

The last sin to be dealt with in this essay is that of “lewdness.”  Lewdness is the word used in the New King James Version of the Bible from e-sword but I have an evidently older version of the New King James Version New Testament that uses the word licentiousness.  The old King James Version uses the word lasciviousness.  Other modern-day versions translate using words like promiscuity (CSB), sensuality (ESV, NASB), indecent behavior (NAS20), depravity (NET), debauchery (NIV), and lustful pleasures (NLT).  The online dictionary at says for lewdness, “indecency or obscenity; vulgar sexual character or behavior.”

We generally think of lewdness as being sexual and obscene in a public way by one’s behavior and/or dress or lack thereof.  However, one can be lewd in non-sexual ways.  You cannot use the public streets and walkways as your toilet as is reported about some in San Francisco without being lewd.  You cannot be loud and vulgar in your speech and behavior in public.  You cannot live without respect for others round about you in your conduct.

Jesus, in Mark 7:20-23, says lewdness defiles a man (V. 22 NKJV).  Paul says we are to walk properly, not in lewdness and lust (Rom. 13:13).  He says there were some in Corinth that had not repented of their lewdness (2 Cor. 12:21).  In Ephesians speaking of the Gentiles he says they “have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph. 4:19 NKJV)  Lewdness here is associated with uncleanness as it was with lust in the Roman passage.  The point is that the scriptures clearly condemn such a way of life.  There is no inheritance for those who fail to repent of this sin.

There is a word of caution here in defining lewdness.  We get so used to things the way they are we become immune to them, take them for granted, and think no more about them.  I have in mind the way so many young women especially, but sometimes older women as well, dress.  Have you ever wondered about what God thinks about short shorts worn out in public?  It may not be lewdness for us for we have become so used to such things but how does God see it?  I wonder how such dress would have gone over among Christians living in the first century.  I think I know.  For that matter how would our great grandparents have felt about it?  We must consider God in every aspect of our lives first and foremost.  We cannot let modern-day life scar us over to the point we become like the world and think and behave as they do.  We need to see things the way God does.

This brings this article to a close.  When I started out on this project I had no idea it would take this much time, effort, and space but like the tortoise we will keep at it as long as we can and as long as the Lord wills and hopefully get it done.  The goal is to define every term that Paul says will deny us an inheritance from the passages chosen.

[To download this article or print it out click here.]

Link to Part I

Link to Part III


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Redemption in Christ

One frequently comes across the words redeem, redeemed, and redemption in reading through the New Testament.  I found twenty instances using a concordance for the New King James version of the Bible.  What do these words mean?  If you were to look into a modern-day dictionary you would likely find a number of responses.  My Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 2000 edition, lists nine meanings for the word redeem.  Most have the general idea of paying off or buying back or releasing.

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, a dictionary based on the words found in the King James Version of the Bible, there are four Greek words behind the English words translated as redeem and redemption, two verbs, and two nouns.  For the purpose of this article I will only be dealing with three of them, those most relevant to the purpose of this article, and I will be quoting from Vine.

The Greek verb “lutroo” signifies “to release on receipt of ransom … signifying to release by paying a ransom price.”  Vine lists Titus 2:14 and 1 Peter 1:18-19 as examples.  The Titus passage, speaking of Christ, reads, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for himself his own special people.” (NKJV)  Peter says we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NKJV).  We were thus released from sin and its penalty by the ransom price of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.  Christ delivered us from sin.

The noun form of “lutroo” is “lutrosis.”  Lutrosis is “a redemption.”  “With his own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Heb. 9:12 NKJV)  Hebrews 9:12 is a statement of fact as to what has been done and how, redemption by the blood of Jesus.

The final Greek word to be dealt with here is “apolutrosis,” which is “a strengthened form of” lutrosis.  It is “a releasing, for … a ransom.”  I am here interested in the third example of lutrosis given by Vine.  He says, “forgiveness and justification, redemption as the result of expiation, deliverance from the guilt of sins.”  Scriptures listed under this Greek term are Rom. 3:24, Eph. 1:7, and Col. 1:14.

Each passage speaks of redemption by the blood of Christ.  “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by his blood.” (Rom. 3:24-25)  “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1:7 NKJV)  The Colossian passage is identical to the Ephesian passage, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:14 NKJV)

Having done the word study one can see that redemption is a release, a deliverance from sin and its consequences by means of a ransom, the ransom being Christ’s shed blood, his death on the cross.  Its end result is thus salvation of one’s soul, the soul of the one who takes advantage of the ransom Jesus made.  The ransom made was “a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6 NKJV) but while this redemption is universal in its scope, that is it is available to all, it is only effective for those who come into Christ.

This redemption, this salvation, is “in Christ Jesus.” “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood.” (Rom.:3:23-25a NKJV)

One enters into Christ by believing and obeying the gospel; the final step in obeying the gospel and thereby being placed into Christ is baptism.  Baptism is preceded by faith in Christ, repentance of sins, and confession of one’s faith in Jesus.

We are then to be “baptized into Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6:3 NKJV)  “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:26-27 NKJV)  Faith led to baptism.  The corollary of Gal. 3:26-27 would be “as many of you as were not baptized into Christ have not put on Christ.”  If not, why not?

I do not know of a single scripture that speaks of entering into Christ some way other than through baptism.  There was no other way on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when Peter preached the first gospel sermon.  Peter required baptism in that sermon.  “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you.” (Acts 2:38 KJV)  Everyone means everyone.  There is no other way today.  Mankind has no power to override the spirit-filled preaching of an apostle.

One fact people often overlook who desire to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus is that Jesus shed his blood in his death.  He was dead when the soldier came around and pierced his side and the blood and water then flowed from his side. (John 19:33-34)  Paul says in Rom. 6:3 that we “were baptized into his death.”  His blood was shed in his death; we enter into his death by baptism where we contact the blood that redeems us.  This is a spiritual contact but whoever thought it would be otherwise?

“We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14 NKJV)  It is an “eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12) for those who remain faithful to the end of life.  To be delivered from one’s sins and released from the burden, guilt, and punishment due us for our sins is like the weight of the world off one’s shoulders.  What a joy, what a relief.

Anyone who so desires can be redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  God has offered us all his special invitation.  “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’  And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’  And let him who thirsts come.  And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17 NKJV) 

If someone was to offer you in this material world a gift of great value, very costly, whether in terms of monetary value or of great personal sacrifice and you rejected it that would come across on your part as cold and unfeeling, ungrateful, unloving, and unkind.  What if we reject Christ’s great sacrificial gift of his life?

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NKJV)  We “were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20 NKJV)

Anyone who is willing and so desires can even this day be redeemed by the blood of Christ.

[To download this article or print it out click here.]

Thursday, August 11, 2022

No Inheritance in The Kingdom of God – Part I

The apostle Paul when he was not writing to a specific individual in his epistles was writing to a church or a group of churches, Galatians for example.  He was writing to Christians in all cases.  In the course of his writing, he warns against a multitude of sins, sins of all kinds.  One finds long listings in Rom. 1:28-32 and 2 Tim. 3:1-5.

While we know sin of any kind unrepented of can keep one out of heaven I have found it noteworthy that in three places Paul gives the reader specific warning that the sins he lists, if practiced, will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God.  Those passages are found in 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19-21, and Eph. 5:5-7.  I quote them below using the New King James version.  All underlining is mine.

         1 Cor. 6:9-10


“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Co 6:9-10 NKJV)

              Gal. 5:19-21


“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19-21 NKJV)

               Eph. 5:5-7


“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. (Eph 5:5-7 NKJV)

I thought it might be good to be sure we understand the nature of the sins that will keep us out of heaven if practiced. 

Adultery is the first sin listed in Gal. 5.  I suspect most people think they know what adultery is but Jesus’ gives one definition of it in Matt. 19:9, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." (Matt. 19:9 NKJV)  Of course, if the woman was to do this rather than the man the principle is the same.

There are people who claim that adultery is a one-time act.  No so!  Col. 3:5-7 clearly teaches one can live in a sin.  “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication (‘sexual immorality’ in modern versions – DS), uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” (Col. 3:5-7 NKJV)  So, one can live in a sin or sins versus just a one-time act.

Besides that it is said by those who know the Greek that the word “committeth” as in committeth adultery in Matt. 19:9 in the King James version of the Bible denotes linear or continuous action thus means it is ongoing, not a single act.  I am not a Greek scholar but I don’t think they are lying about it.  There is no reason to do so. 

One must also remember why John the Baptist got in trouble with Herod.  He was imprisoned for Herod did not like what he had to say, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” (Mark 6:18 NKJV)  Herod had married her but John said she is “your brother’s wife.”  Herod was living in adultery with Herodias.

Of course, all extra-marital affairs are adulterous.  A fitting definition that more or less covers the whole ground of what adultery is would go something like this:  voluntary sexual intercourse between two persons, one at least who is married to another (both might be).  Yes, this is an act but when engaged in habitually it is a manner of life, a way of life which one lives or practices.

Is this the only way to commit adultery?  Good question.  How about what Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were involved in?  What about those who are sexually intimate but have not yet gone all the way?  God will judge whether or not it is adultery but it is certain such things are sexually immoral and will keep the unrepentant out of the kingdom of God no matter what descriptive name you would give to the specific sin.  Those things would at the very least fall under the category of “fornication,” our next topic.  As a matter of fact, all adultery falls under the more inclusive classification of fornication (sexual immorality).

Before moving on to the topic of fornication one other comment ought to be added to this discussion.  Jesus did say, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28 NKJV)  “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8 NKJV)  Is this equivalent to the adultery spoken of in Paul’s listings?  It would be tough to take the position that one could face God on the Day of Judgment with an impure heart and have hope of heaven.  I suppose technically, which is to say physically, it would not be adultery but it is definitely a soul destroyer.  That is about all one can say about the matter.

The next sin Paul lists that committed habitually and unrepented of that will keep one out of heaven is fornication.  When I was growing up in the mid-20th century when one used the word fornication we all thought we knew what was meant.  It was a single person having sexual relations, sexual intercourse, outside of marriage.  Such a person was a fornicator.  That was the limit of the sin.

Nowadays one will not even find the word “fornication” or “fornicators” in the major modern-day translations.  Those terms have been exchanged for a much broader more inclusive term, “sexual immorality.”  This includes versions like the New American Standard 2020, the English Standard Version, the Christian Standard Version, and the New International Version.  The New Living Translation uses the term “sexual sin” in 1 Cor. 6:9.

Think of the many Greek scholars who worked on these translations deciding how to most accurately translate the Greek into understandable English.  Were all these scholars wrong in making the decision to change the wording from fornication to sexual immorality?  Perhaps the very reason they did it was to clarify the meaning of the text to those of us who were likely to misunderstand the meaning of the word “fornication” in our modern-day society.

The Greek word behind the King James, the New King James, and the older New American Standard versions that was translated as “fornication” was the word “porneia” in its noun form with a slightly different spelling in its verb form.  It was long thought among the average person, so to speak, that this word had the restricted meaning I have already spoken of, but modern scholarship has debunked that idea and thus changed the translation to “sexual immorality.”

One can easily be misled by reading some of the older commentaries and word study books on the word fornication that seem to restrict the meaning to one specific act.  Whether they actually did that or not is open to question.  They may have meant more than we commonly give them credit for when they used phrases like “sexual intercourse.”  That phrase likely had a more broad based meaning many decades ago than it does today in society in general, more specifically the word intercourse.  We have today confined it to one act.  That does not mean they did or that they intended to.

Be that as it may, scholarship does advance with time in nearly every field of endeavor.  Not every change in our bibles is the devil trying to destroy us as some King James only advocates seem to imply.  “Sexual immorality” is a much better way to translate the Greek word porneia to give the modern-day reader an accurate understanding of what the text is meant to convey.

So, what does this phrase mean, this thing, this sin that will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God?  Fornication (NKJV) or sexual immorality (modern versions) includes all sexual sin thus not just sexual intercourse outside marriage but nearly everything that you can imagine.  Probably no one could list every specific sin under this general category of “sexual immorality.”  I think most people have an innate sense about them, if they have any Christian background or training at all, to know when an action has crossed the line into sexual immorality whether it is specifically stated as such in the text or not.    

I know some object to “sexual immorality” as a translation of the Greek here.  They think it is too broad a phrase, encompasses too much.  Yet, they generally admit that the word “fornication” as most understand it to not be inclusive enough of what the actual Greek word “porneia” means.  So, they stand between a rock and a hard place.  What word or phrase would they use?  You get no answer.  As I said before, “sexual immorality” is a better translation for our day and age.  Trying to figure out every single sexual sin that this would include is not the job of the translator.

Certainly, this sin, sexual immorality in all its many varied aspects, is difficult for people living in bodies of flesh to conquer.  I once heard many, many years ago a faithful man in the church as far as I could tell comment that everyone was likely guilty.  I suspect he was correct if one was to talk of a one-time or an occasional occurrence over the course of a lifetime, especially in youth.  However, Paul speaks of those “who practice such things” (Gal. 5:21), who make it a way of life, who are unrepentant.

It is no news to any of us that we sin.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10 NKJV)  The key is to not practice sin as a way of life and to be penitent, to repent when we do sin --  that is if one is a Christian.  For those who are not the key is to obey the gospel from the heart with all that involves (another lesson for another time).

I had hoped to go through this entire listing of sins from the passages chosen in one article.  Obviously, that is not going to happen.  I will, Lord willing, continue on in later articles.  For now, I close by simply saying that the Holy Spirit says we cannot go to heaven practicing these two categories of sins. 

“For out of the heart, proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.  These are the thing which defile a man.” (Jesus, Matt. 15:19-20 NKJV) [my underlining -- DS]

[To download this article or print it out click here.]

Link to Part II

Monday, August 1, 2022

Are the New Testament Scriptures Alone Sufficient

Sometimes we take it for granted that everyone who calls themselves a Christian holds the New Testament scriptures in as high a regard as we do.  However, that is not the case.  Some, while calling themselves Christians, do not believe in the all-sufficiency of the New Testament scriptures to save a person.  They feel we need more guidance and direction than can be found in the scriptures alone.

Who are these Christian (God will decide) groups who are not satisfied with the New Testament scriptures alone?  I can think of three groups off-hand and there may well be others.  (1) The Catholic Church and they do not deny it.  (2) The Mormons.  (3) Those groups or individuals who believe they need and receive direct guidance from the Holy Spirit in addition to the scriptures. 

What do the scriptures themselves teach on the subject?  If the scriptures make the claim to be sufficient then those denying such make it clear they are not Bible believers despite all claims to the contrary.  

The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul the apostle said, "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." (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NKJV) 

Who was Paul, at that time, writing to?  To Timothy but it is obvious that what applied to Timothy as to how he was to view scripture was and is applicable to all.  Paul says scripture is able to make us complete.  If we are complete we lack nothing.

However, the objection is made that Paul was obviously speaking of the Old Testament scriptures, at least primarily, as not all of the New Testament had yet been written.  Well, what is that supposed to imply?  Is it supposed to cast doubt on scripture given at a later date?  Is it designed to cast doubt on books written later as to their inspiration, books that are included in our New Testaments? 

Were none of the New Testament books written when Paul wrote the words found in 2 Tim. 3:16-17?  Most scholars believe 2 Timothy, quoted above, was written somewhere in the range of 66 to 68 AD.  While dates are all over the place on some New Testament books all scholars I know about concede that Second Timothy was the last book written by Paul.  Was Paul excluding his own writings when he spoke of scripture being given by inspiration of God, books he had already written? 

To the Corinthians Paul said "the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:37 NKJV)  Paul issued commands (1 Cor. 7:10, 2 Thess. 3:4, 6, 12) and directed Timothy to do so (1 Tim. 4:11, 5:7, 6:17).  To the Galatians he claimed inspiration for his message.  “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 1:10-11 NKJV)  He says the same thing again in Ephesians 3:3.  Paul recognized his own inspiration. 

But we also have Peter's testimony on the subject when he says, "as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:15-16 NKJV) 

Sounds like when Peter wrote this Paul was still living but had already written many epistles which Peter compares to "the rest of the scriptures."  He says Paul's writings could be twisted to the destruction of untaught and unstable people.  Peter considered Paul's writings to be scripture just like "the rest of the scriptures."

When Paul wrote what he did in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 he was not excluding his own writings or talking merely about the Old Testament scriptures.  Neither was he excluding what might be written later in other New Testament books by other apostles or men of inspiration.  

But now note something else.  What is the purpose of scripture?  It is, as Paul puts it, "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:17 NKJV)  If that is the case then the one who says the New Testament scriptures alone are insufficient is in an awful bind.  Why?  Because his position is that the man of God cannot be complete, cannot be thoroughly equipped for every good work by the scriptures alone and he thus puts himself in opposition to what the word of God says. 

An objection might well be made here by those in opposition that I have left the barn door open for later revelation.  Indeed I did for as I said Paul's statement was not just about scripture already written but about all scripture given by God regardless of the date it would be given.  The door was left open but only for a limited period of time. 

The key here is the term or phrase Paul used when he said "given by inspiration of God."  As you well know some speak of latter-day revelation hundreds of years after the completion of the New Testament.  How can we be sure revelation ceased when the New Testament scriptures as we now have them were completed?

When God gave scripture he gave mankind a means by which man could be assured that the message was from God.  The message was given orally and then later written down by inspired men.  The Bible says the word was confirmed as the apostles went out everywhere, "the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs." (Mark 16:16 NKJV) 

The Hebrew writer says salvation (speaking of the word of salvation) "began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?" (Heb. 2:3-4 NKJV) 

All through Acts we see miracles being performed.  There were the tongues from God that sat upon the apostles on the Day of Pentecost and the speaking in tongues that day as the word was first preached to man after Christ's resurrection.  

A little later in Acts 4 upon the release of Peter and John from arrest and imprisonment a prayer is uttered by the disciples.  "Lord … grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." (Acts 4: 29-30 NKJV)  Then in verse 33 we read, no doubt in answer to their prayer, "with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." 

In Acts 5:12 Luke says, "And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people." (NKJV)  Both Peter and Paul raised the dead through the power of God.  Philip worked miracles in Samaria.  Paul spoke of preaching the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum with "mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God." (Rom. 15:19 NKJV)  Here is the point--if there has been latter-day revelation there has to have been of necessity confirmation from God by means of miracles. 

If we have additional scripture that has been given since the New Testament scriptures were written where are they and where is the proof that shows God confirmed them?  Now I understand some are ready and willing to show me these additional scriptures they claim are from God but where is their proof?  We need some confirmation from God in the same way we got it in the first century. 

Miracles were only to last as long as they were needed and they were needed only as long as there was revelation being given that needed confirmation.  It is too long to quote here but read Eph. 4:7-14.  Paul was here talking about God giving gifts (miraculous abilities) to men which he says was for "the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." (Eph. 4:12 NKJV) 

But, I want you to note that he sets a time limit on this.  He says in verse 13 "till."  And I want you to look closely at verse 14 which shows us when this "till" shall have come to pass for many think it will be when Jesus returns.  Not so.  It was to be while the earth still stood and prior to Jesus' return. 

Paul says when that "till" arrives we will "no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ." (Eph. 4:14-15 NKJV)  Thus Christians will still be on the earth when the till that is to come arrives but they will no longer be tossed about by every wind of doctrine.  Why not?  Simply because they will have God’s completed revelation available to them and can compare its teaching versus man’s teaching. 

The till that is to come is the completed scriptures.  In Eph. 4:13 he says, "till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man." (NKJV)  That perfect man is the mature man, the man who has been made complete by the scriptures, the perfect man of Eph. 4:13 (NKJV) is the complete man of 2 Tim. 3:17 (NKJV). 

Paul speaks of this also over in 1 Cor. 13:8-12.  "Whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." (NKJV)  

That which is perfect which was to come was the completed scriptures or as you might put it the completed revelation of God to man.  How can we be sure this passage is not a reference to Christ's second coming?  Do you think knowledge will vanish when Jesus comes?  I think there will be a great increase in knowledge.  People will know things they never knew before.  Obviously, the knowledge that is being spoken of here that is to vanish away is miraculous knowledge that God gave to man in the days of spiritual gifts (see 1 Cor. 12:8). 

Now consider this, if we continued to have revelation after the death of those granted spiritual gifts in the first century even up to modern times it means no one has yet been able to overcome the “trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive.” (Eph. 4:14 NKJV)  Why not?  Because they lacked the whole truth of God’s revelation that would allow them to know truth from error.  It means all those who lived from the second century on up to today have lacked part of what they needed to combat error.

If part of inspiration came say in the sixteenth century then where does that leave the man or woman who lived and died before then?  This is the dilemma all so-called Christian groups face who claim inspiration and revelation outside the New Testament.  Catholics, for example, have added untold numbers of new doctrines across the ages.  Truth in many of these religious bodies is never fully attainable for you never know what is coming down the road in the next generation.  

Let us take a second look at 1 Cor. 13:8-12 quoted above.  What is to vanish in addition to knowledge and tongues?  Prophesy. 

This eliminates latter-day prophecy and Mormon prophets.  When?  When scripture is completed.  How can we know when that is?  When miraculous confirmation by miracles has ceased.  Has that happened?  If you define a miracle as being the kind of miracle performed in the book of Acts, and how else can one define one, then they ceased sometime around the end of the first century. 

If prophecy has ceased we no longer have apostles.  If we do we seek the signs of an apostle which Paul talked about.  He says, "Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds." (2 Cor. 2:12 NKJV)  Some still claim we have and need apostles today.  Where are their signs and wonders and mighty deeds? 

Thus when miracles ceased revelation had ended; the scriptures had been completed; the man of God had the means to be made perfect (Eph. 4:14), to be made complete (2 Tim. 3:17), to become mature.  Henceforth nothing else would ever be needed. 

The New Testament scriptures alone are a sufficient guide to heaven and all you need.  God warns us about adding to his word.  The New Testament is enough; the New Testament scriptures are sufficient.  Anything more than that is man playing God.

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