Has God Told Us Everything in the Bible?

Is Everything Else One Might Learn - Extra to the Bible - Simply Irrelevant?

And Do We Sometimes Judge, Based on Insufficient Knowledge?






question came in to me recently which, at first, I was inclined to dismiss but just a little thought showed me that the question had a lot of substance, substance I really should share; in doing so, I might well make a few comments which not all our readers - at least initially - will agree with; but I think that a little thought and reflection will back up the point which I make (this comes later in the article but please read from the start). Well, here goes...







So has God told us everything in the Bible? Would it be true to say that everything unrevealed is pretty much useless?


The answer must be: No, things we may learn outside of, or extra to the Bible are not irrelevant at all, although - this further question must also be asked: are these things genuinely learned and understood, or do these things just amount to intellectual fashion, over-inflated theory, simply conjecture - or just sheer bunk? These are the questions we should ask. This is vitally important if this further knowledge comes from 'modern science' which has taken to being dogmatic to support modern theories and ideas.


The nursing tutor I once knew sometimes dreaded being asked, 'is it a boy or a girl?.' She told me: we often should have said, 'We need more time to evaluate...' But we understood that new parents needed reassurance at such a time so we tended to duck it.'



WHY the Bible Tells Us Certain Things

In the Bible God has told us things we need to know right now, many (though probably not all) of these things refer to matters we could never otherwise know or discover; however, God also gave us keen, enquiring minds so we could discover many other things. Christianity makes no claim that - apart from Bible knowledge - everything else is totally irrelevant - of course not. We are made in God's image so the power and scope of our minds go way beyond what an animal is capable of knowing or learning. The great scientists of the past always knew and understood this and - as is frequently pointed out - all the great scientists of the past were Theists, that is: they accepted the existence of an all-powerful and all-knowing God. This perspective only changed with the arrival of modern science, post Darwin, which now includes a strong naturalist and anti-supernatural philosophy. So modern science is not just 'science' any more but contains a generous helping of anti-supernaturalist theory. In short: God is banned from any explanation!

So the discovery of knowledge is a fine and valuable thing as long as it is not abused; Christians should never be in the camp of those who say: if it's not in the Bible, I know it is wrong; no, not necessarily. God has given us minds very capable of learning other things, things which the believer should then be able to evaluate according to his/her beliefs. Sometimes the old-style fundamentalist has been too quick to pounce in this area. As an example (of which there are many) when the Bible states that God "... created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1: 27), that is perfectly correct and perfectly accurate yet - of course - not necessarily the totality of what one might learn on the subject of sexual love; this statement does not mean that things might not occasionally go wrong in a mother's womb and that just occasionally intersex babies are born (babies who are neither strongly masculine nor feminine but somewhere in the middle). In fact, this is a very well known fact but there was a reluctance to discuss it for many years mainly because of the new parent's (and most everybody else's) insistent readiness to ask: ' is it a boy or a girl?'

Long before I met my wife I used to know a woman who was an ex-nurse and she had moved on to become a nursing tutor; when a nurse, she had been involved in maternity and midwifery; sometimes she dreaded being asked this very question ('is it a boy or a girl?') and often thought that sometimes the only really honest answer was to state: 'We don't know at the moment if your baby is a boy or a girl but there are a few signs that your baby is possibly sexually somewhere in the middle, but nobody can be sure at the moment. Time will tell.' Of course, as she said to me, "No nurse will actually say this because in such an excited and emotional time one would seek to give reassurance to new parents." In rare cases this might be discussed later. So in such examples the Bible is telling us how things will work out in the vast majority of cases (clearly male or female), but there has been some degeneration in how the human body works; this part we should be smart enough to work out for ourselves.


The Woman Taken in Adultery

Similarly, when the Bible states that adulterers should be stoned to death this applied to the laws of Israel, mainly to the wanderings in the wilderness but it was also as one of the laws to be upheld by the Judges of Israel, still in force in the days of Jesus. But Jesus, as the inaugurator of the New Covenant, had the power and authority to simply forgive a woman taken in the act of adultery: John 8:1-11; it appears (though we cannot be sure) that the man was absent, if so, the commandment was not being correctly applied in any case. Jesus' approach, however, demonstrates a change of approach to law which was coming. Of course, adultery is still wrong but Jesus was prepared to show the power of forgiveness, something which would be at the heart of the New Covenant. Jesus might have been aware of many other things too; perhaps he knew that the husband of this woman had sorely neglected her, perhaps He knew that he was a useless bully, we don't know. No, adultery is not thus excused but there is a place for mercy and forgiveness. It can be wrong to view everything in the Bible as either black or white; all the great Bible expositors (Calvin, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Ryle etc), knew that there are some grey areas too. The keenness to interpret everything as either black or white can be a sign of scriptural immaturity or legalism; we certainly see this in the scribes and Pharisees.


Do We Really Preach to 'Every Creature'?

Similarly, when the Bible states that - in this age of the Church - we should be busily involved in preaching the Gospel to 'every creature' (Mark 16:15), we all know that there have been times and places where we chose not to preach but, rather, to keep silent, yet we never felt that we were being disobedient to God at such times; has He not also given us the power to choose? As an online preacher it is, perhaps, easier for me. I fulfil this Christian directive by my online preaching and teaching, let the words fall where they may, yet I am encouraged in the belief that perhaps thousands (over several years, of course) are indeed affected by the things which I write. We also know, being hopefully sensible human beings, that if one indeed continually preached our Lord at all times and in all places (bus stop, doctor's surgery, dentist, meetings at work etc.,) we would soon be looked upon as pure nuisances and religious fanatics - actually bringing disrepute upon the Word of God, so we all know that a certain balance is required, yet Mark 16 never states, 'be sure to apply a little balance and common sense here.' Rather, we know it - hopefully - because the Holy Spirit Himself has taught us that.


Are All Newborn Babies 'Equal'?

We should also know - therefore - that when the Scripture states "[He]... created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1: 27), that does not necessarily mean that there is nothing further to be added here, no further knowledge which might assist our understanding. So when certain evangelicals will state that: 'God created people male and female - nothing else - (basing it on Genesis 1:27), therefore there can only be men and or women, so effeminate men or masculine women are a total outrage, those evangelicals (well-meaning though they may be), are not necessarily being true to the spirit of Scripture! We already know that Scripture is true and utterly reliable but that does not mean that there is no further knowledge nor understanding which might be attained! This is why I don't support the 'Christian counselling for homosexuality movement.' I think it is well-meaning but flawed at its root and base. Christians cannot expect to so radically change society or to overturn new trends in society in such a manner right now, yes, we believe that such a time will come but not just yet. Presently we should simply preach the Gospel - that is our commission - nothing further! This present movement among certain evangelicals is also based on flawed knowledge. The teaching is that bisexuals and homosexuals are just normal men and women who are in wilful, outrageous and sinful rebellion against God, but it has long since been established that things can go wrong in the womb and inter-sexuality is a long-established fact. We are told that those who may be regarded as having been 'intersex' babies amount to 1.7 to 2% of the population. For sure, many such children - when grown - are going to question their sexuality. The other point, of course, is that eunuchs (no longer either men nor women) were welcomed into the early Church. See Acts 8:25-38. Personally, I think that a thing for us to be getting much more really steamed-up about is the ongoing scandal of abortion which takes the lives of many thousands of tiny unborn babies in a truly horrific fashion; I don't hear the archbishop of Canterbury nor any other major Christian leader saying too much about that! But - there again - in such an atheistic and self-centred society it is doubtful that we could make much difference - but God is keeping a score, and is aware of every single baby who has been denied birth! Meanwhile - we preach the Gospel. Are you a little more political? Do you want to get more involved in the debate? That's okay but be very careful you don't get embroiled in the reasonings of unbelievers. Don't be a Simon the Zealot who was a political activist more than a believer (though it seems that the latter finally won out).


Problems with The Use of Acts 19:11-12.

We can totally rely on the statements in the Bible but are we sometimes misusing or misapplying them? Is James 5 intended to be a complete theology of healing? I have doubts that such is the case; it seems to me that James simply raises a few points on the subject, knowing that the Apostles would soon depart the scene (with their divinely granted power to dramatically heal soon to depart with them). Yet certain groups simply put James 5 together with Acts 19:11-12 and expect divine healing to occur; that is sloppy and careless biblical exposition. Why are we not carefully reading, and applying just a little common sense? The Acts quote refers to this:

11. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12. so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. (Acts 19:11-12).

So although this Scripture already clearly states that this was a special miracle granted through Paul the Apostle, several groups practice it (or believe they are practising it). We have to accept that the Apostles were granted special and unusual powers but that there are no Apostles around today. No, today we simply pray for the sick, as James tells us (and I myself have seen a few dramatic interventions when this is done), but it is all according to God's will. But never forget that the Bible contains examples of good, righteous people who were not healed or who died of their illness - God knows best. Always remember that every single sick Christian will be healed in Heaven.


CONCLUSION

The Bible is utterly reliable in its teaching but we probably all need to make a greater effort to ensure that we correctly understand it, and are correctly understanding its principles. Are you using Scripture to condemn? Well, my brothers and sisters, there we all need to be especially careful! It does not hurt any of us to occasionally hold our peace, rather than jumping in where angels fear to tread.



Robin A. Brace. July 24th, 2018.




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