Back in January 2021, we approached our pastor with a question:
We are getting some questions on prophecy and dreams, and we are curious if you could help us answer them appropriately as we disciple some who have left false teaching?
Our stance is that trusting that we are hearing from God in these ways in fact undermines the sufficiency of scripture, and that this is not a matter of continuationism vs. cessationism. We usually hear “I know, I know…the Bible is the final authority…but…”
We are being accused of swinging to the other end of the spectrum after leaving false teaching and that we are now denying the supernatural and miraculous, which is far from true! Thank you so much for your help!
Unbeknownst to us (and our pastor!), this simple request resulted in a 13 page position paper! We are so incredibly grateful for the time our pastor, Dr. John Greever, put into writing these words that we will be sharing in a seven-part series on our blog. Below is part five. Next, we will finish up this series with Part 6, which will also include some reflective questions on what you have learned. We pray this helps your understanding of why the Bible is enough and should be central and most important in our Christian experience.
Scripture as Authoritative Divine Revelation Contrasting with Human Subjectivity: A Position Paper on the Nature and Significance of the Bible in Christian Experience with Particular Reference to Human Subjectivity Applied in Religious Authority
By Dr. John E. Greever
Click here to read the Introduction of Scripture as Authoritative Divine Revelation Contrasting with Human Subjectivity
Click here to read PART 2 of Scripture as Authoritative Divine Revelation Contrasting with Human Subjectivity
Click here to read PART 3 of Scripture as Authoritative Divine Revelation Contrasting with Human Subjectivity
Click here to read PART 4 of Scripture as Authoritative Divine Revelation Contrasting with Human Subjectivity
Clarification: Divine Providence and Godly Human Experience
I want to take a moment to give a clarification concerning the larger issue of divine providence in godly human experience. There are a number of important aspects to this clarification, pertaining to the main point of this paper.
- The Fact of Divine Providential Care for His People (related to Human Experience) – Nothing I have said in this paper should be interpreted to mean that God in any way is inherently limited to being “unable” to work with His people in a historical and personal way, to intervene in the lives of His people in practical and necessary ways for their godliness, or we do not state or imply that God is unable to connect with Christians in any sensory related fashion. No aspect of this biblical teaching regarding the authority of the Scriptures requires us to limit God’s sovereignty and capacity to act in any way that is within keeping with His holy will and the edification of His people. What we are considering here is not regarding God’s ability or capacity; rather, we are thinking together about God’s chosen means of communicating authoritatively with human beings. God chooses to communicate with humans in an authoritative and teaching fashion only through the Scriptures.
- The Faithfulness of God in Providential Care for His People (related to Human Experience) – This leads to a second statement of clarification with respect to this topic; God is absolutely committed in the application of His covenant life and saving will to protect and care for His people in any way that is commensurate with His character and holy will. This may include His manifestation of His mercy and loving care for His people in times of extremities where Christians need God to minister to us in dramatic, personal, and provisionary ways. This does not necessitate personal awareness on our part; indeed, often God providentially works outside the boundaries of a Christian’s thoughts, observations, and perceptions. However, on occasion, when the situation demands it (and God’s will permits it) God can (and will, if He deems it wise and necessary) reach out to His people in an experiential way, so that we come to know in a personal (even intimate) way His love, care, protection, and provision for us, resulting in spiritual growth, in faith and godliness, to the praise of God’s rich mercy. A cursory study of biblical narratives with this issue in mind, leads me to suggest that God’s mercy and covenant love extend in situations and personal experience to the level that is circumstantially required for the fullest application of divine providence to achieve God’s plan and purpose in the lives of His people. However, this cannot demand or teach that God bypasses His Scripture in any authoritative way.
Affirmations and Denials
The impetus for this paper is drawn from concern for those at risk of being caught up in any and all movements that hold convictions that elevate human experience to the level of religious authority, thus denying the right place of the Scriptures as God’s ONLY source of inerrant authority for the formulation of Christian doctrine, belief, convictions, and moral obligatory teaching.
In order to apply the theoretical affirmations previously expressed in this paper to practical life, let us consider some AFFIRMATIONS and DENIALS that will help us think through some relevant issues.
- We affirm human affections of the soul as intrinsic to the image of God in human life.
- We affirm the joys and love of Christ experienced in the human heart through divine grace.
- We affirm human experience as real and inevitable in Christian life and growth.
- We affirm the merciful condescension of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit to accommodate human weaknesses, limited only by God’s eternal character, nature, and holy will.
- We affirm that the Bible (sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments) is the one and only authoritative revelation from God to humans for doctrine and moral teaching.
- We affirm that biblical teaching is God’s truth and is absolute and transcendent in nature, extending beyond the capacities and understanding of the human mind and heart, yet is couched in human language so that we can understand the great moral and doctrinal truths presented to us in the Scripture. These truths never change, but we grow in our understanding of them.
- We affirm that the human experience in heaven will increasingly grow, resulting in the enjoyment of God’s truth forever and ever.
- We affirm that God’s revelatory truth is totally consistent with His nature.
- We affirm that God revelation in Christ is supreme, primary, exclusive, and absolute.
- We affirm that all Christian ministry must center on making the Scripture known in its true meaning determined by God through proper hermeneutical approach in the study of language applied to the text of Scripture; nothing can or should be added authoritatively to the text of Scripture, nor should we neglect or deny any truth taught in the Scripture.
- We deny that God continues to speak to humans in authoritative revelation after the ending of the apostolic era and the closing of the canon of Scripture.
- We deny that this view ignores God’s providential intervention and leadership in human experience.
- We deny that humans can know God, obey God, follow God, and please God by any other means other than in Christian discipleship rooted in the right understanding and application of the Scripture.
- We deny that this view of Scripture and its use in the Christian’s life disregards the ministry of the Holy Spirit; in fact, we strongly assert that the proper application of this view requires the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life.
- We deny that Christian preaching, teaching, and ministry can rightly be exercised outside the requirements of interpreting, preaching, teaching, and ministering the text of Scripture, in order to transmit the truth of God found in the text of Scripture for the salvation of sinners and the edification of Christians.
We hope that you will follow along as we wrap up this series on our blog as Dr. Greever helps us understand why the sufficiency of scripture is so important in the life of the believer.
About the author:
Dr. John E. Greever
Dr. Greever has pastored for over four decades in Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Missouri. During that time he has also taught ministry, Bible, theology and religious classes for Boyce Bible School, the Ministry Training Institute of Oklahoma Baptist University, Trinity Theological Seminary, and the Missouri Baptist University. He has lectured and ministered in Great Britain and has trained students in a variety of places around the world. Dr. Greever holds the Doctor of Theology degree from Trinity Theological Seminary, the Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard Payne University. Dr. Greever preaches expository sermons from the Bible, and he seeks to develop true Christian disciples and leaders for a new generation in and through the church and Christian teaching. His passion and vision for the church are faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in our generation. He seeks to ground the church in its worship, life, and ministry in a biblically based, Christ-exalting, and gospel-centered way.