In recent years I saw a television ad that included the statement; “the church gave us the Bible”. On the surface that statement seems credible and believable, but in the light of the Bible’s testimony about itself, it is an inaccurate statement. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16).
The Old Testament scripture was written and well established long before the birth of Christ and the New Testament church. The Old Testament portion of the Bible, therefore, could not possibly have been given to us by the church.
The New Testament books were written by the apostles under the Holy Spirit’s direction to local churches that the apostles helped establish and/or disciple. The early church collected these letters and weeded out the spurious (copycat) and heretical (false doctrine) writings per the instructions of the inspired writings themselves.
The books and letters that survived this scrutiny and met the scriptural requirements of divine authorship were called the canon of New Testament Scripture which includes the books from the Gospel of Matthew to the Book of Revelation.
Extra biblical books from the period prior to Christ that contained some information of historical value, but did not pass the tests of genuineness were called the Apocrypha. Other books contemporary to New Testament times, that were proven to be spurious and/or heretical, were labeled pseudepigrapha or false writings.
The church’s task was to sort out the already genuine (inspired or God-breathed) writings from the false writings and from those that were simply historical. The church’s task did not make the writings genuine, God breathed, or God’s word, they already were. The Scriptures, therefore, were given to the church (the body of believers) by God the Holy Spirit. God, not the church, gave us the Bible.
So what is the point? Why make such a distinction?
If the “Church” gave us the Bible, there is the implication that the “Church” is a higher authority than the Scripture and can therefore over rule, change, or add to whatever the Scripture teaches.
Bible believing scholars agree that the canon of Scripture is closed. If, however, there was a chance of additional revelation to come, according to Revelation 22:18-19, that revelation could not contradict what the Holy Spirit has already given us without inviting the judgment of God.
Any “Christian” church that elevates extra biblical writing, teaching or tradition to a level equal to or above Scriptural authority begs God’s rebuke and judgment. “Add thou not unto His (God’s) words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6).
It is illogical and totally absurd to think that God, who cannot lie, would give the church additional revelation that flatly contradicts what He has already given us. There is something terribly wrong with that kind of thinking.
Religious cults supplement Scripture by providing their followers with added “revelation or tradition” that is contradictory to Scripture. Cults expand their ranks by preying on religious people or “Christians” who are ignorant of what the Bible teaches. Often the religious cult’s first step is to convince one that what the cult believes and what the potential convert believes is one and the same. The only way to detect this error is to know the Bible.
Law enforcement agents who deal with counterfeit currency spend their time studying the genuine currency so that they may recognize in a moment that which is not genuine. It would serve Christians well to do the same with the Bible. Believers, therefore, should practice II Timothy 2:15 “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”