2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6 – The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.
It’s amazing how much weight can be placed on a single word, in this case, the “every” in 2 Timothy 3:16. In my own life, I’ve come across the cessationist version of the sufficiency of Scripture repeatedly in the last several weeks. In particular, the Mortification of Spin guys, and gal, seem to mention it every other week on their podcast. Therefore, it’s worth challenging that view on several points.
- It is a serious thing to say that God isn’t allowed to speak with his people outside of Scripture today if he wishes. Personally, I’m very uncomfortable placing limits on what God can and cannot do unless the limits are clear in the Bible. If we are going to say God does not speak any more, we had better be darn sure that we aren’t limiting God’s work since non-scriptural revelation played an important role in the life of the NT church.
- Speaking of critical role, personal prophecy, according to Paul, was to play a crucial part in keeping Timothy’s faith steady (1 Tim 1:18-20). Therefore, Timothy would not have rejected the place of prophecy in his life based on Paul’s second letter. Since he wouldn’t have, neither should we. Context is king.
- Paul was referring to the OT in 2 Tim 3:16-17. This didn’t include the NT letters, or at least not all of them. It is special pleading to exclude further revelation based on this passage, and then include further revelation (the other NT letters).
- All Scripture is divine revelation, but not all divine revelation is Scripture. Scripture is Scripture because it’s Scripture, not because it’s revelation from God. Scripture, as scripture, plays a unique role for the people of God. Most of the divine revelation we know of during the OT and NT periods is not recorded in Scripture. Jesus spoke many things that aren’t recorded, and I could mention many OT and NT prophets and apostles from whom we have nothing.
- Saying the covenant documents are complete does not limit prophecy. These documents include predictions, examples, commands and commendations to prophesy.
- Rejecting practices taught and demonstrated in Scripture because of our high view of Scripture should give us pause. In such cases it is probably best to keep the high view, but construct it differently.
- Apostles only wrote 60% of the NT and only five out of the 14+ apostles wrote NT letters. Writing Scripture was not the exclusive or primary apostolic task. Combining this point with the point about divine revelation, it is clear that the continuance of prophecy should not be so closely tied to the existence of apostles.
- Scripture isn’t the only thing that equips us for every good work, though it plays a vital role. One could mention the various gifts of the Spirit that serve to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:11-12) as an example.