Today there are a number of so called “latter day revelations” that are considered to be part of God’s revelation of His will for mankind. The Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price are books written by Joseph Smith claiming to be revelations from God. They are used by the members of the Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons. Those two books are looked to as authoritative documents more so than the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses have the New World Translation of the Bible. It is not considered a latter day revelation necessarily, but it is different in its content than the various translations of the Bible most widely accepted as God’s Word.
Are there additional revelations revealing God’s will for man other than the Bible? Are there other books that belong in our Bibles other than the ones that are there? There has been the Book of Thomas, the Book of Judas, and others that have been offered as additional books to those of the Scriptures we know as the Bible. Do they belong in the canon of Scripture?
Over a period of hundreds of years men have compared the content of various manuscripts and have concluded that the 66 books found in the Bible as we know it today is all of God’s revealed will.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Paul wrote to Timothy that the Scriptures were complete to the point of making us “complete, furnished unto all good works.” If the Scriptures we have in the Bible are able to make man all he needs to be to please God what else is needed. In Jude 3 we read, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
The question still remains, how do we know if the Bible, as we have it today, is all of God’s word and there is no other revelation needed or part of God’s will not yet given? The phrase “once for all” refers to the fact that canon of Scripture we have is complete and adequate to save those who obey the will of God recorded therein.
Many modern Protestants point to the following four “Criteria for Canonicity” to justify the selection of the books that have been included in the New Testament—though these ideas aren’t isolated to Protestant theology, but extend to or are derived from other Christian traditions:
1. Apostolic Origin — attributed to and based upon the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their close companions).
2. Universal Acceptance — acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the ancient world (by the end of the 4th century) as well as accepted canon by Jewish authorities (for the Old Testament).
3. Liturgical Use — read publicly when early Christian communities gathered for the Lord’s Supper (their weekly worship services).
4. Consistent Message — containing a theological outlook similar to or complementary to other accepted Christian writing.
If one believes in God, then of necessity one needs to accept the statements made in the Bible that it is all that God has revealed and is sufficient to guide us to heaven.
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