Let’s not go beyond what the Lord said

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy City, and from the things which are written in this book (Revelation 22:18-19). 

Someone says, “I’ve had a revelation from the Lord, something Scripture doesn’t address.”

Run, as fast as you can.

Scripture calls it “adding to the Word,” and it’s clearly verboten throughout the Bible, off limits to all who take seriously their devotion to the Lord and His Word. Deuteronomy 4:2 reads, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Need more?  Try these: Deuteronomy 12:32; Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 30:6. The Father is consistent on this point.)

Let’s not go beyond what the Lord says through His Word.  After all, Scripture teaches that Scripture is sufficient.  Some would call that circular reasoning.   That’s a possibility, but a better plan is that Scripture is Holy Spirit inspired. God knew what He was doing.

You decide. But as for me, I have no trouble believing God planned this amazing book  which we call The Holy Bible!  Holy men of old wrote it (2 Peter 1:21) and the Lord used other holy men (and women) to preserve it intact.

The Bible says about itself: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man (person) of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  It is everything we need to know about God.  All we need to know about Jesus, about salvation, about doctrine.

Beware of books that add to the Word of God. The Mormons do that, as do Christian Science practitioners.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses simply retranslated the Bible to fit their doctrines.  The rest of us try to stay as close to the original as we can (which explains the different translations; we’re trying to get back to the original, not away from it!).

So, our word today is directed to our own people, those who believe God’s Word and have no other holy books. We too should be careful not to add to the Word of God, not to insert some doctrine which Scripture does not teach.

As I see it, the way that plays out will include some or all of the following…

–Jesus is not our Father, and we should not address Him that way in prayer.

The ancient formula of the Trinity went like this:  The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God.  However, the Father is not the Son or the Spirit, just as the Son is not the Father nor the Spirit, and so forth.

-Mary is not the mother of God. Catholics who call her such are pushing a metaphor beyond what it was intended.  Nowhere does Scripture call her this.  Mary called herself “the handmaiden of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), and that’s honor aplenty. We honor her, but not above what Scripture does.

–We do not need to stand up in church every time the pastor reads the Scripture. (I suspect only some Baptists will get this.)  True, they did it a time or two in the Old Testament, for hours even (see I Kings 8:14; Ezra 8:5).  But no one is being irreverent by remaining seated when the pastor reads his text. I wish we could stop this foolishness. After all, does he intend us to jump up every time he quotes another passage in the sermon? Should I jump up from the table where I’m sitting every time I read the Word?

–No one is saved by infant baptism. There is not one word of scriptural evidence for this.  Those who say baptism corresponds to Old Testament circumcision should be consistent therefore and say only men should be baptized.  Those who point out passages where “the household” came to Christ and were all baptized (see Acts 16:33) are arguing from silence since no child is mentioned.  Once we establish that baptism stands for the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ–and of the believer–it becomes apparent that baptism is a) for believers only and b) by immersion only.

A lot of people–countless millions, I fear–are going into eternity never having known Christ but with the false security that a little water on their head and a few words from a priest have earned them a mansion in Heaven.  Some false prophets will have a lot to account for.

–We do not become angels upon dying.  We are different from angels.  People who say their loved one became an angel upon their death are betraying a serious ignorance of scripture.

–Nonsigns about the Second Coming are not signs.  Jesus told how there would be false messiahs and wars and rumors of war, then He said, “See that you are not troubled. All these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”  And, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:4-9).  Untold numbers of preachers and teachers have misinterpreted these words and have Jesus saying they are signs, when He clearly says they are not.  He is pointing out that we are going to be having these things all the time and they are not signs of the end, so we should not be alarmed.

One could wish that anyone and everyone thinking to become knowledgeable about Bible prophecy would take a small but essential lesson from history:  The track record of prophecy experts is lousy.  So, approach this with great humility. And beware of being recognized as an authority on prophecy!

To go beyond what God has said and then impose it on others is presumptuous.  “Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins,” says Psalm 19:13.

Let us not run ahead of God, requiring what He does not, commanding what never entered His mind, placing heavy burdens on people’s backs (Matthew 23:4).

“Father, thank You for Thy Word.  Help us to honor Thee by reading it, reverencing it, and then obeying it.” (John 13:17 and Luke 6:46).

Amen.

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