Despite having an accountant for a father, I am utterly hopeless with numbers. Actually, growing old seems to make it worse; even the simplest calculations throw me into fits of confusion. Nevertheless, I still know the difference between addition and subtraction.
I also know that spiritual principles shouldn’t be reduced to mathematical formulas. Consequently, I understand that adding to God’s Word (whether with extrabiblical teaching, spiritual practices or personal experiences) ends up taking away Scripture’s authority.
As a young Christian, I learned that Scripture has power precisely because it’s God’s Word rather than a book written by fallible human beings. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer of Hebrews wrote:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
Back then, we applied this verse to Scripture’s effectiveness in evangelism. That’s definitely a proper application, and I firmly believe that we must rely on the Bible whenever we present the Gospel. Sure, non-Christians will reject it unless the Holy Spirit does His work of regeneration. That’s okay. We’ve still demonstrated the integrity of trusting our Master’s Word.
Trusting Scripture goes beyond our evangelism, however. The Lord gives His Word — first and foremost — to believers. Contrary to what many popular teachers say, God has completed the canon of Scripture, revealing everything He wants us to know until He comes again.
Certainly, Scripture does seem limited sometimes. When we face major decisions or suffer heart rending tragedy, we want God to whip out His megaphone and speak directly to us. After all, He spoke personally to people in the Bible. But such reasoning actually demonstrates our unwillingness to believe that God’s Word is enough.
We don’t acknowledge our disdain for the Bible (even to ourselves) when we accept revelation beyond its pages, but think seriously about it for a moment. Aren’t we in fact taking away authority from the Bible in order to invest it in an alternate authority? In so doing, don’t we therefore subtract our faith in God’s Word by transferring that faith to something else?
Rather than augmenting God’s Word, we actually diminish it whenever we add outside sources of revelation. For all intents and purposes, our additions to His Word declare that we view the Bible as being inadequate to speak to us. Shouldn’t we return to a proper estimation of Scripture?