Why Modern Revelations
NCW 17, March 1995
Q. Why don't New Covenant Christians canonise their revelations and visions like some other Churches do?
See FAQ 159. (1) Because legislative action does not make something "true", "holy", "inspired" or anything else; (2) Because the Holy Spirit is the essential ingredient of an apostolic Church, not the Church's scriptures, important though the latter are; and (3) Time is needed to vindicate Scripture. The declarations of a council do not suddenly confer magical qualities to writings. Though their function is to protect correct doctrine there always remains the danger of quenching out the Spirit and making Scripture the Church's life, instead of a spring-board to that life.
The New Covenant Church of God recognises only the Protestant Bible as primary canon, not because we believe the Protestant dogma that it contains God's complete Word (we don't), but because it is sufficient to bring a soul to salvation when the Holy Spirit is present, just as the Old Testament was in Paul's day. Therefore we reject the Mormon dogma which says that salvation cannot be obtained without their books of holy scripture (Book of Mormon, etc.). If Mormons cannot bring people to Christ and salvation without their additional scriptures then theirs is not New Testament Christianity, but something else. The same is true of those churches who regard other works, such as those of Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen White, Sun Myung Moon, and others, as being indispensable to understanding the Gospel and salvation.
Anyone who says that salvation cannot be obtained without their books of scriptures is an impostor because salvation is of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Having a large body of authoritative scripture is, of course, most desirable, so long as scripture does not become the object in and of itself, but the means.
The New Covenant Church of God possesses some 1,000 written revelations, prophecies and visions, together with many historical works, which are not primary canon. Neither are they (save the Olive Branch) made public. In Paul's day his letters were used by the congregations. When evangelising in public, only the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) were used as authoritative, because they were regarded as authoritative to the Jews. When preaching to pagans, they were not extensively used. Rather, the pagans were led to Christ through the Spirit-filled preaching of evangelists apart from an authoritative scriptural reference. Only when the pagans accepted the Gospel were they instructed in the Old Testament and the teachings of the apostles.
And so it is today. The Bible is the only authoritative scriptural reference used in public evangelism. When souls receive Christ and unite themselves with the fellowship, then they receive further instruction within a Biblical context. Even today, those not born-again of the Spirit, interpret the Bible in wildly different ways.
The life of the New Covenant is in its preaching ministry. That is where the Holy Spirit is to be found. That is not, of course, to say that people cannot come to Christ without a preacher, for as Paul says to Timothy, "the holy Scriptures...are able to make you wise through salvation" so long as it is "through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim.3:15, NIV). Thousands have been brought to faith through the Bible. But usually a sustaining ministry is required to bring people to stable and enduring faith. Apostolic witness is important (1 Cor.15:2). It is one thing to believe -- the truth must also be loved for salvation to grow (2 Thes.2:10). That faith must be nurchured through the sanctifying work of the Spirit (2 Thes.2:13) brought about by living holy lives (1 Tim.2:15; 2 Tim.1:9). Believers need congregational life to have their salvation sustained (1 Pet.4:18; Rom.12:4ff).
The New Covenant Church of God has learned these lessons by experience. Previous to its organisation, a vast corpus of new scripture was canonised by the church which preceeded it. Not only did this (understandably) alienate the Church from other Christians but it did little good for the spiritual life of the Church. Instead of being "desserts", the new scriptures became the "main course" even though this was exactly what the leadership did not want. Public interest was in what was "new" instead of the message of salvation, and the Church attracted, in many instances, curiosity seekers instead of those hungering after the Word of Life. All that has now changed.
We do not intend to fall into the trap of Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovahs Witnesses and others who are wholly dependent on "other books" to sustain their doctrines and practices. The Word of Life is incredibly simple at its heart -- let us never lose the heart.
Second Edition, 020598
This page was created on 2 May 1998
Last updated on 2 May 1998
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