Sunday, December 13, 2009
What is Scripture?
A conversation on Looney's blog made me want to write more about the subject of scripture. What is scripture? How does scripture come to be?
It is very common in the Bible to read the phrase, "that the scripture might be fulfilled." Much of the Old Testament foreshadowed and prophecied what would happen in the New Testament times. Christ Himself often quoted scriptures as He fulfilled them. Here is an example of such a time:
16 ¶ And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. Luke 4:16-21
Being inspired to prophesy is part of what is known as revelation. The Lord reveals something to man that cannot be known by man otherwise. The scriptures are full of prophecies that did indeed come to pass. Isaiah was one of the great prophets that prophesied of the Savior. An example is found in this scripture about the atonement of the Savior:
"5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:6
The pattern God set in olden times was to reveal His word, and also to reveal through prophets things that would come to pass. Those prophets would then write those words. Those writings makeup what we today have as scripture. In our church, we believe that the same pattern is followed today. We believe that God speaks through a living prophet, and reveals His word to them. Those revelations are recorded, and added to a book of scripture we call "The Doctrine and Covenants". In addition, we believe that God also spoke to prophets in the ancient Americas, who also recorded those words in a book of scripture called, "The Book of Mormon". The Book of Mormon has this to say about scripture:
“Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever;
“For I command all men, both in the east and in the west and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.” (2 Ne. 29:7, 9, 11.)
One of the articles of our faith states: "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (Article of faith 9) As those things are revealed, they are recorded, and become scripture.
The Bible went through much trial to be preserved. Through tireless efforts of some, such as the monks, many were preserved. But some scripture was lost. The Bible speaks of some books that are not present in our modern edition. The index to the LDS scriptures mentions these scriptures that are missing:
"The Bible itself speaks of other authoritative books of scripture including books of Nathan the prophet and of Jehu and Enoch, the prophecy of Ahijah, the visions of Iddo the seer, and even missing epistles of Paul (see 2 Chronicles 9:29; 13:22; 20:34; 1 Corinthians 5:9; Jude 1:14)."
When we think about the many creations of God, and about His ability and power, doesn't it seem limiting to say that His words would only be found in one book of scripture? Why would God speak to men of old, but not men of today? Why would God leave us to our own devices in a day when wickedness is increasing in the world? Some believe that the Bible is enough. But we believe in the "law of witnesses" that was practiced in Bible times: "15 ¶ One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." Deut. 19: 15 Additional scripture does not take away from the Bible, but acts as a companion witness that Jesus is the Christ. Modern revelation does not detract from ancient revelation, but affirms that God still directs His people today.
I testify that God continues to speak today, and that scripture continues. Another article of our faith states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." (Article of faith 8) We also believe that more scripture could come forth, and that when it does, it will also testify of Jesus Christ. "39 ¶ Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." John 5:39