A Discussion – A New Understanding of the Bible
In the morning, the breeze was blowing, the sun was warmly shining on the earth and the clouds were drifting in the blue sky. Liu Ming, Hao Meng, and Cheng Zhen sat on the bench in the pavilion of the park for the fresh air. But they were not at ease, frowning and discussing something.
Liu Ming said, “At every gathering our pastors selected many golden verses for us to read and recite at home, and they said, ‘God’s word is our food of life. All God’s word is in the Bible, and outside the Bible there is no God’s word. So, our belief in the Lord means belief in the Bible….’ They think all God’s words are in the Bible. I have been thinking it is not right, but I can’t put my finger on it. What do you think about it?”
“This question has also puzzled me for a long time.” Hao Meng said mildly, “These days, I studied the Bible and saw Revelation 5:1 say, ‘And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.’ Revelation is a book of prophecy. The book here should not refer to the Bible. If the content of the scroll isn’t recorded in the Bible, then isn’t the saying ‘All God’s word is in the Bible’ wrong?”
“It’s really true.” Said Cheng Zhen, “This is what is recorded in Revelation. With regard to whether all God’s word is in the Bible and whether there is God’s word outside the Bible, we still need to seek more about this question.”
“Hmm, I’m also thinking,” said Liu Ming, “The pastors said that all God’s word is in the Bible, but it was clearly prophesied in Revelation that there is a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. We always read and recite the sixty-six books of the Bible, but we haven’t ever read the content of the little scroll. There must be mysteries in it. We need to seek seriously.”
At this moment, Liu Ming saw Brother Zhou practicing Taijiquan nearby, who was from their neighboring church. Liu Ming was overjoyed, so he at once asked Brother Zhou to come for a break and then sought from him. Liu Ming said, “Brother Zhou, we often explored the Bible when we had meetings in the same church. But since our church was divided, we have few chances to fellowship together. Not long ago, I went to listen to the sermons in the large-scale Bible study meeting your church held, but I didn’t see you. How have you been?”
“Oh, I’m fine.” Brother Zhou said with smile, “In that period of time, I went to discuss the Bible with several brothers and sisters at the invitation of an old friend. We talked about our difficulties in the spiritual life. We kept fellowshiping for several days, and it benefited me a lot. Well, I just came back a few days ago.” At this news, Hao Meng and Cheng Zhen gathered around. Liu Ming said in delight, “That’s great. We are discussing a question. The pastors said that all God’s word is in the Bible, but we studied the Bible, seeing that Revelation said that there was a book in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, so we are not sure if it refers to the Bible. We consider that it can’t refer to the Bible, because it was written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals, and if God doesn’t open it, no one can read it. If the book isn’t the Bible, while the pastors don’t allow us to read any other books and say that all God’s word is in the Bible, then they are wrong. I think that the pastors and elders know the Bible well, so what they said might be true. Alas, we are just ignorant of whether there is God’s word outside the Bible; we are confused about it. Brother Zhou, what do you think about this question?”
Brother Zhou said, “I also heard brothers and sisters discuss this question, but without any conclusion. Besides, most brothers and sisters admire the pastors who studied theology, so they believe the pastors’ understanding couldn’t be wrong. But I thought: God is almighty and all-wise, and how could His word be only limited to that in the Bible? Yet I couldn’t justify it according to the Bible, nor could I understand it clearly. This time, invited by my old friend, I put forward this question to seek in our discussion. Through our fellowship, I understood a little.”
Hearing this news, Liu Ming, Hao Meng, and Cheng Zhen smiled and sat closely, and hastened to say, “Please fellowship with us.”
Then, Brother Zhou said, “Since we have believed in the Lord Jesus, we began to read the Bible, recite the Bible, so that the Bible becomes our lifeblood. But what kind of book is the Bible? And how did it come into being? Most of us believers don’t know these questions. That is why we can’t treat the Bible in a correct way. Now let’s first talk about how the Old and New Testament was compiled. In the Old Testament, the first book is Genesis and the last one is Malachi; it was compiled in 400 B.C. The Old Testament recorded God’s work of creation and the work of the Age of Law. As we all know, since mankind were corrupted by Satan, God began the work of saving mankind. God issued the laws through Moses, leading mankind to live on earth. After God did this work, some people wrote down the fact of God’s work, and combined with the prophets’ prophecies inspired by God, and the Old Testament came out. Then, how was the New Testament formed? In the New Testament, the first book is Matthew, written around from 37 A.D. to 40 A.D.; the last one is Revelation, completed from 94 A.D. to 96 A.D. After the Lord fulfilled the work of redemption, the disciples recorded the fact of the Lord Jesus’ work. And there were also the letters that the apostles wrote to the churches and the vision John recorded on the island of Patmos in 90 A.D. Until A.D. 300s, religious leaders from different countries gathered at a council in Nicaea, and they discussed and chose the Four Gospels, and finally, the New Testament was compiled. Afterward, they combined the Old Testament and New Testament together. Thus, the Old and New Testament were formed as we are reading today. Since we’ve known how the Old and New Testament came out, it’ll be easy to understand that the little scroll prophesied in Revelation is not in the Bible.
To figure out this question, let’s read Revelation 5:1–5, ‘And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.’ Some people may think this scroll refers to the Bible, but we can see from this passage of verses that the little scroll was sealed with seven seals, and that no one is able to see what is written in it unless God Himself opens it. According to this feature, the Bible is not a sealed book but one that is public to the world. Believers in the past ages have been reading and studying the Bible to learn the history of God’s work. And what’s more, it is mentioned that the one who sat on the throne had a book in his right hand. Are we the one who sits on the throne? Of course not, so how is there the scroll in our hand? Therefore, it is certain that this book doesn’t refer to the Bible. Meanwhile, it is mentioned in these verses that the scroll was sealed and written within and on the backside, which proves that there are still contents in the scroll, but these contents have yet to be revealed. When the Lord returns, He will open the sealed book and tell us what was written in it. As such, we can know more clearly that there is still God’s word outside the Bible.”
Liu Ming said, “Alas, over these few years of my belief in the Lord, I only accepted what the pastors preached; I only read and recited the Bible every day, but didn’t know how the Old and New Testament were formed and never pondered about the little scroll prophesied by the Lord in Revelation. Now it seems that the little scroll is not in the Old and New Testament, which proves that there is still God’s word outside the Bible.”
“As you say,” Hao Meng and Cheng Zhen replied in unison, “the little scroll is outside the Bible, and there is still God’s word that is not recorded in the Bible.”
Brother Zhou said, “Right! John 21:25 recorded, ‘And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.’ John 16:12–13 said, ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.’ From these verses, we can see: The things that the Lord Jesus did were not fully recorded, and if they were all written down, then even the world couldn’t contain them. This shows that there are only limited things recorded in the Bible. Since the work and word of the Lord Jesus were not completely written down, how can we say there is no God’s word outside the Bible? Besides, the Lord Jesus said He had many things yet to say to the people at that time, because they ‘cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.’ We all know that the Spirit of truth refers to God Himself. That is to say, when the Lord Jesus comes back, He will guide us into all truths and show us the things to come. However, these truths and the things to come are not recorded in the Bible, which means that there is still God’s new word outside the Bible, and it is the little scroll prophesied in Revelation. For this reason, we can’t define that there is no God’s word outside the Bible.
Revelation 2:17 said, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna.’ And Revelation 10:4 said, ‘And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.’ Hidden manna was spoken of in this verse. As we all know, manna is the food God bestowed upon the Israelites in the Old Testament. Then what does the hidden manna refer to? The hidden manna refers to God’s word, which is to say, God will express truth and bestow many truths upon us in the last days, but these truths are not recorded in the Bible. If they were recorded in the Bible in advance, then could they be called the hidden manna? So we can also know from here that there is God’s new word outside the Bible.
Additionally, the contents of ‘the seven thunders had uttered their voices’ mentioned in Revelation 10:4 were not written down by John. This is a proof that the contents of ‘the seven thunders had uttered their voices’ were not recorded in the Bible. So how will we be able to know the contents of ‘the seven thunders had uttered their voices?’ Only when the Lord returns and reveals to us the mystery of ‘the seven thunders had uttered their voices’ can we know these contents. This proves once more that God’s word is not all in the Bible and that there is still God’s word outside the Bible—the new word.”
Cheng Zhen said, “From what you said, I understand: There is still God’s word outside the Bible, and as prophesied in Revelation, there will be the hidden manna to bestow upon us. Alas, we only listened to the pastors in the past rather than pondered with our heart or sought God’s will, so we blindly followed the pastors and elders to define that there is no God’s word outside the Bible; we’re too foolish and ignorant. Without today’s seeking and fellowship, I would keep holding on to the Bible, and when the Lord returns to open the little scroll and sends someone to give testimony to us, we definitely wouldn’t seek and investigate it. Then we would never enjoy the manna God bestows upon us or hear the Lord’s utterance of the last days.”
Hao Meng said with slight excitement, “Revelation 2:7 recorded, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ And Revelation 22:7 said, ‘Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.’ As we all know, now is the last days. The Lord said He would come quickly, so we should make haste to seek what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. Only then can we follow God’s footsteps and enjoy the manna God bestows upon us. Thank the Lord! Today, this is really the Lord’s preparation and leading.”
Liu Ming took a look at Hao Meng and Cheng Zhen, and then he turned to Brother Zhou and said excitedly, “Yes! We should look for where the utterance of the Holy Spirit is as soon as possible. The Bible said, ‘But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased’ (Daniel 12:4). Those who see the sealed book can read God’s word of the last days. If we receive the watering and supplying of God’s word, we will be able to break free from the bondage of sins and get purified and saved by God. Brother Zhou, you said you felt enjoyment in spirit when communicating with those brothers and sisters not long ago. It seems that their fellowship had the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Would you please take us to seek from them?”
Brother Zhou said amazedly, “Great! I also intend to fellowship with them. Let’s go tomorrow.”
They all three nodded their heads happily and said, “Good! Let’s go tomorrow. Brother Zhou, now let’s communicate some more….”
By Chen Hui