I recently heard a sermon by John MacArthur on the sufficiency of Scripture. His text was Psalm 19:7-4. You can find the same material here. I was tracking pretty well with him until close to the end of the sermon. He states, “Contrary to what many are teaching today, there is no need for additional revelations, visions, or words of prophecy. In contrast to the theories of men, God’s Word is true and absolutely comprehensive. Rather than seeking something more than God’s glorious revelation, Christians need only to study and obey what they already have!” (172-73) John Piper says the same based on 2 Tim. 3:15-17 and Jude 1:3 (“The sufficiency of Scripture means that we don’t need any more special revelation.”)
Here’s what I think might be confusing to some. If Psalm 19 teaches the sufficiency of Scripture, which entails no more need for revelation, then why doesn’t the canon stop with the Psalms? If we recognize the New Testament as revelation (which we all do) then how can Psalm 19 teach the sufficiency of Scripture? Part of the problem is in the meaning of “revelation.” I’ve been helped by D.A. Carson’s discussion of this in his book Showing the Spirit. Here are some excerpts from that discussion:
“In all of the occurrences, the revelation is granted by God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or brought about directly by them or in connection with them. . . For instance, when Peter makes his confession at Caesarea Philippi he has to be told that the Father had revealed this truth to him (Matt. 16:17 par.): apparently revelation can take place without the individual knowing that is taking place or has taken place. . . . More revelation takes place in the believer’s life as he or she grows in grace and understanding. Paul can write to converts and explain some foundational Christian truth, and then add, ‘All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear [lit., ‘will reveal’] to you’ (Phil. 3:15) A similar understanding of revelation lies behind Ephesians 1:17, and probably also behind some passages where the terms revelation and reveal are not actually used (e.g., Eph. 3:14-19). . . . Apparently, at least some of this revelation came through a quiet (possibly even unrecognized but no less gracious) divine disclosure, part of the Christian’s growing grasp of spiritual realities–a growing grasp that can come only by revelation, which is to say it comes by grace.” (162-63)
To think that such revelations threaten the canon of Scripture, Carson says, “is to confuse the terminology of Protestant systematic theology with the terminology of the Scripture writers.” (163) So perhaps what Piper and MacArthur are referring to is that we don’t need any more revelation which would be on par with canonical Scripture. If so, then I’m back to my original question: If this is the teaching of Psalm 19 or 2 Timothy then why do we have/recognize any Scripture beyond that?