Concise Lexicon of Christianity

Ken Collins’ Website

Teachings, worship, rites, sermons, and terminology

Is the Bible all I need to read? (1 John 2:26-27)

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him
—1 John 2:26-27, NIV

This passage does not say that all you need is the Bible. What is says is that if you have the anointing the anointing will teach you all things. (Clearly, the anointing refers to the Holy Spirit.) So this passage does not say you don’t need anything but the Bible, it says all you need is the Holy Spirit.

I think this is true.

However, suppose I go to a university where there is a professor who knows all the subjects. An advisor might tell me that all I need is that professor; he is so smart, that if I am in his class, I don’t need anything else. Now suppose I go to this professor’s class, and he hands out a reading list, passes out a sign-up sheet for a field trip, and assigns some homework. Am I justified in saying that I don’t need to purchase the books or do the assignments? No! Am I justified in saying that I don’t need the professor, that just reading the books is enough? No, because then my studies are undirected and I lack the discernment that the professor gives. So it is true that all I need is the professor, that he is the one indispensable part of my education, but I won’t learn anything if I just sit in his class and fail to do his assignments.

It is true that the Holy Spirit is all we need, but the Holy Spirit has a curriculum, a reading list, and homework assignments. How arrogant are the students who refuse to obey and insist on dictating the curriculum to the Holy Spirit!

Scripture says in Psalm 19:1, The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands, and in Psalm 97:6, The heavens proclaim his righteousness, so the Holy Spirit has assigned us a reading list as large as the entire universe. The Holy Spirit does not impart only wisdom, He moves us to bear fruit and obey Jesus’ commandments. So our assignments take every moment of our entire life. It is true that all we need is the Holy Spirit, that He alone is the essential ingredient, but just sitting in his class without doing the assignments won’t enlighten us at all. It will only show how stupid we are to use our physical presence in His class as a bulwark against the wisdom He seeks to impart and the obedience He seeks to cultivate.

This question comes from a reader in Denmark