Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Everything should be tried or tested by the Scriptures. When you hear a teaching about spiritual things, whether at a meeting, in a class, at a worship service, on the radio or television, or on the Internet, be ready to test what you hear or read by the Bible.
It does no good to compare what is being taught with what you have already learned from your church, unless your church strictly goes by the Bible. Yet many who sincerely believe they go strictly by the Bible are mistaken on some points.
In Isaiah’s time, there were those who in impatience and despair gave up on waiting for God’s answer, and sought to use occult means to learn the answer to their questions. Isaiah firmly warned them that they must go by the “law” and the “testimony.” Those are terms used in the Old Testament that are actually names given to the Bible. You can see this by reading the 119th Psalm, where at least ten different names are given to the Scripture.
The Bible ALONE is God’s constituted authority, the final authority, the exclusive authority, in spiritual things. Anything that contradicts what the Bible teaches is wrong and not to be believed. Anything that is an addition to the Bible in a matter of faith, doctrine, and morals is wrong and not to be believed or followed. God commands us in this passage (Isaiah 8:20) to go by the Bible alone. I like to express it as going by the Bible alone and in its entirety.
Following this principle leads to several solid conclusions. God has not further developed Bible doctrine since the Bible was finished. That is to say, God has not given anyone new revelation since John completed the Book of Revelation about 96 AD that supplants or adds to the truth already in the Bible. Jude 1:3 plainly speaks of the faith once delivered unto the saints. Jude states, therefore, that the complete body of doctrine was delivered not to priests and bishops, prelates and popes, but to the saints, the Bible word for ordinary Christian believers. That body of doctrine was delivered just ONCE, a special word used only a few times in the Greek New Testament, a term which means “once for all.” Jude’s statement means the body of doctrine which was delivered was complete in itself and never to be added to.
Now to step on a few toes. If it is not taught in the Bible, it is not to be believed. For example, marriage is defined by God Himself in the second chapter of Genesis to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24, affirmed in the New Testament by Jesus Christ Himself who cites this very passage, Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7). It is against the institution of marriage as God ordained it to be to suppose two women or two men can be joined in marriage. That is not only nonsense, it is an abomination to God Almighty. He calls it what it is, Sodomy. Sodomy bears its own punishment in this life–a shortened lifespan (Job 36:14). No Bible believing Christian should ever lend any support to practices which are in clear violation of the Bible (2 Chronicles 19:2). If unsaved people wish to do such things, that is their choice. Paul said “What have I to do to judge them also that are without?” (1 Corinthians 5:11, 12). God’s Word makes it very clear that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, 11). In plain language, unless they repent and turn to Christ, and forsake their sinful lifestyle, they are eternally lost. Such life styles are the personal choice of those who practice them–they are not born to be that way, and they can choose to change (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Now to step on some more toes. Any church that suggests there is any other basis for Christian doctrine besides the Bible alone is a mistaken church. It may be a false cult. They might argue that Tradition has an equal voice with the Bible when it comes to defining or establishing Christian doctrine. The only traditions God has authorized us to go by are the traditions recorded in the Bible, the teachings written for our learning by the divinely inspired writers of the New Testament.
Some have asked, “Where in the Bible is there even a single verse that tells us we must go by the Bible alone?” The answer is right in Isaiah 8:20, though there are many more, which can be found by means of the cross references furnished for that verse.
For those who desire to DIG DEEPER into this subject:
(1) Consult the cross references given in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible on page 720 for Isaiah 8:20.
(2) Consult the cross references given in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on page 753 or in Logos 5 Bible software for Isaiah 8:20.
(3) Lacking access to those two resources, consult the cross references for this passage as I have developed them as given below:
Isaiah 8:20. To the law. ver. +Is 8:16. +*Is 1:10n. **Dt 17:14-20. **Dt 30:11-14. **Josh 1:8. **2 Ch 17:9. Ezr 7:10. 10:3. Ne 8:1. +Ps 119:1. Ec 8:1. Je 6:16. +*Je 15:16. Ezk 40:3. *Hag 2:11. Mal 4:4. Mt 4:7. 14:4. 15:4. +*Mt 23:2, 3. Mk 4:24. **Mk 7:7, 13. 10:3, 19. **Mk 12:24. **Lk 4:4. *Lk 10:26. *Lk 16:29 31. 18:20. **Jn 5:39, 46, 47. Ac 2:38n. **Ac 17:11. Ro 4:3. +*Ro 15:4. 1 Cor 9:8. Ga 3:8, etc. Ga 4:21, 22. **2 Tim 3:15 17. James 1:25. +*1 P 2:2. **2 P 1:19. testimony. ver. +Is 8:16. Dt 17:14, 18-20. Ru 4:7. 2 K 11:12. 2 Ch 23:11. Ps 78:5. 93:5. +Ps 119:2, 24. Ro 3:2. 1 Cor 2:1. 2 Tim 1:8. 1 P 4:11. if they speak not. Dt 13:3. +**Ps 119:63. +*Pr 19:27. Mt 24:4. +Mk 4:24. +Lk 8:18. *Ac 20:28 32. **1 Cor 14:29. 2 Cor 2:17. 4:2. Ga 1:6, 7. 3:1. Ep 4:14. +2 Tim 3:5. 2 P 2:1. 3:16. **1 J 2:27. 2 J 9, 10. according. Here we learn the absolute importance of basing every doctrine, every belief, on the written word of God. No error is more fundamental, nor more disastrous, than depending upon some external source of authority, whether extra Biblical writings, or an organization claiming to dispense God’s truth. The only source of authority is the written word of God. This word is declared in many ways to be perspicuous—that is, understandable (Dt 30:11n; +Ps 102:18, T#49; +*Pr 8:9) to the ordinary person, who, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, together with careful study, may be trusted to come to just and sound conclusions as to the meaning of Scripture. Otherwise how could spiritual truth be made known to “babes and sucklings” (Ps 8:2. Mt 11:25), and how could ordinary listeners be commended for checking the accuracy and truthfulness of an apostle (**Ac 17:11), and be charged with the responsibility of judging the message of an apostle, to determine that it was the true gospel (Ga 1:8)? Note that the great doctrinal epistles are specifically addressed to the “saints,” that is, the ordinary believers, not to the pastors, bishops, theologians, or authorities of the church (Ro 1:6, 8; 1 Cor 1:2; Ep 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:2). We shall be judged on the basis of our belief or disbelief in the written word of God (Jn 5:24 47. 12:48); in that day we will not be able to excuse our wrong belief, if such it should prove to be, by an appeal claiming “But I believed what my church, pastor, organization, etc., taught me” (**Ezk 14:10. Mt 7:21 23; **Mk 12:24, 27. **Ro 14:12). T#46. Is 29:11 13. Ex 35:29. *Ex 40:16. Dt 29:29. *2 K 23:24. Ezr 7:14. 10:3. Ps 26:3. Pr 22:21. Mt 7:21-23. 15:3 6, 9. *Mk 7:7-9. Lk 3:14n. Jn 8:6. *Jn 12:48. 16:13n. +*Ac 8:31. Ro 2:16, 18. 3:2, 10. 4:3. 12:6. +*Ro 15:4. +1 Cor 1:2. 3:13. 2 Cor 10:12. 11:4. +*Ga 1:8n. Ep 1:1. Col 1:2. *Col 2:8. +*1 Th 5:21. 2 Tim 2:15. 1 P 4:11. 1 J 4:6. to this word. Is 65:5n. +*Dt 4:2. 1 K 13:9n (point 1). 1 Ch 28:19. *Ps 102:18. *Pr 30:5, 6. **Je 23:28, 29. Mi 3:5. **Mk 12:24. Lk 12:57. *Jn 8:31, 32. +**2 Tim 3:15, 16. *1 J 4:1. Re 4:1n. 22:18. it is. Is 30:8 11. **Ps 19:7, 8. **Ps 119:130. *Je 8:9. Mic 3:6. **Mt 6:23. **Mt 22:29. *Mk 7:7-9. *Lk 8:11. Ro 1:22. *2 P 1:9. +*Jude 1:3n. no light. Heb. morning. lit. “darkness,” either of morning or of evening (Young). +*Is 17:14. 47:11. Ge 32:25, 27. Ex 25:37. Le 24:2. Nu 8:2. Jsh 6:15. 1 S 9:26. Jb 24:16. 38:12, 15. Ps 49:20. *Ps 101:8. **Ps 119:105, 130. 139:9. Pr 2:6. +*Pr 4:18, 19. 6:23. **Pr 8:9. 14:6. 18:1n. 20:20. *Je 8:9. 14:14n (point 1). **Je 23:28n. **Ezk 14:10n. Da 11:33n. Ho 6:3. *Mal 4:2. *Mt 6:23. *Mt 8:12. **Mt 11:25. Lk 11:36. Jn 1:9. 3:19, 21. 8:12. *2 Cor 4:3, 4. *2 P 1:19. 1 J 1:5, 7. 2:11. *Jude 1:13. +Re 2:28.