Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Scripture: Inspiration and Preservation, Part 1

In this post I am going to take a closer look at the Scriptures and what we believe in regards to their inspiration and preservation (2 Timothy 2:15). Since the subject is large, it will be in several parts. Of course, entire books have been written on this issue, and it is not meant to be exhaustive by any means. However, it will cover the basics, and, hopefully, encourage you to further study and strengthen your faith in the Word of God, especially, in a day in which fewer and fewer seem to believe it. 

Christianity rises and falls on not only the inspiration of Scripture but also upon God’s ability to preserve them for future generations. As such, issues such as revelation, the various views, and proofs of inspiration, inerrancy and ultimately canonization must be looked at together and in order. Revelation comes first. The word revelation speaks of a disclosure of information that could not have been known otherwise. In Scripture, the word speaks of God giving information to man that he otherwise would not have known on his own. In regards to revelation, there are two types that must be dealt with before we proceed: they are general and special. Both speak of situations in which God is revealing Himself to some extent.

General revelation is by definition, “God’s disclosure of Himself in nature as the creator and sustainer of all things.”  Most would agree that this revelation comes through nature (Psalms 19:1-6), conscience (Romans 2:14-15), and history (Deuteronomy 28:9-10). The Bible tells us two things about general revelation. First, it is seen by all men. Barnabas and Paul asked, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM. In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness” (Acts 14:15-17, NASB). Second, it leaves all men without an excuse. Paul said in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” It’s that “natural knowledge of God that is the basis for divine  judgment.” 

Therefore, no man will stand before Him in the day of judgment with a valid excuse. However, ultimately, general revelation is not enough. While it does indeed point to God, it is insufficient to reveal the totality of God and salvation. We see this in Romans 2:12-16. However, most do agree that general revelation, if accepted, will of necessity lead to special revelation. Some will also argue otherwise and say that many will die with only the general revelation of God and will be held accountable for how they responded to it.  

Special revelation is when God reveals Himself to men “directly in a personal way.”  It is information that cannot be learned any other way, but through God (1 Corinthians 2:14) and it must be accepted by faith (Romans 10:17). Swindoll and Zuck point out that it was necessary as that it would have been impossible for Adam and Eve to just look around at God’s creation in the garden and have been able to surmise from creation alone what God’s will and purpose for their lives was. God had to have eventually communicated with them by using words.  

The conclusion would be that the ultimate form of special revelation is the Bible itself; for it is the Bible that contains the gospel that is necessary for salvation. Thus is the urgency of getting out the gospel (Romans 10:13-15). It is only through special revelation that we are able to “learn truth about God that cannot be known or discovered by general revelation alone.” 

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