Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Word of God, Session 1

Today we begin a new study looking at the Bible and how it came to us by dealing with the first issue of revelation or how God revealed Himself to us.

Teaching Notes
Heb_4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The Word of God is central to the whole of the Christian faith. I would submit to you that the entirety of our faith rests upon it. To adequately understand the topic, we must look closer at the issues of revelation (both general and special), inspiration (both views and proofs), inerrancy, and ultimately canonization. 

Before we can discuss the issue of inspiration, the issue of revelation must be addressed, because it comes first in the sequence of events. In general, the word revelation speaks of a disclosing of information that could not have been known otherwise. In regards to revelation, there are two types of revelation 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." It comes through nature (Psa 19:1-6), conscience (Rom 2:14-15), and history (Deu 28:9-10). 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" (Act 14:15-17).

As such, it leaves all men without an excuse. Paul said in Rom 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." However, ultimately, general revelation is not enough. While it does indeed point to God, it is insufficient to reveal the totality of God and His ultimate plan. 

On the other hand, 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 (1Co 2:14) and it must be accepted by faith (Rom 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 (Rom 10:13-15). It is only through special revelation that we are able to "learn the truth about God that cannot be known or discovered by general revelation alone."

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