Summary of Christian Doctrine
Introduction by CDLF
An etext edition of the first twenty-two chapters of Summary of Christian Doctrine was was posted to the Internet by -Bill Fields: PeaceMakers International, 630.668.1205 Ministry of Biblical Counseling, Reconciliation, Pastor, Elder, Deacon, church Leadership, Church Discipline, instruction. This partial edition was downloaded from the Net, reformatted and very slightly edited for CDLF etext distribution by Clyde C. Price, Jr. "Clyde.Price@CDLF.ORG" for the Christian Digital Library Foundation "http://www.cdlf.org". I have corrected a considerable number of mistaken Bible references and inserted page numbers, comparing with a paperback 1938 edition of the book, reprinted December 1962 by Banner of Truth Trust, from which --at this writing-- the book is still available in print media. (Buy it!) I also retyped the remaining chapters of the book, which contain much material that is controversial among evangelical and Reformed Christians.
Please read the "CDLF Etext Editor's Note" at the end of this etext.
I am aware that this book in print-media is employed as a textbook for candidates for ruling elder and deacon in at least some Presbyterian Church in America congregations. I pray that this digital edition will give increased convenient access to this very valuable training resource.
For the convenience of people who read this etext without a Bible or Bible program handy, additional ASV Scripture references not printed out in the book have been added to this etext in angle brackets either just after or near references cited in the book (see note, below). Even though this adds considerably to the size of the file and interrupts the continuity of the text, requiring increased attention, I judged that for a digital "Reformed" resource, including much of the cited Scripture was worthwhile.
I'm sure that I have NOT caught all the errors in this etext. Please email corrections to "Clyde.Price@CDLF.ORG". [or firstname.lastname@example.org - Pastor David]
This file distributed in 2001 by: Clyde C. PRICE, Jr. "Clyde.Price@CDLF.ORG" Box 214 Suite 205, 11770 Haynes Bridge Rd. Alpharetta, GA 30004 USA Founder and President: The Christian Digital Library Foundation, Inc.
NOTE: This e-text was converted to HTML and posted at bibleteacher.org with the kind permission of Brother Clyde Price. In converting this file to HTML I took the liberty of removing the angle brackets on the e-text Scripture additions, and instead used a red color on all added Scripture. - As with many works (such as Finney, Spurgeon, Wesley, Bunyan, and so on) on this site, I have posted it because there are valuable Biblical truths clearly evident in the work - though I do not agree with all of the Theology that this precious saint - now with our Lord Jesus - taught. Where you disagree let this spur you to open your Bibles and seek out what the Lord has said. In so doing you will grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus. You are loved! - Pastor David
End Notes by CDLF E-Text Editor
This project was much more work than I thought it would be when I started, so I'm taking the privilege of making some comments on this important work.
After comparing all Bible references in the etext I found on the Web (apparently a result of scan/OCR, with many incorrect numbers in Bible references) against the Banner of Truth edition I had at hand, and inserting page numbers from that edition, I discovered to my surprise that Berkhof's book contained 8 more chapters --46 more pages of text-- than the etext did. The etext contained only 22 chapters and only listed these 22 in its table of contents. These omitted chapters dealt mostly with the sacraments, theology of the church and church government, and eschatology: things about which most non-Presbyterians would disagree. I could almost understand posting parts of a book on the Internet with a statement that "This is not the complete work, and we didn't post stuff we disagreed with", but I am upset at the uncommented posting of part of the book representing all of it. This book has been on my "to do" shelf for years. I expected to type all of it myself. This way, I've only had to type the last 46 pages.
I do not agree with Berkhof on all his details, but I studied his Systematic Theology in seminary (at the Atlanta School of Biblical Studies, soon to become --as I write this-- the American University of Biblical Studies) as a textbook for the ST course; and our professor, Dr. C. Gregg Singer --now with the Lord-- made it clear that he wanted us to THINK THROUGH the doctrines and issues presented. Dr. Singer frankly sought to PERSUADE us toward Reformed views without ever requiring detailed agreement as a course requirement. Dr. Singer's humble persuasiveness and patient reasoning comprised at least two-thirds of the influence that pulled me into the Reformed corner of our Great Shepherd's flock. I believe that this is the best way to teach God's Truth.
While in those classes, I heard that some institutions which are not even Reformed use Berkhof's ST , or his Manual of Christian Doctrine (originally intended for colleges), or this shorter work SCD (originally intended, I was told, for younger students), and the classroom sessions are/were taken up in exploring the Scriptures thoughtfully and finding points of agreement and points of disagreement. When there's actually more to agree with than to pick at, I like this "Berean" method of study, and I heartily recommend any of Berkhof's three books as textbooks for a course in Biblical theology.
Something else I need to comment about is the inclusion of many more Scripture references and the choice of the 1901 American Standard Version for these. I assume that Berkhof gave the unquoted Scripture references he gave with the intention and hope that readers would study the book with their own Bibles in hand, "searching the Scriptures to see if these things were so". "Acts 17:11 Montgomery. "The Jews of Berea were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they very readily received the message with all readiness of mind, and day after day searched the Scriptures to see whether these things were so.""
In preparing this etext edition, I have held in my mind MY OWN purposes, of being able to study this work as a file on my palmtop (an 8Meg monochrome Handspring Visor), especially while riding the bus or train. It is often extremely inconvenient to pull something out of my pack to compare with something I'm looking at on the screen; and when in "standing-up waiting situations", even reading a book with pages is inconvenient, while reading from the palmtop effectively "redeems the time". Using the DOS version of the OnLine Bible ASV with the loaded TSR which enables typing a specified Bible text into a document, I have inserted "in angle brackets" the ASV text of many of Berkhof's references FOR MY OWN CONVENIENCE, and also in the hopes that having the cited Scripture onscreen will be edifying for others who use this etext.
Since Berkhof used the ASV for all Scripture quotations in this work, and since in 2001 the ASV is freely public domain worldwide, it was an easy choice of version. I do not, however, commend the ASV as a translation to memorize verses you want to quote out loud to the general public, because of its extreme awkwardness and obsolete --and sometimes confusing-- language. Neither do I recommend extremely "dynamic" (i.e., "thought for thought," non-literal) versions for doctrinal studies. I have spent much effort memorizing passages from the New American Standard Bible, which is very literal. I have known others who have used RSV, NKJV, or the somewhat smoother NIV. I've heard reports of translations in preparation that encourage me, such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible and the International Standard Version. But whichever version of Scripture you use, PLEASE, choose a translation worthy of memorizing, and MEMORIZE as much Scripture as you can, and MEDITATE on it thoughtfully and prayerfully. Perhaps the leadership of your local church (or school) can agree together on a recommended "default" version for Bible memorization. The memory assignments in this book are more doctrinal in emphasis, and you should also meditate on passages that speak to a lifestyle of faithful devotion. Good resources include The Navigators' Topical Memory System, and the Inter-Varsity booklet "Fire In My Bones". For memorizing and reviewing larger blocks of Scripture, I wrote an article suggesting the use of "initials", the first letters of each word in a text with the punctuation and verse-numbers, which is available from the website in my sig below.
Berkhof's work is important, and is used as a textbook for church officers in some churches with which I'm familiar. But the Scripture itself is more important, and Berkhof is not "verbally inspired", and should be taken with the same "Berean" attitude with which we evaluate any human teacher or teaching.
Even though the extra Scripture texts make following Berkhof's thoughts a little harder, I believe that the extra concentration --and perhaps sometimes paging back and forth to recover the thought-- is worth the effort in return for having the Scripture in question before your eyes.
There is also the touchy subject of "completeness". Berkhof addresses important concepts, but there are issues that Christians must think through and address which Berkhof does not address in any of his books. We are commanded by Scripture to speak God's eternal Truth into the environment in which we live. This requires that we live in close, prayerful and thoughtful contact with the Scriptures themselves, and with the God of the Scriptures. Even after we have "mastered" THIS material, we're not finished with our homework.
I have labored on this work on the assumption that the source text is in the public domain. In turn I issue this CDLF etext edition freely into the public domain, with the prayer that God will bless it and use it to the edification of His Kingdom, and toward the preparation of thoughtful evangelizing disciple-making workers who will take the whole counsel of God to all the nations. To God alone be the glory!
--Clyde Price, Alpharetta, Georgia USA, February 2001
This is a standard textbook for students and a reference work for every Christian home.
Berkhof's loyalty to the well-defined lines of the Reformed Faith, his concise and compact style and his up-to-date treatment, have made this work the most important twentieth century compendium of Reformed Theology.
"The work seemed particularly important to me," writes the author, "in view of the widespread doctrinal indifference of the present day, of the resulting superficiality and confusion in the minds of many professing Christians, of the insidious errors that are zealously propagated even from the pulpits, and of the alarming increase of all kinds of sects. If there ever was a time when the Church ought to guard her precious heritage, the deposit of the truth that was entrusted to her care, that time is now."
Professor Berkhof died in 1957, at the age of 83. He was an outstanding American teacher and the author of some 22 books. After two pastorates, he began his long career as professor at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, in 1906. Here he remained for 38 years devoting his talents and immense stores of knowledge to the training of men for the ministry. His "Systematic Theology" was his magnum opus, being revised and enlarged during his lifetime until it reached its present final form. 784 pages.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1: Religion
1. The Nature of Religion
The Bible informs us that man was created in the image of God. When he fell in sin, he did not entirely cease to be the image-bearer of the Most High. The seed of religion is still present in all men, though their sinful nature constantly reacts against it. Missionaries testify to the presence of religion in some form or other among all the nations and tribes of the earth. It is one of the greatest blessings of mankind, though many denounce it as a curse. Not only does it touch the deepest springs of man's life, but it also controls his thoughts and feelings and desires.
But just what is religion? It is only by the study of the Word of God that we can learn to know the nature of true religion. The word 'religion' is derived from the Latin and not from any word that is found in the original Hebrew or Greek of the Bible. It is found only four times in our translation of the Bible, Gal. 1:18, 14; Jas. 1:26, 27. The Old Testament defines religion as the fear of the Lord. This fear is not a feeling of dread, but of reverent regard for God akin to awe, but coupled with love and confidence. It is the response of the Old Testament believers to the revelation of the law. In the New Testament religion is a response to the gospel rather than to the law, and assumes the form of faith and godliness.
In the light of Scripture we learn to understand that religion is a relation in which man stands to God, a relation in which man is conscious of the absolute majesty and infinite power of God and "8" of his own utter insignificance and absolute helplessness. It may be defined as a conscious and voluntary relationship to God, which expresses itself in grateful worship and loving service. The manner of this religious worship and service is not left to the arbitrary will of man, but is determined by God.
2. The Seat of Religion.
There are several wrong views respecting the seat of religion in man. Some think of religion primarily as a sort of knowledge, and locate it in the intellect. Others regard it as a kind of immediate feeling of God, and find its seat in the feelings. And still others hold that it consists most of all in moral activity, and refer it to the will. However, all these views are one-sided and contrary to Scripture, which teaches us that religion is a matter of the heart. In Scripture psychology the heart is the central organ of the soul. Out of it are all the issues of life, thoughts, feelings, and desires, Prov. 4:28. Religion involves the whole man, his intellectual, his emotional, and his moral life. This is the only view that does justice to the nature of religion.
3. The Origin of Religion.
Particular attention was devoted during the last fifty years to the problem of the origin of religion. Repeated attempts were made to give a natural explanation of it, but without success. Some spoke of it as an invention of cunning and deceptive priests, who regarded it as an easy source of revenue; but this explanation is entirely discredited now. Others held that it began with the worship of lifeless objects (fetishes), or with the worship of spirits, possibly the spirits of forefathers. But this is no explanation, since the question remains, How did people ever hit upon the idea of worshiping lifeless or living objects? Still others were of the opinion that religion originated in nature-worship, that is, the worship of the marvels and powers of nature, or in the widespread practice of magic. But these theories do not explain any more than the others how non-religious man ever became religious. They all start out with a man who is already religious.
The Bible gives the only reliable account of the origin of religion. It informs us of the existence of God, the only object worthy of religious worship. Moreover, it comes to us with the assurance that God, whom man could never discover with his natural powers, revealed Himself in nature and, more especially, in His divine Word, demands the worship and service of man, and also determines the worship and service that is well-pleasing to Him. And, finally, it teaches us that God created man in His own image, and thus endowed him with a capacity to understand, and to respond to, this revelation, and engendered in him a natural urge to seek communion with God and to glorify Him.
To memorize Scripture passages bearing on:
a. The Nature of Religion:
Deut. 10:12, 18. "And now, Israel, what doth Jehovah thy God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of Jehovah, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good."
Ps. 111:10. "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever."
Eccl. 12:13. "Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man."
John 6:29. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent."
Acts 16:31. "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house."
b. The Seat of Religion.
Ps. 51:10. "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Also vs. 17. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
Prov. 4:23. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
Matt. 6:8. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
c. The Origin of Religion.
Gen. 1:27. "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him."
Deut. 4:13. "And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments."
Ezek. 36:26. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh."
For Further Study of Scripture.
a. What elements of true religion are indicated in the following passages:
Deut. 10:12; "And now, Israel, what doth Jehovah thy God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, (Deuteronomy 10:12)"
Eccl. 12:13; " [This is] the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole [duty] of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)"
Hos. 6:6; "For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. (Hosea 6:6)"
Micah 6:8; "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)"
Mark 12:33; "and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is much more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:33)"
John 3:36; 6:29; "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36) Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:29)"
Acts 6:3; " Look ye out therefore, brethren, from among you seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (Acts 6:3)"
Rom. 12:1; " I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service. (Romans 12:1)" 13:10; " Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: love therefore is the fulfilment of the law. (Romans 13:10)"
Jas. 1:27. " Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)"
b. What forms of false religion are indicated in the following passages:
Ps. 78:35, 36; "35 And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their redeemer. 36 But they flattered him with their mouth, And lied unto him with their tongue. (Psalms 78:35-36)"
Isa. 1:11-17; "11 What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I have had enough of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; new moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies,-- I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:11-17)"
58:1-5; "1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and declare unto my people their transgression, and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways: as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God, they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near unto God. 3 Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find [your own] pleasure, and exact all your labors. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to Jehovah? (Isaiah 58:1-5)"
Ezek. 33:31, 32; "31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but do them not; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their gain. 32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not. (Ezekiel 33:31-32)"
Matt. 6:2, 5; " When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. (Matthew 6:2) And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. (Matthew 6:5)"
7:21, 26, 27; "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21) 26 And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: 27 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof. (Matthew 7:26-27)"
23:14; " [Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, even while for a pretence ye make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive greater condemnation.] (Matthew 23:14)"
Luke 6:2; " But certain of the Pharisees said, Why do ye that which it is not lawful to do on the sabbath day? (Luke 6:2)"
13:14; " And the ruler of the synagogue, being moved with indignation because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, answered and said to the multitude, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the day of the sabbath. (Luke 13:14)"
Gal. 4:10; " Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. (Galatians 4:10)"
Col. 2:20; " If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, (Colossians 2:20)"
II Tim. 3:5; " holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5)"
Tit. 1:16; " They profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:16)"
Jas. 2:15, 16; "15 If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2:15-16)"
3:10. " out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:10)"
c. Name six instances of true religion.
Gen. 4:4-8; "4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And Jehovah said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door: and unto thee shall be its desire, but do thou rule over it. 8 And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. (Genesis 4:4-8)"
12:1-8; "1 Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make they name great; and be thou a blessing; 3 and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 4 So Abram went, as Jehovah had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7 And Jehovah appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto Jehovah, who appeared unto him. 8 And he removed from thence unto the mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Ai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto Jehovah, and called upon the name of Jehovah. (Genesis 12:1-8)"
15:17; " And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these pieces. (Genesis 15:17)"
18:22-33; Ex. 3:2-22;
Deut. 32:33; " Their wine is the poison of serpents, And the cruel venom of asps. (Deuteronomy 32:33)"
II Kings 18:3-7; 19:14-19; Dan. 6:4-22; Luke 2:25-35; 2:36, 37; "36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and she had been a widow even unto fourscore and four years), who departed not from the temple, worshipping with fastings and supplications night and day. (Luke 2:36-37)"
II Tim. 1:5. " having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also. (2 Timothy 1:5)"
Questions for Review
1. Is religion limited to certain tribes and nations?
2. How can we learn to know the real nature of true religion?
3. What terms are used in the Old and New Testament to describe religion?
4. How would you define religion?
5. What mistaken notions are there as to the seat of religion in man?
6. What is the center of the religions life according to Scripture?
7. What different explanations have been given of the origin of religion?
8. What is the only satisfactory explanation?
Chapter 2: Revelation
1. Revelation in General.
The discussion of religion naturally leads on to that of revelation as its origin. If God had not revealed Himself, religion would have been impossible. Man could not possibly have had any knowledge of God, if God had not made Himself known. Left to himself, he would never have discovered God. We distinguish between God's revelation in nature and His revelation in Scripture.
Atheists and Agnostics, of course, do not believe in revelation. Pantheists sometimes speak of it, though there is really no place for it in their system of thought. And Deists admit the revelation of God in nature, but deny the necessity, the reality, and even the possibility of any special revelation such as we have in Scripture. We believe in both general and special revelation.
2. General Revelation.
The general revelation of God is prior to His special revelation in point of time. It does not come to man in the form of verbal communications, but in the facts, the forces, and the laws of nature, in the constitution and operation of the human mind, and in the facts of experience and history. The Bible refers to it in such passages as Ps. 19:1, 2; Rom. 1:19, 20; 2:14, 15.
"1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. (Psalms 19:1-2) 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, [even] his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: (Romans 1:19-20) 14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; 15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing [them]); (Romans 2:14-15)"
a. Insufficiency of general revelation.
While Pelagians, Rationalists, and Deists regard this revelation as adequate for our present needs, Roman Catholics and Protestants are agreed that it is not "12" sufficient. It was obscured by the blight of sin resting on God's beautiful creation. The handwriting of the Creator was not entirely erased, but became hazy and indistinct. It does not now convey any fully reliable knowledge of God and spiritual things, and therefore does not furnish us a trustworthy foundation on which we can build for our eternal future. The present religious confusion of those who would base their religion on a purely natural basis clearly proves its insufficiency. It does not even afford an adequate basis for religion in general, much less for true religion. Even gentile nations appeal to some supposed special revelation. And, finally, it utterly fails to meet the spiritual needs of sinners. While it conveys some knowledge of the goodness, the wisdom, and the power of God, it conveys no knowledge whatever of Christ as the only way of salvation.
b. Value of general revelation.
This does not mean, however, that general revelation has no value at all. It accounts for the true elements that are still found in heathen religions. Due to this revelation gentiles feel themselves to be the offspring of God, Acts 17:28, seek after God if haply they might find Him, Acts 17:27, see in nature God's everlasting power and divinity, Rom. 1:19, 20, and do by nature the things of the law, Rom. 2:14. Though they live in the darkness of sin and ignorance, and pervert the truth of God, they still share in the illumination of the Word, John 1:9, and in the general operations of the Holy Spirit, Gen. 6:3. Moreover, the general revelation of God also forms the background for His special revelation. The latter could not be fully understood without the former. Science and history do not fail to illumine the pages of the Bible.
"that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us: (Acts 17:27)
19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, [even] his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: (Romans 1:19-20)
(for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; (Romans 2:14)
There was the true light, [even the light] which lighteth every man, coming into the world. (John 1:9)
And Jehovah said, My spirit shall not strive with man for ever, for that he also is flesh: yet shall his days be a hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3)"
3. Special Revelation.
In addition to the revelation of God in nature we have His special revelation which is now embodied in Scripture. The Bible is preeminently the book of God's special revelation, a revelation in which facts and words go hand in hand, the words interpreting the facts and the facts giving substance to the words. "13"
a. Necessity of special revelation.
This special revelation became necessary through the entrance of sin into the world. God's handwriting in nature was obscured and corrupted, and man was stricken with spiritual blindness, became subject to error and unbelief, and now in his blindness and perverseness fails to read aright even the remaining traces of the original revelation, and is unable to understand any further revelation of God. Therefore it became necessary that God should re-interpret the truths of nature, should provide a new revelation of redemption, and should illumine the mind of man and redeem it from the power of error.
b. Means of special revelation.
In giving His special or supernatural revelation God used different kinds of means, such as
(1) Theophanies or visible manifestations of God.
He revealed His presence in fire and clouds of smoke, Ex. 3:2; 33:9: Ps. 78:14; 99:7; in stormy winds, Job 38:1; Ps.18:10-16, and in a "still small voice," I Kings 19:12. These were all tokens of His presence, revealing something of His glory. Among the Old Testament appearances those of the Angel of Jehovah, the second Person of the Trinity, occupied a prominent place, Gen. 16:13; 31:11; Ex. 23:20-23; Mal. 3:1. The highest point of the personal appearance of God among men was reached in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In Him the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us, John 1:14.
(2) Direct communications.
Sometimes God spoke to men in an audible voice, as He did to Moses and the children of Israel, Deut. 5:4, and sometimes He suggested His messages to the prophets by an internal operation of the Holy Spirit, I Pet. 1:11. Moreover, He revealed Himself in dreams and visions, and by means of Urim and Thummim, Num. 12:6; 27:21; Isa. 6. And in the New Testament Christ appears as the great Teacher sent from God to reveal the Father's will; and through His Spirit the apostles become the organs of further revelations, John 14:26; I Cor. 2:12, 13; I Thess. 2:13.
The miracles of the Bible should never be regarded as mere marvels which fill men with amazement, but as essential parts of God's special revelation. They are manifestations of the special power of God, "14" tokens of His special presence, and often serve to symbolize spiritual truths. They are signs of the coming Kingdom of God and of the redemptive power of God. The greatest miracle of all is the coming of the Son of God in the flesh. In Him the whole creation of God is being restored and brought back to its original beauty, I Tim. 3:16; Rev. 21:5.
c. The character of special revelation.
This special revelation of God is a revelation of redemption. It reveals the plan of God for the redemption of sinners and of the world, and the way in which this plan is realized. It is instrumental in renewing man; it illumines his mind and inclines his will to that which is good; it fills him with holy affections, and prepares him for his heavenly home. Not only does it bring us a message of redemption; it also acquaints us with redemptive facts. It not only enriches us with knowledge, but also transforms lives by changing sinners into saints. This revelation is clearly progressive. The great truths of redemption appear but dimly at first, but gradually increase in clearness, and finally stand out in the New Testament in all their fullness and beauty.
To memorize. Scripture passages bearing on:
a. General Revelation:
Ps. 8:1. "O Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth."
Ps. 19:1, 2. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth wisdom."
Rom. 1:20. "For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity."
Rom. 2:14, 15. "For when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them."
b. Special Revelation:
Num. 12:6-8. "And He said, Hear now my words: if there be a prophet among you, I Jehovah will make myself known unto him in a vision, I will speak with him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so; he is faithful in all my house: with him will I speak mouth to mouth."
Heb. 1:1. "God having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath in the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son."
II Pet. 1:21. "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit."
For Further Study:
a. Mention some of the appearances of the Angel of Jehovah. Can he have been a mere angel?
Gen. 16:13; " And she called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me? (Genesis 16:13)"
31:11, 13; "11 And the angel of God said unto me in the dream, Jacob: and I said, Here am I. ... 13 I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointedst a pillar, where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy nativity. (Genesis 31)"
32:28; "And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (Genesis 32:28)"
Ex. 23:20-23. "20 Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgression: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed hearken unto his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. 23 For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: and I will cut them off. (Exodus 23:20-23)"
b. Name some examples of revelation by dreams. Gen. 28:10-17; 31:24; "And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream of the night, and said unto him, Take heed to thyself that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. (Genesis 31:24)"
Judg. 7:13; "And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man telling a dream unto his fellow; and he said, Behold, I dreamed a dream; and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came unto the tent, and smote it so that it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat. (Judges 7:13)"
I Kings 3:5-9; Dan. 2:1-3; "1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams; and his spirit was troubled, and his sleep went from him. 2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the enchanters, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream. (Daniel 2)
Matt. 2:13, 19, 20. "13 Now when they were departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. ...19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20 Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the young child's life. (Matthew 2:13,19-20)
c. Mention some cases in which God revealed Himself in visions.
Isa. 6; Ezek. 1-3; Dan. 2:19; "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. (Daniel 2:19)"
7:1-14; Zech. 2-6.
d. Can you infer from the following passages what the miracles recorded reveal?
Ex. 10:1, 2; "1 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I may show these my signs in the midst of them, 2 and that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought upon Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know that I am Jehovah. (Exodus 10:1-2)
Deut. 8:3; "And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3)"
John 2:1-11; 6:1- 14, 25-35; 9:1-7; 11:17-44.
Questions for Review
1. How do general and special revelation differ?
2. Where do we meet with the denial of all revelation of God?
3. What is the position of the Deists as to revelation?
4. What is the nature of general revelation?
5. Why is it insufficient for our special needs, and what value does if have?
6. Why was God's special revelation necessary?
7. What means did God employ in His special revelations?
8. What are the characteristics of special revelation?
Chapter 3: Scripture
1. Revelation and Scripture.
The term 'special revelation' may be used in more than one sense. It may denote the direct self-communications of God in verbal messages and in miraculous facts. The prophets and the apostles often received messages from God long before they committed them to writing. These are now contained in Scripture, but do not constitute the whole of the Bible. There is much in it that was not revealed in a supernatural way, but is the result of study and of previous reflection. However, the term may also be used to denote the Bible as a whole, that whole complex of redemptive truths and facts, with the proper historical setting, that is found in Scripture and has the divine guarantee of its truth in the fact that it is infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit. In view of this fact it may be said that the whole Bible, and the Bible only, is for us God's special revelation. It is in the Bible that God's special revelation lives on and brings even now life, light, and holiness.
2. Scripture Proof for the Inspiration of Scripture.
The whole Bible is given by inspiration of God, and is as such the infallible rule of faith and practice for all mankind. Since the doctrine of inspiration is often denied, it calls for special consideration.
This doctrine, like every other, is based on Scripture, and is not an invention of man. While it is founded on a great number of passages, only a few of these can be indicated here. The Old Testament writers are repeatedly instructed to write what the Lord commands them,
Ex.17:14; "And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. (Exodus 17:14)"
34:27; "And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. (Exodus 34:27)"
Num. 33:2; "And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of Jehovah: and these are their journeys according to their goings out. (Numbers 33:2)"
Isa. 8:1; "And Jehovah said unto me, Take thee a great tablet, and write upon it with the pen of a man, For Maher-shalal-hash-baz; (Isaiah 8:1)"
30:8; "Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever. (Isaiah 30:8)"
Jer. 25:13; "And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. (Jeremiah 25:13)"
30:2; "Thus speaketh Jehovah, the God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. (Jeremiah 30:2)"
Ezek. 24:1; "Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth [day] of the month, the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, (Ezekiel 24:1)"
Dan. 12:4; "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:4)"
Hab. 2:2. "And Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it. (Habakkuk 2:2)"
The prophets were conscious of bringing the word of the Lord, and therefore introduced their messages with some such formula as, "Thus saith the Lord," or, "The word of the Lord came unto me,"
Jer. 36:27, 32; 27 Then the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, ... 32 Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and there were added besides unto them many like words. (Jeremiah 36:27,32)
Ezek., chapters 26, 27, 31, 32, 39.
Paul speaks of his words as Spirit-taught words, I Cor. 2:13,
claims that Christ is speaking in him,
II Cor. 13:3,
and describes his message to the Thessalonians as the word of God, I Thess. 2:13.
" Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual [words]. (1 Corinthians 2:13)
seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me; who to you-ward is not weak, but is powerful in you: (2 Corinthians 13:3)
And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, [even the word] of God, ye accepted [it] not [as] the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13) "
The Epistle to the Hebrews often quotes passages of the Old Testament as words of God or of the Holy Spirit, Heb. 1:5; 3:7; 4:3; 5:6; 7:21. The most important passage to prove the inspiration of Scripture is II Tim. 3:16, which reads as follows in the Authorized Version: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
" For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, This day have I begotten thee? and again, I will be to him a Father, And he shall be to me a Son? (Hebrews 1:5)
Wherefore, even as the Holy Spirit saith, To-day if ye shall hear his voice, (Hebrews 3:7)
For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said, As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)
as he saith also in another [place,] Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:6)
(for they indeed have been made priests without an oath; but he with an oath by him that saith of him, The Lord sware and will not repent himself, Thou art a priest for ever); (Hebrews 7:21) "
3. The Nature of Inspiration.
There are especially two wrong views of inspiration, representing extremes that should be avoided.
a. Mechanical inspiration.
It has sometimes been represented as if God literally dictated what the human authors of the Bible had to write, and as if they were purely passive like a pen in the hand of a writer. This means that their minds did not contribute in any way to the contents or form of their writings. But in view of what we find this can hardly be true. They were real authors, who in some cases gathered their materials from sources at their command,
I Kings 11:41; "Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? (1 Kings 11:41)"
14:29; "Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? (1 Kings 14:29)"
I Chron. 29:29; "Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the history of Samuel the seer, and in the history of Nathan the prophet, and in the history of Gad the seer, (1Chronicles 29:29)"
Luke 1:1-4, "1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)"
in other instances recorded their own experiences as, for instance, in many of the Psalms, and impressed upon their writings their own particular style. The style of Isaiah differs from that of Jeremiah, and the style of John is not like that of Paul.
b. Dynamic inspiration.
Others thought of the process of inspiration as affecting only the writers, and having no direct bearing on their writings. Their mental and spiritual life was strengthened and raised to a higher pitch, so that they saw things "18" more clearly and had a more profound sense of their real spiritual value. This inspiration was not limited to the time when they wrote the books of the Bible, but was a permanent characteristic of the writers and affected their writings only indirectly. It differed only in degree from the spiritual illumination of all believers. This theory certainly does not do justice to the biblical view of inspiration.
c. Organic inspiration.
The proper conception of inspiration holds that the Holy Spirit acted on the writers of the Bible in an organic way, in harmony with the laws of their own inner being, using them just as they were, with their character and temperament, their gifts and talents, their education and culture, their vocabulary and style. The Holy Spirit illumined their minds, aided their memory, prompted them to write, repressed the influence of sin on their writings, and guided them in the expression of their thoughts even to the choice of their words. In no small measure He left free scope to their own activity. They could give the results of their own investigations, write of their own experiences, and put the imprint of their own style and language on their books.
4. The Extent of Inspiration.
There are differences of opinion also respecting the extent of the inspiration of Scripture.
a. Partial inspiration.
Under the influence of Rationalism it has become quite common to deny the inspiration of the Bible altogether, or to hold that only parts of it are inspired. Some deny the inspiration of the Old Testament, while admitting that of the New. Others affirm that the moral and religious teachings of Scripture are inspired, but that its historical parts contain several chronological, archaeological, and scientific mistakes. Still others limit the inspiration to the Sermon on the Mount. They who adopt such views have already lost their Bible, for the very differences of opinion are "19" proof positive that no one can determine with any degree of certainty which parts of Scripture are, and which are not inspired. There is still another way in which the inspiration of Scripture is limited, namely, by assuming that the thoughts were inspired, while the choice of the words was left entirely to the wisdom of the human authors. But this proceeds on the very doubtful assumption that the thoughts can be separated from the words, while, as a matter of fact, accurate thought without words is impossible.
b. Plenary inspiration.
According to Scripture every part of the Bible is inspired. Jesus and the apostles frequently appeal to the Old Testament books as 'scripture' or 'the Scriptures' to settle a point in controversy. To their minds such an appeal was equivalent to an appeal to God. It should be noted that of the books to which they appeal in this fashion, some are historical. The Epistle to the Hebrews repeatedly cites passages from the Old Testament as words of God or of the Holy Spirit (cf. p. 16). Peter places the letters of Paul on a level with the writings of the Old Testament, II Pet. 3:16,
"as also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)"
and Paul speaks of all Scripture as inspired, II Tim. 3:16. "Every scripture inspired of God [is] also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)"
We may safely go a step farther and say that the inspiration of the Bible extends to the very words employed. The Bible is verbally inspired, which is not equivalent to saying that it is mechanically inspired. The doctrine of verbal inspiration is fully warranted by Scripture. In many cases we are explicitly told that the Lord told Moses and Joshua exactly what to write,
Lev. 3 and 4; 6:1, 24; "And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying,... And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, (Leviticus 6:1,24)
7:22, 28; "22 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying,...28 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, (Leviticus 7:22,28)"
Josh. 1:1; "Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of Jehovah, that Jehovah spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, (Joshua 1:1)"
4:1; "And it came to pass, when all the nation were clean passed over the Jordan, that Jehovah spake unto Joshua, saying, (Joshua 4:1)"
6:2, "And Jehovah said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thy hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. (Joshua 6:2)"
and so on. The prophets speak of Jehovah as putting His words into their mouths,
Jer. 1:9, "Then Jehovah put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and Jehovah said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth: (Jeremiah 1:9)"
and as directing them to speak His words to the people,
Ezek. 3:4, 10, 11. "4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. ... 10 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thy heart, and hear with thine ears. 11 And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. (Ezekiel 3:4,10-11)"
Paul designates his words as Spirit taught words, I Cor. 2:13, "Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual [words]. (1 Corinthians 2:13)"
and both he and Jesus base an argument on a single word, Matt. 22:43-45; "43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I put thine enemies underneath thy feet? 45 If David then calleth him Lord, how is he his son? (Matthew 22:43-45)
John 10:35; "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), (John 10:35)"
Gal. 3:16. "Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)"
5. The Perfections of Scripture.
The Reformers developed the doctrine of Scripture as over against the Roman Catholics "20" and some of the Protestant sects. While Rome taught that the Bible owes its authority to the Church, they maintained that it has authority in itself as the inspired Word of God. They also upheld the necessity of Scripture as the divinely appointed means of grace over against the Roman Catholics, who asserted that the Church had no absolute need of it, and some of the Protestant sects, who exalted the "inner light," or the word of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the people of God, at the expense of Scripture. In opposition to Rome they further defended the clearness of the Bible. They did not deny that it contains mysteries too deep for human understanding, but simply contended that the knowledge necessary unto salvation, though not equally clear on every page of the Bible, is yet conveyed in a manner so simple that anyone earnestly seeking salvation can easily gather this knowledge for himself, and need not depend on the interpretation of the Church or the priesthood. Finally, they also defended the sufficiency of Scripture, and thereby denied the need of the tradition of the Roman Catholics and of the inner light of the Anabaptists.
Passages bearing on:
a. The inspiration of Scripture:
I Cor. 2:13. "Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words."
I Thess. 2:13. "And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God."
II Tim. 3:16. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
b. The authority of the Bible:
Isa. 8:20. "To the lay and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them."
c. The necessity of the Bible:
II Tim. 3:15. "And that from a babe thou has known the sacred writings, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
a. The clearness of Scripture:
Ps. 19:7b. "The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple."
Ps. 119:105. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Also verse 130. "The opening of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple."
e. The Sufficiency of Scripture. Cf. the passages under c. above.
For Further Study:
a. Do the traditions of men have authority?
Matt. 5:21-48; 15:3-6; Mark 7:7; "But in vain do they worship me, Teaching [as their] doctrines the precepts of men. (Mark 7:7)"
Col. 2:8; "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: (Colossians 2:8)"
Tit. 1:14; "not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. (Titus 1:14)"
II Pet. 1:18. "and this voice we [ourselves] heard borne out of heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:18)"
b. Did the prophets themselves always fully understand what they wrote?
Dan. 8:15; "And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it; and, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. (Daniel 8:15)"
12:8; "And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things? (Daniel 12:8)"
Zech. 1:7--6:11; I Pet. 1:11. "searching what [time] or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. (1 Peter 1:11)"
c. Does II Tim. 3:16 teach us anything respecting the practical value of the inspiration of Scripture? If so, what?
"Every scripture inspired of God [is] also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)"
Questions for Review
1. What is the relation between special revelation and Scripture?
2. What different meanings has the term 'special revelation'?
3. Can we say that special revelation and Scripture are identical?
4. What Scripture proof can you give for the inspiration of the Bible?
5. What are the theories of mechanical and dynamical inspiration?
6. How would you describe the doctrine of organic inspiration?
7. What about the theory that the thoughts are inspired but not the words?
8. How would you prove that inspiration extends to every part of Scripture, and even to the very words?
9. How do Rome and the Reformers differ on the authority, the necessity, the clearness, and the sufficiency of Scripture?