I. Revelation comes in two forms: General and Special.
A. The purpose of revelation is the communication of information.
B. “General revelation” is so termed for two reasons: it comes to all men in general and it only divulges general information about God. General revelation is conveyed both externally and internally.
1. Externally: the heavens declare the glory of God, manifesting His goodness, wisdom, and power, leaving man without excuse (Ps. 19:1; Rom. 1:20).
a. Creation and providence witness to Him (Acts 14:17).
2. Internally: God is known by all at some level of consciousness due to His revealing work within: “the light of nature” (Jn. 1:9; Rom. 2:14-15).
3. General revelation is insufficient, for man intuitively knows God but cannot apart from grace know Him savingly (1 Cor. 2:14). Man by himself cannot really come to knowledge of the truth.
a. Jesus said God has hidden things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes (Lk. 10:21).
b. The unregenerate educated man can lack true wisdom, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7).
c. The more man learns by his own effort (unaided power of his own mind), the more he finds he doesn’t know.
(1). Man unable to know everything soon gets discouraged and realizes can’t know anything for sure.
(2). Since only God is omniscient, only He can give a sure knowledge.
C. Special revelation is necessary for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
1. Adam, by his study of nature could know much, but not all. To be sure of a simple thing like eating from a tree, he had to interpret the facts of nature in the light of God’s Word (Gen. 2:16).
2. When Adam sinned he rejected God’s Word, and tried the “trial and error” method of discovering truth.
a. Ever since man has been in darkness, though God’s light still shines brightly.
II. The Bible claims to be the Word of God.
A. Over 3,800 times the prophets say some form of, “Thus saith the Lord.”
B. Jesus declares the whole Bible to be God’s Word.
1. He quotes the OT (Matt. 19:4-6; cf. Gen. 2:24), affirming that it bears witness to Him (Lk. 24:44; Jn. 5:39).
2. He chose, called, trained, ordained, and inspired the apostles, pre-authenticating their words (Jn. 14:26; 16:12-14).
3. He taught that inspiration is plenary (Jn. 10:34-35; cf. Ps. 82:6).
C. The apostles asserted that the Bible is God’s Word (1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13).
1. Peter said Paul’s writings are equal to the OT (2 Pet. 3:14-16).
2. Paul quotes the Gospel of Luke (10:7; cf. 1 Tim. 5:18).
D. John Wesley argued: “The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God. It could not be the invention of good men or angels, for they neither would nor could make a book and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying ‘Thus saith the Lord’ when it was their own invention. It could not be the invention of bad men or devils, for they could not make a book that commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their souls to Hell for all eternity. Therefore, the Bible must be given by Divine inspiration.”
III. The “Apocrypha” is not part of the Word of God.
A. Apocrypha means “hidden” or “absconded.”
1. Some of the reasons this name was given is because the names of the authors are hidden, and they contain some things not known to Moses, the prophets, or the apostles.
2. Though these books may hold some value as human writings, they were judged by the church to not be inspired, and therefore of no authority in the church, for the following reasons:
a. The Jews, who were entrusted with the oracles (Rom. 3:2), did not consider them canonical.
b. The church for the first four centuries did not receive them.
c. These books are nowhere cited by Christ and His apostles.
d. These books are self-contradictory.
(1). Antiochus died at three different places (1 Mac. 6:16; cf. 2 Mac. 1:13-16; 9:28).
e. These books contradict the Holy Scriptures.
(1). Suicide and prayers for the dead are commended (2 Mac. 12:44-45).
IV. Scripture’s attributes: Inspired, Infallible, Authoritative, Self-authenticating, Sufficient, Perspicuous, Final.
A. Inspiration: the Word of God is actually expired, as God breathed out His Word (2 Tim. 3:16)
1. God’s breath is creative (Ps. 33:6; cf. Gen. 2:7).
B. Infallible: the Bible has no errors, nor contradictions.
1. God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2).
2. “Contradictions” arise from our interpretation.
C. Authority: since God is speaking, not the church, nor man (Eph. 2:19, 20; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
1. As B.B. Warfield notes: “How unquestionably we must receive its statements of fact, bow before its enunciations of duty, tremble before its warnings, and rest upon its promises.”
D. Self-authentication: attested to by the efficacy of the doctrine in conversion and sanctification, the majesty of its style, its harmony, and its God-glorifying thrust.
1. But in the end it’s the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:16).
a. God must open our minds/hearts (Lk. 24:45; Acts 16:8; Eph. 1:17-18).
b. God teaches us Himself (Jn. 6:45; 1 Jn. 2:20, 27).
(1). But He also uses men (Eph. 4:11).
2. John Stott affirms: “[The Bible] has brought forgiveness to the guilty, freedom to the oppressed, guidance to the perplexed, consolation to the dying, and hope to the bereaved. Everyone who reads it with an open spirit testifies to its power to disturb and comfort. As a Chinese Christian once said, ‘every time I read that book it kicks me’!”
E. Sufficiency: Scripture is all one needs for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
1. Scripture is perfect in all respects (Ga. 1:8; Rev. 22:18-19).
a. Scripture does not need to be supplemented with new or ongoing revelation.
b. The need for prophets has ceased (Zech. 13:2-5; 1 Cor. 13:8, 10).
c. Scripture is not subordinate to tradition or creeds (Matt. 15:8-9; Col. 2:8).
F. Perspicuity: Scripture is clear, though some things are hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16).
1. What is necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation is clear for all, even children, to understand (Eph. 6:1-3).
G. Finality: Scripture settles all controversies, disputes, and questions.
1. Test all to the Word (Isa. 8:19-20; Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 5:21).
a. In commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:21, J.C. Ryle writes: “The principle is this: Prove all things by the Word of God; all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices—prove all by the Word of God. Measure all by the measure of the Bible. Compare all with the standard of the Bible. Weigh all in the balances of the Bible. Examine all by the light of the Bible. Test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive, hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away.”
2. “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures.” (WCF 1.10).
V. The Scriptures are the only rule to direct man for faith and practice.
A. This rule is found both in what is expressly set down in Scripture and from what may be logically deduced.
1. Expressly set down: “Thou shalt not kill.”
2. Logically deduced: Christ proved the resurrection to the Sadducees by deduction (Matt. 22:32); no less firmly than if He had used an express test.
B. This rule flows from the purpose of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-17), and from their matchless attributes.
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. Scripture is necessary for faith and practice. Let us cherish this inspired and preserved record.
B. Use, of testing.
1. Is Scripture our sole test of what is right and wrong, or do our feelings and the opinions of man govern our thoughts and actions?
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. Know that God can only be rightly known through His Word and it is in accordance with that Word that you will be judged. Sit yourselves before the Word, especially its preaching, and plea with God for grace to see your sin in its light and the living Word in it as your Redeemer.
2. Saints. Meditate upon the Word day and night (Ps. 1), seeking to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only (Ja. 1:23).