INSPIRATION AND REVELATION
The scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments are inspired (“breathed out of God”) and are an infallible account of God’s dealings with man down through the ages. The Bible sets forth the gradual unfolding of the grand scheme of redemption that was brought to fruition by the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and the setting up of His spiritual kingdom, the church.
But, while “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16-17), and therefore constitutes a divine revelation to its readers of God’s dealings with man down through the ages, not everything in the Bible was a matter of special revelation to the human penmen of the Scriptures. For example, God did not have to miraculously reveal to Moses his experiences regarding his early life in Egypt, or of God’s appearing to him in the burning bush, or of his deliverance of the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage, or of his ascent of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Moses knew all of these matters by personal experience, yet when he wrote of them he wrote by the inspiration of God.
On the other hand, in order for Moses to write of the creation of the world and mankind as he did in Genesis 1-2, a special and divine revelation from God was necessary since Moses was not present at the creation to witness it. Likewise, Moses’ knowledge of the content of the Ten Commandments (along with other matters made known to him on Mount Sinai) did come as a matter of direct revelation from God (Exodus 20:1-17). His writing of a Prophet like himself whom the Lord would raise up (a prediction of Christ) also required a divine revelation from God (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; cf. Acts 3:22-23; 7:37).
It did not require a miraculous revelation from God for Isaiah to know that he carried out his prophetic work during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1). However, it did require a divine revelation from God for Isaiah to speak predicatively of the establishment of the Lord’s house in the last days (2:2-4), to tell of the virgin birth of Christ (7:14), to write of the coming of the “Child” whose name would be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (9:6), and to foretell the sufferings of Christ for the sins of all mankind (Chapter 53).
A special revelation from God was not necessary for Daniel to know that he was cast into a den of lions; he knew that by personal experience! (Daniel 6:10-23). But when Daniel prophesied of the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom in the days of the Roman Emperors (2:24-45; 7:13-14), such did require a divine revelation from the Lord.
In the New Testament when Peter wrote of the transfiguration of Christ (II Peter 1:17-18) he wrote out of his personal knowledge; no special revelation from God was required for Peter to know this. But Peter’s acknowledgement of Christ as the Son of God did require that God reveal that fact to him (Matthew 16:17).
It did not require a divine revelation from God for Paul to know that he had left a cloak with Carpus at Troas, that he had books and parchments he would like for Timothy to bring to him, or that Alexander the coppersmith had done him much harm (II Timothy 4:13-14).
On the other hand, Paul did not receive his knowledge of the gospel of Christ from man, “but it came by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). God’s manifold wisdom, displayed in the grand scheme of redemption which had been “kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25), required a divine revelation from God, and in due time it was “revealed by the Spirit to [Christ’s] holy apostles and prophets.” It was written down by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that “when [we] read, [we] may understand [Paul’s] knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (See Ephesians 3:1-13, with special attention to verses 3 through 5 and verses 8 through 12; cf. Romans 16:25-27; Colossians 1:24-26; et al).
In summation, not everything in the Bible required a special revelation from God in order for the writers to know the historical accuracy of some of the things of which they wrote. Other matters of which they wrote did require a special and divine revelation from God in order for the writers to know those things. But everything in the Bible was written under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit so that each writer set forth the very message that God Himself wanted conveyed to the readers. Therefore, the inspired Scriptures are the objective, knowable, and only religious standard by which our lives are to be governed in all things. And, it is by these same inspired Scriptures that we all shall ultimately be judged. (John 12:48).
March 24, 2015
April 5-8: McEwen Church of Christ, McEwen, TN