The Revelation of God’s Word
The word Revelation means to uncover, or unveil. It conveys the idea of making seen or known that which was hidden. In Luke 2:32 it is used to describe how Christ removed the veil of darkness covering the Gentiles. Things that are revealed are things that are not seen or known, and in many cases kept secret (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3). Therefore, I believe that the revelation of God’s word is the act whereby God makes known to His creation that which could not be known without divine intervention, regarding Himself, His truth, and His will. This type of revelation of God, His truth, and His will has been manifested in many different ways throughout scripture. In the Old Testament we can see God revealing His will through the Lot (Lev. 16:8; Prov. 16:33; Acts 1:21-26). He used the Urim and Thummim in Ex. 28:30, Num. 27:21, and Deut. 33:8. It has also came in the form of dreams and visions (Gen. 20:3, 6; 31:11-13, 24, 40-41; and Joel 2:28), as well as through Angels (Gen. 16:7-14; Ex. 3:2; 2 Sam. 24:16; Dan. 9:20-21; Luke 2:10-11; Rev. 1:1). Throughout both Testaments God has also chosen to reveal Himself, His truth, and His will through His prophets and through Events, such as delivering Israel from Egypt. God reminds His prophet Micah that He delivers His people to reveal His righteousness (Micah 6:5). We can also see God revealing Himself, His truth, and His will through the written word. God gave Moses two tablets containing His commandments for His people (Ex. 19 and 20). Most importantly, God revealed Himself, His truth, and His will through the incarnation of Jesus Christ (…and the word became flesh. John 1:14). The incarnation of Christ remains the greatest example of God’s revealed word since the beginning of time. Through this revelation we were shown God’s grace, truth and glory (John 1:14, 17), His power (3:2) and wisdom (7:46), and most importantly His love (Rom. 5:8). Finally, God’s word was revealed to us through the scriptures. This written revelation was for a purpose (2 Tim. 3:15-17), and for our benefit (Rom. 4:23).
The Inspiration of God’s Word
The word inspiration literally means, “God breathed”. It is very often translated as “inspired of God”, as in 2 Tim. 3:16 describing the nature of scripture “All scripture is inspired of God…” All scripture came to us through His very breath. They came in the form of words and not just concepts or ideas (1 Cor. 2:13). For “no prophecy of scripture is of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Pet. 1:20-21).” This inspiration, or the breathing of God’s word, did not only come to the New Testament authors, but to all the authors of scripture: “…the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Peter 1:10b-11).” These authors did not write in ignorance. They knew that they were speaking words breathed of God, not only for their benefit, but also for the benefit of those after them (1 Peter 1:12).
The Inerrancy of God’s Word
Inerrancy means “Without error”. This is an important doctrine that teaches that all of God’s words, throughout all scripture, came to man, and was recorded by man, without error in words or thoughts. The key to this definition is the word “error”. According to the Webster Dictionary, the definition of an error is “ignorant or unintentional deviating from accuracy or truth”. This means that the Bible, in all that it recorded from Genesis to Revelation did not deviate from accuracy or truth. Again, all of scripture, as it was recorded, did not deviate in its recording of Historical facts, Science, Prophecy, Spiritual truths, or Teachings. I hold this to be true for I know the words of God spoken to and by the writers of the Bible were spoken “not words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Holy Spirit, (1 Cor. 2:13).”
The Canonicity of God’s Word
The word Canon means ‘a rod, or measuring rod’. When it is used in reference to the Bible, it means ‘those books that have been measured, and found satisfactory as being inspired of God’. The Bible in whole is the voice of God speaking to His creation. It is authoritative, “and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).” The first thing that must be established regarding the canonicity of scripture is that scripture itself is auto-canonical. Meaning it satisfied the measure of being inspired of God the moment it was written. Scripture did not wait for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the council of Carthage in 397 A.D. to be deemed canonical. It did not need, nor does it ever need the approval of man to find its rightful place as scripture. When man canonized the inspired spoken words of God, he was merely pulling together in a single collection that which had already satisfied the measure of being His authoritative word. The second thing that must be established regarding the canonicity of scripture is that it is closed. What I mean by this is that no other inspired writings exist that has yet to be included in the Bible. Nor are there any inspired writings to come. The Canon is complete with the 66 books from Genesis to Revelation. Other writers may record what the Holy Spirit has illumined their minds to see, but those writings whether ancient, present, or yet to come, do not hold the authority and inerrancy of the Bible.
The Translation of God’s Word
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word translate as “To bear, or carry across. To turn from one language into another, to change into another language, retaining the sense; to render; to express in other words; to paraphrase.” While this provides us with a clear definition of what translating is, it fails to show us how translating is performed; and an understanding of how scripture is translated from its original language into another language is of paramount importance to the one studying it from that target language. The first thing we must understand about translating is that no translation is inspired by God. God inspired the original text. The second thing we must understand about translating is that all translations inherently carry with it the translator’s opinion of what the author was trying to say. This is caused by words and idioms that exist in the source language that do not exist in the target language. When such words or idioms are encountered, the translator must paraphrase in such a way as to retain the same sense or meaning as the original. In addition, because no two people are the same in how they read and understand information, this becomes an impossible task. In the end what we have is either a word for word translation, which fails to shed any light on the meanings of archaic or foreign idioms and words, or an idiomatic translation which robs us of the opportunity to determine for ourselves the meaning of archaic or foreign idioms and words. This means that no single translation of God’s word is more authoritative than another translation. No one translation is a true translation. All translations bear with it the responsibility of the reader to study for him and her self (as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11)) the word of God; always praying for the illumination of God’s word that only comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and knowing Jesus Christ.
The Illumination of God’s Word
To illuminate something is to shed light on it. It is to take something that is in the dark and unseen, and make it seen. This differs from revelation in that revelation takes that, which is hidden, and/or unknown and makes it known. Without illumination, we can see the things of God, but we have no understanding of it. Before the fall of man there was no need for illumination. All things were seen and understood. Adam and Eve had a direct and personal relationship with God, and everything they needed to know was made known by God. After the fall, man no longer had this direct communication with the Father. The spiritual things of God where hidden from the physical eyes of man, because the Spirit of God did not dwell within them. And apart from the Spirit there is no Spiritual understanding. Paul says “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11).” In addition as believers in Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit so that we may also know the things of God (1 Cor. 2:12). That which we could see but not understand before, has been illuminated for us. Moreover, we now know all things, taught to us by the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15; 1 John 2:27). Yet, for those unsaved there is no illumination, for the Spirit of God does not dwell within them. As Paul says: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he can not understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).” Paul says again in another letter to the Corinthian church: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4).” And again to the church at Ephesus “This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, cause of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart (Eph. 4:17-18).” Only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit do we gain a glimpse into the things of God.
The Communication of God’s Word
The communication of God’s word is the foremost responsibility of all Christians. For the preacher it is to communicate and teach God’s word to his Church (2 Tim. 4:2). For the missionary it is to communicate and teach God’s word to the world (Matt. 27:18-20). For the Father and Mother it is to communicate and teach God’s word to their children (Deut. 6:7; Eph. 6:4). For the body of Christ it is to communicate and teach God’s word to one another (Col. 3:16; Eph. 4:11-12). For the individual it is to communicate with God and have the word teach him. “For faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).” Beyond this we must always remember that we are ambassadors for Christ, and were given to the ministry of reconciliation. Paul says: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21).” For this reason we should all be ready to give a defense for our faith so “those who revile your good works in Christ may be put to shame (1 Pet. 3:15-16).”
The Study of God’s Word
Just as the Holy Spirit is the primary agent used to illuminate God’s word, God’s word is the primary agent used by the Holy Spirit to illuminate the believer. So much is gained by the study of God’s word, but the greatest of all is that through it the world gains salvation. For it is through His word that the gospel message is preached to the entire world. John tells us of his gospel “but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31).” It is also through the study of God’s word that we come to know God. The Lord Himself says to Jeremiah “But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things (Jer. 9:24)…” Paul also teaches us that the study of scripture brings us hope (Rom. 15:4), and provides examples, and instruction for our lives (1 Cor. 10:11), as well as builds us up (Acts 20:32). In short, it is through the study of God’s word that we find guidance, security and true wisdom. Without it the unsaved remain dead to their sins, and the spiritual man becomes carnal (1 Cor. 2:6-16). Solomon says: “To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; To give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:1-7).
The Authority of God’s Word
The Bible in whole and in part is the voice of God speaking to His creation. This is made evident, in part, by the more than 200 occurrences of “Thus says the LORD” found throughout scripture. On top of this Paul announces, through the inspiration of the Spirit, that: “All scripture is God-Breathed (2 Tim. 3:16a).” To say that all scripture is God-Breathed is to assign it the same authority belonging to God Himself, an authority, which is neither shared nor superseded. Peter as well claims: “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Pet. 1:21).” And again Paul says regarding God’s word as taught by the Disciples: “which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13).” Because of this ALL scripture carries with it, as Lewis Perry Chafer says, the Imperial Edict-“Thus saith the LORD”. Christ also attested to the ultimate authority of the scriptures when he said to Satan: “It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).” It is for these reasons that that we can say with certainty, all scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16b).” For all scripture is the very word of the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient Creator of all.