1. Principles Inherent In The Communication Of The Holy Scriptures
God has spoken to mankind in various ways. He has spoken in creation, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God” (Heb 11: 3). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” (Ps 19:1-3).
God has spoken in His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have the fullest revelation that God has given. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:18). In creation God displayed His power, but in His Son He displayed Himself. God was “manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim 3: 16).
God has also spoken in the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are the permanent record of all the truth that God has revealed. The Bible contains the whole scheme of Divine truth from its inception to its consummation. It constitutes a revelation of God to man that is both supernatural and sufficient. The supernatural element is seen in how it was given and how it is understood. The sufficiency of the Bible has been demonstrated down through the centuries in the lives of Gods people, as they have used it as their sole guide in spiritual matters. The Scriptures are a complete unfolding of the ways of God with men to which nothing needs to be added. In conveying His truth to mankind, God has employed three principles, each of which is vital in our search to understand the Holy Scriptures. He has employed Revelation, Inspiration, and Illumination.
A proper understanding of these principles is important for every believer – it increases our confidence in the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God. Too often these fundamental truths are regarded as being esoteric or intellectual – perish the thought! The Word of God was given to reveal the truth of God, indeed God Himself. Surely then we ought to make every effort to understand it. We need to understand these principles associated with the impartation of Divine Truth, so that we may apprehend its message for us.
Any knowledge of God found through Holy Scripture is only by Divine revelation. Man could never have discerned it by himself however erudite he may be. Divine truth is beyond the highest mental or intellectual attainments of man. One of mans earliest questions was, “Canst thou by searching find out God?” God must reveal Himself to man or remain unknown and unknowable. He graciously chose to grant this revelation of Himself so that that we might learn of Him and His inscrutable wisdom and ways. The same principle of gracious revelation applies to every facet of Divine truth about whatever subject: creation, Christ, salvation, the law, and others.
How did God grant this revelation of Himself? The revelation of God was given to individuals He chose, who in turn communicated this revelation to their fellow-men, not in words of their own choice, but in words chosen by the Holy Spirit. “Words which the Holy Ghost teacheth” (1 Cor 2:13). Thus the Holy Scriptures came into being as “holy men of God spake as they were moved [borne along / driven and directed] by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet 1:21).
We understand the Bible to be divinely originated because of inspiration. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16). Since the Scriptures have divine origin, they carry the absolute accuracy and authority of God Himself. In inspiration there was a combination of the Divine and human, yet the writers were not merely machines controlled by the Holy Spirit. Each writer made use of his own faculties as gifted by God and each writer used his own characteristic style, expressed in his own way. But even though they expressed themselves in this way, the Bible is emphatic that they spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit – not by their own will or wisdom. The actual words they wrote were inspired [breathed] by God. It is a common fallacy that they were just men who were inspired or motivated by the Holy Spirit. Every word bears the stamp of Divine origin and inspiration.
Before the truth of Holy Scripture can be communicated to the heart of man, there must be something more than revelation and inspiration. There must be illumination. Without illumination by the Holy Spirit, the Bible remains a closed book. Its spiritual message cannot be understood by the natural man. It must be spiritually discerned, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14). Thus, the Holy Spirit Who brought the Scriptures into being by inspiration so that mankind might have a revelation of God, is the One Who grants the spiritual illumination necessary for a right understanding of their truth. Of course, there can be no illumination without regeneration. We will discuss this subject more fully in the next article.
Revelation is Gods communication of truth that could not be known or discovered otherwise by man. Whereas inspiration is what happened when the Holy Spirit moved men of God to place that revelation on permanent record. Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit in the individuals heart when he reads the inspired record. If there had been no revelation of Divine truth, there would have been no inspiration of sacred words. Had there been no inspiration of sacred words, there would be no necessity for the illumination of spiritual minds.