All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
Our knowledge of God only comes by revelation. All that we know about Him, we know, because He has revealed Himself to us. General revelation, or natural theology, is seen in all the God has made. “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they (the wicked) are without excuse.” Many people claim not to believe in God. Well, clearly from the Bible, God does not believe in atheists! All are without excuse, for the existence of God is clearly seen in all He has made.
General revelation however, by itself, does not save. Only supernatural revelation, by God’s Spirit, can deliver. God has revealed Himself, not only in the world He has made, but also in the Scriptures, and finally in the Person of His Son. God’s Spirit-inspired book must be read in the light of Jesus, God’s Son. In Luke 24:27, as Jesus was walking with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the text says that, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” We understand by divine revelation that God relates to His created world and His redeemed people through the covenants and promises, and these all find their “Yes and amen in Christ.”
The authority of the Word of God comes from itself. Scripture is self-evidencing and has an innate efficacy (effectiveness) because of its Author. Light and power constitute the self-evidencing nature of the Scripture as the Word of God. Says John Owen, “Light, like God and Scripture, does not require proof of authenticity. The Scriptures are referred to as ‘light’, indeed a glorious, shining light, a illuminating light, compared to and preferred above the light of the sun.”
Only believers will readily accept the Scripture as the Word of God because as light, it authenticates itself. Owen continues: “By this self-evidencing light, I say, doth the Scripture make such a proposition of itself as the Word of God, that whoever rejects it, does it at the peril of his eternal ruin.”
The other aspect to the Bible’s self-authenticating authority is its innate power. The Word of God effects change because it is powerful. Believers are “brought forth” by the Word of truth (James 1:18). Scripture has the power to cut into the hearts of men (Hebrews 4:12). It judges them, condemns them, sentences them and convicts them. But it also converts them! It makes us wise unto salvation and it comforts believers in its truth. Its power to effect change in the hearts of sinful men is evidence that it alone is the true revelation from God.
The Holy Spirit does not speak to believers “of the Word, but by the Word.” When the Spirit and the Word accompany each other in the hearts and minds of believers, natural darkness is dispelled and sinful resistance is overcome, so that they are able to see the light and yield to the power of the Word of God. Owen rightly concludes that, “He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the Word might as well burn his Bible.” Only the Spirit enables believers to understand the mind of God through the illumination provided by His internal testimony.
For the Puritans, the Scriptures were the principium cognoscendi theologiae (cognitive foundation for theology). Their principal purpose is to record the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, who proclaims the will of God for our salvation. Thus, God is only known through Jesus Christ; therefore supernatural revelation must always be Christological. Christ is the mediator, not only of our salvation, but also in all communication between God and humanity. No one but the God-man has the ability to declare perfectly the revelation of God. In fact, the great end of Christ’s coming to earth was to reveal His Father to us.
Saving knowledge is supernatural and comes only through the Mediator, Jesus Christ. The Son reveals the Father by the Spirit, so that we come to know God rightly, which is impossible by natural theology alone. Because of this, supernatural theology and supernatural faith, produced by the Spirit, is essential for us to believe and obey the Scriptures. The Bible apart from the internal and external witness of the Spirit is useless to sinners. Because of this, Christianity must only be conceived of in supernatural terms, otherwise it is not biblical Christianity.
Last week, I was in Minneapolis at the Pastor’s Conference put on by Desiring God ministries. The theme was Brothers, We are Still not Professionals. This is always a great reminder for ministers that for anything of eternal consequence to take place, God must do it. Ministers are not CEOs nor are we entertainers. We are servants of the living God, earthen vessels, proclaiming only the Gospel, which alone is the power of God unto salvation. Only God can bring the increase. Only His truth can change the hearts of sinners. Only the regenerating work of the Spirit can produce true repentance and faith. We need a deeper sense of supernatural theology today. Let us not depend on our abilities or our education, not that they are not important. Most importantly, we need God! We need His power and blessing. So let us depend on Him. To have a proper view of our Triune God and His redemptive work in the world, we must have a proper view of the Scriptures which reveal Him to us.