The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
This is episode 1 of an ongoing series that explores the origins, content, and purpose of the Bible. Here you’ll be introduced to a condensed history of how the Bible came into existence, and the different forms of the Bible in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christian traditions.How to Read the Bible: What is the Bible?, The Bible Project
God must reveal himself for us to know him. God has revealed himself as Creator through his works of creation and providence but has especially revealed himself as Redeemer through Scripture and its Spirit-inspired testimony to the saving work of Jesus Christ.
The doctrine of Scripture and revelation is uniquely important, because it prepares the ground for anything we want to say in the entire field of theology. The reality of God is that he can only be known if he takes the initiative to be known. We can see this even by analogy with great people in our human experience: if you’re trying to get in touch with a very important president or ruler of some kind, it’s really not up to you to decide if you succeed. You usually have await their initiative, their move toward you, to make themselves open to you. That, in an infinitely greater way, is where we stand as creatures toward our Creator. He will make himself known to us when he chooses to do so.
God has, in fact, chosen to make himself known to us in several ways. The broadest way is through general revelation, revelation through nature. And with this kind of divine revelation, it doesn’t seem to us that we wait for God to take initiative. We’re born into a situation in which what can be known about the invisible God is made known to us through what is visible. In our encounters with the world as we move around in time and space and among other people, we interact with things that can be known about God. And in the private interior lives of our own consciences, the law of God resonates in our inner being.
But for God to make himself known in a truly definitive way, in the kind of way that could distinguish him from idols, we need special revelation. If you try to get by with only general revelation, the problem is that you will know that there is a God, but you may confuse him with various objects presented to your senses. To identify the real God, you have to hear from him who he is.
Special revelation takes many forms: theophanies (appearances of God), dreams, visions, prophecies, even tradition. Typically, special revelation refers to our understanding of God through the Bible. We know about other forms of special revelation only through the Bible.
Just as we want a biblical theology about anything, we want a biblical theology about the Bible. We want to understand what Scripture is on Scripture’s own terms: how it’s inspired by God, how it truly corresponds to factual realities, how God has made known which writings are, in fact, “canonical”—which is God’s way of ruling the church and making himself known. And all of this comes under the heading of Scripture and revelation.
Fred Sanders, “The Doctrine of Scripture and Revelation,” in Lexham Survey of Theology, ed. Mark Ward et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).