By Wayne S. Walker
The Bible claims to be “given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,” so said Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Peter informed us that the scriptures came into being when “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). The New Testament affirms that the Bible is the Word of God. That is a relatively simple statement to make, but I appreciate it more and more as I come in contact with those people we know as Pentecostals or Charismatics. Most individuals who attach the name “Christian” to themselves and think of themselves as fundamentalists or evangelicals would say they believe the Bible is God’s Word-yet so few really believe it. What the Bible actually teaches is that it is the one and only method God has chosen to reveal His will to mankind in this age. Let us see what we can learn by an examination and comparison of the different ways God has revealed Himself in past eras and the present time.
God has always manifested Himself through His creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork” (Ps. 19:1). Even to the ancient heathens, “He left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). Thus, these pagan Gentiles were without excuse in their atheism, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Rom. 1:20 NIV). While it is true that nature reveals the existence and deity of God, man left solely to nature for his information concerning God usually degenerates into worshiping and serving “the creature more than the creator” (Rom. 1:25). The reason is that the physical universe does not reveal the mind, the will of God. It was necessary for God to make this known by special means.
In Times Past
Front Hebrews 1:1, we learn that God “at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” In His dealings with man in days gone by, He has used various means to make known His desires at different times. For instance, He spoke directly with Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham, as recorded in Genesis. He communicated with His chosen nation of Israel through the law which He gave by Moses. Later, as the Jews began to apostatize, He sent specially picked messengers, called seers or prophets, to tell them His will. Many times Isaiah declared, “Thus saith the LORD . . .;” or Ezekiel, “The word of the LORD came unto me saying. . . .” However, we do not live in those days. How does God express Himself in our time?
In These Last Days
The Hebrew writer continues in verse 2, that God “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” We should not expect God to speak directly unto us or send a special prophet-we must depend on Christ for our knowledge of God. Jesus Himself declared, “All, things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Matt. 11:27). The next question of importance would naturally be, by what means does the Son reveal the Father? In answer, we cite some promises Jesus made to His eleven chosen apostles (Judas had already departed) in John 14:26, 15, 26, and 16:13: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. . . . But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. . . . Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” Just what did the Holy Ghost do?
Paul expounds on this in Ephesians 3:3-5: speaking of the mystery of Christ, “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Paul himself “wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” He also stated in 1 Cor. 14:33, “That the things I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” So there we have it. The Father having delivered all things to the Son, Christ sent the Holy Spirit from the Father to guide the apostles and prophets into all truth. As the Spirit revealed the mind of God to them (1 Cor. 2:6-16), they recorded it in the form we call the New Testament Scriptures, the Bible. In this manner, we have “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3 ASV), and completely confirmed by God “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” (Heb. 2:4 in fulfillment of Mark 16:15-20). When we read these words, we can understand the mystery of Christ.
Therefore, we do not need the Father, the Christ, or the Comforter to speak directly to our hearts today, or through prophets, visions, dreams, voices, experiences, feelings, or any other extra-scriptural means. Faith is not produced in this way, but rather “cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The Bible is thoroughly capable of accomplishing its purpose without supernatural aid: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book: But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 10:30-31). If men do not believe through the written word, as Jesus explains in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, “Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
A man might claim God revealed it to him to assassinate the President of our nation. And not one Pentecostal could deny it, for there are no exclusive criteria on which to test these revelations as there were in the First Century, except the Bible. Once the gate is open for God to speak directly to anyone in this period of time, no one can refute the claims of anyone else concerning a personal revelation from Heaven. If someone might argue, “But the man said he received a revelation to kill, and the Bible says men shouldn’t kill,” making a sincere and honest appeal to the Scriptures, then it can be shown to him that God does not reveal His will in this way at all today. It is not a matter of what God can or cannot do-God can express Himself in any way He desires. But it is a question of what He has chosen to do, of what He has said. And He has said, “His divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us to glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3). God’s people need to be students of the Word. Instead of sitting back and waiting for God to talk to us in a direct manner, or for the Spirit to enter our hearts and lead our lives directly, let us be like the happy man of Psalm 1, whose “delight is in the law of Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night,” for the Bible is the Word (law) of God, His complete and final revelation to man, and the sole source for knowledge of His plan for mankind in this dispensation.
Truth Magazine XX: 32, pp. 509-510
August 12, 1976