The Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation


By Clifton L. Fowler

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Men are looking for the keys which will unlock the problems and mysteries of the Bible. There is a conviction, often unexpressed, buried deep in the heart of the average man, that the Bible is true, and that its seeming tangles would all be unraveled if one could but get the right start.

The question is, is a right start a possibility?

Since our modern education is frankly giving to men the wrong start in these days, the prevalence of skepticism and infidelity is not to be wondered at. Modern educational theories instead of assuming the inspiration and authority of the Bible, assume it to be legendary and false. Starting from such a premise is a confession of defeat before the battle begins. Such a start is both wrong and unfair.

A right start in Bible study can only be made upon the assumption of the uniqueness and unqualified authority of the Scripture. These the Bible claims. We have no right to accept the infidel presuppositions of modern thinking, unproved and undemonstrated. We do not begin our dealings with a fellow-man assuming that he is a rogue, nor should we begin our dealings with the Bible with the assumption that it is legendary, mythical and generally unreliable. This grotesque and unscholarly method we will leave to those preachers and teachers who find joy in classifying themselves with Thomas Payne, Voltaire, Ingersoll, and Darwin.

Since the Scriptures claim both uniqueness and authority, we accept them. To take this position requires far less credulity than to accept the gratuitous vagaries of the modernist.

The moment we recognize the uniqueness and authority of the Bible, we have by that fact predetermined our method of study. Since it is unique and authoritative, it becomes our sole book of reference. To be unique is to stand alone. To be unique and at the same time, authoritative is to have an authority which brooks no competition. Since the Bible stands in a class by itself it is folly to seek for explanation of its problems in lesser books. Since the Bible speaks with an authority found nowhere else, to bring lesser authorities to bear upon it is a travesty upon both faith and reason. The explanation of the Bible is within the Bible. The keys to Biblical exposition are within the pages of the Book itself. The Bible is self-interpreting.

A Biblical interpretation which is only the opinion of man, be that man ever so respected or brilliant, completely lacks authority. It fails to convince.

But when a Biblical question is elucidated by resorting to the plain statements of the Word of God, line upon line, and precept upon precept, then the soul of man responds with joy and confidence, for the Bible speaks with authority concerning itself. When we follow the behest of the modernist and swap a satisfying faith in the absolute authority of the Bible for an "educated conscience" or the "testimony of the religious consciousness," we have traded our heaven-given birthright for a mess of hell's pottage.

The self-interpreting characteristic of the Scripture is a necessity. The uniqueness and special authority of the Bible combine to exclude any pretended authority which might arise. If there are other books of equal authority, the Scripture is no longer unique. It would take a book of equal authority to produce a worthy exposition of any passage in the book of unique authority. Since no such book exists, the only place to go for the exposition of any given portion of Scripture, is to the balance of Scripture. Thus we go to the unique authority to receive further light on the one unique authority. The Bible is permitted to speak for itself. This is most satisfying. It is logical. Indeed, it is quite inescapable.

That the method of Bible study here suggested is the Holy Spirit's own method is demonstrated by 1 Cor. 2:12-13:

"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth but (in the words) which the Holy Spirit teacheth; COMPARING SPIRITUAL THINGS WITH SPIRITUAL."

The last five words give a most remarkable insight into this method of studying God's Word, — "comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

What do these words mean?

There is only one great storehouse of "spiritual" things which is thrown open to man. That storehouse is God's Word. "Comparing spiritual things with spiritual" things is comparing Scripture with Scripture.

This plainly revealed method of study is attached to a promise. The sentence is long, so to clarify we will strip the statement of its dependent clauses. The paraphrased statement would read thus:

"That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God ................................... we speak ........................... comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

There it stands in its clarity. In order to know the things freely given to us by God all we have to do is compare Scripture with Scripture. Here is God's own method. The Word has revealed it. The Scripture is to explain the Scripture. The Bible is self-interpreting.

Since the Word of God is. by its own clear-cut statement, self-interpreting, we shall seek in the succeeding studies to discover the laws or principles which govern this interpretation. These laws will be found imbedded in the sacred text, and once understood and used, will be in the hands of the consecrated and prayerful student a veritable "Bunch of Keys" unlocking the treasure-trove of Scripture knowledge, and placing within more or less easy reach the answers to the most perplexing questions of the soul.

Copyright 1923, Clifton L. Fowler