Just before his death, Sir Walter Scott was taken into his library and seated by a large window where he could view the scenery. As he sat there, he called to his son-in-law to "get the book" and read to him. During his lifetime, Scott had collected one of the world's largest private libraries, so his son-in-law asked the logical question, "From what book shall I read?" Scott's reply was simple: "There is but one."
Later, the son-in-law wrote, "I chose John 14. He listened with mild devotion and said, when I had done, 'Well, this is a great comfort. I have followed you distinctly, and I feel as if I wits to be myself again.'"
For many years, all kinds of people have held the Bible in high esteem, yet more recently, it has become popular to criticize and even ridicule the Bible. A closer look at the Bible will assure us that it is the very Word of God and help us realize that its greatest critics are those who have never read its pages. The Bible is the greatest Book in the world because it is the special revelation of God. By the expression "greatest Book" we mean it is the greatest in subject matter, greatest in -influence on lives and nations, and it answers the greatest need in man, salvation.
THE DEFINITION OF REVELATION
Revelation was the act of God which gave men knowledge about himself and his creation, including knowledge which man could not have otherwise known. The act of revelation by God is described in several places in the Bible. "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29). In the New Testament we read, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1, 2).
Revelation is an act of God. Peter tells us "No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:20, 21). Even though God used over forty men to record the Bible, they did not write the Bible as other men wrote their books. The message of the Bible originated with God and concerns God. But God is unknowable and man cannot understand his Maker apart from a decision by God to let man know.
Because God is love, which means God wants to share himself with man, God chose to tell man about himself. Therefore, God acted to reveal himself and his will. Man did not stumble onto facts about God nor did man think up truth about God. All that anyone knows about God came from God. This is called the act of revelation which was "forever settled in heaven" (Ps. 119:89) before it was ever written on earth. Therefore, the real Author of Scripture is God the Holy Spirit. Actually, the Holy Spirit and approximately forty men of God were the coauthors of the Bible. These human authors simply recorded the things that God revealed to and through them.
When a photographer shoots a picture of a landscape, we respect him for his skill, yet no one seriously considers him the creator of the subject of the picture. Yet as we compare his picture with those taken of the same scene by a beginner, we can see the evidence of the photographer's skill. An extremely good photographer is able to communicate his personality through his work. So it is with the Bible. It is God's revelation recorded by men. Sometimes we can see characteristics of a particular writer in a book, but there can be no question that the Bible is the very Word of God.
God gives this revelation to man. The Bible is a personal book; it is written to and for men. When a person is saved, he feels the Bible has a personal message from God to him, even though the Word of God is addressed to all. Moses told Israel the "things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever" (Deut. 29:29). The psalmist interacted personally with Scripture, noting, "I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Ps. 119:99). A thousand years later the apostle Paul agreed, writing, "These things were our examples" (1 Cor. 10:6), and he wrote to the Romans, "That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them" (Rom. 1:19). The act of revelation began in the heart of a personal God who wanted to reveal himself to people.
Revelation was the communication of truth man could not otherwise know apart from God. Because God is infinite, man could never understand him. The nature and plan of God are contrary to sinful man, so finite humans could not understand God if they would try (1 Cor. 2:9- 11). But man will not understand because sin is rebellion against God. And man could not understand God if he wanted to, for only God can understand God. Therefore, God chose to reveal everything we know about himself to us.
Christians have recognized this truth because they have been aided by God to understand his revelation. Even the infidel Rousseau said, "I must confess to you that the majesty of the Scriptures astonishes me; the holiness of the evangelist speaks to my heart, and has such strong and striking characers of truth, and is, moreover, so perfectly inimitable, that, if it had been the invention of men, the invention would be greater than the greatest heroes."
But the Bible also is a revelation concerning sin. The world says sin is fun. God says sin is rebellion, filthy, and abnormal. If natural man were writing the Bible, he would not paint sin black, allow sinners to go to hell, or describe the destructiveness of iniquity. But God hates sin, so his Book condemns all men because all are sinners (Rom. 3:23). So the Bible is not a Book that man would choose to write. Because the Bible reveals God, it is a Book that man could not write if he would, and because the Bible reveals the condemnation of men, it is a Book he would not write if he could.
Revelation is both partial and complete. This apparent-contradiction of terms needs some clarification. By "complete" we mean that the revelation of God is finished, completely written, containing all that God wants us to know about him. The Christian does not expect to find some new truth that needs to be added to the Bible. In fact, the final words of the closing chapter of the Book of Revelation make it clear that this is a completed Book. "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18). Even though these words were written about the Book of Revelation, they are relevant to all the Bible.
The Bible is complete, yet in its completed form it is only a partial revelation of God. We do not know everything there is i to know about God. "The secret things belong unto the Lord" (Deut. 29:29). When John wrote the Revelation, he was prevented from recording some things God had revealed to him (Rev. 10:4). Paul had a similar experience where "he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter (2 Cor. 12:4).
God has wisely seen fit not to reveal some things to us. Many things about God are still hidden and unrevealed. We can be certain that the revelation God has given us is enough to accomplish his purpose in our lives. God's revelation to man is not a complete revelation of all truth, but it is as complete as it needs to be.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REVELATION
Revelation is important for many reasons.
Salvation is found only in God's revelation. After Jesus rose from the dead, "then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:45-47). The records of history tell us of the death of Christ, but only the Bible tells us it was for our salvation. "Christ died [history] for our sins [revelation]" (1 Cor. 15:3).
The Bible reveals the Person of God. God has revealed his existence in general ways to all men through nature, conscience, and history. But God has used the special revelation of Scripture and Christ to reveal his Person. Men cannot arrive at the right ideas about God by themselves. The only ideas that are correct about God are those that he has revealed about himself. His names (titles), his attributes, and his plan can only be found in this Book.
Revelation is foundational to all doctrine. The Bible says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine" (2 Tim. 3:16). Doctrine is simply the teaching of God concerning a particular subject. If God did not reveal (teach) anything on a particular subject, there would be no doctrine.
Revelation is foundational to the Christian life. "All scripture . . . is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [mature], thoroughly furnished unto all good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). The Bible is the Christian's "how to" manual on how to please God. "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to "all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Josh. 1:8).
THE MEANS OF REVELATION
Revelation is usually discussed in two categories, called “general revelation" and "special revelation." General revelation is given to all persons and man needs no help to understand it. General revelation comes to us from nature to reveal the existence and power of God (Rom. 1:18-20). General revelation also comes from the conscience (Rom. 2:14, 15) and, finally, from the existence of law in or through history (Rom. 2:1). Special revelation comes to us from Scripture in particular and through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ specifically (John 1:10).
When the Wise Men came from the east seeking the newborn king (Matt. 2:1-11), God must have allowed them to understand something of what he was doing. That was, in part, general revelation which came to them in nature. Their consciences might have influenced them to seek to worship the newborn King of the Jews. Their examination of natural revelation led them to Jerusalem, where they encountered special revelation. There they heard a verse of Scripture (Mic. 5:2) that directed them to Bethlehem. In Bethlehem, they had their fullest revelation of God as they worshiped the baby King, the Word that became flesh (John. 1:14).
People should respond to what God teaches them through natural revelation. That information will never save them, but it points them to the special revelation, the Bible, where they learn of the Person of God and his salvation. Special revelation far surpasses the revelation from history, conscience, and nature. As we study the Bible, we will be constantly pointed to Christ. Someday Christ shall return and "then shall [we] know even as [we are] known" (i Cor. 13:12).
THE PURPOSE OF REVELATION
God has revealed his Word for a purpose. Too often the Bible is used in Christian homes for little more than a display. Christians, by not reading the Scriptures, rob themselves of much blessing that could be theirs to enjoy.
A revelation of our sin. The Bible reveals the secrets of our heart. Many times moral codes and guides for living do not help us because of cultural overtones. But since the source of the Bible is God, and he is the Savior of men, it is only natural that he would reveal the sins that keep us from him (Rom. 3:9-20). Therefore, we would expect God to speak through his Word to all people in every situation.
After a missionary had been in China for some time, he finally finished translating the New Testament. It was generally well received by the Chinese until they read Romans. Then the missionary was challenged. "You told us your Book was very ancient; but you wrote about our sin since you have some and learned about Chinamen." God who knows the heart of all men, has revealed the sinful nature of men in the Bible. Now this message should be taught to the entire world without fear that it may not apply to some cultures.
A revelation of Christ. God's revelation is primarily a revelation of Christ. Jesus said he was the central theme of Scripture (John 5:39). The central theme of the final book of the Bible, "the Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 1:1), is the central theme of the Bible.
A revelation of eternal life. The Bible shows us how to have both eternal life and the assurance of it, which was John's chief reason for writing the fourth Gospel (John 20:31). One of John's themes was that we could know the certainty of our salvation (1 John 5:13). Christianity is not like other religions, where the followers can never be assured of their eternal salvation. Assurance is Possible because of the revelation of God.
A revelation of God's expectations for us. The Bible gives us a standard by which to live. God revealed the law to Moses so that Israel would obey it (Deut. 29:29). The Scriptures were given so the Christian might grow spiritually (2 Tim. 3:17). It is our Christian duty to do all that is commanded of us (Luke 17:10). Our only biblical guarantee to success in the Christian life is tied to obedience to the biblical standards of our life (Josh. 1:8).
When we purchase a major appliance, we receive a manual that tells how the appliance should work and what is to be done if a problem arises. God has also given us a manufacturer's manual-the Bible-to reveal how to live and what steps to take to achieve success.
The revelation of wisdom. The Bible gives wisdom and understanding to its students. This is something for which every Christian can pray (James 1:5). God, who is the source of wisdom gives it to us as we study the Bible. This is especially true of the Proverbs (Prov. 1:2, 5), but also true of the Bible as a whole (Ps. 19:7). The Christian with a good comprehension of Scripture should be wiser concerning the decisions of life than those who do not know and apply it to life (Luke 16:8).
A revelation of victory. The Word of God has the power to keep a Christian from sin. God, knowing that men would face the problem of sin, revealed a way of escape to help the Christian live a clean life (Ps. 119:9-11) and overcome temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). Even Jesus used the Scriptures when he was tempted by Satan (Matt. 4:1-11). Throughout history, Christians have found the Bible an indispensable aid in overcoming temptation. In the flyleaf of his Bible, Dwight L. Moody wrote, "This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book."
The Bible prepares the Christian for spiritual battles as he struggles against evil forces in the world. Paul experienced these same battles in his life and ministry. As a result, he concluded that "above all" the Christian needed "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God" to gain victory in these spiritual battles (Eph. 6:16, 17).
The Bible is an understandable Book. This does not mean that everyone will understand it, or that anyone will understand all of it. It does not mean we will understand everything the first time we read it, but the Bible can be understood by those who properly attempt to understand it. This of course assumes that the Holy Spirit is teaching us as we read.
Through the Bible, God teaches us his will. If we accept the truths and apply them to our lives, we will continue to discover more. If we rebel against God by rejecting his teaching, the presence of sin in our lives will soon hinder our understanding of the Bible. One of the greatest causes of disagreement among Christians about some passages in Scripture is their spiritual blindness due to their lack of yieldedness to God. To understand the Bible, it is important that we be both hearers and doers of the Word (James 1:22).
When we read the Bible and come across something we do not understand, we should set it aside and learn what we can in other places. It may be that upon reading the same passage days or even years later, the truth of that verse may suddenly become clear to us. In the meantime, we are able to understand and apply other parts of the Bible.
When we receive a personal letter from a friend we have not soon for some time, such a letter is not just glanced at and thrown in the trash can. We probably read it again and again to learn what new things have taken place in our friend's life.
The Bible is God's revelation of himself to us. Any person who wants to know God and live for him will continually read the Word of God. No one will ever find God by accident. A person must determine to seek him.
Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Psalm 119:25-48
Wednesday: Psalm 119:49-72
Thursday: Psalm 119:73-96
Friday: Psalm 119:97-120
Saturday: Psalm 119:121-144
Sunday: Psalm 119:145-176
Taken from: What The Faith Is All About by Elmer Towns