Monday, September 19, 2022

The Doctrine of Scripture Series: How Revelation Is The Source Of Divine Inspiration


    Last time we introduced this series on the  doctrine of Scripture, which readers may review here  I recently began to preach a series by the same topic, which readers can link to here 

    The doctrines of Scripture are like a fleet of ships, carrying the gold of Heaven, the pearl of great price in the Gospel, and the glory of Jesus Christ. In this post, we want to start considering the flagship truth of the doctrine of Scripture - “The Divine Inspiration of Scripture”. Our text will come from 2 Peter 1:12-21. This text, along with 2 Timothy 3:15-17, comprise the two greatest texts in all the Bible for establishing the doctrine of Scripture in general, and Divine inspiration in particular. 

    When I say “inspiration”, I mean God’s revelation put in written form by the Holy Spirit operating through the personalities and writing styles of the Biblical authors. To shorten this definition, we could plainly say “revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration”. In this section of 2 Peter 1:12-21, the beloved apostle lays out this wonderful doctrine of Divine inspiration. We will follow his train of thought by noting three truths, with today's post focusing upon the first.

1. Revelation is the source of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:12-15

2. Incarnation of the Son, the focus of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:16-18

3. Writing of Scripture, the by-product of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:19-20

    With those three headings before us, let us begin. First…..

1. Revelation is the source of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:12-15

    2 Peter 1:12-15 “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.”

A. Defining the term “revelation”.

    When we say “revelation”, we mean “unveiling, making known what was previously unknown”. In this first point we see that underlined word “made clear” refers to God making plain, clear, what was otherwise obscure and unclear. This verb is one of the words used in the Bible to describe what is called “God’s act of revelation”. The first time we see God revealing anything to human beings is in the opening act of their creation (Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 2:16-17).

B. Revelation by language drives the inspiration of Scripture.

    God used varied forms of revelation throughout the history of His dealings with His people. Notice what Peter writes again in 2 Peter 1:14 "as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me." That same word behind the phrase “made clear to me” is found in Hebrews 9:8, wherein we read “The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing.” We see that when God reveals something, as Peter describes it here in our main text, it is identical to saying God is “signifying something”, as stated by the writer of Hebrews.

    Now as we look back at what Peter is saying here, it is evident he is receiving revelation from God. It is by words that God speaks through the Apostle. Theologians describe God’s revelation through words as “propositional revelation”. This gets to the heart of understanding how revelation is the source of inspiration. A “proposition” refers to the truth content of a declarative sentence. If I say to you “It is sunny outside”, what I just stated to you is a proposition. That is, there is actual content in the statement that corresponds with something true. Furthermore, whether I convey that proposition in English, or in another language, it makes no difference.

    To illustrate, propositions are what makes a little child’s first words so important. A little one may convey what they feel in grunts, cries, symbolism, and in body language, with the meaning at times still a mystery. But once that little one begins to use words, the thoughts of their minds connect with our minds. The little toddler says “momma”, or “dadda” or “milk”. The mystery of the little one’s mind is removed, and thus “revealed”. This is why a child’s first words are such a milestone. We finally can unlock what is going on inside that little one’s mind. 

    This aspect of our physical and material make-up is due to God Himself being revelatory. His preferred manner of interacting with us is by words. Many theologians have compared God’s revelation in words to that of a mother speaking baby-talk to a little one. More could be said, but for now, let me offer a simple definition of inspiration that is tied to our first point of “revelation”. That is: revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration. 

We will look at our second thought about the focus of Divine inspiration in our next post....

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