Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Necessity of Scripture

Belief in God's existence has never been an obstacle for me. Even during the darkest years of my life, when my depravity was on open display I was convinced from the light of nature, providence, and my own conscience that there was a God and he was the maker of heaven and earth. This general revelation testifies to God's existence "for what can be known about God is plain...because God has shown it...his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made" (Romans 1:19-20). God is revealed in all that he has made as the heavens are declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). There is a sensus divinitatis which is common to all men. 

This has never been a problem for me. My push back has always been with what God reveals about himself in Scripture and it is interesting to me that I am now seeing the same thing in my oldest son. He has no problem believing there is a God who is Creator and sustainer of all things. He sees it everywhere. This is not to say that he is without questions concerning general revelation, but he readily accepts this as fact. He also knows that he is a sinner, his own conscience condemns him and although he is only six he understands that there is a harmony between Scripture's testimony of human sin and the testimony of his own conscience. The true questions (as well as doubt or outright unbelief) come when Scripture reveals that which finds no affirmation by our natural conscience or by what may be seen and observed. Case in point: the doctrine of the Trinity. The Scriptures reveal to us that God is one yet in three - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three are referred to as God and ascribed that which belongs to God alone. For instance, all are said to have created all that is yet the Scripture does not lead us to believe that there are three gods but rather teaches that there is but one only, the living and true God. We don't gather this knowledge from nature or the moral understanding of our conscience, we know this from Scripture. Here we find the reason why we need the Scriptures. Natural revelation is not enough to lead us to a Trinitarian understanding of God, neither can we be saved through natural revelation. The law we understand for their is a moral order to creation, but the gospel is only given to us through God's special revelation; that which has been revealed in Scripture and by the advent of his Son. 

Natural revelation and rational apologetics only go so far. What is revealed in natural revelation gives great testimony to God's existence and to his law, but it can never lead us home. Ultimately, natural revelation leaves us with a guilty knowledge of God, a sense of the condemnation we are under for violating the law of God written on our conscience, and finally without hope as we face death. The Scriptures alone proclaim the only comfort we may find in life and death, for this is where we find that the Father has loved the world so that he sent his Son to obediently live and die in behalf of the unrighteous, to rise again from the dead, ascend to heaven, and send the Holy Spirit to apply his purchased redemption to his own who are scattered across the globe.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” (Romans 10:13-16 ESV)

Listen to "The Necessity of Scripture" by Jim Wilkerson, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Brunswick, Georgia.