about1Nobody comes to us to be discipled without some prior idea concerning what the Bible is and how it should be read. Most religions have some kind of “holy book”. But the most difficult discipling scenario is when a believer has been taught to read the Bible wrongly.

The Bible is the history of special revelation. The Bible is the history of itself. Since God used history to progressively unfold his redeeming work, the documentation of this redeeming work is also progressive. Since the culmination of this redeeming work was in the fullness of time when God sent forth his Son, the Bible reaches its climax and conclusion in that event. There is no part of the organic unfolding of redemptive history that does not have Christ at its center AND at its end.

But “special revelation” refers not only to the record of the mighty redemptive acts of God but also to the interpretation of those acts. God not only rescued his people from Egypt in the Red Sea crossing, for example, but he also explained its significance.

God acts – God speaks – God acts – God speaks . . . this is the pattern of the history of special revelation. This is the Bible.

Of course the pattern is not merely cyclical but crescendos to a grand finale. The ultimate redeeming act of God is new creation, beginning with the resurrection of the Covenant Head and Mediator. So, while God in the past spoke at various times and in various ways to our fathers through the prophets; in these Last Days He has spoken finally and conclusively in Son-speech.

The point is that without the redeeming work of God the Bible would have nothing to say. The Bible is not the true history; the true path; the true knowledge about God, man, science, etc. Rather, while true in every respect, the Bible is “divinely inspired interpretation of God’s activity of redeeming men so that they might worship and serve him in the world.”[1] This redemption is not merely a topic or theme of the Bible, nor even the controlling theme. It is the only thing that the Bible as a whole is about.

Thus any similarity between the Bible and other “holy books” is superficial. However, it is possible to read the Bible (wrongly) as one might read some other “holy book”; to remove the text from its redemptive context. It is possible, for example, to separate the divine act of the Red Sea crossing (which also appears in some other “holy books”) from its divine interpretation. If the Bible is read in this way, the way other “holy books” are read, the consequences are catastrophic. Rather than being set free under Christ’s reign, disciples are imprisoned under some man-made system.

At the upcoming 2016 SEANG Conference we will have a seminar focused on discipling in faithfulness to the Reformation call to Sola Scriptura. The purpose is for our own training in godliness and to equip us in evangelism, teaching, preaching and counseling. Pray that the seminar will result in love for God’s word and zeal to obey, for Soli Deo Gloria.

You can help make this seminar more effective by responding to this post with comments and questions. Perhaps include some of the challenges that you face along the lines of this topic.

“Without God’s acts the words would be empty, without His words the acts would be blind.”[2]

[1] Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ed. Richard B. Gaffin (Phillipsburg, N.J: P & R Pub, 2001) xvii.

[2] Ibid. 10.

God Has Spoken Son-speech

Phil's parents were career missionaries and he was raised in an Islamic Republic. He studied Engineering and then, more recently, studied Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is based in Southeast Asia and directs Asian Crescent, a region of the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He is an ordained minister of the Philadelphia Metro-West Presbytery. He is married to Barb and has three adult children.

Tagged on:                 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.