Tag Archives: special revelation

The Theology of Jesus: Part 2 Bibliology

Bibliology, the study of God’s revelation to man, is our next theological category to consider. What did the Lord Jesus believe about general and special revelation, the canon of Scripture, the truth of God disclosing information about Himself?

We are on a strange quest to ask what the Lord Jesus’ theology was. What did He say and teach about issues such as the nature of God’s Word and man’s response to it? We are using a systematic theology approach, attempting to collect the data in logical categories.

These posts can’t be exhaustive because we have ten areas to cover! We can only hit one or two highlights in each division of theology. We’ve seen (in the first area of prolegomena) that the Lord Jesus put the highest premium on the issue of belief. Belief was such a critical matter to Jesus that He actually allowed His friend Lazarus to die so that others would believe in Him!

Systematic theology divides this topic into two sub-divisions: general revelation (God communicating truth about Himself to all people everywhere) and special revelation (God communicating truth about Himself to a select group).  In terms of general revelation (its three avenues being nature, human nature, and human history), we have many references by the Lord to nature as He refers to animals, plants, locations, weather, natural disasters, etc.  He used the objects of nature to drive home spiritual points about a relationship with Himself.  He made evident the care of God when He said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Mt 6:28-29).

Perhaps this is why the most frequent analogies Jesus makes to the natural world are from farming, fishing, vineyards and shepherds: human beings working together with nature, transforming the raw materials of nature into food and drink and clothing. The images Jesus uses are dominated by a picture of the environment that shows human beings using, domesticating and cultivating nature for their own use: mustard seed, yeast, bread, sowing and seeds, vineyards and vines, new and old wine, sheep and goats, the good shepherd, the sheepfold, the flock, weeds among the wheat, fishermen, a net full of fish. (

Jesus also appeals to man’s human nature (conscience, for example) as He tells a parable such as the parable of the tenants in Matthew 21 (v. 40- “What will he do to those [wicked] tenants?”).  When He is anointed by a sinful woman, Jesus, after telling the story of two debtors’ being forgiven, asks Simon the Pharisee “which of them will love him more?” (Lk. 7:42).  The conscience was important to the Lord Jesus — and He appeals to it often.

The Lord also uses human history to speak of God’s actions in His creation.  He affirms the historicity of Adam and Eve (Mt. 19), makes reference to the Noahic flood (Mt. 24:37), refers to the real existence of Jonah (Mt. 12:40), and alludes to the history of the Jewish nation (Jn. 8:33).

But what did the Lord Jesus say about special revelation?  First of all, there is no question that He affirmed in the strongest terms possible, the divine authority of the Old Testament Scriptures.  He affirmed the authority of the Old Testament in His confrontation with Satan (Mt. 4:4), described the imperishable nature of God’s Word (Mt. 5:18), said that the Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35), appealed to Scripture when confronting false doctrine (Mt. 22:29), said that God’s word is “truth” (Jn. 17:17), declared the historicity of Jonah (Mt. 12:40) and Noah (Mt. 24:37-38) and Adam and Eve (Mt. 19:4-6), saw the creation story as reliable (Mk. 13:19; Mt. 19:4), made reference to the Law and the Prophets as canonical (Mt. 5:17), used Moses and all the prophets to explain the things concerning Himself (Lk. 24:27), and referred to the entire canon by mentioning all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah (Mt. 23:35).   Wow. (

And, in terms of the divine canon (the collection of inspired books making up the Bible), Jesus clearly predicts the coming of the New Testament when He says the following in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-16):

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (Jn. 14)

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (Jn. 15)

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16)

This “Spirit of truth”, this “Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” From those words in John 14 we may infer that the Holy Spirit would “carry along” (2 Pe. 1:21) the Apostles and help them remember what Jesus had said to them. It would be their job to record the teachings of Jesus.

This same Spirit, Jesus says, “will testify about me.” (Jn. 15:26). How would the Holy Spirit most likely do that? We suggest it would be by inspiring the New Testament writers in their work.

But Jesus states He had “much more” to say to the disciples. The Spirit to come would “guide [them] into all the truth.” (Jn. 16:13). He would tell them “what is yet to come” (Jn. 16:13). But there is cooperation between the Son and the Spirit. Jesus says, “He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16:14). The Spirit “will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16:15)

So, the Lord Jesus had much to say about bibliology.  As the Word, He embodied God’s communication to man, as the writer to the Hebrews tells us in his first chapter:
Read over John chapter one and take a few notes on the Lord Jesus as “the Word.”  Why would the Creator desire to communicate to His rebellious creation?  Feel free to post your Comment below. (to be continued)




Posted by on September 26, 2018 in the theology of Jesus


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Back to the Basics! Bibliology #5 Special Revelation!

It is quite logical that an infinite/personal God who created man in His image would want to communicate with man.  It is reasonable to assume that such a God, especially if He is described as loving and merciful and relational would want to connect with His creature.

And such is the biblical story.  We did not evolve.  We did not preexist on some other planet.  We were created by the only God who is.  And we were “made in His image.”  That expression (which we will examine more closely when we look at Anthropology) involves communicative skills.  We communicate with one another — why can’t God communicate with us?

The Bible’s claim is that He has communicated with us, in sixty-six books or sections of the Bible, to be exact.  The “Old Testament” is composed of 37 such books, ranging from historical documents to narratives to poetry to prophecy.  The unity of the incredible variety of the Bible is one of its most amazing features!

General revelation referred to God’s communicating truth to all people at all times everywhere (nature, human nature, history).  Special revelation refers to God’s selecting certain people or groups to receive His truth — and to write it down for future generations.  That’s what the Bible professes to be!  The inscripturated (theologians love big words) record of God’s words and works for the benefit of God’s creation.

The process of recognizing which books belong in the holy canon (that collection of books deemed inspired by God) is a critical issue and may be studied further here.  All religions have holy books.  Why the Bible and not the Qu’ran or the Book of Mormon or the Bhagavad Gita?  (Here‘s a good article on other religious writings).

We may have confidence that the Bible and the Bible alone is God’s written word to man.  But a book, as someone has said, if not read, is just a block of paper!

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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in special revelation


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 19)

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 6.39.01 AM

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Psalm 19


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (answers)

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 8.48.53 AMWe all want answers in life.  Some in our culture tell us that ultimate answers are undiscoverable, but that position must be recognized as an assumption.  Making up our own answers is no solution either.

This is precisely where Christian theology comes in.  It seeks to present answers to our deepest questions.  However, even theology can be nothing more than the sophisticated guesses of men and women with multiple initials after their names.

What is needed, of course, is some kind of revelation from the Creator as to the meaning of life.  And that is precisely what the Bible claims to be — a disclosure of truth from God about life’s meaning.

The Bible’s answers about the meaning of reality come in two forms: (1) general revelation (God communicating truth about Himself and the universe to everyone without exception through nature, human nature, and history), and (2) special revelation (God communicating truth about Himself and the universe to chosen individuals in specific time periods for His particular purposes).  Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 5.47.26 AMThe term “special revelation” is usually used in reference to the Bible, the Word of God.  Psalms 8 and 19 and Romans 1 illustrate the first kind of revelation.  Psalm 119  and 2 Timothy 3:16 help explain the second.

But what if people don’t want the answers that God’s revelation gives?  They are certainly free to go look elsewhere (although all alternatives prove to be poor substitutes).  What is not open to us is to give up on finding answers to the meaning of life.  For that individual, life becomes vain and empty (a theme dealt with extensively by the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes).


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Posted by on January 31, 2015 in meaning of life


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