It's Theology Tuesday! We're in part four of a five part series on Bibliology.
Compare and contrast the Bible and its authority to general revelation and its authority.
We learn about God through His written word, His Spirit, nature, and our consciences. These different avenues for knowledge, however, are not equal in terms of authority and salvation.
We know we learn about God and who He is through nature by the passage in Romans 1:20 which states that God’s invisible qualities can be seen so clearly that people have no excuse for their lack of belief. This is “general revelation,” meaning it gives knowledge of God’s existence, character, and moral law, and it is available to all of humanity. God’s creation testifies about His existence. If you were to walk past a fence post and saw a turtle on top of it, you would wonder who put it there. The same is true for creation. When looking at the intricacies and marvels of this world, the question is the same: “Who put us here?”
Inside each person is the knowledge of good and evil. Apart from the law, men live imperfectly by their own moral standard as they think is best. The fact that they try and create rules for what is good and what is bad is a sign that there is a true good out there. Thus, by their own design, they are setting standards that they cannot follow, thus proving their own fallen nature.
Romans 2 says:
“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my Gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:14-16)
With this general revelation then, all mankind has a choice as to who they should worship. However, they have chosen to not honor Him as God or give Him thanks, and instead they worship the creature instead of the Creator. (Romans 1:21, 25) General revelation, then, brings condemnation, but it does not bring the hope of Jesus. That is where the word of God comes into the picture.
God’s word gives the details of God’s plan for salvation, because faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). A few verses earlier, we are told to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead in order to be saved (Rom 10:9).
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us concerning the Son. Jesus said that the Spirit would lead us into all truth (John 16:13). However, the Spirit does not work apart from or in contrast to Jesus, who is the Word, and therefore will only support what is in the Word and not add to it. Jesus said, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
So though God’s presence is made evident through general revelation so that all men are without excuse, salvation is found through the Word, who is Jesus Christ. Therefore, the final authority on life and goodness does not come through nature or our own ability to reason, but through the Word of God.
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p1242