"If God had never revealed himself, what would your life look like?" asks Matthew Barrett, in his book God's Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture.
When I read those words, I had to pause for a moment to ponder the implications of such a statement. Where would I be if God had not revealed himself? The question had never crossed my mind before, but in that moment it occurred to me just how gracious God was in revealing himself to mankind. I think the opening lines of Hebrews captures this well:
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV).
Let's unpack this for a moment.
This verse teaches us first of all that God spoke. Unlike the wooden idols that Abraham worshipped before God called him out of darkness, God has the power to speak to his people. Barrett says that, "It is Yahweh's ability to speak truth...that distinguishes him from every other religion and their god(s)" (God's Word Alone, 272). The God revealed in Scripture is a God who speaks, who reveals himself, to his people.
Second, this verse reveals that God speaks in a variety of ways. He does not limit himself to one mode of revelation, but instead has worked in history in a number of different ways. He has revealed himself generally through creation and more specifically through the prophets, dreams, visions, the written Word, and even through animals (think Balaam's donkey). But I don't think this is what the author of Hebrews is trying to stress. I think there's something else he is emphasizing, which leads us to our next point.
Although God has chosen to reveal himself in myriad ways throughout history, in these last days he has chosen to speak to us through his Son, the Word made flesh. God no longer speaks through prophets, dreams, or donkeys. He has made his full and final revelation through his son, Christ. Barrett again states that, "Christ, as the Son of God and the Word of God, is the ultimate, climactic, and full revelation of God, and his word is true because it came from the Father" (God's Word Alone, 206).
Now, let's imagine that none of what Hebrews 1:1-2 says is true.
Imagine that God chose only to reveal himself through creation, but never entered into history through special revelation. Instead, he remained in heaven, aloof and uncaring, while you waffled and stumbled and grasped to learn more about the mysterious deity who created the world around you.
You are at enmity with this deity, but you have no way of knowing it.
You are under the wrath of this God, but are completely unaware of it.
You need a savior, but none has been provided.
You need a word from heaven, but none can be found.
You are lost, with no hope of ever knowing this God who created the earth you roam. Your only true knowledge of him will come at death, when you discover that you will be spending an eternity separated from him because of your sin.
That is what would happen if God had never revealed himself to you. And it would have happened to me too. But thankfully, Hebrews 1:1-2 is true. God has revealed himself, even though he was not obligated to do so, and He has provided a Savior in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.
Friends, God's revelation is a gift. God's revelation is grace. Not only has God revealed himself to you through Christ, the Savior of the world, but he has given you his very Word - a Word that is completely truthful and without error - to guide you on your journey. But oh, how we take this revelation for granted! How we spurn God's grace daily! How many mornings go by with our Bibles collecting dust while we sleep away the sunrise! How many nights do we drift into sleep without a thank-you to our Savior, the full and final revelation from God, for saving us from our sins. May the Lord forgive us for our apathy!
If you want to learn more about divine revelation, specifically the doctrine of Scripture, check out God's Word Alone. It is an excellent introduction to the doctrine of Scripture and the principle of sola scriptura.
Things have been irregular here at The Reformed Millennial for a while. I am settling into a new routine as I begin my Master of Divinity studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Lord willing, new posts will be arriving each Friday, so make sure you subscribe to get these posts delivered right to your inbox! And don't forget, I love hearing from you, reader, so leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @1689Millennial.
Sources: God's Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture by Matthew Barrett (Zondervan, 2016)