Is the Bible Revealed, Inspired, or Both?
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 1:56pm
A RECENT QUESTION: “I’m going through ‘The Holy Spirit’ with a church group right now. I realize that not all of the Word is given to us through special revelation. Would it be fair to say, however, that technically all of Scripture is revealed since revelation is both specific and general?”
MY REPLY: First let me refer you to my book, “Power from on High: What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit” (College Press, 2007, 506pp.), which has a long chapter on “The Holy Spirit and the Bible” (pp. 47-95). This chapter discusses the Holy Spirit and the ORIGIN of the Bible (which is where your question enters), the HS and our UNDERSTANDING of the Bible (which has a long critique of the false doctrine of illumination), and the HS and the TRUTH of the Bible.
I also have a smaller book on the HS: “The Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study” (College Press, 131p., pb), which is good for leading small groups. It has ten chapters plus study questions. Every member of the study group can have a copy of the small volume, while YOU, the TEACHER, can use the larger volume!
In answer to your question, if you are asking whether some of the Bible is the product of special revelation while some of it is the product of general revelation, the answer is No. General revelation by definition does not apply to the Bible at all. It is the non-verbal revelation that appears in the created universe (Psalm 19:1-6; Acts 14:17; Romans 1:18-21) and that is written on the heart (Romans 2:14-15). It is called general revelation because it is available to all of the human population in general.
All revelation found in the Bible is special revelation, since by definition special revelation (verbal or non-verbal) is that which is given by God at a specific time in history to specific individuals or specific groups. Much such revelation was given by God to the authors of the books of the Bible at specific times in history, who then wrote this revelation down as Scripture and thus passed it along to all of the human population. Though it is now available to all people, this Biblical revelation is still special revelation because the original acts/events by which it was given to the Bible writers were very specific regarding time and recipients.
If only some parts of the Bible are revealed, does this mean that the non-revealed parts are not necessarily true and not authoritative? Not at all. Though only some parts of the Bible are revealed, ALL parts of the Bible (both its revealed parts and unrevealed parts) are INSPIRED by God, i.e., written down under the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit. Thus every part—every word—of Scripture has the divine “stamp of approval,” and is thus completely trustworthy and authoritative (it its original form). What makes the Bible authoritative and inerrant is not its character as revelation, but the fact that it is “God-breathed,” i.e., “inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). Because of inspiration, we can speak of the whole Bible as being “the Word of God,” or even “the words of God” (Rom. 3:2).