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THEOLOGY > Bible > Revelation > Revelation was Verbal


REVELATION WAS VERBAL

The Truth revealed by God to man was communicated by words, and the Scriptures frequently attest to their verbal nature. Repeatedly the authors affirm that their words are God’s words. God gave to Moses the words he spoke (Ex. 4:12-15; 7:1-2); Moses gave the words of God to the people (Ex. 19:3, 7-8); the people accepted them as the words of God (v. 8); and Moses wrote the words of God down (Ex. 24:4, 7; 34:27. In numerous passages the book of Exodus claims to contain the words of God (3:14; 4:2, 4, 27; 6:1, 2, 10, 28-29; 7:1, 8, 14: 8:1, 16, 20; 9:1, 8, 13, 22, 35; 10:1, 12, 21; 11:1, 9; 12:1; 13:1; 14:1; and other passages). Jeremiah’s writings proclaim the same testimony; his words are said to be God’s words (6:9, 16, 22; 7:1, 21; 8:1; 10:1; 11:1, 6; 14:1 15:1, 11; 16:1, 5; 18:1 21:1 32:1; 43:1; 46:1; 47:1). The same is true of Ezekiel (2:1-3:2, 4, 10-11), Daniel (9:1-2, 20-23; 12:4, 8-9), and Amos (7:14-16).

The following expressions: “the word of YHWH,” “thus says YHWH,” “hear the word of YHWH,” “the mouth of YHWH,” and similar expressions appear over one hundred times in Isaiah, four hundred times in Jeremiah, three hundred times in Ezekiel, fifty times in Amos, twenty times in Haggai, and fifty times in Zechariah.

Not only is this true in the Old Testament, but the same claim pervades the New Testament. Note the following passages: Jesus says that “the word of God” was made “of no effect through your tradition” (Mk. 7:13); “the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God” (Lu. 5:1); “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31); “the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24); “it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (I Tim. 4:5); “the word of God is living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12); “the word of God which lives and abides forever” (I Pet. 1:23); and “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God” (Rev. 20:4).

This is just a sampling of the multiple passages in Scripture that avow that the Scriptures are the very words of God. It is an explicit and emphatic claim; it is not an occasional or sporadic declaration but a consistent and constant announcement. If the Scriptures are in error in their claim to verbal Revelation and inscription, how can their claims and teachings in other areas be taken with any seriousness? Calvin’s observation is worthy of consideration: “The highest proof of Scripture derives in general from the fact that God in person speaks in it” (Institutes, I, 78). Scripture is God speaking, using the verbal method of communication, an ability that God gave to man at his creation.

Because the Revelation was verbal, the writers of Scripture refer to what they received and spoke and to what they wrote as the Word of God. It is the Word of God because God gave it, and what God gave He gave to them in words.

The Bible is communicated Truth (words not thoughts), communicated to man by God using human language. In the use of words God employed a medium that was suitable for man. He who transcends man condescended to speak to man in a manner which man could receive and understand. The language of God is neither Hebrew, Aramaic, nor Greek, but God spoke to man in these languages because they were the languages of the men who received the Revelation. In His creation of man God prepared man so that man could receive the Truth that He was going to communicate to him.

The Bible does not teach that God gave thoughts (how can thoughts be separated from words?), but it explicitly states that God gave words (it is the combination of words that conveys thoughts). Words convey facts, information, knowledge—Truth. It was “the word of the Lord” that came to the writers. If this is not understood in a literal or real sense, then how is it to be understood? The word, the message, the Truth that God wanted the writers to have, that word He gave. That “word of the Lord” is a word of Truth that enables man at the point of that word—not exhaustively, but truly—to know God, to know God’s acts, and to know God’s will. And that word can be trusted because it is a word from God, saying what God intends to say and, therefore, teaching what God intends to teach.

Because man is made in the image of God communication is possible and, most importantly, knowledge is possible. To have the knowledge of the Bible is to have knowledge that God has; it is to have knowledge that God intends for man to have. God revealed what He meant, and what has been revealed is the mind of God, God’s knowledge. He has spoken so that man may know about Him and, more significantly, can come to know Him.

The Scriptures are understandable because Truth and error are the same for God and man; the standards are not different. If they were different, then there would be no basis for God to communicate with man. If words mean one thing to God and another thing to man, or if God and man operate at different levels, then valid communication is impossible: words could not be trusted to convey the Truth of God and man would be abandoned in intellectual and spiritual darkness. The Revelation is understandable, and the Revelation constitutes Scripture. And theology must be anchored in that Revelation.

Biblical Truth is based upon the fact that God has spoken;
He has revealed Himself,
and His Revelation
to us and for us is a verbal, propositional Revelation
that is understandable.

Acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God is to be the response of the believer; the saints at Thessalonica set the example: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (I Thess. 2:13). The Thessalonians heard the word; we read the word. And we should be like them—we should “welcome it.”

Then YHWH put forth His hand and touched my mouth,
and YHWH said to me:
“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”
Jer. 1:9


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