Because God is not identical to creation itself, we do not possess the natural capacity to make contact to or with God. God has to reveal himself to be known. Evangelicals believe that God is a speaking God who has refused to hide his will, existence, and attributes to his creation. God can be known within the universe via two means: general and special revelation. General revelation is God’s communication to all persons at all times in all places via the creation, preservation, and government of the universe. Special revelation is God’s self-disclosure of himself specifically to a limited certain persons for particular reasons by way of history, various actions among certain peoples, and holy Scripture. To show his goodness, glory, and other perfections, God has generally revealed himself via the following routes: nature (Rom. 1:18-23; Psa. 19; Acts 14:15-17), conscience (Gen. 1:26-27; Rom. 2:14-16), humanity’s ontology (universal moral nature, inherent religious tendencies, and consciousness), and reason/logic itself. This general knowledge lacks salvific efficacy because of sin’s destructive marring (meaning that you need more for salvation). This knowledge leaves humanity inexcusable for moral accountability before his divine judgment.
To further elucidate his divine perfections and purposes, God has specially revealed himself using the following: history, various supernatural means within the locus of God’s covenant people (angels, theophanies, Urim and Thummim, the casting of lots, dreams, visions, etc.), and Scripture itself. Evangelical Christians believe that Scripture is God’s ultimate and supreme means of revealing what is necessary for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith. So why do we believe that concerning the Bible?Why do we believe that it is the revelation of the Triune God that rules the world? Recently Toby Sumpter, author and pastor of Trinity Reformed Church, preached a sermon in which he answered this question quite superbly. Other reasons can be given of course but I find his explanations to be some of the most important response one can offer.
1-Because the Bible says it is and assumes it. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Tim. 2:16) “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:21) When Zacharias’ tongue was loosed, he burst out in song, filled with the Holy Spirit and said “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people… as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began…” (Lk. 1:70). Paul says that he and the other apostles were not speaking the mere words of men, and people who despised or rejected their words were not quibbling with human opinions, but rather rebelling against the Holy Spirit who spoke through them (1 Cor. 2:13, 1 Thess. 4:8). Even Peter spoke of Paul’s letters as Scripture in one place (2 Pet. 3:16). The Bible says it is the Word of God.
2-Because of the majesty of the Bible: The Scriptures present us with visions of God in His glory and majesty, high and lifted up. They describe mysteries like the Trinity and the Incarnation, creation from nothing, the fall into sin, the atonement for sins on the cross, grace, our union with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit, the resurrection, mysteries far beyond human invention, and certainly not the invention of Galilean fishermen. The Scriptures also contain commands that only God has the prerogative to give. Judgments and penalties are promised for sin and evil that only God has the authority to pronounce. Forgiveness and grace is offered which only God has the power to announce. The Bible is the Word of God because only God Himself would have the ability or right to speak of and describe and authorize the things found in the Bible.
3-Because of the way the Bible is written. The Bible was written by over 40 different people over the course of at least 1500 years. And if you suspect, as I do, that some parts of Genesis were written much earlier than Moses then that number stretches back a couple more thousand years. The Bible has 1189 verses, containing 783, 137 words, made up of 3,566,480 letters. And yet this book is a masterpiece, an epic poem, a symphony of stories, poems, historical records, prophecies, visions, law codes, genealogies, and letters that do not contradict themselves but rather repeatedly, amazingly reinforce, elaborate, highlight, echo, and fulfill one another in glorious ways. For all the human involvement in the writing process, the fact that the entire book harmonizes so wonderfully insists that this was not a human concoction. It is the cumulative song of the Spirit of God.
4-Because of the power and efficacy of the Bible. “The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) People are converted by hearing and reading the Bible: David sings: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…” Paul says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) Jesus Himself says, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” (Jn. 5:24-25) The Bible is the Word of God because it has the power to raise the dead. It cuts into the souls of men and women and children in a way that no ordinary human book can do. In some sense, every believer is a living witness to the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.
5-We believe that the Bible is the Word of God because of the miracles and signs that accompanied it and the blood of the martyrs that sealed it and the testimony of the entire Church. Jesus Himself healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, loosed the tongues of the dumb, opened the ears of the deaf, walked on water, cast demons out, fed the multitudes with a boy’s sack lunch, told a plant to whither and it obeyed, spoke to storms and they submitted, turned water into wine, told the lame to walk, and finally foretold His own death and resurrection and everything happened exactly as He said. The Bible is the Word of God because it comes to us attested by theses signs and many other signs that accompanied the apostles and prophets who wrote it. The authority of their words was confirmed by signs and miracles that no ordinary human may perform. Only those possessed by the Spirit of the Living, Sovereign and Creator God may do such things and therefore be enabled to speak and write on His behalf. We also point to the apostles and prophets who wrote Scripture as well as the millions of Christians since who have sealed their testimonies in blood: men, women, and children who suffered, bled, and died for the sake of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom they met in His Word, the Bible. Related to this is the ancient testimony of the entire church, the whole body of Christ throughout the world, throughout history that has testified to the truth and authority of the Bible as the Word of God.
6-Finally, because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that it is the Word of God. John writes, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth…” And a little bit later, he says, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1 Jn. 2:20-21, 27) The Westminster Confession says it this way: “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts.” In other words, we are able to see and hear and understand and love the Bible as the Word of God as the very truth of God because the same Holy Spirit that wrote it lives in us.
His full sermon can be found here.