In light of our episode on “Kinds of Theology” we want to do some episodes on systematic theology in more detail. This will be bit-sized.
We gave the breakdown of ST I, II, III.
As we said, ST I begins with a good bibliology (doctrine of Scripture). In light of that, we’re going to begin with bibliology.
Today will be a short one that introduces this whole subject by focusing on the nature of how God reveals Himself.
Also known as “General Revelation.” It is insufficient for salvation.
--- Environmental and/or Historical
"But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. "Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. "Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?"
"For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
God’s goodness is shown in that He provides rain.
God has revealed Himself internally. He has used the creation to reveal Himself—His eternal power and divine nature.
This is built upon the teaching of Genesis 1:26-27
The reality that we bear God’s image instinctively points us back to the reality of God. There are certain things that drive humans.....we are hardwired to do and act in certain ways.
Here even a pagan poet acknowledges the image of God in man.
All men have the “law” internally placed by God. It is the basis for morality...the innate sense of right and wrong that in part of humanity.
This is also known as the theistic argument. Here you will find Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. This is also how the famous theologian, Thomas Aquinas developed his arguments to prove the existence of God. So much so that he felt that through the use of logical argumentation (i.e. the cosmological argument) a person could prove God and bring the person to salvation.
This deals with the hamartiological fact—the reality of sin. Apart from special revelation with the work of the Spirit pulverizing man’s pride, no change is capable (cf. Romans 3:10-18.)
Conclusion: Natural revelation is epistemologically [the doctrine of
how we know/understand] (e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:21) and soteriologically [the doctrine of salvation] (e.g. Romans 1-3) insufficient; it does not innately and automatically lead to a natural theology.
--- “God has spoken . . . .” (Hebrews 1:1-4)
To Adam (Genesis 1:28-30; 2:16-17; 3:9, 17-19), Eve. (3:16), and
their early descendants (4:9-15).
To Noah and members of his family (Genesis 6:13; 9:1, 8).
To Abraham and members of his family (Genesis 12:1-4, 7; 13:14-
17; 15:1, 4-5, 7, 9, 13-16, 18-21; 16:8-12; 17:1-22; 18:1ff.).
To other patriarchs and members of their families (Genesis 25:23;
26:2-5, 24; 32:22-30; 35:1ff.; 46:1-4).
To Moses, Joshua, and other leaders of Israel (Exodus 3:2ff.; Joshua 1:1ff.; Judges).
Bibliologically (indirectly through the Bible), He has revealed Himself through the Scriptures
(cf. Hebrews 1:1).
Christologically, He has revealed Himself in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 1:23; 11:27
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." (Matt. 1:23)
John 1:14-18; 12:45; 14:8-9
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:14) "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." (Jn. 1:18)
Colossians 2:9 "For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form,"
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come."
The point we made here is that God has revealed himself to us. We can learn much in the natural world, but never to the point of salvation, conversion, or proper worship.
Rather, it is in the special revelation that we can know God, His will, and how to be rightly related to Him. This is seen in His prophetic words, His personal word to specific people, and most fully in His Son (who, of course, is revealed to us in the Scriptures alone).
In our next episode we will try to develop a doctrine of bibliology that we hope will be of help to each of you.