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Don Stewart :: Why Do We Need a Written Revelation from God?

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Don Stewart

There are a number of ways in which God could have chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. These include: God could have personally revealed Himself to everyone; He could have had His Word passed on by oral communication, or He could have had His Word committed to writing.

A Personal Revelation Is Not Practical

God could have chosen to personally reveal Himself to each individual, yet He did not. There would have been insurmountable problems if He had chosen this way. They include the following.

1. Not Everyone Would Be Willing To Receive It

First, not everyone would be willing to receive what God wanted to say. Some people would have to be forced to receive God's personal revelation to them. They simply would not want to hear it.

2. The Same Message Would Have To Be Repeated

God would have had to have repeated the same message over and over again to each of us. This would seemingly be a waste of time and effort.

3. This Would Cause More Confusion

Finally, this method would lead to confusion. People would not agree with each other as to what God had revealed to them. This being the case, then the question would be, "Who would decide which person had the correct revelation from God?" Obviously some other method of God revealing Himself to humanity is necessary.

Oral Communication Is Not A Satisfactory Solution

There are a number of reasons why a written revelation is necessary rather than the message passed along by oral communication.

1. A Non-Written Message Could Be Changed

First, if we were given only an oral communication from God, then we would have a message that could be changed and misinterpreted when repeatedly told. Memory and tradition are untrustworthy guides. The more the story was repeated orally, the more the story could be changed. This would not give us much confidence in the message.

2. Which Version Should People Trust?

Moreover, if the message began to differ considerably, how would anyone know which version to trust? A revelation from God based upon oral communication would be beset with many problems. It would soon be more confusion than help.

3. Sinful Humanity Is Not Capable Of Doing This

Finally, sinful humanity is incapable of correctly passing along an infallible oral communication. Our sinful natures would keep us from accurately and truthfully passing on God's Word by transmitting it orally.

A Written Revelation Is Absolutely Necessary

There are a number of reasons why a written revelation from God is absolutely necessary. They are as follows.

1. The Importance Of The Subject Demands It

First, the importance of the subject necessitates a revelation from God being put in writing. Because the eternal destiny of every human being hangs upon a proper response to God's revelation, it becomes absolutely essential that it be memorialized in writing. People are then able to carefully study and discuss its contents.

2. The Message Could Be Preserved For Future Generations

Once the words and deeds have been committed to writing, the message can be preserved. This allows succeeding generations to have the benefit of seeing what the original writers said. By putting the messages in a book, such as the Bible, the truth can be preserved for future generations. God continues to speak, though the people who originally received the message have died. Therefore the truths of Scripture would be an infallible standard for all people of all ages.

God commanded the prophet Isaiah.

Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness (Isaiah 30:8).

The words could forever be preserved. The writer's die; but their writings live on.

3. It Can Solve Doctrinal Issues

A written revelation also solves doctrinal controversies. If there is a question of Christian belief, the written Bible can be studied as an authoritative source. Therefore all questions have a final authority in which to resolve them.

A New Testament Example Of The Importance Of Written Scripture

In Jesus' day when a religious question came up, the people immediately went to the Old Testament Scripture to find their answer. For example, when King Herod heard that the Christ had been born, he went to the religious leaders to find out where. They found the answer to this question in the Scriptures.

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet" (Matthew 2:3-5).

When the Scriptures were cited, this solved the question once and for all.

4. It Can Be Translated Accurately To Others

Once a revelation is committed to writing, there is a greater possibility of transmitting it to those of a different language. The message can be spread and copied with the assurance that the original thoughts will stay intact. Therefore the message becomes accessible to more people.

5. This Is The Way That We Communicate

When human beings want to preserve a communication they put it in writing. Since God decided to communicate to human beings in words that we would understand it makes sense that He would use the same method that we do to preserve our own communications - He put it in writing.

6. There Is No Other Practical Way

As one thinks about the situation, there is really no other practical way in which God could have revealed Himself except in written form. How else could He have imparted His infallible standard that would be available to every human being in every age?

Summary

It is necessary that a communication from God come to humanity in writing. Personal revelation would not be practical for a number of reasons. First, not everyone would be willing to accept it. In addition, God would have to repeat the same message over and over again - a seeming waste of time. Finally, this method would cause confusion since each would interpret differently what the message said to them.

Oral communication is also not practical. Sinful humanity is just not capable of doing this task. A message that was transmitted apart from writing could and would be changed. No one would be certain as to which version of the message to trust. No authoritative source would exist.

These facts make a written revelation absolutely necessary. A written revelation is essential because of the importance of the subject. Once a message is written it can be preserved. This preserved message can also solve doctrinal questions. Also it can be translated accurately to others. Actually there is no other practical way in which God's revelation could be given accurately to humanity.

Since human beings preserve their own communication by committing it to writing, it makes sense that God would do the same.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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