The Necessity of God’s Word

In my last two posts, I argued for the relevance of Scripture. You can check those out here: The Relevance of Scripture (Part 1) and The Relevance of Scripture (Part 2). In this post, I would like to argue for the necessity of God’s Word. God’s Word is necessary because it alone tells us about our Creator, Savior, and Lord. Creation alone can only take us so far. Without God’s written Word, we would not know who God is and what He has done for mankind.

John Calvin on Scripture

John Calvin, one of the greatest theologians of all times, writes in his institutes concerning Scripture. Here is what he says,

Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our minds, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God. This, therefore, is a special gift, where God, to instruct the church, not merely uses mute teachers but also opens his own most hallowed lips. Not only does he teach the elect to look upon a god, but also shows himself as the God upon whom they are to look. He has from the beginning maintained this plan for his church…put[ting] forth his Word, which is a more direct and more certain mark whereby he is to be recognized [1].

From this, one should gather that God’s Word is a special gift. Scripture is a special gift because it instructs man as to who God is and how they are to live as a result. Without Scripture, man would not know God, nor would man know who he is, namely, a sinner in need of a Savior.

Creation Declares There is a God, But It is Not Enough

The Psalmist tells us creation declares there is a God, but creation itself is not enough, man needs Scripture to tell them who God, the Creator of the universe is. Read what David writes in Psalm 19:1-3:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

Paul agrees with the Psalmist, but also tells us that man, even though he knows there is a God, does not worship Him as God. Here is what Paul has to say,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Rom. 1:18-21)

From this, we should see that man understands there is a God because creation evidences His handiwork, but because of man’s fallen nature he creates idols to worship. Instead of seeking the Creator of the world and worshipping Him, man fashions a god of his own making.

Even Though Man Knows God Exists, He Needs God’s Word

Paul’s visit to the Areopagus, where he found “an altar to the unknown god” is evidence man knows God exists (Acts 17:23). However, even though man knows God exists, he does not “know” Him because nature can only tell us there is a God, it cannot tell us anything personal about God, which is why the Psalmist continues in Psalm 19:7-11 saying,

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Without God’s Word, we would not understand His law, testimony, precepts, or commandments. In short, we would not know who God is, nor would we know we are sinners who are in need of a Savior (Rom. 3:21-23; see also Luke 24:27).

By Faith and By God’s Word We Know God

Before I conclude, I want to return once again to Calvin. Commenting on Hebrews 11:3, Calvin makes it evident man can only see God if he is illumined by God through faith. He says,

For this reason, the apostle, in that very passage where he calls the world the images of things invisible, adds that through faith we understand that they have been fashioned by God’s word [Heb. 11:3]. He means by this that the invisible divinity is made manifest in such spectacles, but that we have not the eyes to see this unless they are illumined by the inner revelation of God through faith [2].

So then, unless God illumines our eyes to see Him, we will not. And unless God provides us with His Word, then we are not able to truly “know” Him as our Creator, Lord, and Savior because it is His Word that tells us who God is and who we are. Calvin continues,

Nevertheless, all things will tend to this end, that God, the Artificer of the universe, is made manifest to us in Scripture, and that what we ought to think of him is set forth there, lest we seek some uncertain deity by devious paths [3].

Conclusion

So then, we see that unless we have God’s Word, we cannot know God as Creator, Savior, or Lord. We can only know there is a God, but the details about Him and about us are unknown. The only way we can come to know God is through His written, innerant, and inspired Word, known as the Bible. Therefore, the Word of God is not only relevant, it is necessary, for without it we are without knowledge of God and ourselves.

Resources

[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. Mcneil, Book 1, Ch VI,I, pg 70
[2] Ibid., Book 1, Ch V, 14, pg 68.
[3] Ibid., Book 1, Ch V, 15, pg 69.

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