Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | August 12, 2006

Special Revelation

Today we begin the topic of special revelation, which is the foundation of religion.  It is so important that it is covered in the next five articles of the Belgic Confession.  Other religions understand the importance of this as well, and require the claim of special revelation in order to begin (i.e. Islam and Mormonism).  This is to be expected, since special revelation is nothing less than God speaking or communicating to humankind.  As Article 2 states, it is a more clear and specific communication than that which is received through general revelation.

Years ago, when I first encountered this topic, I was not that impressed.  Not until I had several encounters with Mormon missionaries did I begin to realize its importance.  My frustration in talking with them is that they held a completely different starting place.  During our discussions our terminology was very similar, however the terms themselves held completely different meanings.  It was not helpful to compare versus in the Bible, since they believe it has been corrupted and the Book of Mormon is far more superior.  Thus, I began to realize that it was more useful to focus on the real differences, which were the authoritative sources.  This leads to the questions of “what is special revelation?” and “how do we know that it is authentic?”  Over the next several weeks we will consider these questions, which are covered from Article 2 through Article 7 of the Belgic Confession.  It certainly is important if 16% of the entire confession or 60% of the first 10 articles are about this topic. 

Throughout history God has revealed Himself in different ways to humans.  Through direct communication, such as with Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, etc. is sometimes employed.  Visions or dreams are sometimes used, which are seen with Joseph and Mary in the New Testament and Joseph and Jacob in Old Testament just to name a few.  There were also direct (or indirect) encounters known as Theophanies or Christophanies such as with Abraham, Jacob (wrestling with God) and Joshua.  When you consider the period of time that the Scriptures cover these types of revelation are few and far between.  The primary means, however, that God employed to speak to His (and how our Bibles were written) is the prophets or their New Testament counterparts the apostles.  The following quote from Geerhardus Vos is helpful summarizing the prophet’s role:    

The prophet’s business lies in the sphere of speaking.  And this speaking is not ordinary speaking, as in ordinary life one man might speak representatively for another.  It is a unique representation conveying divine authority and, in a measure, divine omnipotence, and these are based on divine communication.  Jehovah touches the mouth and puts the words there, and they acquire the effect of divine words.  Biblical Theology Old and New Testaments, p 193

It is through these agents that most special revelation has been communicated both orally and in written form.  God, thus condescending to our level, chose to speak through human agents to bring us to a saving knowledge of Him.  It is humbling to consider that only out of His mercy have we been granted the privilege of receiving such communication.  Although, man is sinful God mysteriously uses Him to speak the words of life and redemption.  However, one may point out that any person can claim to be a prophet and presume to be speaking words from God.  Thus, how do we distinguish between the true and false prophet?  

We will take up this question in our next entry.   

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Responses

  1. […] who is the first of the significant post-mosaic prophets. In the old covenant the primary source of special revelation for the Word of God was through the prophets.  This revelation, however was not a full disclosure […]


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