Objections Regarding The Cessation Of Special Revelation

Objections Regarding The Cessation Of Special Revelation

Responding to Objections

Part 1 of this series explored what the cessation of special revelation does not mean. Part 2 explained the goal of special revelation. Part 3 was about the messengers of special revelation. This final part will respond to common objections raised by opponents of the cessation of special revelation. First, do not the Scriptures include commands to earnestly desire to prophecy (1 Cor 14:39; 1 Thess 5:20)? Yes, they do. But commands in Scripture are not necessarily binding for Christians in all time periods. Jesus also told his followers to sell everything they have and give it to the poor (Matt 19:21), and for those in Judea to flee to the mountains (Matt 24:16),[1] commands that are clearly not binding for Christians today. Paul gave commands that were only directly applicable to his immediate audience (Rom 16:17-23; 1 Cor 16:5-18; 2 Tim 4:9-22). Christians must understand specific commands given in Scripture in light of the rest of the Bible and the history of redemption.

Second, it is argued that claiming special revelation has ceased is akin to putting God in a box. This is not the case. God himself has decided to cease giving new special revelation, since God does all that he pleases (Ps 115:3). God also said that Jesus will never die again (Rom 6:9) and that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb 10:4). To refrain from limiting God, must one believe that it is possible for Jesus to die again or that the blood of bulls and goats may be able to take away sins? Of course not. God has disclosed his will in the Scriptures, and it is not limiting him to believe what he has said.

Third, others argue that because the Scriptures are not sufficiently clear, additional special revelation is necessary to understand previous revelation. But God is able to get his message across (Isa 55:11). Jesus quoted the Old Testament regularly and never once assumed that it (or his own words!) was too hard to understand (see Matt 22:29-31; Luke 24:25-27). God himself says in his word that the Scriptures are clear, making “wise the simple” (Ps 19:7; c.f. Ps 119; Deut 30:11-14; 2 Tim 3:15-17) and that his word is easy enough for a child to understand (Deut 6:6-7). Furthermore, this objection begs the question. If God’s previous special revelation requires further special revelation through an inspired interpreter, would not this inspired interpretation also require further revelation in order ensure clarity? This argument is reduced to absurdity because God’s new revelation would never be sufficiently clear, and would require an infinite amount of further revelation which would also not be sufficiently clear.[2]

A final popular objection claims that new special revelation is required for guidance, since a book written so many years ago could not possibly be relevant to modern day situations. But the Scriptures teach that the Bible equips Christians for “every good work” (2 Tim 3:17) and contains all things pertaining to “life and godliness” (2 Pet 3:1). Paul tells the Romans, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4; c.f. 1 Cor 10:11). Apparently Paul did not think that the Old Testament was unable to instruct Christians who lived thousands of years later. Similarly, Jesus asks the Pharisees, “Have you not read what was said to you by God?” (Matt 22:31, emphasis mine). God’s word from many years before was spoken not only to the immediate audience, but to those who would exist in the generations to come. James White explains,

God is eternal and has infallible knowledge of the future; He surely knew every situation the church would face when He inspired the Scriptures long ago. Are we to believe that He is incapable of giving a revelation that would be sufficient throughout the church age? The Spirit of God is able to apply the principles and truths of the inspired Word to our hearts just as He did in past generations, and while our technology may be far ahead of our ancestors’, our hearts and minds are the same.[3]

Conclusion

God had always planned for his special revelation to find its end in the person and work of Jesus Christ. After Jesus completed his work and sat down at the right hand of God, there was no more need for additional words from God. Apostles were official representatives and spokespeople of Jesus Christ. They were witnesses to his resurrection, appointed by him, and given the ability to do miraculous signs to testify to the message of the gospel. They played a foundational role in the building of the church, and are no longer needed for the edification of the body of Christ.  But the cessation of special revelation is not to be mourned. God has accomplished salvation for his people and is not silent today, since he still speaks through general revelation and through the living and active 66 books of the Bible. These Scriptures are clear, and they are sufficient to give guidance into everything that is necessary to believe and do to bring glory to God.

 

-1689Society Contributor: David T

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[1] O. Palmer Robertson, The Final Word (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1993), 78-81.

[2] James R. White comments on the Roman Catholic view of infallible interpretation: “Once Rome speaks, the fallible person must still interpret the supposed infallible interpretation…the element of error remains, no matter how much Rome may think it has been removed. Indeed, beyond the problem of interpreting the infallible interpreter, you still have the fallible decision of following Rome’s claimed absolute authority rather than Brooklyn’s, or Salt Lake City’s, or Mecca’s, or whoever’s. That remains a fallible decision, and the longing for those infallible fuzzies that come from turning your responsibilities over to an infallible guide remain as unfulfilled as ever.” The Roman Catholic Controversy (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1996), 91.

[3] James R. White, Scripture Alone (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2004), 111.

Small Beginnings of True Obedience - Part 1

Small Beginnings of True Obedience - Part 1

A Biblical Defense Of The Cessation Of Special Revelation Part 3

A Biblical Defense Of The Cessation Of Special Revelation Part 3