The Doctrine of Revelation (eBook)

by A. W. Pink

in ePub. .mobi & pdf formats

During the past 15 years we have devoted nearly a quarter of each issue of Studies in the Scriptures to an expository unfolding of some portion of doctrinal truth, and were it possible to relive those years we should not alter that plan. Two Timothy 3:16, 17, mentions some of the principal uses and values which the sacred Scriptures possess for us, and the first mentioned is that they are "profitable for doctrine." There is an inseparable connection between doctrine and deportment: our convictions mold our characters—what we believe largely determines how we act—"as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). To be soundly indoctrinated and to be well-grounded in the Truth is one and the same thing, and nothing but the Truth operating in the soul will preserve us from error, either theoretical or practical. Of the primitive Christians it is said, "They continued steadfastly [1] in the Apostles' doctrine, and [2] fellowship, and [3] in breaking of bread, and [4] in prayers" (Acts 2:42), which at once indicates that they esteemed soundness in the Faith as of first importance, and were of a radically different spirit from those who are so indifferent to the fundamentals of Christianity, insinuating, if not openly saying, "It matters little what a man believes if his life is good."

The relation between sound doctrine and godly deportment is like unto that between the bones and flesh of the body, or between the tree and the fruit which it bears: the latter cannot exist without the former. The first Epistle of the New Testament exemplifies our remark: three-fourths of it is occupied with a laying down of the essentials of Christianity, before the Apostle shows what is requisite for the adornment of the Christian character. The history of Christendom during the last four centuries strikingly illustrates our contention. Examine the writings of the Reformers, and what do you find? Why, that exposition of doctrine held the foremost place in their ministry: that was the light which God used to deliver so great a part of Europe from the popish ignorance and superstition which characterized "the dark ages"! The moral tendency upon the masses and the spiritual blessings communicated to God's people by doctrinal preaching appears in the time of the Puritans. Since that day, in proportion as the churches have departed from their doctrinal fidelity and zeal, has close walking with God, purity and uprightness before men, and morality in the masses declined.

Each of our previous doctrinal discussions has taken one thing for granted, namely, that the Scriptures (to which we constantly appealed) are the inspired Word of God. Until recently the majority of our readers were residents of the U.S.A., and since there was available a book which we had had published there on that basic and vital subject, there was the less need for us to write thereon in these pages. Moreover, we were fully justified in taking a belief of that truth for granted, for the inerrancy and Divine authority of Holy Writ is a settled axiom with all true Christians, seeing that it constitutes the foundation of all their faith and the ground of all their hope. But since our book on the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures is not at present obtainable by our British and Australian readers (for we decline to handle it while the disparity between the pound and the dollar persists), and since the tides of skepticism and infidelity continue to advance and constitute such a solemn menace unto the young, we feel moved to make an effort to show how strong and how sure are the foundations on which the faith of the Christian rests.

What we propose doing in this book, namely, to make a serious attempt to assist some of those who have inhaled the poisonous fumes of infidelity and been left in a state of mental indecision concerning sacred things, is something quite different from the course we usually follow in our magazine, Studies in the Scriptures. In view of the bewilderment and uncertainty of many, and the shaken faith of others, it appears our duty to do so, and we trust our friends will make a point of reading this unto those of their children likely to need it, and that preachers will feel free to use portions in preparing special sermons or addresses for the young. Our principal object will be to set forth some of the numerous indications that the Bible is something far superior to any human production, but before doing that we must seek to establish the existence of its Divine Author. The later chapters will be designed chiefly for preachers or older students of the Word, presenting as they will, some of the rules which require to be heeded if the Scriptures are to be properly interpreted; and though their scope will go beyond the general title of "Divine revelation," yet they will complement and complete the earlier ones.

Under our present title, then, we purpose to treat (DV.) of that revelation which God has given or that discovery which He makes of Himself unto the sons of men. If we were writing a comprehensive and systematic treatise on the whole subject, we should devote a proportionate space unto the manifestations which God has made of Himself First, in creation, or the external world; second, in the moral nature—particularly the conscience—of man; third, in the controlling and shaping of human history by Providence. Fourth, in His incarnate Son; fifth, in the sacred Scriptures; sixth, in the saving revelation which He makes of Himself unto the souls of His regenerate people, and finally, in the beatific vision, when we shall "know as we are known." But, instead, we shall deal more briefly with the first four, and concentrate chiefly upon the Scriptures, presenting some of the evidences of their Divine Authorship, then pointing out some of the principles which govern their right interpretation, and then the application which is to be made of their contents. This is a considerable task to essay, rendered the more difficult because we desire to hold the interest of, and (under God) make this book profitable unto a considerable variety of readers—young and old, believers and unbelievers.

The present generation has, for the most part, been reared not only in an atmosphere of negative unbelief but of hostile unbelief. They live in a world where materialism and skepticism are rampant and dominant. In the great majority of homes the Sunday newspaper is the only thing read on the Lord's Day. Doubt as to moral and spiritual truth is distilled through a score of channels. Our seats of learning are hotbeds of agnosticism. Our literature, with rare exceptions, makes light of God, and jokes about sacred things. The newspapers, the radio broadcasts, public utterances and private conversations, are steadily but surely removing the foundations of righteousness and destroying what little faith in spiritual things still remain. The vast majority in the English-speaking world are totally ignorant of the contents of the Bible, know not that it is a Divine revelation, yes, question whether there be any God at all. Yet modern skepticism is rarely candid, but is rather a refuge in which multitudes are sheltering from an accusing conscience. With such we are not here concerned, for where a prejudiced mind and a caviling spirit obtain, argument is useless; and we can but leave them unto the sovereign mercy of the Lord.

Even those brought up in Christian homes are being corrupted by the paganism of modern education, are bewildered by the conflicting teachings they receive from parents and the school, and are harassed by doubts. Some of them are honestly seeking a resolving of their doubts, and it has become a pressing duty devolving upon the servant of God to recognize the mental conflict taking place in the minds of his youthful hearers, and to seek to meet their more immediate need by presenting some of the "Christian evidences." It is therefore our desire and will be our endeavor in the earlier chapters to be of some help unto those who may have become entangled in Satan's snares, who have been seriously disturbed by the infidelity of this age, but are willing to carefully examine some of the "strong reasons" by which it is rational to believe in the existence of a living and personal God and to receive the Scriptures as an authoritative and inerrant revelation from Him—and that it is not only the most horrible impiety but the height of irrationality to doubt the one or call into question the other.

There are some likely to deem our present procedure as being needless if not actually wrong, considering that the existence of God and the authority of His Word are matters to be reverently believed and not argued. Though we respect their conviction, we do not share the same. We fully agree that a rational discussion cannot produce anything but a rational faith, but even that should not be despised. Something has been accomplished if we can take away a stumbling block from the path of inquirers: the removal of weeds is necessary to prepare the garden for the seed. Though no external evidence, however weighty, can savingly convert the soul, it can carry conviction to the reason and conscience. Such arguments as we propose to submit are sufficient in themselves to beget in the mind a sober, intelligent, and firm judgment that there is a God and that the Bible is His inspired Word. It is much to be thankful for if we can bring the serious minded to respect and read the Scriptures, waiting for a spiritual confirmation. Intellectual persuasion and motives of credibility are not the ground on which a spiritual faith rests, yet they often prove (under the Divine blessing) a paving of the way thereunto.

Nor is an appeal unto external evidences of the Truth, which address themselves to and are apprehended by the reasoning faculty of our minds, without value to the child of God. They are confirmatory of his faith, support it against the oppositions and objections of others, and relieve the mind under temptations to doubt. In such a day as this, the young Christian especially needs all the help he can obtain in order to withstand the assaults of the Enemy. Even older ones are prone to give way to doubting, and cannot be too strongly established in the fundamentals of the Faith. Moreover, such a course serves to exhibit the excellence of our profession and the impregnable rock on which it is founded. It enables us to perceive what good grounds and satisfactory confirmation we have for the Faith which we avow. Wisdom is justified of her children (Matthew 11:19), and it behooves them to be equipped to justify their profession, if for no other reason than to close the mouths of gainsayers. A Christian should be capable of knowing and giving expression to the distinct and special reasons why he believes in God and reveres His Word—that he has something more substantial and valuable than human "tradition" to appeal unto.

Before entering upon our immediate task it should be acknowledged that it is not possible to prove the existence of God by mathematical demonstration, for if such proof were procurable there would be no room left for the exercise of faith. Yet, on the other hand, it must be pointed out that it is equally impossible to demonstrate the non-existence of the Creator. But though we cannot prove to a demonstration that God is, yet we can adduce evidence so clear and weighty as must impel, if not compel us to accept His existence as a fact. Those evidences, when carefully pondered, separately and together, afford the strongest possible ground for believing in the Divine Maker of Heaven and earth: the probability actually amounting to the height of moral certainty. There are certain great facts of Nature which call for an explanation, such as the existence of matter, the existence of motion, and the existence of life. The heathen had sufficient perspicuity to realize "Ex nihilo nihil"—from nothing, nothing comes; and if we reject the truth that "the worlds were framed by the Word of God" (Hebrews 11:3), then we are left in complete darkness, without any hope of obtaining any satisfactory explanation of either the noumenon or phenomenon of existence.

Most careful consideration ought to be given unto the alternative offered by unbelief. The great enigma which has confronted the human race throughout the centuries, and challenged its sages to supply a solution, is the problem of the universe: how it came to be; and within that macrocosm, the microcosm man—his origin, his intelligence, his destiny. Every explanation that has been advanced, save only the one provided by the Bible, fails to carry conviction to the mind, much less meets the longings of the heart. But the Bible supplies a solution for those problems which has satisfied the reason and conscience of millions of people, yes, which has brought peace and joy to a countless number of souls. Skeptics have indeed rejected its explanation, but what have they offered in its place? Nothing but agnostic doubts and metaphysical vagaries so abstruse that none can understand them, or speculations so incredible and absurd that only those who prefer darkness to light will pay any heed unto them. Ponder well the immeasurable difference there is between Christianity and Infidelity, and despise not the former until you are quite sure the latter has something more solid and valuable to give you in its stead.

There is ample evidence both in the material and moral realm on which to base a rational and intelligent belief in the existence of God. Anyone who seriously examines that evidence and then turns and carefully considers what Infidelity has to offer as an alternative should have no difficulty at all in perceiving which is the more convincing, adequate, and satisfying. As the author of The Gordian Knot rightly pointed out, "Skepticism is a restless sea on which anyone who sails is tossed up and down and driven to and fro in endless uncertainty. There is no solid ground on which to stand until something true is found and believed." That is the alternative, the only one, for those who credit not the Scriptures. The Infidel would take from you the Bible, but what does he offer in its place but sneers and doubts! He scouts the idea of a personal Creator, but what explanation can he supply you of creation? He despises the Lord Jesus Christ, but to what other redeemer does he point as being able to save you from your sins, and induct you into an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled, that fades not away, but will endure for all eternity in Heaven?


Table of Contents


Part One, The Existence of God 

-- 1. As Manifest in Creation 

-- 2. As Revealed in Man 

-- 3. As Seen in Human History 

-- 4. As Unveiled in the Lord Jesus Christ

Part Two, The Holy Bible 

-- 5. God's Written Communication 

-- 6. Addressed to Reason and Conscience 

-- 7. Fills Man's Need for Divine Revelation 

-- 8. Declares It Comes from God Himself 

-- 9. Is Unique 

-- 10. Teaches the Way of Salvation 

-- 11. Its Fulfilled Prophecies 

-- 12. More Unique Characteristics, 1 

-- 13. More Unique Characteristics, 2

Part Three, God's Subjective Revelation 

-- 14. In the Soul 

-- 15. Is Essential 

-- 16. The Holy Spirit Must Quicken

Part Four, Revelation in Glory 

-- 17. This Life and Life Hereafter 

-- 18. The Joy of Death and Heaven 

-- 19. The State of Saints in Glory 

-- 20. Conclusion

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