Quest. 16: In what form did God give us his Word?
Ans: God has given us his Word in the form of redemptive history [the story or record of salvation].
Gal. 4:4–5. 4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Lk. 24:44–47. 44And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
See also: Gen. 3:15; Lk. 24:25–27; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1–3.
The self–revelation of the triune God to man has been inscripturated. This revelation is termed “The Holy Scriptures” or “The Bible.” This Divine revelation is progressive in nature. God did not communicate his truth completely in Genesis [both creation (Rom. 1:18–20) and redemption (Jn. 3:14–16; Gal. 4:4–5) are revelations of and from God.], the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Psalms or even the Gospels. There is a progressive principle which extends throughout all Divine revelation—God began his self–revelation in Genesis, then continued this revelation through patriarchal history, the Law, the history of Israel as a nation set apart for this express purpose, the incarnation of our Lord and his earthly ministry, and finally, through the inspired Apostles who brought this revelation to a close. In other words, the Scriptures have not come from God as a Systematic Theology, but as redemptive revelation in an historical format, i.e., in the form of redemptive history which is progressively revealed and developed from the creation (Gen. 1) to the consummation (2 Pet. 3; Rev. 19–22). Doctrine is not fully and finally set forth in Scripture at the very outset, but is first revealed in germ or essence, then progressively revealed to its fullness and finality. The guiding principle of Divine revelation is thus progressively historical, personal, chronological and doctrinal.
The Scriptures historically contain two Testaments. The first, or Old Testament [containing the Old Covenant], is preparatory and anticipatory. The second, or New Testament [containing the New or Gospel Covenant], is characterized by finality and fulfillment. Mark the following lines:
The New is in the Old contained,
The Old is by the New explained.
The Old Testament is largely personal (patriarchal history—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph), then national (the Mosaic legislation, the history of national Israel under the Unified Kingdom, Divided Kingdom and Isolated Kingdom) and prophetical. The New Testament is largely personal, ecclesiastical, universal (the earthly life and ministry of our Lord, the various epistles to churches and the gospel to sinful humanity without racial, national or cultural distinction) and prophetical.
All redemptive truth organically and doctrinally culminates in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Cf. Jn. 14:6; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:12–17; Heb. 1:1–3). It practically culminates in a consistent, godly life by the grace of God (Cf. the believer’s union with Christ in both his death and resurrection–life and its necessary and practical results in the experience, Rom. 6:1–14; Eph. 1:3–14; 4:1; Cf. 4:22–6:9, and the practical Christian ethic that is to be demonstrated in the life. Cf. also Titus 2:11–14). See Question 77. This union will eschatalogically culminate in the future resurrection to glory and the new creation (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rom. 8:11–23; Eph. 1:10; 2 Pet. 3; Rev. 19–22). See Part X.
By Dr. W.R. Downing