The Book of Scripture
“Moses commanded the Levites … ‘Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God’” (vv. 25–26).- Deuteronomy 31:24–26
Natural revelation is useful to give us some basic information about God and His will, but there is a limit to what it can accomplish. Even though it testifies to the power, existence, and authority of our Creator (Rom. 1:18–32), it cannot explain how sinful human beings can be preserved through the divine judgment that is coming upon the world for its sin. But the Lord loved His people so much that He graciously chose to reveal the way of salvation, although not through the medium of creation. He has given us what theologians have often called a “special revelation” of Himself.
Properly speaking, special revelation refers to any revelation God has given outside of the ordinary workings of the created universe. The dreams the Almighty sent, the audible prophecies He delivered through the prophets, and an historical event like the exodus can all qualify as special revelation. When we talk about special revelation today, however, we are referring specifically to the Scriptures, the sixty-six inspired writings of the Old and New Testaments. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1.1) explains that all other means of special revelation having ceased, God has committed into writing a record of the events of redemptive history and an explanation of their significance to preserve the church and protect us against Satan. In other words, He has given us the Bible as the final authority and surest guide for all matters of faith and practice.
John Calvin notes in his commentary on today’s passage that due to our idolatrous proclivities, “religion would have been corrupted in a thousand ways, had not its rule been diligently written down for posterity.” So we should be grateful to have an infallible, written guide to correct us when we err (see 2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Deuteronomy 31:24–26 is one of the earliest passages of Scripture to describe how God’s Word was put into written form or inscripturated. All Moses and the Israelites had was the Law and it bore witness against them, convicting them of sin and pointing out their need for salvation (v. 26). Under the new covenant, the Law can serve the same purpose, but we are fortunate to have the whole of the book of Scripture. With the written Law we also have the clearly written gospel, which gives us a confident hope for pardon and grace instead of the Law’s sentence (John 1:17).
Many people today are looking for the Lord to guide them through a dream, vision, or audible voice. The way God guides His people today, however, is through His written Word, which the Holy Spirit applies to the hearts of all believers and to the life of the church. It is against this Word that we must test all things and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21). Do you submit to the Scriptures as the final authority for your life and practice?
Passages for Further Study
2 Kings 22
2 Timothy 3:14–15
2 Peter 3:15–16