Knowing God Through Special Revelation

Chapter Summary of Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Book One, Chapter VI – Scripture Is Needed as Guide and Teacher for Anyone Who Would Come to God the Creator

This God, creator of the universe, being perceived by man through his creation, however is by it but only dimly illumined as a pristine book viewed by the presbyopic without his glasses. It was needful that the very word of God come to man that a true knowledge of him be made manifest in their minds. It is out of the mouth of God himself that the special gift of scripture not only reveals the identity of this Creator and Sustainer of the universe but also the inward knowledge that he is the Redeemer of man through his Mediator.

The patriarchs were firmly persuaded that this word from the Creator was the very word of God. It was inscripturated to be passed along to their posterity and to teach of the source and means of the reconciliation between God and man. While the legal content of the scriptures serve their purpose, their greater purpose is the mediation of this reconciliation; indeed Paul exclaims, “Christ is the end of the law” [Rom. 10:4]. It is this knowledge which leads to obedience through which redemption is wrought.

Outside of the assistance of the Word of God, man’s propensity to stray into error is inexorable. Indeed, error is the starting disposition of the fallen heart. This, added to the fact that without the Word the complexities of the divine, “unapproachable” [I Tim. 6:16] God are in-apprehensible. Devoid of an apprehension of the one true God error cannot be excised from the heart of man. It is this divine illumination that communicates to man that which the creation cannot. Consider: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament shows forth the works of his hands, the ordered succession of days and nights proclaims his majesty” [Ps. 19:1–2]. “The law of the Lord is spotless, converting souls; the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones; the righteous acts of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts; the precept of the Lord is clear, enlightening eyes” [Ps. 18:8–9].

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