Veiling God in Report 44

To me the great weakness of the report is its departure from an old, standard expression long accepted and used by Reformed churches and now all of a sudden discarded.

Misgivings with regard to the report on the Authority of the Bible continue. These misgivings increase with every article the committee writes in explanation. If the report were clear, would so many articles of explanation and in defense of the report have to appear? Especially the article the committee found it necessary to publish in response to the expansion of their report which Dr. Daane published in The Banner, And still Dr. Daane comes back for further explanation.

To me the great weakness of the report is its departure from an old, standard expression—long accepted and used by Reformed churches and now all of a sudden discarded. I refer to the way the committee has substituted “saving” before revelation in the place of “Self.” Many of us have grown so accustomed to SELF-revelation that the sudden assertion of SAVING-revelation leaves us nonplussed. Why stress the intent of revelation (as in SAVING) so completely as to exclude the content of revelation (as in SELF)?

Almost from the very beginning of their writings r corresponded with the committee about this change. It may seem very insignificant—to me it is most fundamental. The committee gave a sort of reply. It was their contention that in creation God revealed Himself as Creator; while in the Bible he reveals Himself as Redeemer. But this is just begging the question. Who gave them or any man the right to say that in creation God revealed Himself as Creator, and not as God? Or who gives man the right to limit Himself in His Scriptural revelation as Redeemer, and not as God?

Why limit God in His revelation either as simply Creator? or Redeemer? Why not allow Him the freedom of revealing Himself as HIMSELF? Is not revelation from God always, necessarily and inevitably SELF-revelation? By dropping the “SELF” and substituting the “SAVING” the committee has limited God improperly. The committee seeks to confirm the authority of the Scriptures by its content. Then why limit the content to salvation? There is much more to this revelation of God. He is revealing Himself. Isaiah 57:15 is one of the outstanding examples: “For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”

God’s revelation of Himself in creation was infallible, sufficient, perfect for man in that state. He revealed Himself as more than Creator; He revealed Himself as God. When God warned man that in the day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would surely die He was not simply speaking as Creator but as God. And when, after man had eaten of the tree, God said, “Man has become as one of us, and now, lest he take also of the tree of life, and live forever,” God again revealed Himself as more than Creator, He revealed Himself as God. God placed a curse upon creation. This revelation of God has become blurred for man; and man is blinded to whatever revelation of God might still come forth from creation or providence.

So God came in his post-fall revelation of Himself. In this He again brings out many of the things His creation was intended to reveal of Him. It is the Bible that tells us how the Spirit was moving upon the face of the waters. The Bible tells us that the worlds were framed by the Word of God; how all things were made through the Word. It is the Bible that restores to us the knowledge that the heavens declare His glory; pictures for us the whole creation as a temple of the living God singing “GLORY” (cf. Psalm 29). The Bible is constantly bringing out these revelations of God Himself in creation giving us to know that God is God, the One beyond all knowledge and all thought, the more to be adored. “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear” (Heb. 11:3).

In the same way the Bible does not come to us as the revelation of a THING; it reveals the PERSON. It does not bring a revelation of grace, nor of love, nor of wrath, nor of condemnation. It does not bring a revelation of salvation even though it clearly presents the need and the way of salvation. It does bring the revelation of a Person, as Self-revelation. Man needs a Person. The Heidelberg Catechism sums it up most beautifully in Lord’s Day 9: “The eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is for the sake of His Son my God and Father.” That IS salvation. Man is by nature without God in the world. That is his hopeless estate; that is his judgment. He needs nothing else, nothing less, nothing more than God as his Father. It is this that lies at the heart of revelation. No man has seen God at any time. The Only-begotten of the Father, having the very image of the substance of the Father, he has declared HIM unto us. Show us the Father—that suffices.

Actually man does not need the virtues, the attributes of God. His basic need is not grace, not love, not salvation. Man needs the Triune God—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The elder son in the parable of Luke 15 had, parabolically speaking, salvation. He had a mansion in the Father’s house from which he had never departed. He had heaven. But his soul was full of bitterness and envy. He had no Father, had no brother—he had things but NO person. That left him desolate in the midst of plenty. His younger brother who had followed so different a road had come to himself, had returned to the Father in total contrition. The Father restored him as son; gave himself to the son as Father. This is real salvation.

Estranged from the Father-heart of God even while in the home, the elder son was full of bitterness and discontent. To him it happened (parabolically speaking) what God had not wanted to happen to Adam and Eve when he drove them out of Paradise. On the other hand the younger son, fully reconciled to the Father, had all that the elder son had—and much, much more. He had Father—that suffices. Is not the committee with all its emphasis on the Bible as saving revelation using the very revelation of God to veil HIM behind His own virtues, and works, and words?

The extent to which this veiling of God is going on today is evident from the title given to one of these new versions: The Greatest is LOVE. What a travesty! God is obscured behind the shadows of His own virtue. The great promise of the covenant is: I will be a God unto thee. That is the real message, and the very nature of revelation. No one knows the Son but the Father; and no one knows the Father but the Son and he to whomsoever the Son will declare him. Thus the Son testifies: “Father I have declared thy name to those whom thou hast given me.” To know GOD is life everlasting. Christ sends forth His Spirit witnessing with our spirits that we are indeed children. For the Spirit makes us to call out: ABBA.

Dr. Daane tries to drive us who have misgivings concerning the report on the authority of the Bible on the horns of a dilemma. We have misgivings about the word “saving.” He insists that if we have misgivings about using “saving” we should couple it with “judgmental” revelation. The same Bible that says: God is love, also says: Our God is a consuming fire. However, we refuse to be impaled on the horns of this dilemma.

“Saving” is not the word of our choice. We still insist on “SELF.” That is what it was at creation. That is what it is in the Bible. That is what it will be in the great day when Christ returns. In that day every eye shall see Him, shall know Him GOD. His very revelation brings greatest joy, or, greatest fear—because God is GOD. Hiding, veiling, obscuring God behind His words, His deeds, His virtues is not the purpose of Self-revelation.

In fact, we may say man does not need the grace of God; he needs the God of grace. Man does not need the love of God; he needs the God of love. The Giver of every good and perfect gift far exceeds everyone and all of His virtues. It is the Giver man needs far more than His gifts. That is salvation full, eternal, free.

Anthony A. Koning (emeritus) lives in Jenison, Michigan.