WCF Chapter 1, Section 1
Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.
Romans 1:19-20 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
1 Cor. 2:13-14 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
LCQ. 2. How doth it appear that there is a God?
A. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation.
LCQ. 60. Can they who have never heard the gospel, and so know not Jesus Christ, nor believe in him, be saved by their living according to the light of nature?
A. They who, having never heard the gospel, know not Jesus Christ, and believe not in him, cannot be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, or the laws of that religion which they profess; neither is there salvation in any other, but in Christ alone, who is the Savior only of his body the church.
There are things that can be discerned, fully and sufficiently of God, by human beings, from nature– specifically; his goodness, wisdom, and power. The Phrase “the works of Creation” refers to the production of the universe. The phrase “works of providence” refers to its maintenance. “The light of nature” is a reference to the consciousness of God that he has imprinted on the human mind.
Nature cannot lead men to salvation after the fall, no matter how diligently one may follow it. Yet nature is reliable within its limitations and in terms of God’s intention, for it declares plainly that there is a God. Since it is God who reveals himself through these means, his revelation is utterly without defect as far as it goes, which is far enough for us to know plainly that there is a God. By the light of nature, men are without excuse when recognizing a good maker of all things.
Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare His will unto His Church and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing.
Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Isaiah 8:19-20 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
God himself provided the written salvific knowledge that nature inherently lacks, as surely and inherently, as he wrote the Ten Commandments upon the two stone tables with his own finger. We note that the Lord (1) revealed himself to his church and in doing so revealed his will to his church and afterwards (2) he committed the same to writing. It is the Lord who revealed himself and committed it to writing and preserved it. Between the acts of God in history of salvation, and the written record and explanation of those acts, is a distinction but also an identity, a unity in diversity. The Lord reveals himself and he also reveals his will relating to salvation.
Here the assembly reflects the biblical record that at each stage of redemptive revelation, God reveals his name – His character – alongside his action in covenant with his people. This revelation is in parts and by stages – it was progressive. God’s committing of his revelation to writing is necessary for us to know him and his will for us.
B. B. Warfield stresses the goodness of God, both in revealing himself and then in preserving this knowledge and –propagating it, for it was do to his good pleasure that he had this committed to writing. It is important to note, that a written record stands permanently, whereas oral transmission can easily be corrupted. Thus, the inspiration of Holy Scripture enables an accurate “preserving and propagating of the truth.” This stands in contrast to claims of secularists and biblical scientists who hurl insults against God by questioning the testimony of the Church, when even worldly standards, verify that the abundance of texts handed down to us are whole and lack fundamental and essential error that casts doubt on their authenticity and accuracy.
The texts the Church declare to be the words of God are whole and unsullied.
Which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased
2 Peter 1:19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
The concluding reference to “those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased” must refer principally to the former ways of revelation by way of dreams, Theophanies and direct encounters. It hardly means that general revelation had come to an end, for the heavens continue to declare God’s Glory.
God no longer speaks directly to men. Now, let us clarify. We are to live a spirit filled life, a life led by the revelation of God (point to the bible), the testimony of the Church laid open to us by the spirit. Without the Spirit we cannot put on the mind of God, the armor of God or eyes of Faith. God certainly reveals himself, he did to me, by opening my eyes to the truth of the testimony of himself (hold up the bible), this was certainly direct revelation, but it was not new revelation to the body of Christ.
Furthermore, being led by the spirit is to be led directly by God. We must test the spirits, but we must acknowledge and grow up into maturity in our Trinitarianism. The spirit is active and moving in God’s people and that includes revelation to us in the form of wisdom and discernment, the Sprit is consistent to the word of Scripture, because he comforts us and reminds of all that Christ said (John 14-17), and therefore our private “revelations” and the leading of the Spirit must always be tested by other authorities; the Church and ultimately the word of God.
Some of the divines held to the continuation of dreams and visions as conveying God’s will in a non-redemptive sense, but they confined this belief to the illumination of Scripture. There is no trace, in the minutes of the Assembly, of debate on the question of what has become known as the doctrine of Cessationism, because continuing revelation was considered by all to have ceased. The Spirit illumed the mind and revealed understanding in accord with Scripture, not in addition to it.
B. B. Warfield comments that the necessity of Scripture rests on two grounds: the insufficiency of general revelation, and the cessation of special revelation, the record of which Scripture is said to be.
The Scriptures are “the permanent embodiment, sole divinely safeguarded and, indeed, only trustworthy, extant form in which the revelation of God and of His will is necessary to salvation exists.” They are therefore more than the record of revelation – they are the revelation itself fixed in written form for its better preservation and propagation. And they are more than useful – they are necessary.