Why “Both Bibles?”
The short series we started this week in Psalm 19 derives from the way the passage transitions seamlessly from talking about God’s general revelation (the way he reveals himself in nature) in Ps. 19:1-6, to discussing God’s written Word in Ps. 19:7-11. The abruptness doesn’t disconnect these “Words,” but shows that they both reveal God (though in different ways). Theologians through the centuries have talked about the “two books” of God’s self-revelation, like the Belgic Confession does in Article 2:
We know Him [God] by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to see clearly the invisible things of God, even his everlasting power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. All which things are sufficient to convince men and leave them without excuse. Second, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.
We often forget natural or general revelation in the church, focusing solely on the Bible The Bible is authoritative and infallible, and we should not forget that! Yet, God’s general revelation in nature is helpful and has much to teach us. We should see him in “Both Bibles.”
Psalm 19 has an abrupt transition from verse 6 to verse 7. One moment it speaks of the heavens above, the next it’s proclaiming the beauty of God’s Law. While this transition seems out of the blue, it isn’t. Psalm 19 is about God’s Word, written in the Bible and imprinted on creation. God’s self-revelation in creation is God’s Forgotten Word.
1. God’s Word, God’s Initiative
God is like Jason Bourne: if he doesn’t want to be found, he won’t be (Isaiah 55:8-9). But he does want to be! Because of that, God reveals himself in creation.
2. God’s Word, Written and Spoken
People will often oppose faith and reason or science and Christianity. But we should not accept this, because all truth is God’s truth. Human interpreters get God’s Word wrong. But God’s self-revelation is not wrong, either in creation or Scripture.
3. God’s Word in Creation Reveals His Character (and Ours)
In Psalm 19, God’s creation reveals his power and glory. And general revelation (God revealing himself in nature) reveals our character too, as people who fall short and are accountable to that God (Romans 1:18-20).
4. God’s Word in Creation Reveals Our Need, But Can’t Meet It
If we’re honest, Psalm 19:12-14 is the right response for us in the face of God’s self-revelation. The heavens declare God’s law; the Scriptures declare the gospel of Jesus and meets our need for divine forgiveness.
Reflection and Discussion Questions
Is general revelation (God’s self-revelation in creation) a new concept for you? What other places in the Bible point to this idea?
Why is it an act of God’s grace to us that he would reveal himself? What does grace mean?
Why is it tempting for us to oppose faith and reason, or science and Christianity? What are some examples of this in your own life or in our culture? Why should Christians never fear truth?
What does nature reveals about God’s character? What does it reveal about yours?
Why is general revelation insufficient to bring a person salvation?
Why does the psalmist end on Psalm 19:12-14? What should this tell us about how we should approach God and think about ourselves?
Bring It Home (tangible ways to live the truth daily)
Find a beautiful spot in nature this week. Spend some time taking it in, and prayerfully ask this question: What does this place show about God’s character? Write down what you learn.
When your neighbors outside the church talk about God or spiritual things, what do they say? What aspects of what they say are correct? Write them down! This is common ground we share with them! How does this support the idea that God reveals himself in nature?