Dr. Lane G. Tipton delivers his first plenary address at the 2019 Reformed Forum Theology Conference held at Hope OPC in Grayslake, Illinois.
Participants: Lane G. Tipton
In this episode, we turn to pages 216–220 of Vos’s book, Biblical Theology, to discuss the reception of divine revelation through speech and hearing. Vos treats this topic because, among other things, it lies at the heart of true religion. If God is not speaking, then we do not know him. If it is merely men who speak, we do not know God and therefore are not in a religious bond of covenantal fellowship with him. It is of the essence of true religion to affirm that God speaks and that prophets hear God speaking and then speak that same Word to the church. You cannot have true religion without such supernatural verbal revelation.
This requires that God speaks to the prophet before the prophet spoke. This is critical, since it utterly destroys the liberal theories that locate the actual words in human agency alone, such as the kernel theory we talked about earlier. The speaking of God is not meant in a figurative way, “but in the literal sense it appears in various ways” (p. 217).
Vos next makes a point that the verbal communication from Jehovah is both external and internal, and that internal (to the soul or audible only to the prophet) does not collapse into the “consciousness theology” and the subjectivism of the liberal concept of “revelation” where revelation simply means a heightened moral consciousness or awareness of nearness to the ethical ideal of the prophetic religion.
Vos urges us not to probe the proportion of internal and external revelation, but to accept that both forms come to the prophets, making them bearers of words that have divine authority.
We turn to pages 214–216 of Geerhardus Vos’s book, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, to discuss the kernel and divination theories of the reception of prophetic revelation. Critical scholars seek to identify human beings as the origin of the prophetic message. Vos defends the orthodox notion that God reveals himself in objective verbal revelation to the prophets, who delivered that inspired and inerrant message to the people.
We turn to pages 212–213 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to discuss the mode of reception of the prophetic revelation. In the fourth section of his book, Vos continues to contrast the modernist conception with that of confessional orthodoxy. He stresses that revelation does not originate naturally but is in its essence, “a real communication” from God to the prophets.
Our study of Vos is focused on biblical theology, or what Vos termed “the history of special revelation.” A modernized conception of revelation construes history as natural and mechanical in character. History is encased in patterns of natural cause and effect. It is a closed reality. For the Kantian, the mind of man imposes rational categories onto nature. Others view the mind and discovering natural and immutable laws, which don’t exhibit any variation. It is an anti-supernaturalist conception of history. For the modernist, supernatural revelation cannot exist in the sphere of natural history.
Vos, however, is unwavering in his commitment to the self-attesting word of God, which is a supernatural word from the transcendent God, who nevertheless condescends voluntarily to speak to those made in his image.
We turn to pages 206–211 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to continue our discussion of critical theories of prophetism. Vos tackles a modernist, critical theory of the development of monotheism under the prophets. Vos wants the reader to enter into a modernist world–a critical world. In that world, there are three main things you will face:
These are the key features of a “critical” approach to the prophets. But, as Machen pointed out so clearly, these three conceptions represent a different religion: a fundamentally Pelagian conception of religion.
Vos helps us see, by contrast, that the kingdom of God and the demand that he be worshipped exclusively is built into man as the image of God. Adam, from the start, was bound to God in a religious relation by creation that the covenant of works was to advance. Man, from the beginning, exists to worship God–to glorify and enjoy God forever in covenantal fellowship. For the liberal to reverse this relation and insist that God must serve the purpose of man is to lay bare that the critics truly do have a different religion. On this, Vos and Machen are one.
We turn to pages 202–205 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to continue our discussion of critical theories of prophetism. Vos answers critics who believe that Israel derived its understanding of prophetism from Canaanite religion by focusing our attention upon God’s word revealed in history. Contrary to the false prophets, true prophetism is centered on true religion, union and communion with God according to his word.
We gather around the table in Wimberley, Texas to discuss the authority of the self-contained Triune God of Scripture. The absolute, self-sufficient God nevertheless established a covenant with man by an act of special providence. In that act, the authority of God’s word is diplayed—entirely independently of man’s response. Whether Adam obeyed or disobeyed, God’s infallible word would be proved.
Danny Olinger, author of Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theology, Confessional Presbyterian, joins us for a special conversation. We take a brief break from Vos’s book Biblical Theology to discuss the influence of Vos upon several other theologians. We then open the floor to questions from people participating in our live webinar.
Today we provide an introduction to the doctrine of justification with a consideration of several basic categories. We begin with a confessional doctrine of justification from the Westminster Standards. We then consider justification’s relationship to faith. Then we turn to the believer’s relationship to the person and work of Christ and consider how we are united to him. Finally, we speak about the relationship of that union to faith.
Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.
Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.
Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.
Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.
Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
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