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Pentecostals and Subordinate Revelation


Theologians further understand that there are indicators of God’s being and nature both in history and in the constitution of men and women who are made in His image.

However, since sin has marred the creation and corrupted man’s moral and spiritual nature, general revelation alone is never sufficient to lead one to a saving knowledge of God.

We have in the Bible everything we need to know for our salvation.

This leads, of necessity, to the second concept, special revelation. Here God reveals himself personally in ways that convey accurate knowledge of himself and His will and that make possible a saving relationship.

The writer to the Hebrews vividly illustrated special revelation: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (1:1,2). Here is a progressive divine disclosure, beginning with God’s communications with Adam and Eve, continuing through the patriarchs and prophets, and finally culminating in Christ.

Special revelation, then, comes to a sharp focus in Jesus Christ who is described as “Immanuel … ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23) and as the “Word” who “was God” and “became flesh and lived for a while among us” (John 1:1,2,14). Jesus himself said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” John 14:9). It is Christ who supremely reveals God to man and who becomes the center of the apostolic writings of the New Testament.

This special revelation of Christ recorded in Scripture and communicated by the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit (John 15:26) makes it possible for men and women to respond to God in faith and find salvation. Thus Paul spoke of “the revelation [apokalypsis] of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him” (Romans 1 6:25,26).


Canonical revelation

In the providence of God much of His historic revelation is now recorded in the Bible, inscripturated as an authoritative guide for our salvation. God’s intention is that we, like Timothy, may know that revelation in “the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We must recognize that the Bible is a unique vehicle for special revelation.

The Triune God revealed in Christ is a living God who continues to communicate dynamically with succeeding generations of human beings. He not only speaks through the Bible but addresses the human heart directly by His Spirit.

While revelation has to do with communication, inspiration is the process by which God ensures that His revelation is written down by providentially prepared human authors in human words which say exactly what He wishes—and that without error. As Paul further instructed Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed [inspired] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).


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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2003

About the Author: Edgar R. Lee, M.Div. (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), S.T.D. (Emory University), is Academic Dean Emeritus and Senior Professor of Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Theology at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.

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