PART 2: INTERPRETATION – Chapter 5: The Revelation of Truth

Kenneth L Gentry

Narrated By: Aidan McGuire
Book: He Shall Have Dominion
Topics: ,


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Chapter Text

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)  

An important element in the Christian philosophy of history, as I noted in Chapter 1, is revelation. God has revealed Himself and His will for man in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. I will not provide an apologetic for the orthodox view of Scripture here – that would take us well beyond our focus.[1] Nevertheless, it is important that the orthodox view of Scripture from which I operate as a postmillennialist be stated and applied to the subject at hand.

God’s Word is Inerrant

The sixty-six books of Scripture are personally and directly revealed by God to the human writers through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). As Calvin says, the Scriptures have come to us “by the ministry of men from God’s very mouth.”[2] God so carefully revealed His Word to His prophets that it might be stated of the prophet: “I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Deut. 18:18b[3]). Consequently, a constant refrain of Scripture is, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Being the personally revealed Word of the Living and True God, the Scriptures are inerrant in their original autographa in anything they assert. This is as true in historical matters as in spiritual.[4] Christ affirmed: “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). God’s wisdom is infinite and unsearchable.[5] There is no limitation or imperfection in His knowledge Gob 37:16). He knows all things fully and exhaustively.[6] His Word is inerrant and will always be demonstrated in history as such. Thus, the eschatological prophecies of Scripture, when properly interpreted, must absolutely come to pass.

If the Bible teaches that anything is true and to be expected, then no matter how difficult for us to imagine, no matter how strongly arrayed against it are the historical forces of Satan, we must bow to the authority of Scripture. “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). No historical or philosophical argument countetpoised against Scriptural revelation regarding eschatological eventuation may be allowed to prevail in the thought of the Christian. The fundamental framework of the Christian eschatology must be rooted firmly in the Bible if it is to be realistic and true.

The Scriptures stand as absolute authority over man, providing a sure record of supernaturally revealed, propositional truth. For instance, the apostles of the New Testament insisted on the acceptance of their authority.[7] The commands of Scripture compel obedience for the believer, despite and against the wisdom of man and the power of Satan. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds,” therefore we are obliged to be about the duty of “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Indeed, Paul commands: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom 12:2).

The Word of God is not only the theoretical foundation of the Christian worldview, but is a practical revelation of Truth, serving as a motivation to action in terms of that Truth. It spiritually and intellectually equips the believer for every task in every realm of human endeavor. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).[8] Because of this the godly labor of the believer is “not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).[9] When the prophetic data of Scripture compel us to a particular historical hope and certain course of action, we are in error when we refuse them. We also stand in sinful unbelief when we fearfully doubt them.

The very Word of God which maps out the plan of history is also the causative power insuring the success of that plan. This may be seen from several angles.

The Creative Word

The Bible opens with a strong and determinative statement regarding the absolute power of God’s spoken Word. The universe exists solely because of the exercise of God’s creative will, and was brought into being by His sovereign, successive divine fiats. By His Word the universe was created: “and God said” is a significant recurring element in the creation record.[10] The creation record sets forth a creation ex nihilo in six literal days.[11] Such is the causative power of God’s Word. The universe is not a self-evolving, non-personal, naturalistic phenomenon lacking meaning or purpose.

The relationship between the creative Word of God and the revelatory Word is important to grasp. The Scriptures clearly tie the two together. The clearest evidence of this is found in Psalm 33:4-6: “For the [revelatory] word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the [creative] word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”

The Providential Word

By God’s Word the universe is providentially upheld through the continued application of its inherent power. The God of Scripture is no deistic Creator; He is intimately and personally involved in every aspect of His creation to maintain and preserve it by His active Word. The divine Christ is said to be “upholding all things (ta panta) by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3; cf. 2 Pet. 3:7). His Word will never pass away (Matt. 24:35).

The sovereignty of God must be brought to bear upon this matter. The Scripture teaches that the Triune God is in total and absolute control of every eventuation every corner of the universe. God’s total, absolute, unchangeable control of all things is rooted in His predetermined plan from eternity past. God is not a finite creature, limited to the confines of time, the succession of moments, and the competition of other forces. He is the Eternal Now, existing always in the present (Exo. 3:14). “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own free will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established” (Westminster Confession of Faith 3:1).

God controls the universe as a system and rules the “natural” phenomena on earth.[12] “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17; cf. Isa. 45:7a; Heb. 1:3). For the Christian “natural law” is but a convenient phrase to explain the phenomena of the universe in terms of their orderliness. Since the universe is permeated by the very presence of God (1 Kgs. 7:17; Jer. 23:23-24), the Christian worldview necessitates that we live in an ultimately personal universe. On the Christian view the universe does not operate under its own internal power (naturally), but under the constant direction of the ever-present God (supernaturally). What scientists call “natural law” is actually “divine providence.”

God governs the ebb and flow of history[13] and determines the purpose and the end of all things.[14] He “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11b). The universe and earth history exist for the glory of God and are being controlled to that end. The universe exists neither of itself nor for itself. God’s omnipotence and omniscience guarantee that the ultimate outcome of the sum total of all the events of history will conform to His plan or counsel, despite the railings of man and resistance of Satan. God’s will cannot be thwarted.

God controls even the minute details of life.[15] His plan is not merely a general sketch of the course of historical development, but a detailed plan that evidences in its every phase His own absolute sovereignty. All the parts of the plan are marshalled forth in subservience to the whole. Considered in terms of ultimate reality, there is neither accident nor luck. All things occur according to the plan of God, despite their random or fortuitous appearance from the perspective of man.

This sovereign control by God includes even the free acts of men.[16] Man has “free moral agency.” He cannot do just anything by an act of his will; he is limited. Man is not floating about in a vacuum with nothing to “push” against; he operates within the all-encompassing plan of God. It is up against the plan of God that he gets his “footing.” God’s control of man, however, is not “across the board,” as our control of another would have to be. Rather it is a control that cuts across planes: God above and man below. Such a control guarantees man true significance (he is no automaton), while guaranteeing God’s true sovereignty (all things issue forth under the direction of His wise counsel).

God’s control governs both the evil acts of free moral agents,[17] as well as their righteous acts.[18] The classic evidence of this is Peter’s statement: “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27-28).

Though our holy and righteous God is not implicated in sin, nevertheless, He ordains it and controls it toward a good end.[19] God not only ordains all the events of history, he has also ordained the free moral agency of man and the secondary causes associated with all events. The evil act is always that of the individual agent performing it; nevertheless it is also always under the all-controlling power of God. Those who act in an evil manner thereby admit their own responsibility, despite God’s ultimate control. Of course, the classic illustration of this is in the crucifixion of Christ, which is definitely the most evil act of history. Yet, it was prophesied and foreordained of God (Acts 2:23; 4:26-28).

The Prophetic Word

It is just this powerful, determinative Word of God that issues forth in prophecy. And that prophecy is not a mere prescience, but is a constantly active, irresistibly causative power in history. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11; cf. Isa. 46:10-11). That powerful word even slays His enemies.[20]

The Restorative Word

As regards the material of prophetic expectation, I will seek to demonstrate in the course of this work that God’s Word is also restorative. We should note that immediately upon the Fall of Adam in Eden (whence sin entered the human race), the Lord immediately spoke a restorative word of redemption. “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:14-15),[21] Hence the presence of Edenic terminology in many eschatological passages, as we shall see.[22]


Thus, God’s Word is creative, providential, prophetic, and restorative. There is a real and important sense in which history is “his story.” God created the world and man for His own glory (Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11). The Scriptures teach that God is in control of history by the exercise of His almighty wisdom and power. In fact, the whole idea of predictive prophecy is dependent upon this view of history, in that for any prophesied events to occur requires that all preceding and concurrent related events throughout the world and history must fall into place according to plan, as well. Almost always (Christ and John Baptist being notable exceptions) the person involved in the fulfillment of prophecy is unaware that his free action is fulfilling the predetermined prophecy of God.

The Word of the sovereign God is creatively constructive. That is, it brought reality into existence (Gen. 1; Heb. 11:3) and it directs the outworking of all historical processes (Isa. 46:10; 55:11). This two-fold reality – the creative Word and the providential Word – ties in the authority of God’s Word to human life. The psalmist notes that the Word of the Lord both sovereignly made and providentially governs the heavens and the earth (Psa. 33:6-11). He also notes that it is His creative and sovereign Word that is the revelation to man of righteousness and justice: “For the word of the Lord is upright; and all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice” (Psa. 33:4-5a). The word/command of God is the standard of right and wrong obligations, as it was in the garden of Eden.

Even Adam, while untainted by sin, was not an ultimate moral standard, but a derivative one. As Van Til says, Adam was receptively reconstructive of God’s Word, rather than creatively constructive. He was to think God’s thoughts after Him, on the creaturely level. Even in his unfallen state, he knew that he was created to live by supernatural, positive revelation, not autonomously. The method by which Adam was to know good and evil was to be due to God’s interpretive word/command.

[1] But see: Benjamin B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1948). Edward J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth: Some Thoughts on the Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957). J. I. Packer, God Has spoken (Downer’s Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979).

[2] John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) 1:7:5.

[3] Cf. Jer. 1:9, 17; John 14:26; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13. Although it is true that the ultimate reference of Deut. 18:18 is to the Great Prophet, Jesus Christ, it is also true that this reference involves all the divinely commissioned prophets of Scripture, establishing and authorizing the prophetic line. See: Gentry, The Charismatic Gift of Prophecy: A Reformed Response to Wayne Grudem (2nd ed.; Memphis: Footstool, 1990), ch. 1.

[4] GregL.Bahnsen,”Inductivism, Inerrancy, and Presuppositionalism, “Evangelicals and Inerrancy, Ronald F. Youngblood, ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984), pp.


[5] Job 11:7-8; 37:5,14,23; Isa. 40:28; 55:10ff; Rom. 11:33-36.

[6] Psa. 147:5; Prov. 15:3; Acts 15:18; 1 John 3:20.

[7] 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Cor. 1l:3ff; 13:2-10; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2:13; 2 Thess. 2:13-15; 3:6-15; 2 Tim. 2:1ff; 3:13ff; Titus 1:9; 2 Pet. 1:12-2:3; 1 John 2:21-24.

[8] See also Heb. 13:21; 2 Tim. 2:21.

[9] Cf. 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 9:8; Phil. 4:13.

[10] Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29. See also later confirmation of this in Psa. 33:6; Heb. 11:3.

[11] Each of the six days of creation was a literal twenty-four-hour day: (1) “Day” is qualified by “evening and morning” (Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31), which specifically limits the time-frame. (2) The very same word “day” is used on the fourth day to define a time period that is governed by the sun, which must be a regular day (Gen. 1:14). (3) In the 119 instances of the Hebrew word “day” (yom) standing in conjunction with a numerical adjective (first, second, etc.) in the writings of Moses, it never means anything other than a literal day. Consistency would require that this structure must so function in Genesis 1 (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19,23,31). (4) Exodus 20:9-11 patterns man’s work week after God’s original work week, which suggests the literality of the creation week. (5) In Exodus 20:11 the plural for the “days” of creation is used. In the 702 instances of the plural “days” in the Old Testament, it never means anything other than literal days. (6) Had Moses meant that God created the earth in six ages, he could have employed the more suitable Hebrew term olam. See the mass of scientific literature produced by the Creation Research Society, El Cajon, California.

[12] Nah. 1:3-6; Isa. 45:7b; Psa. 29; 104:21; Job 36:32; 37:3; 28:23-27; 38:12-39:30; Amos 4:7; Matt. 5:45; 6:28-30; Acts 14:17.

[13] Ezra 6:22; 7:6; Psa. 115:2; 135:6; Pro. 21:1; Isa. 44:28; 54:16; 55:11; Jer. 27:5; Dan. 2:21; 4:17, 35; Eccl. 3:1-8, 11; Rom. 8:28; 13:1, 4.

[14] Psa. 24:1; 33:11; Prov.16:4; Isa. 43:7; 46:10; Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11.

[15] 1 Kgs. 22:28, 34; Job 1:21; 2:10; 14:5; Psa. 37:23; 139:16; Prov.16:33; Eccl. 7:14; Isa. 46:10-11; Jer. 10:23; Lam. 3:37-38; Matt. 6:26; 10:29, 30; Acts 17:24-26; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11.

[16] Gen. 45:5-8; Deut. 2:30; Ezra 7:6; Prov. 16:1; 19:21; John 19:11.

[17] Gen. 50:20; Exo. 4:21; 9:12,16; Josh. 11:20; Jdgs. 9:23; 1 Sam. 2:25; 16:14; 2 Sam. 17:14; 24:1, 10; 1 Kgs. 12:11, 15; 22:20-23; Matt. 21:42; Luke 22:22; John 12:39-40; 17:12; Acts 3:18; 4:27-28; 13:27-29; Rom. 9:22; 11:8; 1 Pet. 2:8; 2 Pet. 2:12; Jude 4; Rev. 17:17.

[18] John 15:5, 16; 1 Cor. 12:6; 15:10; Eph. 1:12; 2:10; Phil. 1:6; 2:12, 13; Heb. 13:21.

[19] Greg L. Bahnsen, “The Problem of Evil” (Parts I and II), Biblical Worldview 3:9 (Oct. 1991) and 3:11 (Dec. 1991).

[20] 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:15; cf. Psa. 2:9 (Rev. 19:15); Isa. 45:23; Jer. 5:14; 23:29; Ezek. 20:47.

[21] See fuller discussion of the protoevangelium in Chapter 9, below.

[22] See: David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1985), Part Two: “Paradise: The Pattern for Prophecy.”