Thursday, September 14, 2006

Response to John Frame on Natural Law, part III

Frame’s third argument is that “natural revelation is not sufficient for salvation.” With this point of Frame’s I must agree, if by not sufficient he means that it is extremely unlikely that human beings will be saved without the Scriptures. We do know from the Scripture that Abraham and others came to salvation without the Scripture. So it apparently is possible for human beings to have faith in what God has revealed to them unto salvation. This faith would have to be accounted by God as saving faith in Jesus Christ so that the person could be saved “in and through Christ.” Because, of course, the Scripture teaches that there is no salvation apart from Christ. But we know that Abraham, Job and others in the Old Testament who did not know the name of Jesus and lived prior to His incarnation on earth were nevertheless saved because they put faith in God for the salvation that was to come. It is undoubtedly theoretically possible for a human being who has not heard of Christ to recognize his moral inadequacy, to admit the existence of God, and to acknowledge that it is only through God providing an atonement that he can, in fact, be reconciled to God and enter into eternal life. The problem is that it does not appear that many people go through this process. It nevertheless is certainly not beyond the Holy Spirit to convict men of sin or lead them into righteousness without the Scripture if God wills to do so. But we know that men have a far more certain assurance of salvation if they hear the full gospel of God and believe in it, committing their lives to God in Christ. I have heard someone compare it to using a map to journey from one place to another. If I am attempting to walk from Los Angeles, California, to Hudsons Bay in Canada, I might be able to find my way on my own by following the signs of nature. But it is far more likely that I will arrive successfully at my destination if I have use of a map and other specific revelation of the geography and topography between California and Hudsons Bay. In the same way, the Word of God can be revealed by God apart from His written Word. But how much more safe, sure and certain is the revelation of God’s written Word. All which is said to be of the Spirit must be judged and evaluated in light of the Bible. Clearly, it is necessary to have Scripture to evaluate our thoughts about God’s means of salvation in Christ. Clear knowledge of Jesus and His death and resurrection comes only from Scripture and not from natural law or general revelation. In Natural revelation we find only our need and God’s ability, not the actual time and space solution to the problem. But saying that Natural Law cannot save us does not mean that it has no purpose in God’s economy. The Bible testifies to the existence of the Natural Law. God would not give man the revelation of the Natural Law without a purpose in mind.

Frame’s fourth argument is that “natural revelation is not sufficient for pleasing God in any sphere.” Again, this is true, but irrelevant. The point of natural law is not for human beings to please God: the point of natural law is for human beings not to all kill each other before God has an opportunity to reveal Himself to them and save some of them. Natural law is for human temporal government, not for human righteousness. The law doesn’t make anybody righteous. That doesn’t mean that natural law does not have a role in human government. Without the natural law, human governments that do not have access to Scripture either by historical situation or choice would have no means of knowing the difference between good and evil. Hence they could not carry out their obligation as an ordination of God to punish evil and reward good. Natural law is necessary for the functioning of human government. And without this role of government, and God’s common grace, humans would be even more violent and destructive than the already are. Natural Law may not make us righteous, but it is a tool of God to keep us from being even more evil.

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