The Limitations
of Scripture
`For I am conscious of nothing in myself, nevertheless am I not justified ... So then do not judge anything
before the time, until the Lord shall come ... Learn in us the lesson of not letting your thoughts go beyond the
things that are written' (1 Cor. 4:4-6).
We can imagine that some of our readers will read the title of this article with some misgivings, and we hasten to
explain our meaning so as to avoid giving unnecessary pain or anxiety to those who love the Word of God. To say
what we do not mean will help us to make clear what we do mean by the title.
We do not mean to suggest the slightest distrust in the Word of God. We rejoice to be able out of a full heart to
say that we believe `All Scripture is God-breathed'. We believe that not only is Scripture inspired in its general
outline, but that divine inspiration extends to the very language and choice of individual words and phrases.
What do we mean then by the limitations of Scripture? We mean that the Scriptures nowhere claim that they
contain the record of all God`s purposes and ways, but that such glimpses of those unfathomable depths and infinite
heights are given us as our finite capabilities will allow. If I turn to the writings of men I find that many of them
deal with subjects which go entirely beyond the inspired limits of Scripture. Revelation starts with God as Creator,
`In (the) beginning God created the heaven and the earth' (Gen. 1:1). Man's theology is not content with this, it must
probe into that over which God has drawn a veil. Man's theology and philosophy come to us and say, `God never
had a beginning'. Within the limits of human experience and reason that which never had a beginning does not
exist. In vain we attempt to conceive otherwise. The blessed fact we would point out is that God Himself has never
burdened our minds with such a statement. He Who on earth could say, `I have yet many things to say unto you, but
ye cannot bear them now', has also, in the wider scope of the complete Scriptures, given us just so much as we are
capable of understanding here.
Have we never felt when searching the Scriptures upon some theme the desire for some further explanation
which God has been pleased to withhold? Is there no truth in the words of Zophar the Naamathite, `Canst thou by
searching find out God?' Do we not need the rebuke of Job 36:26, `Behold, God is great, and we know Him not,
neither can the number of His years be searched out'. `Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?' (Job 11:7).
In the highest revelation given to us are there not `unsearchable riches'? Are we not endeavouring to get to know the
love of Christ which passeth knowledge? Did not the apostle, when concluding the revelation of God's ways with
Israel, rightly say:
`O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and
His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord (knowledge)? or who hath been His
counsellor (wisdom)? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again (riches)?'
(Rom. 11:33-35).
Is there no suggestion of mystery in the destiny of such an one as Pharaoh, or of Esau as recorded in Romans 9?
Does not inspiration anticipate our natural desire to find out more than is revealed, and does it not meet it with the
words, `Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it,
Why hast thou made me thus?' (Rom. 9:20). There are many who speak as though the Bible deals with eternity; it
does no such thing. It begins and ends with time. It is the inspired revelation of some of God's ways and purposes
relative to and during the AGES. What took place before the age times began we know very little, and of what will
take place when these ages have run their allotted course we know comparatively nothing. Is it not wiser, better, and