The Revelation of God – General Revelation
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” – Psalm 19:1-6
As we sought last week to answer the question: ‘How is the study of theology even possible?’ we were amazed to see that it is made possible by the object of theology Himself – God. It is God who makes theology possible because God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in many different ways. The ways God reveals Himself can be placed in the two broad categories of General and Special Revelation. In His graciousness and compassion towards mankind, our great God has chosen to make Himself known. So let’s take a look at how we can know God as He reveals Himself towards mankind through General Revelation.
A Knowledge of God through General Revelation: As we begin to take a detailed and specific look at general revelation and how God reveals Himself to us we must remember the purpose of this revelation. The purpose is for God to make Himself known to mankind. As God makes Himself known in this universe we gain an understanding of His being, His character, His power, and His glory. Being the Creator of mankind, there was no reason for God to reveal Himself to us. Yet, also being a merciful and compassionate God, He foreordained that He would make Himself known. The first way that God has made Himself known to us in General Revelation is through the creation of this world.
(I) God Revealed in Creation: Perhaps the most obvious way that God is revealed to us is through nature; through the creation that constantly surrounds us each and every day. God’s handiwork is everywhere, we are witness to it by simply opening our eyes to the world around us. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Clearly, we can gain an understanding of who God is by looking at His creation. Paul cites two ways in which we gain an understanding of God’s invisible attributes through what has been made.
Eternal Power: God’s eternal power is magnificently put on display through His creation. When one looks at the majesty of the land and sea, sky and stars, planet earth and the billions of galaxies that surround us one sees evidence of a glorious Creator. A Creator who must have existed in eternity past and a Creator who must have supreme power. From the creation we can know with certainty that God must be a being of awesome power. Divine Nature: Not only must God be filled with power to be the Creator of this universe, He also must have a divine nature. When we look at creation, it is evident that no mortal was its author. It was a divine, majestic being who brought the universe into being. This is therefore, what the creation speaks about God. It gives us a glimpse of who He is as eternal, powerful, and divine.
(II) God Revealed in Conscience: A second way that God has clearly made himself known is through the conscience of every single human being. Our conscience is what gives us our sense of right and wrong, and guides us in every single decision that me make in our lives. We always obey our conscience, but we also can train our conscience and dull our conscience. At its heart though, the conscience is the impulse that tells us the difference between what is morally right or wrong. It is the imprint of God on mankind, His mark upon our souls. The conscience of man reflects, in an imperfect way, the character of God. It is imposed on believer and unbeliever alike. Romans 2:14-15 makes this so clear by saying, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the works of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them…”
Clearly, even those who do not know the Lord are influenced by His Law that is, as Paul says, “…written in their hearts…” Mankind does have an inherent knowledge of God. This Law that is written even on the heart of an unbeliever points to an absolute law of right and wrong in this universe. To have this knowledge of a right and a wrong means that there must be someone or something who is greater than us. Someone who wrote this Law and who holds mankind accountable to it. As we will look at next week, this being is God Himself. But for us to truly know Him, not just to know about Him, He must reveal Himself to us in a special and unique way.