Tuesday, May 1, 2018

General Revelation

"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

God reveals Himself not only in the Bible but also more generally in all of His creation. The classical theology of the Reformation churches holds that this revelation comes to us both immediately and mediately. 

First of all, all men have an immediate and instinctive knowledge of God. Romans 1:19 puts it this way: “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” In other words, God actively reveals Himself to the inner consciousness of all men. Apart from grace, however, men suppress this revelation.

Second, God reveals Himself through the world. This is “mediate” general revelation; that is, it is “mediated” through a “medium.” Romans 1:20, cited above, speaks of this. When we look at the world around us we clearly see God’s self-revelation. God has designed everything in the creation, and creation as a whole, to be a theater of His glory. Again, though, apart from grace men suppress this revelation.

Now, what does this general revelation achieve? What good is it? Because of our sin, we walk blindly and blindfolded through all of this revelation. Nevertheless, the revelation is still there. It is still clear. Does this revelation provide us a knowledge of God? Certainly. If we don’t perceive this revelation, the fault lies in us, not in God’s activity of revealing Himself.

Now, suppose we could remove the blindfold that we have put on our eyes, and suppose we could heal the blindness of our eyes under the blindfold. Then we would clearly perceive God’s mediate and immediate revelation of Himself to us. Would this provide us a “saving” knowledge of God? No. It would provide us with a knowledge of God’s holiness, but all it would do is condemn us. It requires God’s special revelation in redemption to save us.

How well do you see God revealing His glory in general revelation? Take a few moments and make a list of things in creation, and aspects of the human personality, that show forth God’s person and His glory. Train yourself to watch for God’s handiwork in His world.