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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: God Has Spoken to Us

Don Stewart :: How Has God Revealed Himself through Nature?

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How Has God Revealed Himself through Nature?

God Has Spoken to Us – Question 5

Creation, or nature, is a part of God’s general revelation. Nature testifies to God’s existence. A number of points need to be made.

1. Nature Is Not Identical with God

It is important to realize that nature is not identical with God. When God reveals Himself through the physical world it means that He communicates things about Himself that humans would not otherwise know. Nature reveals some things about God, but nature is not God.

2. The Nature Psalms: The Universe Gives Testimony to God as Creator

In the Old Testament, there are a number of Psalms known as the “nature psalms.” In them, they point to nature to testify to God’s existence. The vastness of the universe gives testimony to God as Creator. The psalmist wrote,

When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made, and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them... (Psalm 8:3, 4 NET)

Nature testifies to God’s majesty and greatness as well as our smallness in comparison.

3. Psalm 29 Speaks of God’s Testimony That Is Found in Nature

Psalm 29 is another nature Psalm. In it, we read the following testimony that nature gives about God:

The voice of the LORD echoes above the sea. The God of glory thunders. The LORD thunders over the mighty sea. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD splits the mighty cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf and Mount Hermon to leap like a young bull. The voice of the LORD strikes with lightning bolts. The voice of the LORD makes the desert quake; the LORD shakes the desert of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare. In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!” The LORD rules over the floodwaters. The LORD reigns as king forever. (Psalm 29:3-10 NLT)

Among other things, the psalmist says that the voice of the Lord breaks the strong cedar trees and even shakes the desert. His testimony is found in all of nature.

4. The Two Main Passages concerning Nature: Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:18-21

Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:18-21 are the two main passages in Scripture that speak to the issue of general revelation through nature. Their testimony is as follows:

The Testimony of Psalm 19:1-6

The first six verses of Psalm 19 testify to the revelation of God through His creation: It says,

The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness. There is no actual speech or word, nor is its voice literally heard. Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth; its words carry to the distant horizon. In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun. Like a bridegroom it emerges from its chamber; like a strong man it enjoys running its course. It emerges from the distant horizon, and goes from one end of the sky to the other; nothing can escape its heat. (Psalm 19:1-6 NET)

The following truths are found in these verses:

1. God’s Glory Is Being Proclaimed in Nature

The heavens are a declaration to the fact of God’s glory. It is a sign to the entire human race that God does exist. Wherever we look we find evidence of orderliness and design. The harmony and order of creation are a testimony to God’s existence.

2. The Testimony of Nature Is Constant

This revelation about God’s power and majesty is constant. It is occurring “day after day” and “night after night.” Thus, humans are constantly reminded of God’s existence.

3. This Revelation Is Nonverbal (Inaudible)

This revelation about God does not consist of words—it is nonverbal revelation. Although the testimony is clear to everyone, this testimony is not accomplished through words. The heavens, therefore, offer a silent continual testimony to God. The heavens give an objective revelation of God whether or not anyone acknowledges it.

4. It Is Worldwide in Scope

The scope of this testimony is worldwide. All people, everywhere, have access to this form of God’s revelation. There are no geographic barriers.

5. There Is No Language Barrier

Since this is a non-verbal form of communication, there is no language barrier. All people, in every language, are able to comprehend this form of God revealing Himself. Again, there are no exceptions.

6. The Sun Gives Constant Testimony to God’s Provision for Humanity

The shining of the sun in the sky gives constant testimony to the existence and care of God. Like the sun, the existence of God is obvious to all. Nothing can hide from the sun; no one can hide from God.

These truths about God are there for all people to see; therefore, they have no excuse. Everyone has knowledge of the Creator.

However, the next verse of Psalm 19 makes it clear how ultimate truth is explained to humanity; it is through God’s Word. The psalmist wrote,

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7 NLT)

His Word is what is perfect. It is not by means of natural revelation, or general revelation, where ultimate truth is explained; it is in the Law of the Lord, the Scriptures.

There is something else. It must be remembered that the writers of the nature psalms are not unbelievers who are merely admiring nature for its beauty rather they are believers who are responding in worship to nature’s testimony of God’s majesty. In other words, by means of special revelation they are appreciating God’s general revelation.

The Testimony of Romans 1:18-21

Another passage that speaks of God’s revelation through nature is Romans 1:18-21. Paul wrote the following:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 ESV)

This passage in Romans 1 testifies to God’s revelation of Himself in nature as well as the response of humanity to this revelation. The following important truths about God’s general revelation can be learned from this passage:

The Testimony about God That Is Found in Nature Is Clear

In this passage there are two phrases that speak of God’s revelation in nature. The first is found in verse 19, “what can be known about God is plain to them.”

The second is found in verse 20, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

Therefore, we find that God has left a witness of Himself for everyone. No one has any excuse for denying it; God’s existence is plain or obvious to all.

Conclusions from Nature Can Be Drawn about God and His Existence

Because of the clear testimony about God from nature, conclusions can and should be drawn about God’s existence. His divine attributes, though not visible, are clearly seen through the things He created. Everyone can see them.

1. The Testimony Is Constantly Witnessed by Everyone

As Psalm 19 affirms, this testimony about God’s power and majesty has constantly been witnessed since the time God created the world. There has never been a moment in which the world was without this testimony. It is ongoing to this day.

2. General Revelation Holds People Accountable to God

Because of the witness of nature, people are held accountable to God for the knowledge that He has revealed to them. They have no excuse for rejecting His existence. Instead, they should respond to the revelation they have received.

3. The Response to God’s Revelation Has Been Rejection

Unfortunately, the human race has rejected God’s revelation of Himself in nature. In verse 18, Paul says they, “suppressed the truth in unrighteousness.” This means that they first understood it, but then rejected its message. The rejection was done knowingly and willingly. They chose not to believe.

This Type of Revelation Is Limited in What It Can Do

From these two main passages, Psalm 19 and Romans 1, it is clear that everyone everywhere is aware of the existence of God through the testimony He has left in creation. The witness about God’s existence from nature should lead humans to seek to discover who this Creator is.

While this revelation from the natural world makes human beings responsible, revelation from nature, or creation, is limited in what it tells us. Only certain aspects about God’s invisible qualities or nature are revealed. Specifically, they are, “His eternal power and divine nature.”

Nature does not give us any explicit statements about God. Again, we find that more information is needed. The revelation of God in creation is not sufficient for us to know Him. We can make the following observations.

1. Humanity Has Corrupted the Truth of Creation

The truth of creation has been corrupted by sinful humanity. Paul emphasized this when wrote to the Romans,

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:25 TNIV)

Humanity rejected the Creator and worshipped the creation instead. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and became worshippers of that which God created, rather than the Creator God Himself.

2. There Is No Direct Contact with God from Nature

In addition, nature does not bring us into direct contact with God. It reveals the power of God without revealing His person. Humanity needs more than the testimony of creation to know exactly what God is like, and what He requires of us. There can be no certainty of beliefs through the revelation of nature; only approximations.

3. Nature Is Limited as a Source of Divine Truth

Nature can give us only a partial perception of God. From nature we can discover the wisdom and power of God.

However, nature is limited as a source of truth about God. Human beings are only able to infer certain things about God from nature because there are no explicit statements about Him. We are not competent to understand anything more that certain general truths about God. This is due to our limitations as human beings as well as our fallen sinful nature. Our knowledge about God has to be added to, as well as corrected.

What is needed is a permanent written record of God’s revelation to the human race in language which we can understand. Happily, God has given us this written revelation of Himself in the Bible. It is only through God’s special revelation in the Scriptures that we have explicit statements about who God is and what He requires from us.

Summary – Question 5
How Has God Revealed Himself through Nature?

The Bible testifies that “nature” or “creation” gives clear testimony to God’s existence. Everyone, everywhere, has this testimony. Natural revelation is more than sufficient to make humanity responsible and to show us that we are “without excuse.” Consequently, we humans should attempt to find out who this Creator is, and what He requires of us.

Unfortunately, people have corrupted the revelation of God in nature and have chosen to worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator. Instead of worshipping the Creator, they have turned creation into a god.

This is why nature, by itself, is not enough. What is necessary is God’s revelation to humanity in a permanent written form in language that everyone can understand. We have that revelation in the Bible.

What is General Revelation? ← Prior Section
Do Modern Discoveries Come under the Heading of General Revelation? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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