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

Don Stewart :: What Does Special Revelation Do?

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What Does Special Revelation Do?

God Has Spoken to Us – Question 16

Special revelation, as opposed to General revelation reveals specific truths about God. There are a number of things that special revelation does. They include the following:

1. Special Revelation Provides a Foundation for All Christian Teaching

Special revelation is the foundation for all Christian doctrine. Actually, without it, there would be no Christian doctrine. The Bible says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 ESV)

We could not know these truths of Christian doctrine by means of human reason. The Scripture, which contains God’s special revelation, provides humanity with the truths of the Christian faith. These truths must be studied and obeyed.

2. Special Revelation Reveals the Person of God

Divine revelation reveals the Person of the one, true God. Although God has revealed His existence through nature and the human conscience, it is only through special revelation that we know any specifics about Him. His attributes can only be known from what He has revealed to us. Therefore, one of the purposes of special revelation is to inform us about God’s character.

3. Special Revelation Reveals Who We Are

Special revelation also reveals who we are as human beings. Humanity was created in the image of an infinite personal God. The Bible says,

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26 NIV)

Without divine revelation we would not have any trustworthy account of our origins. We would merely be left to speculation and unprovable theories.

4. Special Revelation Tells Us Why We Are No Longer Perfect

Divine revelation informs us why we are no longer perfect. The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve, the first humans, sinned and became separated from God (Genesis 3:1-24).

The Bible is a Book that exposes the sin of humanity. It shows sin as rebellion against God and something that will be judged. According to Scripture, sin is something abnormal. Humanity was not originally created the way we are today.

Consequently the Bible is not a Book that humans would write if they could. Humanity would not make sin something awful, but rather something normal and pleasurable.

In fact, human beings, without the aid of divine revelation, do make sinful behavior the norm. Sin is either excused or redefined. This is why a special revelation from God is absolutely necessary.

5. Special Revelation Reveals the Way of Salvation for Sinners

Divine revelation reveals the way of salvation for lost sinners. The Bible says that the ultimate purpose of God’s revelation is to lead humanity into a saving knowledge of God through Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to Timothy,

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14, 15 NASB)

God became a human in the person of Jesus Christ and bridged the gap between Himself and lost humanity by His death on the cross. Paul wrote,

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 TNIV)

The New Living Translation reads,

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

Each individual is responsible before God and must personally receive Christ as his or her Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the church at Rome.

...That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 NIV)

Today’s New International Version translates the verses in this manner,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 TNIV)

Without divine revelation we would not know any of these truths. We would not know how to be saved from sin.

The salvation of lost sinners is the ultimate purpose of special revelation. God’s Word, the Bible, is the only place where the way of salvation is explained.

6. Special Revelation Tells Us That We Can Have a Relationship with God

Another important purpose of special revelation is to call humanity into a personal relationship with God. The Bible says,

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 TNIV)

The Apostle Paul said that his goal was to know Jesus Christ. He wrote to the Philippians:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... (Philippians 3:10 NIV)

Today’s New International Version translates the verse in this manner,

I want to know Christ—yes, and the power of his resurrection and the participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... (Philippians 3:10 TNIV)

We would never know that God desires to have a relationship with us without special revelation. Special revelation provides the good news—the living God can be known in a personal way!

7. Special Revelation Gives the Basis to Live the Christian Life

A person must have a doctrinal basis on which to live their life. This is discovered through the Word of God for it tells us what is right and what is wrong. Then a person goes about living out the truths of God’s Word. Paul wrote,

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. (Romans 6:17 NIV)

Today’s New International Version says,

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. (Romans 6:17 TNIV)

We know specifically what we should do, and what we should not do, because of special revelation.

Therefore, we find that special revelation has a number of specific purposes for the benefit of humans.

Summary – Question 16
What Does Special Revelation Do?

There are a number of reasons for God’s special revelation to humanity.

First, it is the only accurate source of detailed knowledge about God and His universe. Indeed, there is no other source to which we can go to find out these answers.

Special revelation tells us who God is. We know about His person and nature only from special revelation.

God’s revelation also informs us who we are as human beings. Again, without special revelation we would only be guessing as to who we are and why we are here.

Special revelation also tells us that God created humanity perfect in the beginning. However, when the first couple, Adam and Eve, sinned, this caused all of their descendants to be born with a sinful nature.

Scripture reveals the remedy for sin in the death of Jesus Christ. Again, we would only know this truth through the written Scripture.

It emphasizes that believers can have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Understanding special revelation is therefore absolutely essential if anyone desires to know his or her origin, purpose, and destiny.

Are All Parts of the Bible Special Revelation? ← Prior Section
In What Special Ways Has God Revealed Himself to Humanity? Next Section →
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