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Don Stewart :: What Conclusions Should We Draw about General Revelation?

Don Stewart

General revelation consists of God revealing Himself through various ways that are continuous and universal. There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn from general revelation. They include the following.

1. God Does Exists

From general revelation we know that there is a God who exists. Paul said.

For in him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are his children' (Acts 17:28)

2. The God Who Exists Is Intelligent

Everyone sees the intelligence of God. Paul said.

Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of humans (Acts 17:29).

3. The God Who Exists Is Powerful

God's power is clear to everyone. The psalmist wrote.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).

4. The God Who Exists Is Good

General revelation shows the goodness of God. Jesus said.

That you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45)

5. The God Who Exists Has His Glory Displayed Everywhere

The glory of the Lord is found everywhere.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).

6. The God Who Exists Is Lord Over All

The fact that God is Lord over all is seen by means of general revelation.

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 (Romans 1:20)

7. The God Who Exists Provides For All Humankind

General revelation shows that God is a providing God. Paul said.

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. (Acts 14:17).

All Of These Truths Are Still Inadequate For People To Personally Know God

Though the general revelation is universal-everyone has access to it-it is still inadequate in a number of ways. General revelation cannot tell us about God's plan of salvation or how an individual may be saved. General revelation testifies that God exists but it tells us nothing of God's character, why humanity exists, or how we relate to Him.

The Human Race Has Been Distorted By Sin

The knowledge of God that is available through general revelation has been distorted by sin. Some of the specific things that nature reveals may not be correctly understood because of sin. Fallen humanity has no ability to accurately understand specific details about God through the means of general revelation.

Though general revelation shows truth about God to humanity, it does not accurately interpret the truths that it reveals.

The Different Religions Testify To The Confusion About Which God Exists

The fact that so many different religions of the world exist gives evidence that humanity consistently misinterprets what they can learn from creation, providence, or their own conscience.

General Revelation Should Raise Questions

For the unbeliever, general revelation ought to raise questions about Gods' person and plan. However sinful humanity rejects what is known. Paul wrote.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).

This is an active, willing suppression of what God has revealed. People are actually running away from the truth of God.

Paul's Argument From Nature

Paul said the order of nature testifies to the living God. He said the following to a crowd who wanted to worship him as a god.

Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good-giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy (Acts 14:15-18).

The psalmist argued that the intelligence of the creation pointed to an intelligent Creator.

He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? (Psalm 94:9).

An Example Of General Revelation Being Insufficient

We seem to have a biblical example of general revelation being insufficient. When the Magi came from the east looking for the Christ child they were lead by a star. The Bible says.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" (Matthew 2:1,2).

God must have allowed the Magi to understand something about the birth of Christ through this star. Although this star that lead them may have been a supernatural event, it was not sufficient in and of itself. It did not bring them to Jesus; it only brought them to Jerusalem and Jesus' enemy - Herod. When they needed to find the exact location of the birth of the King of the Jews it was not the stars but the Scripture, special revelation, which was consulted.

When he [Herod] had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel" (Matthew 2:4-6).

Therefore we see that the general revelation of the birth of Christ through the guiding star was not sufficient. When the Magi got to Bethlehem they worshipped the One whom God's special revelation spoke of.

Summary

We can draw a number of conclusions from general revelation. First, it gives testimony to God's existence. It also tells us much about His character. From general revelation we discover that God is intelligent, powerful, and good. We also see His glory is everywhere. General revelation lets us know that God is Lord over everything. General revelation also informs humanity that God is constantly providing for them.

However general revelation has its limits. There is no explanation of who God is, who we are as humans, or the plan of salvation from general revelation. In addition, because of sin, humanity is not able to fully appreciate what God has revealed by means of general revelation. The fact that different religions interpret general revelation in various ways speaks of its limitation. General revelation will raise questions about God's nature and plan but it cannot give the answers to those questions. For this more is needed.

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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