Heaven and earth and all creatures, herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea and all things declare God. There is not an atom of the universe in which God’s power and divinity are not revealed.
It is beyond dispute that some awareness of God exists in the human mind by natural instinct, since God Himself has given everyone some idea of Him so that no one can plead ignorance.
Men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see Him [and] wherever you cast your eyes, there is no spot in the universe wherein you cannot discern at least some sparks of His glory.
General revelation communicates truth to everyone – truth that ought to lead each of us to turn to God. And yet nowhere in the Bible is there record of anyone turning to God on the basis of general revelation alone. This shows a problem with neither the revelation nor the Revealer, but rather, with the human being. All men reject this revelation of God.
They who have no Bible may still look up to the moon walking in brightness and the stars watching in obedient order; they may see in the joyous sunbeams the smile of God, and in the fruitful shower the manifestation of His bounty; they hear the rending thunder utter His wrath, and the jubilee of the birds sing His praise; the green hills are swelled with His goodness; the trees of the wood rejoice before Him with every quiver of their foliage in the summer air.
1. God exists (Ps. 19:1; Rom. 1:19). 2. God is uncreated (Acts 17:24). 3. God is Creator (Acts 14:15). 4. God is Sustainer (Acts 14:16; 17:25). 5. God is universal Lord (Acts 17:24). 6. God is self-sufficient (Acts 17:25). 7. God is transcendent (Acts 17:24). 8. God is immanent (Acts 17:26-27). 9. God is eternal (Ps. 93:2). 10. God is great (Ps. 8:3-4). 11. God is majestic (Ps. 29:4). 12. God is powerful (Ps. 29:4; Rom. 1:20). 13. God is wise (Ps. 104:24). 14. God is good (Acts 14:17). 15. God is righteous (Rom. 1:32). 16. God has a sovereign will (Acts 17:26). 17. God has standards of right and wrong (Rom. 2:15). 18. God should be worshiped (Acts 14:15; 17:23). 19. Man should perform the good (Rom. 2:15). 20. God will judge evil (Rom. 2:15-16).
General revelation is God’s communication of Himself to all persons at all times and in all places. It refers to God’s self-manifestation through nature, history, and the inner being (consciousness) of the human person.
The more light that is given, the harder the human heart must become to reject it.
The ultimate end of general revelation is that it leaves people without excuse for failing to recognize the nature of their Creator. But it conveys nothing regarding the way by which a fallen human being might gain access to or secure reconciliation with his Creator to escape judgment. That is why God deemed it necessary to also reveal Himself directly through special revelation. He did it so that fallen humans would know the fullness of God, how to be redeemed from God’s wrath toward sinners, and how to live and please God.
God’s Word by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue taken from Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, copyright 2017, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org. Page 73.
General Revelation in Scripture [verses] Special Revelation in Scripture: Only condemns/Condemns and redeems. Harmonizes with special revelation but provides no new material/Not only enhances and explains in detail the content of general revelation but also goes significantly beyond that explanation. In its perceived message needs to be confirmed by Scripture/Is self-authenticating and self-confirming in its claim to be God’s Word. Needs to be interpreted in light of special revelation/Needs no other revelation to be interpreted since it interprets itself. Is never equated with Scripture by Scripture/Has no peer.
God’s Word by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue taken from Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, copyright 2017, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org. Page 75.
Natural minds can see the world and conclude that there is a God. By human reason it can only be known that He exists, not who He is. To the natural reason He is the “unknown” and the unknowable God. He can only be truly known by supernatural theology, the revelation of Scripture.
[What has God made known in nature and conscience?]
1. God exists.
2. This God created the physical universe.
3. This God is loving.
4. This God is personal, since love cannot characterize an impersonal deity.
5. This God is a moral being.
6. We have violated the moral law and thus are guilty.
7. We have displeased the morally perfect God who is the source of the moral law (Ronald Nash).
Any unbeliever who rightly understood it would be driven to despair. However clearly the content of general revelation was grasped, it would by itself provide no adequate basis for fellowship with God.
The excuse that is banished, the excuse every pagan hopes in vain to use, the excuse that is exploded by God’s self-revelation in nature is the pretended, vacuous, dishonest appeal to ignorance. No one will be able to approach the judgment seat of God justly pleading, “If only I had known You existed, I would surely have served You.” That excuse is annihilated. No one can lightly claim “insufficient” evidence for not believing in God.
You can’t open your eyes in this universe without seeing a theater of divine revelation.
God has left the indelible mark of His fingerprints all across the vast face of the universe… This revelation is sufficiently clear and inescapable that it renders all without excuse (see Rom. 1:20). Consequently, there is no such thing as “an innocent native in Africa” any more than there is “an innocent pagan in America”… The problem is not a lack of evidence. The problem is the innate, natural, moral antipathy of mankind to God. The problem is not that the evidence is not open to mankind. The problem is that mankind is not open to the evidence.
Theologians regularly speak of general revelation and special revelation. By the former is meant that non-redemptive knowledge of God to be found in creation and conscience, a knowledge that is universally accessible (hence, “general”). By the latter is meant that redemptive knowledge of God as revealed in the person of Christ, the living Word of God, and in the Bible, the written Word of God, a knowledge that is restricted to the recipients of saving grace (hence, “special”).
General revelation is the essential prerequisite to special revelation. And special revelation is that which redemptively supplements and interprets general revelation. Therefore, if by God’s gracious and sovereign enablement and enlightenment, any unbeliever responds positively to the revelation of God in nature (and conscience), God will take the necessary steps to reach him or her with the good news of Christ whereby they may be saved.
Men may live as if there is no God, but they cannot deny his existence.
The invisible is made visible via creation or nature. Divine wisdom, power, eternity and goodness, for example, are not in themselves visible, but their reality is undeniably affirmed and apprehended by the effects they produce in nature. That there is a God, supreme, eternal, infinite in power, personal, wise, independent, worthy of glory and gratitude, is clearly evident in the creation.
The revelation of God in creation and conscience is sufficient to render all men without excuse, sufficient to lead to their condemnation if they repudiate it, but not sufficient to save. No one will be saved solely because of their acknowledgment of God in nature, but many will be lost because of their refusal of Him as revealed there. In other words, general revelation lacks redemptive content. It is epistemically adequate but soteriologically inadequate. It makes known that there is a God who punishes sin but not that He pardons it.
The so-called heathen are not condemned for rejecting Jesus, about whom they have heard nothing, but for rejecting the Father, about whom they have heard and seen much.
Each of us is under a divine mandate to become an amateur astronomer, to peer into the incalculable depths of sky and space to behold the handiwork of our omnipotent Creator.
The physical world is a window to the beauty of God. Nature or creation or the cosmos, however you wish to put it, is here, not primarily that we might exploit its resources to enhance our comfort, nor as a means to expand our control over those weaker than ourselves, nor as merely the platform on which we might live out our desires and fulfill our personal vision. The physical world exists pre-eminently to display for our eternal joy the artistic creativity, endless power, and manifold wisdom of its Creator, the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
All creation is meant to be a finger pointing us to ultimate glory, the only glory that can ever satisfy the human heart, the glory of God.
General Revelation- Given to all, Intended for all, Sufficient for condemnation, Declares God’s greatness. Specific Revelation- Given to few, Intended for all, Sufficient for salvation, Declares God’s grace.
The one is addressed generally to all intelligent creatures, and is therefore accessible to all men; the other is addressed to a special class of sinners, to whom God would make known His salvation. The one has in view to meet and supply the natural need of creatures for knowledge of their God; the other to rescue broken and deformed sinners from their sin and its consequences.
Though God is under no obligation to reveal Himself, He chose to reveal Himself to mankind through creation. God reveals Himself as eternal, powerful, glorious, creative, orderly, loving, all-knowing, sovereign, and worthy of worship. By creating man in His own image, by giving him a soul, self-consciousness, the ability to reason, and a general knowledge of right and wrong, God reveals Himself as personal, holy, wise, righteous, and just. This is known as general revelation.
To put it in simple terms, general revelation provides enough knowledge of God to get rebellious people like you and me into trouble, but not enough to get us out of it. We need something more.