“The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Ps. 19:1, NAS)
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Ps. 19:7, NAS)
In the busyness of the day we unwittingly distance ourselves from our Creator. We rush through devotions. We zoom out the door and past the roses He made for us to “stop and smell”. We trudge through another night of dinner preparations, but don’t take even a moment to consider ourselves, made in God’s image, as creative beings. We forget to be still. We forget to lift our heads from the screens and look around and take in. It is no wonder we feel that God is distant. We hold tight to the fact that we believe in God, but wrestle with knowing Him. We tend to doubt His goodness, His kindness, His providence; we even doubt His presence. How can we be absolutely sure that God is who He says He is, and that He’s with us? When we understand that God has deliberately chosen to make Himself known, and even speak to us, we can have confidence.
The reason we know anything about God is because He has chosen to make Himself known to us. In fact, the process of God’s self-disclosure is called revelation. It is amazing to think that God could have kept Himself hidden from us, but He did not; He chose to reveal Himself.
There are two main ways in which God reveals Himself to us, two ways we know He exists. The first is called general revelation. Psalm 19:1 says, “the heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” General revelation is God revealing certain aspects about His nature to all humanity through the creation, through providence, and through the human soul.
In Romans 1:20, we read that God’s “invisible attributes” and “eternal power” and “divine nature” are clearly seen through what God has made—the creation. And since there is no plausible way to ignore the vastness of His creation, every single person on the planet can bear witness to Him.
God has also made Himself known to all humanity through His providence. The Lord shines forth His goodness on all people—good and evil—in order to keep society functioning (Matt. 5:45).
The Bible also tells us that God is in control of governments and rulers (Dan. 2:21a; cf. Ps. 75:7). Everything that happens in the world happens because of God’s providence. If the world is the watch, He is not only the watch-maker, but also the watch-setter.
Further, God also makes Himself known through the human soul. Romans 2:14-15 tells that God has placed an innate awareness of Himself inside the soul of every person. In fact, a person’s conscience bears witness to the fact that God’s moral law exists within them. How do we know that there is such a thing as right from wrong? God has written it on our hearts.
But this isn’t the only way we know God. After all, nobody can discern the will of God by looking at the stars. Nor can a person understand salvation by standing at the Grand Canyon. God has chosen to reveal even more to us, and it is marvelous!
The second way God reveals Himself to us is through special revelation. In the most general sense, special revelation is that which is disclosed to us in the Bible. In the past, God has given special revelation through various methods such as theophanies, dreams and visions, direct communication, and angelic messages. These various methods have been recorded in biblical history. In fact, the writer of Hebrews says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (1:1-2). Therefore, the Lord Jesus, the Word made flesh, is our ultimate giver of divine revelation, and this ultimate revelation has been written down in its final form through the Scriptures, also known as the Word of God. Further, “The Bible accurately presents the special revelation of God in Christ.”1
Through special revelation, we are able to learn about God as He is displayed in the story of creation, salvation, and consummation. The Scriptures bear witness to the rebellion of man at the Fall, the entrance of sin into the world, and the need for a Savior. Special revelation is the means by which the gospel of Jesus Christ is delivered, which is the only way a person can be saved (Rom. 1:16, 10:17).
Some have argued that God still gives new divine revelation, but the church has rightly acknowledged that the canon of Scripture is closed, and the Bible is the final source of revelation, to which no nothing can be added.2 In sum, to read, study, and learn the Scriptures is to peek into the very mind of God.
How to Apply This
Give yourself time today to marvel at God’s intelligent and intricate creation. From the tiny ant to the great galaxies, God displays His handiwork for His glory. And it is glorious! When you go outside and gaze at a sunset, or hike a beautiful mountain range, or smell the salty sea air, know that God has made it all and He is very near. When you read about world events, or hear about a “strange coincidence”, know that God has ordained it. And when your conscience convicts you over something, know that God has placed it there. But if you truly want to hear from God and know His will, you must delve into His special revelation—the written Word of God.
Verses for Meditation:
- Psalm 19:1-14
- Psalm 119:8-16
- John 1:1-18
- Romans 1:18-20
- Hebrews 1:1-2
I am in awe of your creation; your providential orchestration of events; and how You prick my soul with an awareness of You. The heavens declare your glory, and the sky proclaims your handiwork! Thank You for unveiling yourself to me through your general revelation – tangible evidence of You I can partake of every day. What a gift. Father, I am sorry for the days I rush past the roses, and miss all of your display. Please strengthen me unto an acute awareness of your presence. By your special revelation, please help me to study your Word and store it up in my heart. Soften my heart and open my mind to receive and understand the truth of the Scriptures. I commit to drawing near to you and following hard after you. I praise you Lord, for your mighty works. Amen
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- Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology(Chicago: Moody, 2008), 161. ↩
- In addition to John’s warning in Rev. 22:18-19, the vast majority of conservative Christian scholars recognize that Scripture is the final authority and even what some claim today as “words from God” is not infallible, authoritative, or binding. For example, see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 1055-1056. ↩