What is Revelation?
When the word revelation is mentioned, we know that it is talking about something is being “revealed.” Revelation refers to God’s communication to man, whether the act of His communicating or the content of the communication itself.
General Revelation refers to God revealing Himself to us in the general sense – through His creation. It is through the preservation and government of all the universe and everything He has made that we can clearly see His power and divinity. The knowledge of right and wrong, the basic principals of morality are also a part of God’s general revelation. This morality, however, is not perfectly perceived by mankind, our understanding of it is skewed due to our sin nature. Our wicked hearts suppress the truth revealed to us.
Wayne Grudem defines general revelation as “the knowledge of God’s existence, character, and moral law, which comes through creation to all humanity.”
We can clearly see in the first chapter of Romans that this ALONE is sufficient to convince man of His existence, so much so that he is without any excuse. General revelation alone is sufficient to condemn us, it has this authority because it is God who is revealing Himself. He has laid this knowledge on everyone’s heart – we all know that we fall short before Him.
“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 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. 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 1:18-20
“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” Romans 2:14-15
General revelation alone is “not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation” (Westminster Confession of Faith, I.1). We cannot know about Jesus or our need for salvation through general revelation alone. We require special revelation. Special revelation includes the revealing of the road to salvation. Therefore, the Great Commission is vitally important for all believers to obey.
Wayne Grudem describes special revelation as “God’s words addressed to specific people, such as the words of the Bible, the words of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles, and the words of God spoken in personal address…” Special revelation refers to the Bible, and to specific times mentioned in the Bible that God personally revealed Himself, as well as Christ Himself.
“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.” Hebrews 1:1-2
“The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience…Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church;…commit[ting] the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.” (London Baptist Confession of Faith 1:1)
The Bible and the person of Christ is our special revelation. Through special revelation, we are able to understand salvation, sin, Heaven, Hell, the Trinity, etc. The Bible is inerrant, infallible and is God-breathed.
“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16.
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