the God who reveals (general & special revelation)

I am fan of games. My wife and I enjoy playing strategy games together and with friends. I suppose my love for games was bred into me from a young age. I got my first Nintendo when I was about 12 years old. But I think my love for games even goes back earlier to tag on the elementary school “playground” or peek-a-boo with my parents as a toe-headed toddler. Peek-a-boo is a fun game. My 19-month old daughter loves to play by covering her little eyes with her little hands.

Peek-a-boo is the first step towards playing Hide-and-seek. It is interesting that Hide-and-seek is a game that we love to play with our children, but God never plays with us. He is always with us and He has revealed Himself plainly to mankind. You can summarize the ways God reveals Himself to man in two ways: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

The God who reveals Himself through nature (general revelation)

First, God is seen in creation. God’s existence and power can be seen throughout the vastness of the universe, in the order of the animal kingdom, in the rules of gravity or thermal dynamics, and in the details or structures of plants and cells. The wonder of creation declares it must be made and just did not happen by mere chance, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)

Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what He has made, and there is no excuse for denying these facts. This is was I wrote about a few weeks ago, when I was on a hike with my family through the Muir Woods just north of San Francisco.

Second, God is seen in humanity. He is not only seen in your biological makeup, but also your psychological[1] makeup too. God has placed within every man a moral compass that that points us True North, a radar system that warns us of evil and harm, and a homing beacon that deep down gravitates us towards God (Jeremiah 31:33). How is it that sinful men still have a bearing of what is right and wrong? Did that just didn’t happen? No, it is imbedded within your DNA as a gift from God. It is divine proof that your Maker has marked you with His image (Genesis 1:28).

God reveals Himself through nature. He has put redemptive themes all throughout the universe, planet earth, and humanity, which point the creation back to its Creator. You do not have to look far or wide to find it, but most people choose to ignore it or redefine it.

The God who reveals Himself through supernatural (special revelation)

God doesn’t just reveal Himself through nature, but also through supernatural means. Special revelation is when God reveals Himself miraculously. He revealed Himself through physical appearances (Genesis 3:8, 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, 34:5-7), dreams (Genesis 28:12, 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) , visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7), the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ.

One of the primary means God reveals Himself supernaturally to man is through the writing of His Word—the Bible. Think about it, God wrote a book. He did have to, but God decided to reveal everything that you need to know about Him, what He expects from you, and what He has done for you in the Bible. He spoke in a way that is clearly understood. He miraculously guided the original authors of Scripture to accurately record His redemptive message to mankind, but He still used their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).

Where special revelation is seen in its ultimate form is in the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1, 14). He came as the Word within human skin, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Hebrews 1:1-3) God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to become the atoning sacrifice for your sin on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). Human sin needed a perfect human substitute for His sin, which is Jesus. He is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

Why is general and special revelation so important?

First, God makes Himself known so that you can know Him. God wants to be known. He is not silent. He has given you a glimpse of His character, His purposes and plans, and has given you many avenues to know Him. Simply read the Bible and look to Jesus and you will get to know an amazing God.

Second, not only does God reveal Himself to you, but He also reveals who you are too. He makes Himself known because He knows that you need Him. He is Creator and you are His creation. He is perfect and you are imperfect due to sin (Romans 1-9). He is Savior and you need redeemed. He takes the initiative to reveal Himself to you so that you would respond and join in a relationship with Him.

God does not play peek-a-boo. He does not want you to be left in the dark as to who He is and His purposes for humanity. Instead He has revealed Himself to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent. You can know Him and have a relationship with Him today.


[1] And I mean the true sense of the word psychological, which means the study of the soul.

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Concise Theology of General Revelation as seen in Muir Woods

Recently I visited Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. My wife and I were celebrating our third anniversary walking among God’s creation. Walking together is one of our greatest joys. And walking in Muir Woods is quite majestic. It smells of ancient forest. It sounds of pleasant birds and gentle water brook. We even saw a tame young fawn drinking from the water brook that carved through the huge ravine.

We were not alone in the woods. People drive from all over the country and the world to see these mammoth trees. Muir Woods is filled with giant Redwood trees that are bigger than your car in circumference and taller than a 20-story building. Your neck strains seeking to look at the top branches swaying in the ocean breeze.

As amazed as I was by the Redwoods, I was equally amazed by all the people taking pictures of the trees. If you think about it, doesn’t it seem weird that people are flocking to take pictures of big trees? You cannot help but take your camera out of your pocket and snap a few shots. However the photos never really do justice to their reality. It’s like taking a picture of a mountain; you cannot grasp its massiveness and grandeur. But we do not care because we must take a picture to remember what glory we’ve beheld.

It is natural to want to capture nature. We are enamored by nature. John Muir said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than [one] seeks.” Creation wow’s and fascinates us to our core. That’s why people were photographing Muir Woods beauty or spend a moment in silence within the particular grove of trees named, “The Sanctuary.”

Creation is just one of many ways He has revealed Himself to man. It is hard not to look at the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, or Muir Woods and think, “Wow, God made this.” Any other response is utter rejection of the obvious reality. This is called General Revelation.

Here is a concise theology of General Revelation as seen in Muir Woods:

God make Himself known through His creation.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” [Romans 1:19-20; Cf. Psalm 19:1-6]

Creation shouts the glory of God!

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” [Isaiah 55:12, Cf. 44:23]

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!” [1 Chronicles 16:31-34, Cf. Psalm 96:11-13]

Creation makes known the glory of His Savior Son.

“As He [Jesus] rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” [Luke 19:36-40′ Cf. Acts 14:11-18]

Creation along with humanity groans to gain back its lost glory after the fall, but is promised a restoration far better than its former glory.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” [Romans 8:18-22]