Sunday, April 15, 2012

Two types of Revelation

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

Psalm 19:10 (Concerning the Scriptures) They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 19 is one of the richest chapters in the Bible.  It is from Psalm 19 that we learn of the two ways in which God reveals His Person and Work: General Revelation and Special Revelation.

What is General Revelation?
Psalm 19:1-6 gives us the breakdown of what theologians commonly refer to as "General Revelation".  It is "general" due to the fact that everyone can access it by observation and human reason.  Also, this type of Revelation is "General" because it is more "broad" in its message about God the Creator and mankind's responsibility to Him.  Here in Psalm 19:1-6 we see the astronomical movements of the stars by night and the sun by day as "witnesses" to humanity of their origin coming from the One, Eternal, Creator God.  Romans 2:15 tells us that all human beings have an internal witness, the conscience, upon which the "law of God" is written, revealing mankind's moral obligation to the Creator. 

What General Revelation tells human beings
General Revelation does communicate certain truths about God Himself - hence it being a form of "revelation".  According to Romans 1:18-21 - "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For 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." We learn from General Revelation:
1. God hates sin.  All men to one degree or another are aware that they are morally responsible to God.  Thus our universe is not just a physical universe, but also a moral one. 
2. God is the all powerful Creator.  He is One God who made all things visible and invisible.  All human beings have this testimony inside, with the heavens above and the earth all around confirming such truth.
3. God's nature is without end. God is Eternal, totally unique and different from His creation.

General revelation tells everyone that they are responsible to The Creator - however as you read on into passages such as Romans 1, you discover that sinful humanity has rejected this "lesser light" given by God and has exchanged its truth for a lie of their own making. (Romans 1:23)  General Revelation does not reveal God the Redeemer, only God the Creator - thus the reason for the second type of revelation spoken of in Psalm 19 - "Special Revelation."

What is Special Revelation?
Psalm 19:7-14 details what theologians refer to as "Special revelation".  Unlike "General Revelation" which is accessible to anyone through reason and observation, "Special Revelation's" meaning requires God's Saving Grace to show the value and personal applicability to the person. (2 Timothy 3:15; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23) Another difference between General and Special Revelation is that while General Revelation is found everywhere, Special Revelation is found in very "specific" (hence the term "special") place - the Bible.  A third major difference is that in General Revelation, I discover The Creator before Whom I guilty; whereas in Special Revelation I am shown the Savior and Lord that acquits me of such guilt by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)  In short, Special Revelation through the scriptures by the Spirit's convicting work is what leads to salvation. 

What Special Revelation tells human beings
In Special Revelation, the Bible, I discover this Creator to be the Savior who went to great lengths to bring about salvation. It is by the Special Revelation of scripture that this same God calls and convicts me to come and believe on His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent to die and rise in my place. (John 3:16; 16:7-16; 17:3; 2 Timothy 3:15)

How General Revelation and Special Revelation relate to one another
Though both types of revelation are distinct in both their form and content, yet they both relate to one another.  The fact that Psalm 19 has both in one Psalm tells us that God ordained us to understand their purpose.  Special Revelation is necessary to specify the direction in which General Revelation is pointing.  General Revelation is a "lesser light", meaning that I understand just enough about God to be without excuse, yet it does not lead me to a saving knowledge of Him.  Special Revelation is the "greater light", meaning that by it God gives me the full understanding of salvation. (Hebrews 1:1-4) 

If a group of people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ respond favorably to the "lesser light" of General Revelation, and turn away from idolatry, God pledges that He will send them a missionary or preacher who will communicate the "fuller light" of Special Revelation.  (Joshua 2; Acts 17:24-34)  The Holy Spirit will then work through the preaching of God's Word to convince those people to trust in Jesus Christ, since faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:8-17) 

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