General revelation, Volume One of God’s communication, is that knowledge of God which we have by considering his works or by reflecting upon our own natures. David (Psalm 19) wrote of how the intricate design of the universe speaks of God and reveals his character, particularly his majesty and transcendence. Paul makes the same assertion in Romans 1 when he described how the gentiles distort the knowledge of God given in nature (Romans 1:19, 20).
Reflecting upon our own nature as human beings, we also learn something about God. For instance, our conscience, that inward judge of human conduct, points out that God is a just and holy being, and that we are moral creatures (capable of performing right or wrong actions). This knowledge is possible because, as the Bible reveals, man was created in God’s own image (Gen. 1:26-28).
The second volume is what is called Special revelation. It is God’s direct communication through chosen messengers. It culminates in the incarnation of God himself in the person of his son, Jesus (Heb. 1:1-2). The books which comprise the Bible are a written record of this special communication of God to men. It is through this form of communication that God reveals his plan for redeeming humanity from their sinful condition. General revelation points out that a holy, just and wise God exists, and clearly indicates that we do not measure up to his standards. Special revelation, however, helps us to know that there is a way out of this sinful condition – a way provided by God himself.
How do we know that the collection of books known as the Bible is God’s special revelation to us? I have written about this in an earlier post, but I offer below a very brief summary:
- The authors claim to speak as God’s messengers: e.g. Moses (Deut. 31:19-22; 34:10, Num. 16:28, 29), David (2 Sam. 23:2), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:12; 13:13;30:4), Micah (Micah 4:4), Isaiah (Isaiah 8:1; 33:10).
- The profound nature of the truths revealed indicates that the writings are not of human origin.
- The various miracles performed throughout the historical period authenticate the truth of the revelation.
- Although written over 15 centuries by about 40 different writers, the various books narrate the story of God’s redemption of humanity. Only God could have pulled off such a feat.
- The Bible has had immense influence over the course of human history. It has shaped nations and transformed cultures. For centuries, it has had enormous impact upon various individuals across diverse backgrounds and positions. Many testify to the transforming power of its contents. No other book in human history has had this sort of influence.
God continues to speak to us through both volumes, and we would do well to heed his words.