“Christianity is the one revealed religion”
The Christian worldview is based on Revelation. Therefore, if the concept of Revelation is denied, Christianity cannot be accepted. As Dr Warfield wrote: ‘Were there no “general revelation” there would be no religion in the world of any kind; were there no “special revelation” there would be no Christianity.’
Our understanding of the three aspects of Creation, Fall and Redemption derives from what God himself has disclosed to us. We understand, for instance, that the material world of stones, rivers and plastic is good because God said so, according to Revelation. Though our conscience testifies against our misdeeds, it only confirms what Revelation already declares: humans are fallen creatures and the whole of creation suffers under the sentence. Furthermore, we understand, only from Revelation, that the Creator of the universe has not abandoned his creation. He has redeemed the world and is restoring his kingdom among men.
God’s revelation is of 2 forms: General and Special. And the Bible speaks of each in several places:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge. (Psalm 19:1,2)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20)
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. (Rom. 2:14,15)
Thus the created order, the physical universe, gives us some information about God. For instance, we learn that God is powerful and eternal, just and wise. We also learn to distinguish between right and wrong by taking note of our inbuilt conscience (Rom 2:14). It, however, gives no knowledge of God as a loving and gracious Redeemer. That must come from elsewhere.
From the moment man sinned and his knowledge became clouded, God began to communicate himself anew to the human race. Not only did he communicate facts about Himself, about humanity and about its sinful state, He unveiled a progressive plan of redemption – a way out of the misery of the human condition. This knowledge came about through various means:
- Sometimes there were visible manifestations of God Himself (Genesis. 16:13; 31:11; Exodus. 3:2; 23:20-23; 33:9; Job 38:1; Psalm 18:10-16). The highest point of God’s visible manifestation was when He himself came to live among us for a while (John 1:14).
- At other times, God would communicate directly to his people or His chosen messengers who would in turn pass His message across. Much of these was then put into writing. Thus, we find God speaking to the Israelites in the wilderness (Deut 5:4). He spoke to prophets in dreams and visions (Isaiah 6), and He also taught them through the internal leading of the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:11; 2 Pet.1:21). Finally, we have Jesus who came to earth to teach us the Father’s will (John 14:26).
Revelation is God’s loving self-communication. His essence is love, and when he gives himself in revelation, it is an outflow of love. The appropriate response to this loving self-giving is to lovingly give ourselves to Him in return. The purpose of revelation is not mere knowledge or even wisdom; it is relationship. He loves us so we can worship and love Him in return.