Young people are taught in High School and College to think; liberal education has this objective before it.
An honest boy thus taught eventually asks himself, how does God Whom no man hath seen nor can see (1 Tim. 6:16), God Who is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17), and Who dwells in light inaccessible, make Himself known? This is an intelligent question that demands a rational answer.
God was known to man before he fell into sin. With the entrance of sin came ignorance. Now man walks in darkness, for darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:11). Moreover, “Men love darkness rather than light” (John 3:19).
That God, holy and glorious, graciously has made Himself known to man is obvious. He has revealed Himself, His will, and many of His purposes.
A child was lost at a very large flower show. The mother, hearing above the din and confusion of the crowd the crying and the sobbing, quickly hurried to her little girl. Stooping down beside her, with words and kisses she made her presence felt. At first, through her blinding tears the tiny tot could only see beside her the faint outline of a woman, but through the words of comfort and the kisses of love realized the nearness of her mother, whom she promptly saw when her tears were wiped away.
Similarly, God stoops down to man in his need and reveals Himself. This He does in various ways. He reveals Himself in nature, and this we call “General Revelation.” He reveals Himself in Christ Jesus, and this we call “Special Revelation.” He reveals Himself in the Bible, and this we call “Specific Revelation.”
As intimated, “General Revelation” implies that God has made Himself known in creation.
There are four Psalms, apparently all written by David, which declare the revelation of God through nature.
No man was better able to write on this subject than David. Through the days and nights spent on the hills of Bethlehem, and through the many experiences of an eventful life, he had received manifestations of God.
In astronomical wonders (Psalm 19): As a shepherd lad reclining on the moss watching his father’s sheep, David had scanned the astronomical wonders of the skies, and had written “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handy work …”
In nature (Psalm 104): David was a keen student of nature. He may have been, as we say, a self-made man; if so, he was well made, for his acquired knowledge was very broad. In this Psalm, he speaks in terms of geology, zoology, botany, navigation, and others of the natural sciences. Then he says, “O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all; the earth is full of Thy riches.”
In history (Psalm 8): David was conversant with the history of his own people, but he was also acquainted with history that was very ancient even in his day.
In this Psalm he mentions the historical creation of the heavens, the creation and historical position of original man. Furthermore, he speaks of God’s intention for man in a place in history. As he reviews God’s work in the universe, God’s creation of man, and God’s purpose of headship in man, he writes, “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who set Thy glary above the heavens.”
In providence (Psalm 65): The closing part of this song written for the chief musician is a statement relative to the revelation of God in providence. He sends His rain and irrigates the earth; consequently, crops grow in the valley, and flocks roam the hill-side. Annually, the evidences recur of God’s benevolence. Moreover, daily He provides the light and darkness, the outgoings of the morning and the evening.
David’s examination of providence led him to assert, “By terrible things in righteousness wilt Thou answer us, O God of our salvation; Who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea.”
Only through wilful ignorance could a student refuse to acknowledge the irrefutable proofs of God’s wisdom, power, and glory as these appear in creation.
That this “General Revelation” of God is rendered ineffective by the depravity of man, we realize. The Apostle Paul boldly declares, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened, Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:19-22).
“General Revelation” is not the only manner in which God has made Himself known. No one, brilliant student or otherwise, considers it unreasonable that God reveal Himself to His creature. In fact, it is only logical that, since God has made man, He reveal Himself directly to man. “For in Him we live, and move and have our being … For we are His offspring” (Acts 17:28).
An internationally famous engineer who had conceived the plans for one of the greatest bridges in the world, flew from his office in a distant city to the place of operations. There he mingled with the workmen, and talked with them over the blueprints. Those men met with that engineer of extraordinary skill; they talked with him, who previously to them was only a name.
God came down to earth, lived, taught, worked miracles, and made atonement for the sins of men, and then ascended back to heaven.
“Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). “He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16), and was born into a Jewish family. Christ said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the link between the invisible Deity and man. We read, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” John 1:18).
The Apostle John, by inspiration, uses many titles of Christ. Among these are some which emphasize the fact that Christ is the “Special Revelation” of God.
Let us notice two of these:
The Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1 and 14). A word is a means of communication, a revelation of an idea, a thought. Christ is all that in regard to God.
The Alpha and Omega: Christ here represents Himself by the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. Again we might say, here is a means of communication. The alphabet is used to write the word that expresses the idea conceived in the thought. Surely, God reveals His very essence in Jesus Christ, “Who is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:16).
Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ is the “Special Revelation” of Deity, but there is also another manner in which God has revealed Himself.
Throughout all portions of the Bible the Lord is constantly revealing Himself and His will in specific ways. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (1 Tim. 3:16). “Holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
We shall confine our remarks to this subject in the New Testament where we have a number of specific revelations from God which manifest Him in will and character.
The gospel: The Apostle Paul said,” I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).
The mystery: That the great mystery mentioned in Ephesians chapter three constitutes the Church seems obvious from the meaning of verse ten. This great secret was given to Paul. He says, “By revelation He made known unto me the mystery… Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.”
The same Apostle claimed that he had received many revelations. Said he, “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord” (2. Cor. 12:1).
There are many specific revelations in the Bible; in fact, the Holy Book in its entirety is a divine revelation.
In the early part of the Old Testament, God revealed Himself and His will in pictures; in the latter part, in prophecies; at the opening of the New Testament, in a Person; and in the Epistles, in practices. The Bible closes with the wonderful revelation of Jesus Christ in symbols.
“Who is the visitor? What type of person is he? enquired one friend of another.
“I have not previously met him,” answered his friend, “but I feel as if I knew him. I have read two of his books.”
Through reading these two books he had learned much about the visiting author. He had noticed in them his ability, his language, his process of thinking, his convictions and interests. Moreover, he had discovered that he was a physician, and that he was married and had a family. The two books in measure had revealed their author.
In like manner, the Holy Scriptures are a “Specific Revelation” of God to man.
S. O. M.