Lesson 2: Divine Revelation

by John Paul Arceno | April 4, 2020

Since God revealed Himself, then the possibility to know Him is now open for humanity. Take note that it was God who initiated this revelation of Himself. Throughout history, God’s presence was felt. He works actively in our history. He is not just a Creator of the created world and left, just as what Deist argues.

Deism believes that a transcendent (someone beyond, far, or supreme) God created the world and left it with systems of rules of nature. Christian Philosopher James Sire notes deism emphasizes the “autonomy of human reason.”[1] For deists, they believe na since iniwan na ni God ang world then there must be someone who needs to rule over the creation.

Moreover, Sire notes, “To the deist, God is distant, foreign, alien.”[2] They observed, since that overall the creation, only humans are capable to rationalize or think then they must be the standard of everything. This idea affirms to Ancient Greek philosopher, Protagoras, who claimed that “man is the measure of all things.” Sadly, this kind of thinking or pagiisip meron ang tao sa panahon natin ngayon leads to relativism*–read my note below. Yet, in contrast, God is very active in engaging with His created beings.

There are two types of revelation: General and Special. For General revelation, (1) first, human beings as the image of God. According to Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley, the creation reached its climax when mankind is created. They said, “Created in God’s image, man bears the noble calling ruling creation as God’s servant-king and relating to God as a son to his father.”[3]

That is why people have an engraved idea of someone supreme or a deity. (For Filipino, si Bathala, an understanding of deity prior to the coming of Christianity in the Philippines). Our conscience is one of those presence of the “image of God.” Look at the kids, as young as they are, as they grow it tends that they will develop a concept of what is right and wrong–moral awareness. For unbelievers, you will hear the statement, “oo nga para akong nakokonsensya,” when they did something wrong. Regrettably, since we are already in a fallen state–corrupted, depraved, and broken, we tend to ignore these realities.

Providentially, for Christians, we still have our conscience but the Holy Spirit convicts us and helps us to follow God’s will, which leads to doing the right things. Therefore, there is the need for God to reveal Himself for us to be restored purely and blameless.

(2) Second, nature reveals God as the intelligent, perfect Creator of the world. No wonder people would go to the oceans to swim and surf, hike mountains, and travel around the world. It makes them feel comfortable and closer to their creator. Even for unbelievers, it makes them wonder about this perfect nature and realize that there is God.

By just looking at the precise placement of the planets in the solar system, putting the sun at the center, will strike your mind that someone has placed it there perfectly. The world is the theater for God’s glory, “this magnificent theater of heaven and earth, crammed with innumerable miracles,” John Calvin said.[4] Yet, unbelievers suppress these truths (Rom 1:18-20).

(3) Third is history, God throughout the past has been providentially present. From the creation story, the exodus of Israel, the birth of Christ, the early church, the Reformation time, the advancement of science and technology, and even still now. Personally, I am a student of history and it makes me in awe every moment I learn about historical facts. It astonishes me how God knits each individual story into one big story.

In a word, Wayne Grudem summarizes, “General revelation comes through observing nature, through seeing God’s directing influence in history, and through an inner sense of God’s existence and his laws that he has placed inside every person.”[5] Yet, general revelation is inadequate to reconcile humanity to God.

Special revelation is, then, the only sufficient way for salvation. God revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ (Living Word, John 1:1, 14) and through His written Word, the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible points us to Christ, our Lord, perfecter of faith, redeemer, and advocate. This Word of God speaks about God’s redemption plan for His creation.

When mankind, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God and fell into sin, still by His grace, “God provides life-giving food for the soul in His Word,” as Beeke and Smalley stated.[6] The only sufficient manner for us in knowing God truly is through the Bible. King David in Psalm 19:7-9 states,

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

The Bible, for Christians, is authoritative in all manners of faith and practices. Since this is God’s Word and we need to treat it literally His, and inspirationally true and binding. That is why believers must anchor their hearts and minds in the Scriptures. It is the only true–the absolute “TRUTH” in the midst of the “fake news” that surrounds us today.

The Scripture bears the gospel that points to this good news of Jesus Christ redeeming His people from their sins and corruption. **If you would like to know how the did we get the Biblical canon, you can check Dr. Robert Plummer’s video below, or you can skip this for now.

The Bible is where we can read and hear this “good news.” This is where unbelievers or people who have not heard about Christ will find the truth. As we have discussed in the beginning part, the Bible possesses the knowledge about the absolute truth–the only, universal, unchanging, transformative truth. The absolute truth is not a concept or idea, nor steps to follow.

This absolute Truth is God, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Concluding with Greg Gilbert’s words, “As Christians, we believe that God has spoken to us in His Word, the Bible.”[6] It is infallible and inerrant. “This God–his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true.” (Ps. 18:30) Gilbert adds, “It is to God’s Word that we look in order to find what he has said to us about his Son Jesus.”[7]

Soli Deo Gloria!

Lesson 1: Biblical Doctrines


Pray

If you know Christ, pray for the Spirit to instill these words that you have read in your heart. May it edify your soul and brings more intimacy to Christ. Desire more to read the Bible and know Christ more. Through this, you can know more of yourself in the light of God’s revealed Word.

If you want to know Christ, pray that God will transform your heart and make you realize that there is no other hope under the heaven but only in the name of Jesus Christ. May you long to know more about Christ and make Him your personal Lord and Savior. Cry for mercy, repent from your sins, and follow Christ. He loves you and desires for your redemption from your corrupted nature.


References:

[1] James W. Sire, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), 12. Kindle Edition.

[2] James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, Fifth Edition (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2009), 52.

[*] To know more about this kind of ideology, you can search about Relativism or Post-modernism. This philosophy sets the person as the only bearer of his or her own truth. A very subjective manner of perceiving reality. “Tingin nila sila ang tama, at hindi nila kailangan mag agree sa iba.” This is very dangerous since it rejects the idea of absolute truth for relative truth.

[3] Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 1: Revelation and God (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2019), 183.

[4] John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeil, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, Library of Christian Classics, vols. 20-21(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 2.6.1; cf. 1.5.8, 1.6.2, 1.14.20.

[5] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994), chap. 7. Kindle Edition.

[6] Beeke and Smalley, 188.

[7] Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2010), 26.

[8] Ibid.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Published by JP Arceno

A Mere Christian, no other religion, but Christian church, call me a Catholic Christian ~ Richard Baxter

2 thoughts on “Lesson 2: Divine Revelation

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