Read the series.
The NT seems to say that the unsaved person does not know God. We see this in several places. Let us begin with Galatians 4:
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? (Galatians 4:8-9)
We are told that the Galatians once did not know God, and because of that they served false gods. But now they are known by God and therefore know God. Here Paul is plainly saying that there is a difference between those who know God, the saints, and those that do not know God, the lost or unregenerate.
Here is Ephesians 2:
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
Paul says that the Gentiles, by which he means the pagan world, were once “without God in the world.” If they were without God it is hard to claim that they knew Him. This is Paul’s view also in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 (“like the Gentiles who do not know God”; cf. 2 Thess. 1:8).
Read the series.
God’s revelation is woven into the “warp and woof” of everyday living. This is because General Revelation and Special Verbal Revelation work together in unison. This is most important to keep in mind. When God gives someone something like, revelation or ability, never works against Himself, He always gives in accordance with His will and His decree for the gift to be used. So it is with the gift of General Revelation.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
General Revelation and Special Revelation in the Scriptures both work together according to the intention of the revealing God. We see this in Psalm 19 where ‘nature’ and ‘word’ are both revelations of God working together.
We see this also in Eden where Adam and Eve are placed in a revelatory environment and then are told how to function within it. That is, God uses General Revelation, the naming of the animals, the creation mandate, to bring Adam to do several things:
First – to delineate and define animal characteristics in his naming of them, therefore using the abilities that God has given to him. Those abilities themselves are revelatory, and we should link them to the phenomenal world in order to find out about the world. This is the mandate for science and scientific endeavor in the world.
Read the series.
A good place to look for the doctrine of general or natural revelation is the so-called Nature Psalms. But we might pause here to correct the title “Nature” Psalms, because although they have been classically referred to as that, it is not a very accurate name; it straightaway gives the impression that the psalmists are looking at nature and are deriving their views of God from their analysis of it. But these Psalms (e.g. 8, 33, 104, 145), are actually Creation Psalms. They are hymns to the God who has created all things. Therefore, they look at the effects of God’s working, and so they ought to be examined from a believing point of view. We see God in these things just as the psalmist did, and our reaction to them should be that we are overwhelmed by the power, by the majesty, by the greatness of God, and that we worship Him for it. These Psalms point to God.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (Psalm 8:1)
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD! (Psalm 148:13-14)
Read Part 1.
General Revelation is not potential knowledge, but actual knowledge. The phrase “gnontes ton theon” in Romans 1:21, translated as “[they] knew God” implies knowing God already. If that is the case, a theological apologetic witness to God utilizing only the world around should be aimed at awakening and reminding the sinner to what they have suppressed, and elucidating what is presently known. When we look at the world, we are always reminded of our Creator.
Now, it is true that men can and do shut out that reminder, they can quieten the voice of conscience and the voice of memory (both of which are revelational to a degree). When they then put forth their numerous alternatives; religions and philosophies, and argue for their truth over against the Christian truth claim, they are doing nothing more than exhibiting the results of their ongoing distortion of God’s revelation in them and around them.
But however low man may go, man is still the image of his Creator; spoiled, confused, and corrupt at turns though he may be. He has eternity in his heart (Eccles. 3:11), but he has set himself against his Maker and will not be reconciled.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Romans 8:7)
Revelation, be it in nature, within ourselves, or inscripturated in a book, is always God’s prerogative. It always comes from God, and man is designed to receive it. Man is not the one who starts with himself and discovers God in the universe, rather God discloses himself, and man ought to take immediate notice of God’s self-revelation.
Let me start with a basic definition of general revelation: General Revelation is God’s self-disclosure in nature and in the psychological aspects of man.
I am not saying that the physical aspects of man are not revelatory, they are, but I include those within the general heading of nature. So material nature and also our psychology are both revelatory of the Triune God, the God who reveals himself in the Scriptures. They are not revelatory of any other god for the simple reason that there is no other god who can reveal himself, and therefore the revelation that we see is the revelation that we ought to ascribe to our Creator.
Because of the connections between the human psyche and nature, the material world (what God has made) is revelational, not the other way round. This brings together the fact of divine revelation with the expectancy for divine revelation. We know that God has revealed Himself because He has told as in His Scriptures and He’s put it all around us. We expect that God reveals Himself in the world because of what He’s told us about Himself.
(Read the series so far.)
Last time I asked whether the facts speak for themselves. My answer was that they do not, they are freighted with interpretations, whether right or wrong. In Part Seven I called attention to the temptation of attaching ourselves to slogans and ideas from the world. Before proceeding along the lines I started with in the last post, I want first to take two common but deadly slogans which Christians use and look at them, for though they sound alright, they have been the cause of much confusion among Christians. The phrase I have in mind today is “All Truth is God’s Truth.”
Can We See God in Creation? This is a profound question—and the answer is both yes and no.
First—yes, we can see our glorious God in creation:
O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens! (NKJV, Ps. 8:1)
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
(Ps. 19:1, 2; cf. Job 12:7-10)