How Does God Reveal Himself?

God Loves to Connect with Man

Revelation is usually discussed in two categories, called “general revelation” and “special revelation.” General revelation is given to all persons and man needs no help to understand it. General revelation comes to us from nature to reveal the existence and power of God (Rom. 1:18-20). General revelation also comes from the conscience (Rom. 2:14, 15) and, finally, from the existence of law in or through history (Rom. 2:1). Special revelation comes to us from Scripture in particular and through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ specifically (John 1:10).

Ways God Reveals Himself

General Revelation

  • History (1 Cor. 10:1-6)
  • Conscience (Rom. 2:14-16)
  • Nature (Ps. 19:1-6)

Special Revelation

  • Bible (Deut. 29:29)
  • Christ (John 1:14, 18)

When the Wise Men came from the east seeking the newborn king (Matt. 2:1-11), God must have allowed them to understand something of what he was doing. That was, in part, general revelation which came to them in nature. Their consciences might have influenced them to seek to worship the newborn King of the Jews. Their examination of natural revelation led them to Jerusalem, where they encountered special revelation. There they heard a verse of Scripture (Mic. 5:2) that directed them to Bethlehem. In Bethlehem, they had their fullest revelation of God as they worshiped the baby King, the Word that became flesh (John. 1:14).

People should respond to what God teaches them through natural revelation. That information will never save them, but it points them to the special revelation, the Bible, where they learn of the Person of God and his salvation. Special revelation far surpasses the revelation from history, conscience, and nature. As we study the Bible, we will be constantly pointed to Christ. Someday Christ shall return and “then shall [we] know even as [we are] known” (1 Cor. 13:12). God used a variety of ways to reveal his inspired Word to the men, who then wrote it down for us.

Sometimes these men were aware of the significance of what they were recording and why they were writing (John 20:30, 31; Rev. 1:1-3), but on other occasions, they did not realize the full truth they were communicating. Concerning those who wrote the messianic prophecy, Peter said, “Unto whom it was revealed that, not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12).

Peter was saying that some authors did not fully understand the message they wrote, but today we can examine its content to understand its meaning. The following chart compares some of the different ways God has used to reveal his inspired Word.

Forms of Inspiration/Revelation (Heb. 1:1)

  1. Dreams – Dan. 7:1
  2. Visions – Ezek. 1:1
  3. The actual voice of God – Lev. 1:1
  4. Symbols/object lessons – Jer. 19:1-15
  5. Dictation – Rev. 2:1-3:22
  6. Eyewitness reports – 1 John 1:1-3; Rev. 1:2
  7. Guidance of the Holy Spirit – 2 Pet. 1:21
  8. Experience of men/testimony – Ps. 23; 51
  9. Historical research – Luke 1:1-4
  10. Jesus Christ – John 1:14; Heb. 1:2

Even though God used a variety of different methods to produce the Bible, every verse is as inspired as the next Every verse of Scripture is authoritative. Jesus acknowledge that not one letter or even one part of a letter would b changed until all Scripture was fulfilled (Matt. 5:18). There is no such thing as a degree of inspiration on a particular pa of Scripture that is greater or lesser than in another part of Scripture. Although there were varying degrees of knowledge about the subjects on which they wrote, the authors wrote exactly what God wanted written. God used a variety of ways to give us his word (poetry, history, testimony, law, epistles, or biography), yet every word is his Word, complete and inerrant as a result of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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