General Revelation – Part 2 – The Antithesis
In Part 1 we learned that God has revealed Himself through creation and through man’s moral reasonings and moral self. We also discovered that because of the Fall the object of man’s worship has changed.
The Effects of the Fall
The effects of the fall upon man’s religious-self are evident. We are by nature idolaters (Exodus 32). What is the result of our idolatry? False gods. These false gods are always the antithesis (opposite) of the True God—as are their resulting religions. Consider the following about non-Christian religions:
- Works based
- Exalts man
- Presents a god that is strikingly similar to man
- Presents a god who can be completely conceptualized
- Is contradictory
- Cannot be established (consider Anslem’s dictum: the contrary to the truth can never be demonstrated)
Response: The Antithesis
- How does regenerate man respond? By giving praise to the Creator.
- How does unregenerate man respond? By ignoring and distorting General Revelation.
...although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and fourfooted animals and creeping things.
…And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts which he had received from God, and retained only small remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse…
(The Belgic Confession, Article 14)
But although we lack the natural ability to mount up unto the pure and clear knowledge of God, all excuse is cut off because the fault of dullness is within us. And, indeed, we are not allowed thus to pretend ignorance without our conscience itself always convicting us of both baseness and ingratitude.
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
As the Belgic Confession and Calvin remind us, God has clearly revealed Himself in creation, both internally and externally. Thus man has no excuse. This fact is further established in Romans 1:18-20. Sinful man, however, continues to curse God using the breath graciously provided by the Creator—“…although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful…” (Romans 1:21) As a result, God in His supreme justice “gave them up to vile passions.” (Romans 1:26) In so doing, God sovereignly allows those under judgment to peruse their wickedness.
For the elect’s sake, however, God restrains man’s wickedness (2 Ths. 2:7)—man is not as bad as he could be. God’s restraint is analogous to a man grabbing, from behind, the shirt of another man who is trying to run off a cliff.
To be continued . . .