General Revelation – Part 3 - The Inadequacy of General Revelation (Conclusion)
In the last post on this topic we discussed the effects of the Fall upon man’s religious self. We also considered the difference between how regenerate and unregenerate man responds to General Revelation. And finally we saw the result of unregenerate man’s response—judgment.
In this post we’ll take a look at the way in which General Revelation falls short in bringing us a full knowledge of God.
The “Generalness” of General Revelation
As the name indicates, General Revelation is general. It is limited, and that intentionally so. Although limited, it has never failed, always accomplishing it’s purpose: revealing to us God’s eternal power and deity, and revealing to us our own guilt and pending judgment. Its purpose is further established by what it does not do—it does not take the place of, nor minimize the need for, Special Revelation (more about this in future posts).
General Revelation is insufficient to reveal to us the particulars of God’s will.
In the garden, prior to the Fall, God revealed the particulars of His will to Adam verbally. God told Adam to . . .
- “Be fruitful and multiply…” (Genesis 1:28)
- Subdue the earth and take dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:28)
- Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17)
Sin affects the way we perceive, interpret, and act upon General Revelation
Believers and unbelievers share the same laws of thought (the Fall was ethical, not metaphysical). However, the use of the laws of thought are different: the sinner uses the laws of thought in a way that is contrary to the glory of God; believers, on the other hand, use the standards of logic to glorify God, submit to Him, and serve Him. Consequently, logic does not provide a neutral, common ground for the arbitration of the truth. Thus, because of the Fall, our thinking about God’s creation is distorted without His gracious intervention.
General Revelation does not reveal to us the particulars of God’s nature
Do not misunderstand: The sinner “knows” God—the one, true, and living God—and rejects Him (Romans 1:18-22). But creation does not reveal to us the ontological Trinity, the dual nature of Christ, the virgin birth, ect.
General Revelation does not reveal Christ to us
God’s “invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Romans 1:20). Indeed, God’s love, grace, and mercy are displayed in His providential care for humanity, providing “us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filing our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17); and in providing His law to us innately (Romans 2:14-15), thus enabling man to establish civilizations.
We were created to worship Him (Psalm 45:11), to have communion with Him (Genesis 3:8-9), to dwell with Him (Psalm 23:6; Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A #1). But as we discussed in earlier posts, we know that we are guilty and separated from God. We know that we are lawbreakers. We know that He is holy and we are not—a great chasm exists that we cannot cross, and General Revelation provides no bridge.
General Revelation has, however, accomplished, and is accomplishing, its work: God’s power and deity is declared, and man’s judgment is made known. Through all the earth, through all time, no one escapes this knowledge. God has actively disclosed this information to mankind, and mankind remains unthankful, rebellious, and guilty (Romans 1:17). God’s judgment is sure. Man is lost.
But the story does not end there! There remains a glorious truth that has yet to be uncovered: a bridge across a chasm that we could previously not traverse.
In the next post on the topic of revelation we’ll discuss Special Revelation.