01 The Revelation of God

What is Revelation?

Revelation is the act of making known.

Revelation is the process of uncovering or unveiling the hidden mysteries of this universe.

Revelation is God’s gracious communication to of his person and will to those he created in his image.

What is General Revelation?

General revelation seen via nature.

Psalm 19:1-4     The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun …

Romans 1:18–20     For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

General revelation seen via divine providence.

General revelation seen via man’s conscience.

Romans 2:1     You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Romans 2:14-15     Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

General revelation is partial. It correctly reveals elementary truths about God and ethics, but it is not sufficient for salvation. It can make one a theist but not a Christian.

Romans 10:12-15    For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”   But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?   And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

General revelation is received and rejected by all.

Romans 1:18-23     The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,  since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

1 Corinthians 2:13–14     And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

What is Special Revelation?

God’s revelation that is special in audience. Not all receive such.

God’s revelation that is given through diverse means: audible voices, prophecies, tongues, visions, stone tablets, writing on the wall, pillar of fire, angels, speaking animals, dreams, Urim and Thummim, and the casting of lots.

God’s revelation that is inspired. He has communicated by means of human prophets who spoke and wrote utilizing their normal vocabulary, style, mannerisms, emotions, personalities, and colloquialisms to deliver God’s truth. In the original autographs it was inspired. (Theopneustos, God Breathed)

2 Samuel 23:1-3     These are the last words of David: “The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs:  “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue ….

Isaiah 59:21     And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.

Jeremiah 1:9     Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.

Micah 3:8     But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.

Acts 1:16     “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus—

Acts 28:25     They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet …

1 Corinthians 2:13     This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

1 Thessalonians 2:13     And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

2 Timothy 3:16-17     All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Peter 1:21     For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

God’s revelation that is special in information; it presents truth regarding God, his law, the Gospel, man’s salvation, church history, faith, and living the spiritual life. (It is not exhaustive; the Holy Spirit is sufficient here)

Psalms 19:7-8     The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalms 119:130     The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

2 Timothy 3:14-15     But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

God’s revelation that is inerrant.

Psalms 119:160     The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

John 17:17     Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Titus 1:2     … God, who never lies …

Hebrews 6:18     … It is impossible for God to lie…

God’s revelation that is discovered of God and collected by the church. (Canonicity)  The questions of canonicity were the following: Was it accepted by Jesus Christ? Was it written by a confirmed apostolic prophet of Jesus Christ? Consequently, God’s written Word exists complete in 66 books — 39 in the Old Testament; 27 in the New Testament

God’s revelation that is authoritative. It holds supremacy over noted teachers, church councils, doctrinal creeds, religious teachings, and private spiritual revelations. (Sola Scriptura)

God’s revelation that is clear. (Perspicuity) It is fundamentally clear to the Spirit-led man without the aid of professional clergy or hidden-code deciphers.

God’s revelation that is to be translated into the common tongue of every people group.

God’s revelation that is infallible. It is sovereignly safeguarded and will never fail. (Transmission – the study of how the Bible was copied throughout the centuries.)

Matthew 5:18     I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.   (jot or tittle – parts of letters of words)

Matthew 24:35     Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Also Mark 13:31)

John 10:35b    … Scripture cannot be broken.

God’s revelation that is powerful. The Spirit of God makes the reading and preaching powerfully effective.

Psalm 19:7-8     The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving 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.

Matthew 5:18     I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Romans 1:15-17     That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.  I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

1 Thessalonians 2:13     And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

2 Tim. 3:14-15     But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 4:12-13     For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Scriptural Apologetics

The seeking of evidence does not reveal a lack of faith. In past church history, God gave evidence — signs and wonders — to point men towards his prophets, apostles, and even his Messiah. He did not expect his people to heed a prophet without corresponding evidence. Additionally, God commands his church to be prepared to give answers to those who ask.

Evidence and proof are two different things. Despite clear evidence, many are not convinced due to the hardness of their hearts. Therefore, the Holy Spirit alone is he who fully persuades of the divine origin of the Bible.

Matthew 13:11     He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

Matthew 16:17     Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

John 16:13-14     When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

1 Corinthians 2:10-12     But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

1 Corinthians 2:14     The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 John 5:9     We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

Evidence from Subject Matter

Evidence from Connectivity and Unity

Evidence from Fulfilled Prophecy

Evidence from Personal and Cultural Transformation

Scriptural Hermeneutics

Since both general revelation and special revelation may be imperfectly interpreted, it is vital to investigate God’s revelation with proper rules. Hermeneutics are the “rules of interpretation” to pursue the right understanding of God’s perfect Word.

[THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS]

Pray!

John 16:13-14     When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Study the original meaning of the original author. (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic)

Study the original life-situation of the original audience.

Study unclear passages of Scripture in the light of clear passages of Scripture. Scripture is the best interpreter of scripture. God cannot contradict himself.

Study portions of Scripture in light of the whole. (Creation, Fall, Gospel Redemption, Paradise)

Study scripture with the church. The Spirit of God has led teachers to study for centuries. One should not arrogantly dismiss his work through them.

What about Cessationism and Tongues?

[THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS]

Arguments for Cessationists:

  • Prophets prophesy
  • Prophets deliver revelation
  • Prophets are to be tested
    • Luke 7:22-23; 9:1-6; John 3:2; 10:25; 20:30-31; Acts 2:43; 4:16; 5:12; 14:3; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 15:17-19; Hebrews 2:3-4
  • Prophets are to be 100% accurate.
  • Prophets are to be 100% in conformity with the rest of God’s revelation.
  • Prophets delivering anything else were to be deemed false, evicted, excommunicated, and/or executed.
    • Deuteronomy 18
    • Galatians 1:8
  • Prophets prophesy through tongues
    • Joel 2:28     “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
    • Acts 2:1-17     When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians- we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;
    • Acts 19:6     And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
    • In Acts 2, 10, 11, and 1 Corinthians 14:1,10-11, the same terminology is used – “laleo glossa” meaning “speak tongues” is identical in all cases.
    • Tongues was a form of prophetic utterance whereby one could prophecy in another knowable language they had never before learned.
    • 2 Peter 1:20-21    states that there is never such a thing as a private prophesy.
    • 1 Corinthians 14:32    … the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. (Not a mystical out of control experience)
    • Speaking in Tongues must be profitable and useful for understanding, or not done at all.
    • Everything in the church is to be done decently and orderly.
    • Experiences are not grounds for truth.  (Matt. 7:21-23)

Arguments for Continuallists:

  • Paul spoke of a private prayer language.
  • Experience, though not being grounds for truth, are not to be ignored.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:8-12      Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
  • Big question: What is the “perfect” that is coming? Some would say it is the second coming. (My view) Others would say it is the accumulation of Scripture. James 1:22-25     But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Helpful Resources

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy