Apart from God, we cannot see Him or know His mind. That is why the first step of God’s Communication Process is Revelation. Through Revelation, God reveals Himself to us so that we may see Him. Many people consider a relationship with God to be a mysterious and even frightening process of knowing the God. Some avoid studying the Bible, and among those who do try, many find it confusing. Why does the book confound so many and give rise to so many conflicting interpretations?
A. The Doctrine of Revelation
• Though revelation, God unveils to us that which we would have otherwise not known
• Example: On a cloudy day, you cannot see the sun or the moon or the stars above you. They are blocked from your vision. However, when the clouds go away you can see everything that you could not see before. That is revelation. God is lifting the clouds so that we can see things that we could never see before.
• Deuteronomy 29:29—Out of all the things God knows, He has chosen to reveal some things to us.
B. Two Categories of Revelation
• As God reveals Himself to us, He does so in two particular ways: Through General Revelation, and Special Revelation.
• General Revelation refers to the knowledge that any human being can grasp of God’s existence and His attributes from what they perceive in the world around them.
Psalm 19:1-6—The first half of Psa. 19 refers to the general sense of God’s presence that any person can have from nature and the world.
Romans 1:19-20—These verses tell us that God has given us General Revelation, but the mind of man is twisted and has not recognized it.
While humanity can have knowledge of God through General Revelation, this knowledge is not enough for salvation. That is why we need God’s Special Revelation.
• Special Revelation refers to the specific message that God gives to a group of people at particular points in time, enabling them to enter into a saving relationship with Him.
Psalm 19:7-11—While the first half of Psa. 19 is General Revelation, the second half is Special Revelation. It refers to God’s laws and His teachings and Scriptures, which all belong to the category of Special Revelation.
Examples of special revelation include the Bible, or God’s direct address to Moses on Mt. Sinai. While people may know that God exists or that He is the Creator of the world through General Revelation, they can only know the Gospel through Special Revelation.
Each and every human being needs the revelation of God’s Word for salvation. (2 Tim. 3:15)
C. Two Types of Special Revelation
• In the same way that there are two categories of Revelation, there are also two types of Special Revelation: Personal Revelation and Propositional Revelation.
• Personal Revelation—This type of special revelation refers to the very specific revelation of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, God revealed himself personally and most dramatically to the world. (Joh. 14:7, 1 Joh. 1:1-3)
• Propositional Revelation—In addition to revealing Himself to us through the “person” of Jesus Christ, God has also given us “propositions” that explain His actions to us. (Joh. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13)
The great and mighty acts of God would be difficult to understand if God did not give us an explanation of them.
Example: Imagine you are walking along the road and you see a man jumping up and down waving his hands in the air. One person might see this man and think “That man was stung by a bee.” Another person might pass by and think, “That man is drunk.” And a third person might look at him and say, “That man has been kicked out of the house by his wife.” There can be as many interpretations of that man’s actions as there are people walking down the road. However, we can’t know what his behavior really means unless he explains it to us.
Similarly, Jesus’ death on the cross was misunderstood. Some claimed that if Jesus was the Christ then he should save himself and get off the cross. They saw a deluded fanatic. Others thought it was a pity for a great man to give his life in such a hopeless way. They saw a tragedy.
But God tells us to look at Jesus on the cross and see the victorious Lord of Glory!
Without God’s explanations or propositions, we don’t know if Jesus’ death on the cross was that of a victor or a victim. In this way, Personal Revelation needs Propositional Revelation to ex plain it.
Final Note: Jesus was the apex of revelation. He embodied both personal and propositional revelation
A. Jesus is a Personal Revelation in that he came to earth as a person to reveal God to the world
B. However Jesus is also an important part of Propositional Revelation. Every thing in the Old Testament was preparation for him, and everything in the New Testament was an explanation of him
C. In this way, the Gospels are the epitome of revelation. In them, we see one man, Jesus Christ, who brought the Word of God but also was the Word of God.