Without God’s revelation in time and space, humanity would be utterly lost as to who He is, what His will is, or even if He exists. Morality would be completely alien to us and life would probably resume itself to the daily routine of looking after one’s own needs. Thankfully, God is a relational Being and from the moment He created mankind He began imparting knowledge about Himself, His actions and His thoughts. Through direct contact (Gen. 3:8; Exod. 33:11; Num. 12:8), visions (Num. 12:6), dreams (Gen. 28:12; Matt. 1:20), theophanies (Gen. 18:1-2, 13-14), angels (Num. 22:31-35), Urim and the Tunnim (Num. 27:21), nature (Psa. 19:1-4), history (Dan. 2:21; 4:17), human conscience (Isa. 30:21;Rom. 2:14-16) and ultimately Jesus Christ (John 1:18), God communicates bits of truth and knowledge to us (Heb. 1:1-2). This is a knowledge that originates itself from a divine revelation outside of us, beyond our power to acquire it through simple rational effort. While God reveals himself in many and different ways, Christians tend to classify God’s means of revelation into two categories: special and general/natural revelation. On special revelation, Millard Erickson’s definition is particularly enlightening. To him, it is “God’s manifestation of Himself to particular persons at definite times and places, enabling those persons to enter into a redemptive relationship with him.”1 This revelation comes to us today through the Bible. It is the infallible revelation of God, the supreme rule of truth and faith, given to men by God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is often referred to as God’s special revelation because it is His special disclosure to a particular set of people, and intended in the end for the whole of the human race. Plus, it is there where we find God’s greatest revelation–Jesus Christ. 2 God’s other means of revelation is often referred to by Christians as “general revelation.”3 It is God’s general manifestation to all of humankind in nature, history and conscience.4 It comes to us through sense-experiences of the everyday world and it is accessible to all human beings, being universal in scope.5 As Alister McGrath argues, “there is an intrinsic capacity within the created order to disclose God. Here, nature-as-creation is understood to have an ontologically grounded capacity to reflect God as its maker and originator.”6 Although both special and general are called God’s “revelation,” the Bible surpasses God’s manifestation in nature by far. When it comes to the knowledge of God, it is more specific, content-heavy and instructive than general revelation; it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Tim 3:16-17). It also unfolds all of the plan of salvation, showing to sinners how to obtain forgiveness for their sins and the way to heaven. So, “If we have God’s special revelation–the Bible–why is there the need for a general revelation,” some may ask? Or do we even need it? What is its purpose? To answer these questions, we need first to understand what God’s general revelation actually reveals. Is general revelation a biblical concept? Is it only a revelation of God himself? Or does God reveal other things through this channel of revelation?

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.