- “I don’t believe in any religion. It’s all made up. Religion is an organized thing by human beings to convince other people to follow a way of speaking to God. I think God’s in everybody, and you have to be in touch with yourself and your god within you.” (Mark Burnett, television producer of Survivor and The Apprentice)
- This has been the conclusion of some people: there is no God but God is simply a fixture of man’s imagination. How is the human race supposed to know if there is a God? Is there a way that God has revealed himself to all people so we can know that he does exist or if he is merely a figment of imagination?
I. General Revelation of God
A. Creation declares the existence of God
- “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). God has revealed himself through general revelation. The creation alone reveals to all people that there is a higher being than ourselves. This idea is not the invention of man but is built so people could use logic and reason to understand someone must have put this world into being. Humans could not create all that is around us. Therefore, there is something greater than ourselves that put the creation here.
- I am not sure why this can be such a problem to some people. There are so many things in this world that we enjoy. We have never personally met the creator of these things, but know these things were made by the intelligence and power in the object. For example, you have never personally met the designer of your vehicle. How do you know that someone designed your vehicle? How do we not know that a random explosion took place in a junkyard and a SUV appeared from the smoke?
- There are two reasons we know someone designed our vehicles and are not the product of random explosions. First, explosions are destructive, not creative. An explosion in a junkyard will not create a car but will create a mess of junk. Second, we know someone designed our vehicles because there is intelligence built into the car. Turn the key and the vehicle starts. Press a pedal and the vehicle goes. There is order, arrangement, and power found in a car that lets us know there is an intelligent creator, though we have never seen or met the creator.
- God has declared that we can know he exists in the same fashion. I do not need to see God to know he is exists just as much as I do not need to see the designer of my minivan to know that a designer exists. The work reveals there is a creator. Thus, the psalmist says that the heavens and skies declare the existence of God and his glory.
B. Creation is intended to have people seek God
- “(24) The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. (25) And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. (27) God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (28) For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-28).
- In his speech to the Athenians, Paul declares the purpose of the visible creation. God created all of this so that we would seek after him, reach out for him, and find him. I think it is interesting that Paul said the exact opposite of what Mark Burnett said. Mr. Burnett says that God is the creation of man’s own imagination and that God is in every person. Paul said that people are creation of God’s imagination and purpose. Further, Paul said that every person lives, moves, and exists in God. People are the work of God. God is not the work of people.
- The whole creation exists so that we would know with certainty and confidence that there is a God. The world is God revealing himself to all people. This is the very reason why Paul said “men are without excuse” about knowing the existence of God. Every piece of creation clearly shows an unseen God.
- Since we can look around and know God exists and the purpose of creation was for all people to seek after God, how are we to know what God wants from us? Since we can know there is a God, it is important for us to find out what the one who created us wants from us. General revelation cannot tell us God’s will. We cannot look out into the stars and know what God wants. We cannot look within ourselves and know God’s will. God had to specifically reveal to people what he wants from us all.
II. Special Revelation
A. The way God talks to people
- “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God declares that we could not conjure up a God like he is. In fact, God says that we cannot know his ways because God’s ways are different than our ways. This should be our expectation of God. If someone thinks and acts like us, we would have a difficult time accepting him as God. This is why Jesus proved to us he is God by acting like no other person by never violating God’s law, by performing supernatural acts of healing, by performing miracles, and by thinking and speaking like no one had every spoken. God thinks and acts differently. Therefore, the answer of knowing God’s will cannot be found in ourselves.
- “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). So what did God do so that we can know his will? God used the words from his mouth to tell us what we need to know.
- “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2). In times past, God spoke directly to the people and sent prophets to communicate his will. Now, however, God speaks to us through his Son. God has revealed himself through his Son. While on the earth, Jesus taught us and showed us the ways of God through his teachings and through his actions.
- But this would not the end of God’s revelation to people once Jesus died. Jesus told his apostles, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but what he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come” (John 16:12-13). There was more that God needed to reveal, but the apostles were not ready to receive those words at that time. Therefore, Jesus, after his death and resurrection, ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth. We see the visible coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.
- But what was to happen once the apostles died? Would the special revelation of the Lord the lost? Paul said, “how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations, as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:3-5). Paul told the Ephesians that when they read what he and the apostles had written down, they would also understand the mystery of Christ. Therefore, our Bibles hold the words of God, which he used to reveal his will for us. The creation reveals there is a God and the Bible reveals what we are to do to be pleasing to God.
B. Where God’s will cannot be found
- Today we are repeatedly instructed that being a good person is all that God asks of us. Some are teaching that you have to give something back to be pleasing and find true meaning in life. Others say that you and I need to follow our hearts and we will be acceptable to God. Even some pick out a couple commands to the neglect of others and declare these to be the necessary commands. We live in a day that was similar to times past: “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” This was the Lord’s condemnation upon those people in the days of the judges.
- These choices to follow our hearts, to be morally good, to give something back, and other such fluffy sayings are all decisions to reject God’s revelation. God has never commanded anywhere in this book to follow our hearts, to give something back, or be morally good to be pleasing to God. Yet people continue to argue with divine revelation.
- Listen to the very words of Jesus: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” (Matthew 7:21-23).
- Jesus said that people who claim to be followers of God will not enter. Jesus also said that those who do good deeds and works in the name of the Lord will not enter. Jesus said that those who do not obey his law (practice lawlessness) will not enter. Only those who do the will of God will enter the kingdom of heaven. Shall we argue with plain scripture? Shall we continue to make up our own rules about who will be acceptable to God and who will not? Perhaps we should listen to the one who will make the judgment in the end. Either we do what God has prescribed or we can have the expectation of being cast away from God.
- God has revealed himself to every person through the creation. No one has an excuse as to why they are not currently seeking to find the Lord. The Lord can easily be found and we can know his will through His Son and through His word. God’s word declares that the conditions to receive his grace is to believe in God, change our mind and life purpose to serving God instead of self, confess Jesus as the Son of God, and be immerse in water for the forgiveness of sins. If you are ready to obey God’s revelation, now is the time to act.