Lesson 3: Revelation (Part 1)

–          God’s identity is who He says He is, not what we think He is.

Q: Are we open to having our own beliefs changed by reading the Bible? Changed? Called wrong?

-We need to approach the Bible with humility, allowing it to mold us into who God wants us to be, not who we want to be.

Q: How do we find and defend the Gospel?

–          God has entered our world through Jesus Christ.

–          The Bible is the only religious book in mankind that allows it to be tested. (If you can show the body of Jesus, prove the resurrection is wrong, then the Bible is wrong)

–          The Bible is the story of what God has done in order to repair, and renew, and restore.

God is so different from everything we know there is nothing on earth that we can use to compare to Him. God is absolutely unique in that He is other (God and other, Creator and creation)

God is the incomparable one.

Isaiah 40:18 What image will you compare Him to?

v 25 who is His equal? There is none like God.

–          God is the one that no human

Job 36:26 How great is God? Beyond our understanding!

Revelation – God makes known what would otherwise be hidden (His character, His will to His creatures.)

Matthew 11:25-27

I. The Need for Revelation 

A.   God is transcendent the Creator-creature distinction

1. He is the incomparable One (e.g., Isa.40:18-25)

2. He is the incomprehensible One (Job 36:26; cf. Isa.40:11-18)

3. Is he then the hidden God (deus absconditus)?

Are we bound to agnosticism?

B.  God has revealed himself (Matt.11:25-27 [Luke 10:21-22])

1. Revelation is the product of divine action

2. God is sovereignly free in his revelation (v.25-27)

– He chose to reveal Himself, wanting to reveal Himself to us.

– Revelation is an act of God’s grace, His goodness.

3. Revelation is the result of God’s goodwill toward his creatures

“The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do

owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their

blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension (coming close) on God’s part… (WCF 7.1)

Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation (God has accomidated Himself to us)

–          God crosses this chasm by His stooping down to us by Jesus.

“For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that, as nurses commonly do with infants,

God is wont in a measure to lisp in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much

express clearly what God is as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity: (John

Calvin, institutes, 1.13.1)

4. Revelation is personal. Its content is the knowledge of God (v.27)

– God, in His great mercy, has chosen to reveal Himself to communicate His character and fatherly concern to us.

In his great mercy, God desires to “render himself near and familiar to us” (Calvin)

– Revelation is not the revealing of God’s ideas, it is revealing God Himself, His heart.

5. Revelation is necessary for human beings to know God (v.25)

Psalm 8 What is man that You are mindful of him?

“Hidden”means beyond human ability or rational deduction. Thus all human ability is excluded. God is the initiator; man is the receiver. See the comment from the WCF above (voluntary

condescension ).  This means that revelation is an act of grace, God freely coming close to his creation and disclosing something of his person, ways and will to us.

6. Thus, God is to be praised for his work of revelation (v.25)

Joy is the proper human response (Luke 10:21)

II. General Revelation. The revelation of creation: The knowledge of God the Creator

A.  God’s revelation of himself within the’ material universe (Psalm 19:1-6) 6

1. As the sky and sun bear witness of their creator, we may say that God has revealed himself in

creation even though the revelation is wordless or inaudible (vv. 2-3)

2. Creational revelation reveals God’ existence, glory (kabod: reputation or even presence), and the fact that he is Creator (v. 2)

– To glorify God is for us in our lives to make God visible. God is visible in His creation.

3. This revelation is continuous (vv. 2-3, 5)

4. This revelation is worldwide in scope and universal in extent (vv. 5-6)

The traces of God (vestigia)

God displays “innumerable evidences and unmistakable marks of his glory” within the

workmanship of the universe such that the universe is a “grand theater” in which we

contemplate God though his works.  Calvin could also call the universe “a sort of mirror in

which we contemplate God, who is otherwise invisible.” (Institutes, 1.5.1, 8)

– Every creature of God is put together with so much care (Cats have 3-sided eyelids!)

B. Revelation through God’s on-going providential care for his creation.

1. Acts 14:14-18

a. The regularity of the order of creation testifies to God’s existence, his status as Creator and LORD,

and his benevolence (w.15, 17). Cf. Job 36-37; Exo.20:11; Ps.146:6; 147; Lev.26; Jer.5.

b.  This revelation is continuous, occurring season after season. Thus God’s revelation of his kingship is not limited to the origination of the universe.

– We see His glory in everyday things (sun rises everyday)

c. Those who recognize God’s goodness and benevolence should also recognize that God is not like mortal human beings and thus he cannot be adequately imaged in idols made of wood or stone (v.15). Cf.Jer.2:5.

2. Acts 17:24-31

a.  The God who created all things is the Lord over his creation (v.24)

– The author has authority over what He has produced.

b.  Humankind is made from one common stock (v.26). Cf. Gen.1:27-28; 10:32.

c.  God has fixed the seasons and the boundaries of the nations (v.26). Cf. Gen.1:14; Deut.32:8;

Psa.74:17.

–          Why is there order in our lives? Because God has allowed it!

d,  The objective of this order is that people should seek God (v.27).  Cf. Deut.4:29; Isa.55:6.

–          We owe Him and Him alone thanks and praise for the good we experience in the world!

–          God has created a hunger in us for Him!

Notice that Paul follows the example of the Old Testament in moving seamlessly from God’s

revelation in the created order to his revelation in his sustaining providence over the natural

order to his moral government over the human order. Cf. e.g., Neh.9:6-7; Isa. 40: 12-31;

Psa.33, 148.

C. Revelation through moral conscience

Human beings have an inbuilt sense for God.  Its not enough that God reveals himself.  He must also make us receptive to his revelation in order for communication to take place.

– A revelation placed on our hearts, that we naturally seek out God or something to worship.

1. The seed of religion (semen religionis): an ingrained natural instinct, an unmediated perception or impression that there is a God, and that we must worship him. Human beings are inherently worshipping creatures.  We are all, and all the time, “doing business with God” (negotium cum Deo).  Indeed, no matter how far one might drift away from God, even to the point of denying God’s existence, still “that seed remains which can in no wise be uprooted” (John Calvin, Institutes, 1.4.4).

– Will we worship God or make an idol and worship something else?

– All of us hope for something, and that is our god.

2. The awareness of deity (sensus divitatis)

The knowledge that God exists and that we are morally accountable to him “There is within

the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity. This we take to be

beyond controversy. To prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance,

God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty. Ever

renewing its memory, he repeatedly sheds fresh drops.’ (1.3.1)

•…this conviction, namely, that there is some God, is naturally inborn in all, and is fixed deep

within, as it were in the very marrow… From this we conclude that it is not a doctrine that

must be learned in school, but one of which each of us is master from his mother’s womb

and which nature itself permits no one to forget, although many strive with every nerve to

this end.” (1.3.3)

Q: Do natural evil glorify God?

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