The religious history of mankind
General revelation, the law and the revelation of Christ
Man was directly created by God to know Him in a personal way. Each day the Lord would meet Adam and Eve near the evening.
After Adam and Eves disobedience of eating the fruit from the tree Gen 3:8-9 “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"
They were barred from the garden: Gen 3:22 - 24 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
After mankind’s first parents nature changed from their disobedience, it was passed down in our DNA to every person born.
Now all hide from God instead of seek him, just as Adam and Eve did when they knew their nature changed their relationship with their maker.
Isaiah 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." Man has strayed from God to his own way to acknowledge God or without God.
Romans 3:11 "There are none, no not one, that seeks after God." This is an ALL qualifying statement.
Eccl 7:20 “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” All of us are guilty.
John 3:19 Jesus: "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world (Jesus is the light of the world), but men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil." The darkness represents a fallen state, sin. Man desires to be on his own, free from any thought of God and be accountable for his actions.
Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" Man has a treacherous heart. If we can't know our own hearts, how can we expect to know the true and living God?
God has revealed Himself in two ways: generally through His work of creation, and specifically through His Word.
GENERAL REVELATION is given to every person born. This is a Universal Witness that God exists and is the creator of all we can see, so that mankind is without excuse. If one responds to the first witness, God gives more light. Mark 4:24-25: and to you who hear, more will be given. "For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."
God is the initiator, through grace. He starts the process and we are to respond. As we do He gives us more knowledge that will lead us to know him personally.
Rom. 1:20-21 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (NAS)
From this we can understand the ancient people came to the conclusion of there being God and understood him as residing somewhere in the sky or heaven but this did not have them know Him.
Is General Revelation sufficient to save? If I believe that God exists, is this sufficient for me to have eternal life? Some confuse the two and think they are the same, or that general revelation guarantees us a relationship. The knowledge we gain from general revelation is not unto salvation. Because it does not reveal who Christ is or what He has done. It comes by hearing His gospel; for that alone is what saves (1 cor.15:1-3). Creation does not tell someone John 3:16. Neither does the law that convicts a person of their sin, it only shows they are guilty before a holy God.
General Revelation speaks from everything we see in nature, but it does not present the Gospel. Psalm 19:1-3 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. (NKJ)
Psalm 19:1-3 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. (NAS)
What is the Psalmist saying? The outstretched heavens, the stars that is seen generation after generation is a testimony to God’s existence and power and creative ability
It testifies to all men, wherever they are, that God exists, this fact should elicit a desire that is deep within to know Him. It is part of His drawing us to Him. The problem is with man. It is not a problem of intelligence, knowledge or ability but an innate moral problem.
Paul put it: "And He made from one (Adam and Eve) every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope (an inward desire for knowing) for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27). The picture Paul paints is our being in dark world, feeling our way along as a blind man would. The testimony general revelation is working as it draws us to the Light. But as mentioned, the problem is man. We do not want to come to the light for it exposes how we live (Jn.3:19).
God gave mankind more revelation taking a man named Abrahm and formed a nation. He then gave the law to Moses who delivered it to the nation Israel. Making Israel a people that would be a theocracy, under a perfect law from God; showing the world what it is like to have God govern a people. They were to bring this law and God’s promise of a Messiah to all the world.
Ps 119:104-105 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The word is a light for our life in this world of darkness. This is the light God provides by his grace to anyone who responds to His general revelation; to bring the person to a decision.
But not everyone seeks the true and living God, there are obstacles along the way. And there are many views offered by men and devils as God begins to draw us. Why do people get deceived? It is not because He hides himself; but because many stop before they come to the conclusion of their search. They do not exercise understanding.
Paul speaks of those who have rejected the witness of general revelation… this light. Rom. 1:18,19: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, WHO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.(NAS). In other words, they were created in the image of God and should recognize God’s handiwork in the world they live in.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (NKJ)
Israel as a people and nation is more accountable.
Deuteronomy 7:6-7 “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples”
Israel's spiritual condition today is one of blindness because they focus on the Law and cannot see Christ or the gospel.
2 Cor. 3:13-16 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
The law has everyone, both Jews (that were given the law) and Gentile as guilty (who tried to obey the law because of their conscience, being made in the image of God) “‘who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (Rom. 2:15).
Rom. 3:19-20 “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
The moral law was incorporated in the our human nature as man was made in the image of God. His conscience is the umpire bearing witness of what is right or wrong. We have an innate knowing but do not always listen (some call this intuition).
Gal. 3:22-25 “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
The law made it evident that all are sinful. God gave the law to have man sacrifice to be made right before God. Once the final sacrifice (Jesus) came we could be made right with God by our faith in what He had done for us. Thus we are removed from under the laws obligations to be under Christ and His new covenant, a new way.
Now because of Christ’s sacrifice only He can “ cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14 ) One may seek to obey the law which only makes them aware of their guilt and disobedience.
Don’t be surprised when people reject the gospel, they avoid their sin being exposed, they have pride and they are willing to fight against God. They want to be justified on their own terms and would rather try to be right by the law because it involves self effort.
In our day of self justification it is amazing to see someone become open to hear, to actually listen and even more amazing, to agree with the gospel message and are willing to repent. We acknowledge it is by God’s mercy that we receive His love.
There is no example in the Bible of anyone “saved” by general revelation. No one looked up at the stars or studied nature and was saved. The Bible says we are all saved the same way, by Christ's sacrifice. Jesus gave His own life according to the Fathers will to save the lost, faith in what He did must be exercised or it is only understood as a historical event.
Ps 51:1-3 “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”
Ps 36:7 “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”
Luke 1:78-79 “Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel" (Luke 2:32). Because of a new covenant, the light ALWAYS leads to Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.