To ask this question indicates some spiritual poverty in our age. Would a serious Christian ever ask if the Bible was important for the Christian life? Well, the two questions are nearly identical. The Belgic Confession, one of the great credal statements of the Reformation, speaks about two books in which God reveals himself, sometimes called the Book of Creation and the Book of Scripture (Article 2). The Book of Scripture, i.e., The Bible, reveals God’s redemptive plan in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ–yes, even in the Old Testament. The Book of Creation reveals God’s eternal power and divine nature from the things that have been made, and we call this General Revelation (Rom. 1:18-20), that which can be known at all times by all men.
To speak from another church confession, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever” (WSC Q.1). In order to glorify and enjoy God, we must know God as our creator and redeemer. The Scriptures, of course, speak to both aspects of God’s being, but even in scripture, it says “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19), which points to the creation itself revealing who God is. Similarly, the poet Joseph Addison famously wrote, “For ever singing as [the heavenly bodies] shine, ‘The Hand that made us is divine.’ The diligent study of General Revelation (the Book of Creation) helps believers know God as the infinite, eternal, and unchanging Creator. Because Creation itself was a revelatory act in which God made himself known to us, his people should not take this revelation lightly.
If the Christian is called to glorify God, how is it possible to do this without searching out the glory He revealed in all things, both in the Books of Scripture and in the Books of Creation? Imagine having the distinct pleasure of introducing a prestigious guest at an important event, but foolishly listing only part of his accolades. Even if the guest graciously ignored the mistake, you still would have failed to properly honor and glorify him. In ignoring General Revelation, we fail to give proper honor and glory to God. We will not understand God’s eternal power and divine nature, we will not understand why all men are without excuse for unbelief, we will not understand how God revealed his law in our hearts (Rom. 2:14), and we will not fully understand our sinful condition and need for saving grace.
To be clear, both of the Reformed confessions quoted above were very clear on one important point: General Revelation cannot provide us with the knowledge of God’s plan for salvation. However, God’s plan for salvation intends to restore us to the people he made us be: made in his image, engaged in the work of dominion, bringing Glory to his name by all that which he makes himself known. Those called by his name bought and purchased by Jesus Christ should understand God’s eternal power and divine nature so clearly and bear witness to it so powerfully that no alternatives can raise themselves up against the knowledge of God.
The mission of The General Revelation Institute is to equip Christians to do just that. Our free courses, yearly conference, and annual journal all have this end in mind. Browse our site or contact us to find out more. In the coming weeks, we will continue to discuss common questions regarding general revelation. Next time, we will explore if the content of general revelation is vague or bare.