In previous posts, we have sufficiently explained how general revelation relates to key elements of the Christian faith. But the cornerstone of that faith is Jesus Christ. We have learned that God revealed his existence, attributes, and will to all mankind by the works of creation and providence. Jesus Christ, by contrast, was made known to particular peoples at particular times, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. All of Scripture clearly points to the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s Son. So, how does general revelation relate to the Word made flesh?
This question can be answered in two ways. General revelation points to Jesus Christ both positively and negatively. In the gospel according to John, the Word of God is spoken about in several senses. The Word was with God in the beginning and through Him all things were made, and without Him, nothing was made that had been made (John 1:1-3), the same Word became flesh and dwelt among us (1:14). Though not exhaustive, in this post I focus on three of the senses—the Word in creation, in man, and in the flesh.
The Word of God makes God known in the Creation. As we said before, creation is a revelation, it reveals who God is to all who seek to know. As God’s creatures, we have life in the Word, and that light is the light of all mankind, giving us the capacity to understand God’s revelation. Put another way, the world in which we live is only intelligible because the Word has made it so and because He has given mankind the light to see (i.e., understand) that world.
By studying general revelation, we are studying the Word of God that has made God known and who became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, even though we could not know about the incarnation apart from Scripture. This is the positive aspect because it points us to Him, at least to a certain extent, because the Word makes general revelation possible. Yet, mankind has rejected the Word, and because of their unbelief, they are in need of redemption. This brings us to the second point.
The Word has made God known, and yet mankind has not known Him. In the history of the world, man’s default setting has been unbelief: atheism, polytheism, monism, dualism, deism, etc., etc, and this unbelief is without excuse. Man rejects God as the Divine Creator and Ruler and renders himself dead in his sin. To reject the Word who in himself is life, must result in spiritual suicide, and yet dead men can not bring themselves back to life. They need to be born again. The rejection of the Word in Creation necessitates the same Word being made flesh to dwell among us, full of grace and truth, the resurrection and life.
To put this all succinctly, we learn from Scripture that the Word of God makes general revelation possible, and that our rejection of Word in Creation, has brought about our need for redemption. In God’s magnificent providence, the very Word mankind rejected became flesh, dwelt among us, and for the joy set before Him endured the cross so that He might be a propitiation for our sins. Thanks be to God’s Word!