Our backyard has come to life; water is steadily flowing along the creek, birds are singing, and rabbits are nestled underneath the hydrangeas. This week, I’m observing creation in all its splendor but my thoughts drift. And on the corner of my desk, I’m eyeing None Greater. I’ve merely skimmed Matthew Barrett’s book, yet I know there are ways it and my backyard observations are coupled — How do we know our God exists? Trevin Wax argues, “Christian persuasiveness must include the corporate witness of the church, the beauty of the biblical story, and the general revelation of creation.” Grab your Bible and join me in this study of general revelation.
The beauty of springtime beckons the senses. In its very essence, creation serves as a reminder of God revealing himself. Not only do we see God’s existence when looking at creation, but we can also discern some of his character. General revelation is the character of God, not mere facts about created order. God’s revelation of himself, creation, humanity, and redemption is penned by Moses. The Genesis account in chapters 1-2 shows His absolute lordship and sovereignty. God does not conceal himself.
Col. 1:16, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. By definition, genesis is the origin or mode of formation.” Finite brains cannot fully comprehend the nature. If we believe the Bible to be true, we also are to believe the things about God to be true.
- Romans 1:20-21, 25
- Psalm 14:1
- Psalm 53:1
- Psalm 10:3-4
- Acts 14:17
We are without excuse to acknowledge Him. In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem writes, “If our hearts and minds were not so blinded by sin, it would be impossible for us to look closely at a leaf from any tree and say, “No one created this: it just happened.” The beauty of a snowflake, the majestic power of a thunderstorm, the skill of a honeybee, the refreshing taste of cold water, the incredible abilities of the human hand – all these and thousands of other aspects of creation simply could not have come into existence apart from the activity of an all-powerful and all-wise Creator.” His Elohim nature as the One uncreated separates Him from his creation: omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. God’s transcendence in a colorful sunrise or a black evening sky displays little of his glory that exists beyond all limits of time and space. God is the author of power, wisdom, and time.
In referencing Augustine’s The Confessions, Matthew Barrett (Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) writes, “Carefully differentiating between the Creator and the creature, Augustine is like an acrobat walking the tightrope. Yes, God is immanent, but he remains transcendent and incomprehensible. Yes, he effects change in the world, but he never changes in himself. Yes, he creates and renews, but he himself is timelessly eternal. Yes, he nurtures others, but he is never one in need of nurture. Yes, he brings the world into maturity, but he never matures, nor is he ever in need of reaching his potential or being activated; he is maximally alive, pure act, never changing. Yes, he loves, but always impasssibly. Yes, he is jealous, but his jealousy, unlike human jealousy is never desperate or impotent. Yes, he pours out judgment on the wicked, but never as a capricious God, his judgment always metered by his righteousness. And yes, he redeems paying our debt, but only because he owes debt to no one, being a God of absolute aseity…Augustine not only balances God in himself with how God relates to his creation, but he never partitions one attribute from another, believing each to illuminate the other. In such illumination, we step back and marvel at the perfection of God’s one, undivided essence.”
- Job 38:2
- Job 38:4a
- Psalm 19:1-6
- Romans 1:18 & 19
Grudem continues, “everything in Scripture and everything in nature proves clearly that God exists and that he is the powerful and wise Creator that Scripture describes him to be. Therefore, when we believe that God exists, we are basing our belief not on some blind hope apart from any evidence, but on an overwhelming amount of reliable evidence from God’s words and works.” Traditional proofs of God’s existence (cosmological, ontological, teleological, or moral) do not in themselves bring us to belief resulting in saving faith. However, they do hold value. God reveals his holiness through humanity’s fall. By God’s very nature, he is separated from sin.
- Proverbs 3:7
- Romans 3:23
- Romans 5:12-14
- 2 Corinthians 4:4
- Romans 10:14
The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits and we become believers of Jesus Christ. God reveals redemption through provision. In None Greater, Barrett writes, “There is none greater than this God, not because he is merely a greater version of ourselves but because he is nothing like ourselves. Only a Creator not to be confused with the creature is capable of stooping down to redeem those who have marred his image. Our ‘situation would surely have been hopeless,’ exclaims John Calvin, ‘had the very majesty of God not descended to us, since it was not in our power to ascend to him.” As Christians, our unique relationship is both with God and his creation. He takes pleasure in creation and we are to take pleasure in Him.
- Romans 8:15 & 16
- Ephesians 3:17
- 1 Peter 1:8
- Psalm 25:5-10
- Romans 6:23
- Romans 5:15-17
- 1 Peter 1:20 & 21
Global proclamation of God’s power and goodness is revelation of himself. God is the source of light and life.
- 1 Corinthians 1:21
- 1 Corinthians 2:5
- Psalm 50:2
A summary from the Belgic Confession 2b — “We know Him by two means: first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely, His eternal power and divinity, as the apostle Paul saith, Romans 1:20. All which things are sufficient to convince men, and leave them without excuse. Secondly, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.”
For further study, I recommend:
Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology, Chapter Six
A reading of Genesis Chapters 1-3, Romans Chapters 1-3
Knowing God by J.I. Packer, Chapter Eight