Have you ever given thought to the kindness of God in making himself known to us? We are, after all, only creatures. He is the Creator. He is in no way obligated to make himself known to us. Rather, he’s chosen to make himself know.
But how has he chosen to make himself known? Theologians have identified two ways in which God has revealed himself to his creation. Those two ways are general revelation and special revelation.
A layman’s definition of the former would be that God has revealed himself to everyone through the majesty of his creation. We see this truth affirmed all throughout the Bible. The psalmist declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19:1; cf. 19:2-6).
A layman’s definition of the latter would be that God has revealed himself specifically and especially through his inspired Word, the Bible. The same psalm goes on to proclaim the excellencies of God’s written Word (see Ps 19:7-11).
General revelation, however, is not sufficient to provide salvation. John Calvin writes, “Although they [i.e., God’s revelation in nature] bathe us wholly in their radiance, yet they can of themselves in no way lead us into the right path” (Institutes, 1.5.14).
We need the Word of God to show us the path to salvation. Again, Calvin writes, “Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our minds, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God. This, therefore, is a special gift, where God, to instruct the church, not merely uses mute teachers [mute teachers is a reference to general revelation] but also opens his own most hallowed lips. Not only does he teach the elect to look upon a god, but also shows himself as the God upon whom they are to look” (Institutes, 1.6.1, emphasis added).
So, lets give ourselves to the reading and study of God’s Word.