The Study of the Bible
God's Self-Revelation in Nature
The Natural Word of God
God reveals Himself to man through nature.
1. The Starry Heavens Reveal to Man God’s Glory. Psalm 19:1-6. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1.
a. It is a heavenly speech (Psa. 19:1). It captivates man’s attention.
b. It is an unending speech (Psa. 19:2). By day or night, it never ceases to communicate.
c. It is a silent speech (Psa. 19:3). There are no words, but the message is powerful.
d. It is a universal speech (Psa. 19:4a). It is available to the entire earth.
e. The most prominent feature of the speech is the Sun (Ps. 19:4b-6).
1) The message of the sun is exuberant and strong ( Ps. 19:5).
2) The message of the sun is world-wide (Ps. 19:6).
a) It dominates one end of the sky to the opposite.
b) No one can ignore its heat. Even a blind man can detect the message of the sun.
2. God Has Clearly Revealed Himself to Man in Nature. (Romans 1:18-23). But man has deliberately suppressed the truth about God and has turned to ungodliness and unrighteousness. Consequently, all of human history from the Fall of Man onward has been a display of the Wrath of God from Heaven directed toward man on the Earth below. Man has deliberately distorted the evidence about God.
a. God constantly unveils His wrath. (Rom. 1:18)
1) God unveils His wrath against man's ungodliness and unrighteousness. (Rom. 1:18a)
2) God unveils His wrath against man because of man's distortion of the truth by unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18b)
b. Man's distortion of the truth about God is a process. (Rom. 1:19-23)
1) The evidence about God is clearly revealed among men (Rom. 1:19-20)
a) God has shown it to men (Rom. 1:19).
b) The evidence of God’s invisible attributes is clearly disclosed in the physical universe (Rom. 1:20).
(i) God’s Eternity
(ii) God’s Power
(iii) God’s Divine Nature
2) Man deliberately distorts the evidence about God (Rom. 1:21-23). Observe the process:
a) Knowledge about God is commonly known among men (Rom. 1:21a).
b) Man refuses to give God proper credit (Rom. 1:21b).
c) Man’s perception of truth becomes worthless and darkened (Rom. 1:21c).
( d) Man becomes oblivious of his own foolishness (Rom. 1:22).
e) Man converts the glory of eternal God into a model of decadent matter (Rom. 1:23). In more primitive societies man manufactures idols as his God. In today’s technological society, man has distorted the evidence about God and has manufactured evolution as an alternative hypothesis. Man is so darkened and so foolish he now believes his hypothesis is not only credible, but is an established fact with no alternatives even to be considered, much less accepted.
3. God Reveals His Providential Care for Man through Nature. Acts 14:15-17.
Acts 14:15-17. On his first Missionary Journey with Barnabas, Paul healed a lame man in Lystra (Acts 14:1-20). The crowd believed that "The gods have become like men and have come down to us" (Acts 14:11). The priest of Zeus prepared to offer sacrifices to them. Paul and Barnabas rushed into the crowd to dissuade them, crying out
15and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16“In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:15-17).
Here is what we learn:
a. God is Creator of All. He made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. There is nothing that exists in the entire universe that God has not created. All of the created order is a witness to God's existence.
b. God Had Exercised a Policy of International Permissiveness. For many generations, God permitted the nations of this world to go their own ways. He was not specifically interacting with them, nor was he dramatically correcting them for their faults.
c. Yet God Continued to Reveal His Benevolent Character in Nature. Even though God was permitting all the nations to go their own ways, Paul continued on, yet God did not leave people with no information about Himself. He continued to reveal Himself in subtle, yet tangible ways. How did He do that? By doing good. Good toward all the earth's nations is defined as follows:
1) Giving them rains from heaven
2) Giving them fruitful seasons
3) Satisfying their hearts with food and gladness
So not only has God revealed Himself by the created order, He has revealed Himself as being a good and beneficent God. He has exhibited good will and generosity toward mankind. Theologians call this "Common Grace." Common Grace is that unmerited favor which God exhibits toward all men regardless of their moral qualifications. Jesus spoke of God's grace which He extends toward all mankind regardless of their moral qualifications. He spoke of "your Father who is in heaven" who "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:45). Whether men are evil or good, God gives them the son. Whether men are righteous or unrighteous, He showers them with rain. In so doing He leaves Himself a witness among all men upon earth.
God constantly reveals Himself to mankind through the heavens and through all the things He has created. This revelation is limited, yet substantial. We learn something of god's eternity, God's power, God's intelligence, and His goodness. God continues to provide sunlight and rain and other blessings of nature as an ongoing witness to man of His goodness and beneficence. Man foolishly rejects God's self-revelation. One day man will stand before God and be forced to give an accounting of how he has responded or not responded to God's self-revelation. At that time no man will have any excuse for having ignored God's revelation (Romans 1:20).
(Scripture quotation taken from the NASB.)
November 27, 2011