Chapter 4




In the last chapter, we examined the theology and tenets of the CAC. There seems to be a pervasive theme in its theology which cannot be ignored. Revelation of God. Babalola did certain things he claimed God told him to do. Let us now examine the authority of the Bible on God’s revelation after the Bible as it is claimed by the CAC.


What is revelation?

C.H. Pinnock provides us with a working definition of Revelation


Revelation refers to the disclosure or unveiling of something.  In that sense, reality is constantly revealing itself to probing minds as they seek to comprehend it.  We approach the world as those who expect the hidden to be revealed, and the unknown to become known. According to the Bible, God himself has satisfied man’s quest for intelligibility by revealing himself, his divine power and his will for mankind, so that we might come to know him.[1]


            Pinnock goes further to distinguish between General and Special revelation[2] as follows

Ps. 19 calls attention to the two varieties of divine revelation. On the one hand, ‘the heavens are telling the glory of God’ in such a way that it is impossible for anyone not to know it. And on the other hand, there is a testimony granted to Israel which conveys more specific information about the gift and the demands of God. We call the first ‘general’ revelation because it is universally available, and he second ‘special; revelation because it is a particular disclosure about how mankind can find favour with God.[3]


Vine’s expository Bible Dictionary makes it clear from Original languages what is revelation

Old Testament Revelation


            shemu`ah ^8052^, "revelation; something heard." This word appears 27 times. One appearance is in Isa. 28:9: "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine [shemu`ah]?"[4]


New Testament


            apokalupsis ^602^, "an uncovering" (akin to apokalupto; see above), "is used in the NT of (a) the drawing away by Christ of the veil of darkness covering the Gentiles, Luke 2:32; cf. Isa. 25:7; (b) `the mystery,' the purpose of God in this age, Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3; (c the communication of the knowledge of God to the soul, Eph. 1:17; (d) an expression of the mind of God for the instruction of the church, 1 Cor. 14:6,26, for the instruction of the Apostle Paul, 2 Cor. 12:1,7; Gal. 1:12, and for his guidance, Gal. 2:2; (e) the Lord Jesus Christ, to the saints at His Parousia, 1 Cor. 1:7, RV (KJV, `coming'); 1 Pet. 1:7, RV (KJV, `appearing'), 13; 4:13; (f) the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to dispense the judgments of God, 2 Thes. 1:7; cf. Rom. 2:5; (g) the saints, to the creation, in association with Christ in His glorious reign, Rom. 8:19, RV, `revealing' (KJV, `manifestation'); (h) the symbolic forecast of the final judgments of God, Rev. 1:1 (hence the Greek title of the book, transliterated `Apocalypse' and translated `Revelation')."[5]


David S Dockery provides a comprehensive definition of Revelation in evangelical



The word revelation means an uncovering, a removal of the veil, a disclosure of what was previously unknown. Revelation of God is God's manifestation of Himself to humankind in such a way that men and women can know and fellowship with Him. Jesus explained to Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" (Matt. 16:17 NIV). The knowledge of Jesus' sonship was not attained by human discovery, nor could it have been; it came from God alone.

    All Christians recognize that God has acted and spoken in history, revealing Himself to His creatures. Yet, a variety of opinions seek to define what constitutes revelation.[6]


In Catholic Theology the great scholar Rene Latourelle S.J. provides his own definition


God is not an absent Presence. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days has spoken to us by His Son” (Heb 1:1). “No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the father, he has revealed Him” (Jn 1:18). God broke the silence; God came out of His mystery; He addressed Himself to man and unveiled for him the secrets of His personal life; to man He communicated His unheard-of plan for a covenant with man, offering him a share in life. God, the living God has spoken to humanity.[7]


The scholars all seem to agree revelation comes from God. They may be direct in form of special revelation or general in the work of his hands. We see the work of nature and know that there is an intelligence behind it. We cannot be like the foolish ant who, convincing himself he is a smart philosopher, cannot see how man can exist, when he does not even have the ocular apparatus to visualize man. Revelation is a secret that is exposed for man to see. It may be exposed by a priori or a posteriori approaches. General revelation is examined by a priori, while special revelation is a posteriori. We shall examine these below.


General Revelation[8]


Ps 19:1-11

1          The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2          Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

3          There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

4          Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5          which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6          It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

7          The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8          The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

9          The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

10         They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

11         By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.



Immanuel Kant said


 Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe... the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.[9]


The natural man has a priori knowledge of God (but needs a posteriori knowledge of Christ). He sees in nature the character of a living God. Who created everything? Who made them perfect to work in their due seasons? Who brought the sun, made the moon so that one comes after the other. Who created sunlight to provide food for the plants and rain to water food crops in their due seasons. It is impossible for the human mind not to wonder.  Those who claim they cannot feel these emotions, or recognize this knowledge are lying. The Bible is clear that the heavens ‘declare the glory of God’. There is no language in which this is not heard. Every language speaks the glory of the Almighty God. Every language speaks to the mind of the hearers. So the English man would hear his own in English and the French in French.  The sound of the language is loud and clear and it is to all the earth and the ends of the world. They do not stop talking, for day and after day they ‘pour forth speech’ and display knowledge. That is  a priori knowledge of the philosophers. David already knew this long before the philosophers could develop their theories of knowledge. Modern epistemology is already very well grounded in this Dividic narrative ‘night after night they display knowledge- da’ath  means knowledge in Hebrew.  It just goes to show the possibility that there may be no single philosophy that may not be found in the Bible.

            In this narrative, David uses the imagery of the sun which appears to have  tent. It is  God who pitched the tent for the sun and not the other way round as most Canaanitic religions would have us believe. This imagery is that of a bridegroom and that of a champion who is running a race. He is already champion before he even begins his race. Nothing is hidden from its heat means even when a man is in the house shielded from direct sunlight, he still feel the effect. Invisible light of the electromagnetic spectrum can penetrate anywhere. In this, David is saying the obvious and making accurate prescientific pronouncement.

            He then diverts to  the law of God, which is also  a marvel of His creation for all who believe. It is the second theme of his natural theology narrative, and also the second theme of Immanuel Kants’s. Kant, originally a pietist, could see the scientific wisdom in the moral laws contained in the Bible. It was his moral argument that convinced him that there must be God. This manner of speaking is like voicing the  a priori conviction which is said by David to be seen in nature. David says ‘The law of the Lord is perfect’ What else can be said about moral argument in natural theology more than this? He continues ‘making wise the simple’. Finally he said they are ‘more than much pure gold.’

He then wonders why any one would say there is no God. He provides the definition of an atheist- ‘The fool says in his heart “There is no God” (Ps 14:1). He cannot say it elsewhere except in his heart; for that contradicts the evidence from his own heart. But the modern atheist is more than a fool. He says it openly thereby making himself look more stupid.’

Paul continues the General revelation narrative of David


Rom 1:17-32

17         For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

18         The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

19         since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

20         For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21         For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22         Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

23         and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24         Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

25         They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-- who is forever praised. Amen.

26         Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.

27         In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28         Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

29         They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,

30         slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;

31         they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

32         Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.



Paul starts by talking about special revelation. He says ‘For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed.’ That again sounds like Immanuel Kant talking! Then he proceeds to castigate those who disparage this revelation in the gospel. He presents them as being unable to listen to their own inner voice, their a priori knowledge-


20         For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.


Men are without excuse, he says. But what is the result of not listening to the inner voice? The little which they have will be taken away from them and given to others so that they become more depraved, being given to all sorts of abuses of their own bodies and of others, and criminal tendencies. This is the origin of crime and unrest in the world.

            Other general revelation texts exist, to give us a composite picture of biblical teaching on natural theology


Natural justice and conscience

Rom 2:12-16

12         All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

13         For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

14         (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,

15         since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

16         This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.



God’s providence talks in nature

Acts 14:16-17

16         In the past, he let all nations go their own way.

17         Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."



Natural philosophy

Acts 17:24-28

24         "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.

25         And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

26         From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

27         God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

28         'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'



Special Revelation[10]

Special revelation is a concept for which the Bible was designed. It is the entire Bible itself. The story is simple enough. God needed to communicate to man and he did so through His prophets who wrote various portions of the Bible. They did so, not with the hope that someday all the revelations would be bound into a single coherent whole. But that was God’s providence. He made sure no one was without a witness- either from his /her own conscience or from the revelation he himself made to man directly through his prophets, but later, through his own son. Latourelle captures the mood of this revelation succinctly


God has spoken to humanity. This is the immense fact that dominates both testaments. This word, distant at first, confused, can barely grasp, is delivered in its fullness, in Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, Word of the Father; it becomes Gospel and echoes, clear and distinct, like a message: “The word of the Gospel” (Acts 15:7), the “Word of the Lord” (I Thess 1:8; 2 Thess 3:1), the “Word of God” (I Thess 2:13, the “Word of Truth” (2 Cor. 6:7; Eph 1:13; Col. 1:5; 2 Tim 2:15), the “Word of Life” (Phil. 2:16), the “message of salvation” (Acts 13:26), “Gospel of Grace” (Acts 20:24).[11]


Roman Catholic Natural Theology


Natural theology arose naturally from the understanding of the general revelation as shown in the Bible. This theology consists of the following key points.

1.     Cosmological arguments for the existence of God,

2.     Teleological argument for the existence of God,

3.     Ontological argument for the existence of God and finally

4.     Moral argument for the existence of God.

It is argued that from these particulars of general revelation a man is capable of knowing God. This is the principle of the Roman Catholic Natural theology.


Protestant (evangelical) Response to Natural Theology

The reformers were not convinced that natural theology was enough to show the knowledge of God. Calvin did not espouse any in his Institutes. Rather he presented arguments from special revelation which, according to him, can only lead to the true knowledge of the true God.  Calvin says clearly


By the knowledge of God, I understand that by which we not only conceive that there is some God, but also apprehend what it is for our interest, and conducive to his glory, what, in short, it is befitting to know concerning him. For, properly speaking, we cannot say that God is known where there is no religion or piety. I am not now referring to that species of knowledge by which men, in themselves lost and under curse, apprehend God as a Redeemer in Christ the Mediator. I speak only of that simple and primitive knowledge, to which the mere course of nature would have conducted us, had Adam stood upright. For although no man will now, in the present ruin of the human race, perceive God to be either a father, or the author of salvation, or propitious in any respect, until Christ interpose to make us peace; still it is open thing to perceive that God our Maker supports us by his power, rules us by his providence, fosters us by his goodness, and visits us with all kinds of blessings, and another thing to embrace the grace of reconciliation offered to us in Christ.[12]


David S Dockery makes his definition of the importance of special revelation in evangelical theology


The content and process of God's making Himself known to people. All knowledge of God comes by way of revelation. Human knowledge of God is revealed knowledge since God, and He alone, gives it. He bridges the gap between Himself and His creatures, disclosing Himself and His will to them. By God alone can God be known.

    Modern thought often questions the possibility and/or reality of revelation. Biblical faith affirms revelation is real because the personal Creator God has chosen to let His human creatures know Him. The question remains, "How can a person know God." The Bible appears to distinguish two ways of knowing God, general and special revelation.

    Biblical emphasis points to Jesus Christ as God's final revelation. God has provided ongoing generations of believers a source of knowledge about Himself and His Son. That source is the Bible.[13]


Karl Barth rejects the argument that natural theology is enough to know the true God. Hence in evangelical circle, it is believed that it is not enough to have the general knowledge of God. Without the Biblical revelation, you are lost!


Post-Canonical[14] Revelation: Visions & Dreams


Joel 2:28-32

28         "And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

29         "And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30         "And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke.

31         "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

32         "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.



Acts 2:16-21

16         No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17         "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

18         Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

19         I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

20         The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

21         And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'



It is clear from the above that God has not removed any form of ‘revelation’ from mankind. If we call natural theology ‘revelation’, then we are justified to call dreams and visions (he type which Joel refers to) revelation,  and there are many who claim to have seen these, especially pointing them to Jesus Christ.  I consider their testimony correct for they support revealed theology. But such must be tested rigorously for the devil also is capable of given revelation. If not, how come we have a great book like the Koran as the revelation of God, contradicting the whole essence of the Bible, yet claiming to extend it? But any revelation that is antithetical to canonical data must be jettisoned.



God has revealed himself in nature, in the Bible and is still doing so to individuals today. Such new revelations however must be personal, mostly private, and must support canonical data. When they are in conflict, they must be dismissed. When they add new data to the canon, they become invalid simply because the canon is closed. What has God refused to reveal up to today that will become of such vital importance tomorrow and be included in the canon? That must be afterthought!  If God stopped the canonical prophets around 400 BC and no prophet came again until the appearance of His own Son, and then John came to give his last prophecy for which he (Apostle John) said clearly ‘If anyone adds anything to them…” Rev 22:18, then God seems to know what He is doing. No more prophetic addition simply means no more canonical material! It is now time to examine the differences in the practice or tenets of the CAC and its Bethel as espoused by Joanah.




Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1941.

Buswell OliverA Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion. Vols 1-2.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1963.

Calvin, John, Institute of the Christian Religion, Books 1-III. Transl. Henry Beveridge. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing,1997, last edition by Calvin 1545.

Dockery, David. S. Revelation. In Holman Bible Dictionary, Holman Publishers Inc., 1994, Elecronic.

Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985.

Ferguson, Sinclair B. and Wright, David F. eds. New Dictionary of Theology. Leceister: IVP

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Leicester: IVP. 1994.

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology, 3 vols. Reprint edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970, First Published 871-1973.

Latourelle S.J. Rene. Theology of Revelation. Cork: Mercier Press Ltd, 1968.

Peel, J.D.Y. Aladura: A Religious Movement Among the Yoruba. Oxford University

Press/ International Africa Institute. 1968.

Thomas Nelson Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers Inc, Electronic, 1994.

Vine’s Expository Bible. In PC BibleSoft, Windows, 1993, 1994. Electronic.





[1] C.H. Pinnock, p. 585-587. Quotation is from page 585.

[2] Revelation is ‘God's communication to people concerning Himself, His moral standards, and His plan of salvation.

                God is a personal Spirit distinct from the world; He is absolutely holy and is invisible to the view of physical, finite, sinful minds. Although people, on their own, can never create truth about God, God has graciously unveiled and manifested Himself to mankind. Other religions and philosophies result from the endless human quest for God; Christianity results from God's quest for lost mankind.

                God has made Himself known to all people everywhere in the marvels of nature and in the human conscience, which is able to distinguish right from wrong. Because this knowledge is universal and continuous, by it God has displayed His glory to everyone Ps. 19:1-6.

                Some Christians think that only believers can see God's revelation in nature, but the apostle Paul said that unbelievers know truth about God: The unrighteous must have the truth to "suppress" it Rom. 1:18; they "clearly see" it Rom 1:20; knowing God, they fail to worship Him as God Rom. 1:21; they alter the truth Rom. 1:25; they do not retain God in their knowledge Rom. 1:28; and knowing the righteous judgment (moral law) of God, they disobey it Rom. 1:32. The reason the ungodly are "inexcusable" Rom. 2:1 before God's righteous judgment is that they possessed but rejected the truth which God gave them.

                What can be known of God from nature? God's universal revelation makes it clear that God exists Rom. 1:20, and that God, the Creator of the mountains, oceans, vegetation, animals, and mankind, is wise Ps. 104:24 and powerful Psalm 29; 93; Rom. 1:20. People aware of their own moral responsibility, who know the difference between right and wrong conduct and who have a sense of guilt when they do wrong, reflect the requirements of God's moral law (the Ten Commandments) that is written on their hearts Rom. 2:14-15.

                What is the result of divine revelation in nature? If anyone lived up to that knowledge by loving and obeying God every day of his life, he would be right with God and would not need salvation. However, no one loves God with his whole being and his neighbors as himself. People worship and serve things in creation rather than the Creator Rom. 1:25. The problem does not lie with the revelation, which like the Law is holy, just, and good Rom. 7:12; the problem is with the sinfulness of human lives Rom. 8:3. The best human being (other than Jesus Christ) comes short of the uprightness God requires.

                Because of God's universal revelation in nature, the philosopher Immanuel Kant could say, "Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe... the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."

                When Christians defend justice, honesty, and decency in schools, homes, neighborhoods, businesses, and governments, they do not impose their special beliefs upon others. They merely point to universal principles that all sinners know but suppress in their unrighteousness Rom. 1:18.

                As valuable as general revelation is for justice, honesty, and decency in the world today, it is not enough. It must be completed by the good news of God's mercy and His gracious gift of perfect righteousness. Nature does not show God's plan for saving those who do wrong: that Jesus was the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that He rose again from among the dead. The message of salvation was seen dimly throughout Old Testament sacrifices and ceremonies. It was seen more clearly as God redeemed the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt and as God disclosed to prophetic spokesmen the redemptive significance of His mighty acts of deliverance.

                The full and final revelation of God has occurred in Jesus Christ. "God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" Heb. 1:1-2. Christ has "declared" God to us personally John 1:18. To see Christ is to see the Father John 14:9. Christ gave us the words which the Father gave Him John 17:8. At the cross Jesus revealed supremely God's self-giving love. There He died, "the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" 1 Pet. 3:18. And the good news is not complete until we hear that He rose again triumphantly over sin, Satan, and the grave, and is alive forevermore.

                Christ chose apostles and trained them to teach the meaning of His death and resurrection, to build the church, and to write the New Testament Scriptures. We are to remember the words of these eyewitnesses to Christ's resurrection. The content of God's special revelation concerning salvation, given to specially gifted spokesmen and supremely revealed in Christ, is found in "the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of... the apostles of the Lord and Savior" 2 Pet. 3:2. "The Holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" 2 Tim. 3:15. Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary), 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Ibid.

[4] From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] David S Dockery, Holman Bible Dictionary, 1994.

[7] Rene Latourelle S.J., p. 13.

[8] General Revelation -The physical world--nature--is not a part of God as my hand is a part of me. Yet, God might reveal Himself through His actions in that world. Besides saying or writing things, persons may reveal facts about themselves in other ways, such as physical gestures or facial expressions. Sometimes persons' actions communicate whether they are selfish or generous, clumsy or skillful. A grimace, a smile, or a frown can often be telling. Transferring these things to a theological context is not simple, because God is not visible. He does not have facial features or bodily parts with which to gesture. To say God reveals Himself through nature means that through the events of the physical world God communicates to us things about Himself that we would otherwise not know.

    What sort of things might God tell us in this manner? Paul explained "What can be known about God is plain to them, for God Himself made it plain. Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all" (Rom. 1:20 TEV). The psalmist (Ps. 19:1) saw the glory of God through the spectacles of special revelation. What the psalmist saw was objectively and genuinely there. We can rephrase these observations to say that all that can be known about God in a natural sense has been revealed in nature. This is what we call natural or general revelation. General revelation is universal in the sense that it is God's self-disclosure of Himself in a general way to all people at all times in all places. General revelation occurs through (1) nature, (2) in our experience and in our conscience, and (3) in history.

    In the wonders of the heavens and in the beauty of the earth God manifests Himself. Jesus taught that God "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:45 NASB), thus revealing His goodness to all. "The living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them ... has not left himself without a witness in doing good--giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy" (Acts 14:15-17 NRSV). God makes Himself known in the continuing care and provision for humankind. The universe as a whole serves the Creator's purposes as a vehicle of God's self-manifestation.

    God also reveals himself in men and women. They are made in the "image" and "likeness" of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Humans, as a direct creation of God, are a mirror or reflection of God. People are God's unique workmanship evidenced by their place of dominion over the rest of creation; in their capacity to reason, feel, and imagine; in their freedom to act and respond; and in their sense of right and wrong (Gen. 1:28; Rom. 2:14,15). Especially through this moral sense God reveals Himself in the consciences of men and women. The fact that religious belief and practice is universal confirms the apostle's statements in Romans 2. Yet, the creatures who worship, pray, build temples, idols and shrines, and seek after God in diverse ways do not glorify God as God nor give Him thanks (Rom. 1:21-23). Nevertheless, because each person has been given the capacity for receiving God's general revelation, they are responsible for their actions.

    God manifests Himself in the workings of history. All of history, rightly understood, bears the imprint of God's activity and thus has a theological character. Primarily, God is revealed in history through the rise and fall of peoples and nations (compare Acts 17:22-31).

    God's general revelation is plain, whether in nature, in human conscience, or in history. Even though it is plain, it is often misinterpreted because sinful and finite humans are trying to understand a perfect and infinite God. What we have seen so far is compatible with the following:

    (1) Religious belief is a nearly universal human phenomenon.

    (2) Such religious belief is implanted by God.

    (3) All people ought to acknowledge God on the basis of what they learned from the world around them.

    (4) All people believe in God and show their belief even though they do not admit it.

    (5) No one, no matter how seemingly insignificant or weak-minded can be excused for missing God's revelation.

    The light of nature is not sufficient to give the knowledge of God necessary for salvation. For God's power (Rom. 1:20), goodness (Matt. 5:45), and righteousness (Rom. 2:14-15) have been revealed, but not His salvific grace. That is revealed only through special revelation. Special revelation is necessary to instruct people how to worship God rightly. God in His general revelation reveals Himself, but because of our sinfulness, humans pervert the reception of His general revelation, a revelation so plain it leaves all without excuse. It is as if a lawyer were offered the information necessary to solve a case, yet chose perversely to ignore it.

    In sum, humans lack the willingness to come to a pure and clear knowledge of God. Men and women suppress God's truth because they do not like the truth about God. They do not like the God to which the truth leads them so they invent substitute gods and religions instead. The universality of religion on earth is evidence of truths discussed above. According to Paul, the act of suppressing the awareness of God and His demands warps our reason and conscience. Because of this rejection of God, He righteously reveals His wrath against humankind. God's general revelation does not bring one into a saving relationship with God; it does reveal God to His creatures and they are, therefore, responsible for their response. This view of general revelation can only be accepted through special revelation. David S Dockery, Holman Bible Dictionary, 1994, Electronic.

[9] From Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] Special Revelation -God has revealed Himself in nature, human experience, and history, but sin's entrance into the world has changed the revelation as well as the interpretation of it. What is needed to understand God's self-disclosure fully is His special revelation. Divine truth exists outside of special revelation, but it is consistent with and supplemental to, not a substitute for special revelation.

    In contrast to God's general revelation which is available to all people, God's special revelation is available to specific people at specific times in specific places, it is available now only by consultation of sacred Scripture. Special revelation is first of all particular. God reveals Himself with His people. These people of God are the children of Abraham, whether by natural (Gen. 12:1-3) or spiritual descent (Gal. 3:16,29). Does this mean that God confines knowledge of Himself to a particular people? Not necessarily, because God's general revelation has been given to all, though perverted and rejected by the universal wickedness of humankind. He now chooses to whom and through whom He will make Himself known. As with Abraham, God said: "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). God manifests Himself in a particular manner to His people so they will be a channel of blessing to all others.

    Special revelation is also progressive. Biblical history witnesses to a developing disclosure of God, His will, and His truth in the Old and New Testaments. The development is not contradictory in any fashion. It is complementary and supplementary to what had been previously revealed. We should not think of the progress from untruth to truth, but from a lesser to a fuller revelation (Heb. 1:1-3). The revelation of the law in the Old Testament is not superseded by the gospel, but is fulfilled in it.

    Special revelation is primarily redemptive and personal. In recognition of the human predicament God chose at the very beginning to disclose Himself in a more direct way. Within time and space God has acted and spoken to redeem the human race from its own self-imposed evil. Through calling people, miracles, the Exodus, covenant making, and ultimately through Jesus Christ, God has revealed Himself in history.

    The ultimate point of God's personal revelation is in Jesus Christ. In Him, the Word became flesh (John. 1:1,14; 14:9). The Old Testament promise of salvation as a divine gift to people who cannot save themselves has been fulfilled in the gift of His Son. The redemptive revelation of God is that Jesus Christ has borne the sins of fallen humanity, has died in their place, and has been raised to assure justification. This is the fixed center of special revelation.

    Special revelation is also propositional. It includes not only those personal, redemptive acts in history, but also the prophetic-apostolic interpretation of those events. God's self-disclosure is propositional in that it made known truths about Him to His people. Knowledge about someone precedes intimate knowledge of someone. The primary purpose of revelation is not necessarily to enlarge the scope of one's knowledge. Yet, propositional knowledge about is for the purpose of personal knowledge of.

    We can thus affirm that special revelation has three stages: (1) redemption in history, ultimately centering in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) the Bible, written revelation interpreting what He has done for the redemption of men and women; (3) the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals and the corporate life of the church, applying God's revelation to the minds and hearts of His people. As a result, men and women receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are enabled to follow Him faithfully in a believing, covenant community until life's end.

    The content of special revelation is primarily God Himself. Mystery remains even in God's self-revelation. God does not fully reveal Himself to any person. God, does, however, reveal himself to persons to the degree they can receive it. Special revelation is the declaration of truth about God, His character, and His action and relationship with His creation to bring all creation under Christ, the one head (Eph. 1:9-10).

    The proper setting of special revelation is Christian faith. God makes Himself known to those who receive His revelation in faith (Heb. 11:1,6). Faith is the glad recognition of truth, the reception of God's revelation without reservation or hesitation (Rom. 10:17).

    For today, the Bible is of crucial importance. Through the Bible the Spirit witnesses to individuals of God's grace and the need of faith response. In the Bible we learn of God's redemption of sinners in Christ Jesus. Our faith response to God's Word and acts, recorded and interpreted by the prophets and apostles, calls for us to embrace with humble teachableness, without finding fault, whatever is taught in Holy Scripture.

    In sum we can say that God has initiated the revelation of Himself to men and women. This revelation is understandable to humankind and makes it possible to know God and grow in relationship with Him. God's self-manifestation provides information about Himself for the purpose of leading men and women into God's presence. For believers today, the Bible is the source of God's revelation. In the written word we can identify God, know and understand something about Him, His will, and His work, and point others to Him. Special revelation is not generally speculative. The Bible primarily speaks on matters of cosmology and history where these issues touch the nature of faith. God has manifested Himself incarnationally through human language, human thought, and human action as ultimately demonstrated in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.’ David S. Dockery, Holman Bible Dictionary, 1994, Electronic.

[11] Latourelle, p. 13.

[12] John Calvin, Institutes, I, 11: 1.

[13] David S Dockery, Holman Bible Dictionary Electronic.

[14] Canon refers to the body of the Bible as it is known today.