After having so many various opportunities to share the Gospel in the townships of Tembisa, there are a number of things that become acutely clearer to me that wouldn’t have been if I had not undertaken to serve the Lord by presenting the Gospel to unbelievers - things like the spiritual deadness of man, his hardness of heart, the seriousness and degree of man’s unbelief towards God and man’s disregard for the person and Godhood of Jesus Christ are inescapable when sharing the Gospel.
These sad realities lead to a growing desire on my side to present the Gospel with much clarity. But even after presenting the Gospel one is always faced with a sense of the inevitable, and that is, unless God reveals Himself in a special way to a person he or she will remain in a state of unbelief towards God.
The fact of the matter is this, God is Holy (pure and set apart) both as Spirit and Person, and as a result of our sinfulness and corruption we cannot come to know Him unless He reveals and reintroduces Himself to us in a special way.
God has and does reveal himself to us in a number of ways. For instance He has shown Himself to us through His Handiwork in creation. This act of God revealing Who He is to us in creation is termed as His general revelation by theologians. It is considered to be general because it involves and includes all of mankind who are born into this world - mankind also bearing the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) reflects and resembles who God is in their conscience as well (Romans 2:14-15). God created us to be like Him in a restricted and finite way, though God Himself is transcendent and infinite. This general revelation is also God’s revelation because God and not man does the disclosing of who God is, in and by using providentially the things He has made. We however can point each other to such evidences in order to try convince each other about the existence of God. God’s general revelation is a fact that the apostle Paul brings up in his letter to the Romans when he writes:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:19,20).
Though what we can see of God in ourselves and others is very limited in every way possible because we are not God, it is general revelation of God that leaves us without excuse when it comes to knowing God while disobeying His laws. It also shows that any person who lives in continual disregard of God, both in action and moral thinking is in actual fact supressing the truth they know about God (Romans 1:18). Such can be the extent of man’s hatred toward God.
It is God revealing Himself in a special way that can keep a person from remaining at enmity with God. It is also this process of God revealing Himself afresh to sinners in a fallen world that theologians term as God’s special revelation, that I sometimes choose to call God’s reintroduction of Himself.
The means by which God has purposed to carry out His special revelation of Himself to man is the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible is perfect and authoritative in all its parts and contains details of what needs to be known and believed about God in order to be saved from sin, Satan and eternal death. The Scriptures tell us about who God is and even reveal to us things about Him that we cannot make any sense of or even explain in human terms e.g. God being man while remaining God - things we just have to believe and live out by the faith that God gives us. It is in the Holy bible where we come to learn that God went a step further in revealing Himself than just what we can see of Him in creation. We come to see that to some past generations of a particular nation God spoke at many times and in many ways by a number of men whom He appointed across a certain time period, men whom the Bible refers to as the prophets (see Hebrews 1:1). It is these men, that the Bible teaches us, that God spoke to through visions, dreams, stormy winds, fires and clouds. God even spoke to them in personal appearances as an Angel of the Lord (see Genesis 15, Isaiah 6, Genesis 28:17, Genesis 12:1-3, Exodus 34:5-7, Numbers 12:5-8, Job 38, 1 Kings19:12, Exodus 3:2, Genesis 16:13).
From the prophet Moses onward the revelations of God have been preserved in written form, writing that ended with a group of men that the Bible refers to as the Apostles, men whom Jesus Christ being God appointed to complete in writing all that is needed to be written about God as authoritative and directly from Him with regard to our redemption (2Timothy 3:16-17).
Special revelation is also different in that it points us to Christ who is the Son of God. He is also the very reason why God did not cast man into eternal ruin at man’s first sin, a reason that God the Father wanted to show off to His creatures and not just keep to Himself. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians1:15), the centre and purpose of all creation (Romans 11:36). It is God’s Holy Spirit that convicts and enables us to believe these truths about God and the Godhood of Jesus Christ that we find in the Scriptures (1Corinthians 12:3, Romans 8:16).
It is in Christ that we see God taking time and care to reintroduce Himself to His fallen creatures that are too caught up in rebelling against Him. In Christ we learn afresh what it was that God intended for our good in creating us, that is for us to be with Him and glorify and enjoy Him forever. Jesus is the aim and pinnacle of all revelation. This means that any revelation regarding man’s salvation from sin, Satan and death that points to anything but Him should be avoided and regarded as being false.
By Thembela Matthews Nkuna