Theology: Types of General Revelation

1. God Revealed Through Vocal Communication: Samuel heard the Lord. He thought it was Eli speaking, thus it must have been audible, 1 Samuel 3:1-14. Several others in the Word are mentioned as having vocal communication with God as well. I will just list some of these with references for your further study. Adam, (Genesis 3:9-19; Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3; Moses, Exodus 20:1-17; Joshua, Joshua 1:1-9).

2. God Revealed Through Dreams: Daniel 2:1-2 where Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which Daniel interpreted for him. It was a prophecy from the Lord via a dream. Consider Jacob, (Genesis 28:12; Solomon, 1 Kings 3:5 & 9:2; Joseph, Matthew 1:20; 2:13,19,22; Wisemen, Matthew 2:12).

3. God Revealed Through Visions: The vision is similar to the dream, however the person having the vision seems to be awake. Again, I will just list people and references. Jacob, (Genesis 46:2; David, 1 Chronicles 21:16; Daniel 2:19), where he receives the interpretation for Nebuchadnezzar’s dream; Ezekiel,(Ezekiel 1; Cornelius and Peter, Acts 10:3-16; Paul, Acts 16:9; John, Revelation 1:1).

4. God Revealed Through Trances: The trance seems to be a supernaturally-imposed sleep during which information is given. Acts 10:10 and 11:15 mention the trance of Peter when the sheet of animals came down to the rooftop, indicating that it was right and proper to accept Gentiles into the church.

5. God Revealed Through Inner Communication: This is a communication between God and man without auditory information. We pray — He directs and reveals Himself to us by prayer and Bible study. Phil 3:15 “Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” There is indication of this communication in the Old Testament as well. The workmen that were moved to work on the tabernacle would be one example.

6. God Revealed Through Appearances: These were appearances or manifestations of God accompanied by an audible voice. Exodus 2:1-4:17 where Moses records the incident of the burning bush.

7. God Revealed Through Written Communication: This takes on two forms.
a. The handwriting of the Lord. Daniel 5:5 where the man’s hand wrote on the wall for Belshazzar’s benefit. The Ten Commandments also would fit into this category.
b. The written word of the Old Testament was quoted at times in the New Testament to show the fulfillment of prophecy.

8. God Revealed Through Events: I’m sure that the people heard a very clear warning when Ananias and Sapphira died, as well as when Herod was eaten by worms. (Acts 5 & 12:2) Other examples of this: History as recorded in the Word; History (Biblical) as it is being proven by archaeologists; As God directs history, Alexander fell — Hitler fell — only God’s help allowed the west to win WW II. There are some other items that probably fit here that could be classified as nonverbal revelation. Moses, burning bush; Moses/Israelites, thunder and quakes at Sinai; Israel, darkness and quake at the cross; Aaron, budding rod; Elijah, calling down fire from heaven; etc.

9. God Revealed Through Theophanies: A theophany is an appearance of God to man. We tend to view these as in the form of man or angel, though the burning bush, the pillar of fire, the pillar of smoke and others were also theophanies. Abraham, (Genesis 17:1,22; 18:1; Isaac, Genesis 26:2; Jacob, Genesis 32:30; Moses, Exodus 3:2-6; 33:11; Gideon, Jud 6:12,14-18; Elijah, I Kings 19:7).

10. God Revealed Through Nature: I have never seen a good study done on this subject. We know from the Word that it is true, but a listing of some of the ways we can see God in nature has some good possibilities for witnessing to the doubter of God. A few items that might help someone get started on this study: The infiniteness of God can be seen in the vastness of the universe, the creativity of God can be seen in the symmetry of nature, the variety of God can be seen in the millions of different faces we have seen. All of these shadow a higher power that must exist. Nature declares His handiwork, (Psalm 19:1-3; declares invisible things of God, Romans 1:20; and is God’s witness, Acts 14:17).

11. God Revealed Through Angels: They announce things to man, and direct people, thus making God known. This shows one of the functions of the angelic host. Lot, (Genesis 19:1ff; Mary, Luke 1:26-37; Peter, Acts 12:7-10).

12. God Revealed Through The Conscience: Man has a conscience and knows right from wrong. This must come from God — man wouldn’t devise such a thought system on his own. He would consider all things right so he could indulge himself in all things.

13. God Revealed Through Miracles: These reveal the presence and power of God. They accomplished good. They were “Practical or benevolent” according to Thiessen. (Thiessen, Henry C.; “Lectures In Systematic Theology”; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949, p 36).

14. God Revealed Through Man: Romans 1:18,19 Our very construction indicates God, as does the inner consciousness of God. It must be a great struggle for the atheist, before their heart is hardened to fight against that inner consciousness that God has placed within all of mankind.

15. God Revealed Through Preservation: Chafer mentions that the preservation of the creation is a display of His power, love, concern and plan, (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10).

16. God Revealed Through Providence: He is working on His plan and is carrying that plan to its end. This is seen when someone comes to the Lord for salvation; this is seen when we see a kingdom crumble; and this is seen when we see a baby born and grow into a man or woman of God.

Work Cited:

A. Cambron, Mark G. D.D.; “Bible Doctrines”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954

B. Chafer, Lewis Sperry Chafer, revised by Walvoord, John F.; “Major Bible Themes”;          Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974.

C. Miller, Rev. H.S.; “General Biblical Introduction”; Houghton, NY: The Word-Bearer press, 1937.

D. Pache, Rene, “The Inspiration And Authority Of Scripture”; Chicago: Moody Press, 1969.

E. Pardington, Rev. George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926.

F. Ryrie, Charles C.; “A Survey Of Bible Doctrine”; Chicago: Moody, 1972.

G. Ryrie, Charles C.; “Basic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986

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