General RevelationGeneral Revelation is called "general" because it is available to everyone and is enough to leave every person without an excuse regarding the existence of God. Theologian Louis Berkhof defined it this way: "General revelation is rooted in creation, is addressed to man as man, and more particularly to human reason, and finds its purpose [when we realize that God is the creator], to know God and thus enjoy communion with Him."1 I think this is very encouraging on a personal level - to remember that the reason God created everything was to have fellowship and communion with us.
Here are some verses that express these same truths.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19: 1-4a
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. Acts 14:17
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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. Romans 1:18-20All of these verses seem to be saying that God wants us to observe what He has made to learn more about Him. I also think it is a desire that God has put into us to want to study and learn more about the world around us. It is fascinating, humbling, and FUN!
Special RevelationSpecial Revelation is generally considered to be the Bible, although a more broad definition might be "a disclosure of God's truth through means other than through man's reason."2 This would include, either now or in the past, "physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ."3
Here are some Scriptures that express this truth.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2For you Truth Project fans, Del Tacket has a nice discussion of these definitions as well. He calls special revelation "Primary Truth" and general revelation "Secondary Truth." He makes the important point that God's Word must be the bottom line for Truth. The special revelation helps us understand what we observe in the general revelation. He reminds us of The Law of Non-contradiction which states that if two things are true they cannot contradict each other. If there is an apparent contradiction we must make sure we have interpreted Primary Truth correctly, we must make sure we have understood Secondary Truth correctly, and we must realize that any observation in Secondary Truth has to be consistent with Primary Truth.
To see this discussion go here: The Truth Project : Class Question: General Revelation
As we journey in search of Truth we will be exploring both of these revelations, seeking to understand each correctly. Only then can we know God to the fullest!