Revelation- a disclosure of something that was before unknown; and
divine revelation is the direct communication of truths before unknown
from God to men. (McClintock & Strong Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature)
The doctrine of revelation is a doctrine that is very logical. God is an intelligent God. He has created intelligent creatures. This being so, it stands to reason that God would communicate to them His reason and will for their being. There are also things about life and about God that we would not otherwise know. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut 29:29)(KJV) God has given us revelation that we can know His purpose for us and fulfill this purpose.
Revelation is necessary, because God is not known apart from His revelation.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?” (Rom 11:33-34)(KJV) God is far beyond all human comprehension. The wisdom, ways, and mind of God are limitless. They are of a depth that cannot be fathomed (measured). In fact, the Bible tells us that there is much more of God than is revealed to us. Habakkuk said, when he saw a vision of God, “His brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.” (Hab 3:4)(KJV) God is so great that, when He reveals Himself, He is still hidden! Isn’t that amazing? God’s greatness is such that, when He manifests Himself to us, more is hidden of God than is made known of Him. This greatness makes revelation necessary.
Two Forms of Revelation
There are two forms of revelation: general revelation and supernatural revelation.
In general revelation God makes Himself known to all. This could also be called natural revelation. The Psalmist said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Ps 19:1-3)(KJV) All of creation testifies to the majesty of its Creator. The signature of God is seen upon the canvas of His world and works. Creation also testifies to the eternal nature and power of God. In fact, man is responsible to God because creation reveals to him that God is present. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”( Rom 1:18-20)(KJV) God has revealed himself in man by giving him an inherent knowledge of God. He has also revealed His eternal power and deity to man in nature.
God’s general revelation of Himself is also seen in history. As Paul stood before the people of Lystra, he told them that God had revealed Himself to them by providing for them throughout each year of their lives. “The living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17)(KJV) In many other ways, and in many other times, God has revealed Himself throughout history. This could also be spoken of as providential revelation, or God’s revelation of Himself through intervening in the lives of His creatures.
In supernatural, or special revelation God works in ways that are above nature. Supernatural revelation is more specific than natural (or general) revelation. General revelation does not make known to us the truth of the triune nature of God. Supernatural revelation teaches us this. We do not learn of the person and work of the Holy Spirit from nature, but we do learn this great truth because of God’s supernatural revelation.
Supernatural revelation has two basic forms. The first is the incarnation and life of Jesus. Jesus came into the world to make God known unto man. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”( John 1:18)(KJV) There are many, many things about our great and wonderful God that we would never have known if Jesus had not come into the world. The unseen God was not seen in nature, but He is seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”( Heb 1:1-2)(KJV)
The second form of supernatural revelation is the written word of God. This is called Biblical revelation. God has made His will and ways known to man through the truths He has revealed to us in His word. This word of God is revelation. This is not to be confused with inspiration which deals with the process by which we received the word. The word of God is God’s revelation of Himself and His will to us. Paul told the Galatian church that the law of God found in the Old Testament is a Divine revelation. “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”( Gal 3:19)(KJV) God used angels and Moses to reveal Himself to us and give us the law. This is indeed supernatural, for we would not have known many of the things taught us in the Old Testament had God not chosen to tell us. . “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut 29:29)(KJV) Peter also spoke of the word of God as being a supernatural revelation. “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”( 2 Peter 1:16-21)(KJV) Peter stated that he was an eyewitness to the glory of Jesus. He was present when God the Father spoke from Heaven to testify of His pleasure in His Son. This was a supernatural revelation that would not/ could not occur naturally. Peter also stated that God has revealed Himself to us through the writings of the prophets, and that this was given supernaturally.
We also find that the New Testament scriptures are a supernatural revelation of God. Note Jesus’ promise concerning the coming of the Holy Ghost: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:12-15) (KJV) Today we are blessed to have the Word of God which has been revealed through the work of the Holy Ghost. This has happened just as Jesus promised it would.
Finally, we find supernatural revelation at the coming of Jesus. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev 1:7) (KJV) This revelation of Christ brings about eternal change for His children. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1Jn 3:2) KJV