1. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: “1 a: an act of revealing or communicating divine truth b: something that is revealed by God to man…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)
2. Pardington: “Revelation may be defined as a supernatural communication from God to man, either oral or written. The term is usually understood of a written communication.” (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 29)
3. Bancroft, “Revelation simply means the ‘disclosure of truth.’ It is initiated in the divine love and grace of God on behalf of His creatures. Revelation can be defined as the demonstration and sharing by God of His person, will, and redemptive activity.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permisssion of Zondervan Publishing House. p 13)
4. Bancroft, “Horne says revelation is ‘a discovery afforded by God to man of Himself, or of His will, over and above what He has made known by the light of nature, or reason.’“ (Taken from the book, Christian Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Second revised edition Copyright 1976 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 25)
5. Buswell, “The word ‘revelation’ is of Latin derivation and means ‘unveiling’ It is the translation of the Greek ‘apokalypsis’.” Usually the word ‘revelation’ refers not to the unveiling, or making visible, of an object or a person, but to the making known of a truth. In Christian theology the doctrine of revelation is the doctrine of God’s making Himself, and relevant truths about Himself, known to man.” (Buswell, “A Systematic Theology Of The Christian Religion”; p 183)
REVELATION CAN BE VIEWED IN VARIOUS WAYS
Through nature: (Romans 1) This is probably the major source of revelation aside from the written word.
Through our intellect: We can know something of Him by looking at nature and comprehending that information.
His activities among the nations: As we see nations rise and fall we can know that some higher power is working. During the 1990’s when the communist block fell into pieces, it was evident that something far above, economics, politics, or freedom was in progress.
The revelation from intellect and God’s working with the nations is quite subject to man’s faulty reasoning, so should be relied upon lightly.
Might I combine some of the thoughts from the previous definitions into one definition? Revelation is God’s gracious showing of Himself to mankind through nature and the written Word.
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, 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 & 12:20ff respectively.)
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, Judges 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.
17. God Revealed Through Other Ways: Lots and the Urim and Thummin were methods of knowing God’s will, in the Old Testament.
TYPES OF SPECIFIC REVELATION
1. God Revealed Through The Written Word: The entirety of the Bible is God’s revelation to man, so that man can know God and know about God. It is given that we might know God’s will for our everyday lives. 1 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4
2. God Revealed Through Jesus Christ: The direct expression and manifestation of God in physical form. John 1:1-5; Hebrews 1:2
3. God Revealed Through The Prophets: They warned and warned and warned of God’s coming destruction. They also gave information of the judgments, of God’s longsuffering, of God’s righteousness, of His love for His name, of His love for His people and many other items concerning God. All of the Old Testament prophetic books; Hebrews 1:1; Numbers 12:6-8; John 9:29
4. God Revealed Through The Holy Spirit: He is our Help, John 14:16,17; He is our Guide, John 16:7-15; He was the link between God the Father and the authors of Scripture when the Bible was given.
THE MANNER OF REVELATION
1. It Was Progressive: God in Hebrews 1:1,2 tells us that He communicated to man through the prophets, and now through His Son.
Since the apostles stopped receiving revelation, there has been no further revelation.
Adam did not know all that we know, nor does the Old Testament contain all that the Lord has for man. The revelation has been progressing through time, from Adam unto the close of the Revelation given to John. Noah knew more than Adam, and Paul certainly knew more than both Noah and Adam.
Romans 16:25,26 state,
“Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”
For new information to be made known then there had to have been progressive revelation.
2. It Is Permanent: 1 Corinthians 13 speaks of when the “perfect” is come. Many believe this to be the Word of God and more specifically the canon after revelation ceased. Isaiah 40:8 declares, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.” There have been societies and political systems that have attempted to wipe the Bible and knowledge of God from the face of the earth, yet none have succeeded. In Communist Russia it is reported that the cross was still evident on the landscape, even though the government tried to eliminate God from their system that did not allow for a supreme being.
REVELATION IS NOT REASON
To understand revelation we must use our thinking ability. We must analyze the facts of revelation and reason out what we are studying. Reason, however, can be had apart from revelation. Revelation brings you to God while reason can only bring you to knowledge of what you study, or to a knowledge of God. Reason alone cannot produce a moral man nor a godly man. Revelation alone, on the other hand, can most certainly produce a moral man and a godly man.
THE REVELATION IS NOT INSPIRATION
The Word of God is God’s message to mankind. The content of this message is the revelation of God. This content was revealed in different ways. As the writers of Scripture penned their message they were inspired, or moved along in their work, by the Holy Spirit. Inspiration was the vehicle by which the information was transmitted from God to the writer and ultimately to mankind. We will see inspiration in detail later in the study of Bibliology.
THE NEED OF REVELATION
Strong mentions, “Man’s intellectual and moral nature requires, in order to preserve it from constant deterioration, and to ensure its moral growth and progress, an authoritative and helpful revelation of religious truth, of a higher and completer sort than any to which, in its present state of sin, it can attain by the use of its unaided powers.” (Strong, Augustus H.. “Systematic Theology”; Valley Forge, PA: The Judson Press, 1907, P 111. Strong p 111ff has a very detailed study on revelation and deals extensively with miracles as a type of revelation.)
THE DIVINE REVELATION IS
1. Full Of Variety: There is poetry, there is prophecy, there is history, there is doctrine and there is devotional information. All types of information, given within the context of almighty God and His value system.
2. Partial: An infinite God could never reveal all that He knows to finite beings in the first place, and the volumes it would take to hold even a small portion of God’s knowledge would send the earth out of orbit. We have the information that He desired for us to have. It is sufficient for our daily lives and our knowledge of Him.
3. Complete Concerning Information Covered: It is complete as far as it goes on those facts, but certainly not complete on what God knows of the subject.
4. Progressive: The Lord revealed His Word in steps which mankind could handle. He didn’t just dump everything on Adam at once, for Adam had no need of much of the information. Just one example of unnecessary information would be the tribulation. Can you imagine the stress Adam would have had if God had started talking about the tribulation on one of those garden walks?
5. Redemptive In Nature: The Word is an account of man bringing on a need for redemption, and God preparing a way of redemption.
6. Final: There will be no further revelation until we see Christ, and He again begins to reveal things to us. The new revelations, of the Mormons and other isms, are not really revelations to add to the Bible but perversion to lead people astray.
7. Without Error: The Bible is without error. Many over the years have attempted to cast doubt upon the Word by using improper scientific information. This information was believed by many, yet science has proven itself wrong many times over, and in the process proven the Bible to be correct many times over. For years the Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah was questioned, because the cities had not been found, yet in recent years they have found ruins under the Dead Sea that may well be these two cities.
8. A Gift Of Love: God in His great love did us a great favor. Can you imagine the frustration of looking into the night sky and knowing there was a God — a creator — and never in your life knowing anything else about Him? His revelation allows us to know Him on a personal basis.
We can know what God wants of us because He has communicated to us through the Bible — His revelation of Himself to us. If the Bible is His revelation to us, then we should study the Word so that we may know what He has said.
God can be known. We have the Word of God for all of mankind — why don’t we give it to them the world over? One of the great sins of Israel was not giving forth the knowledge of God to the nations around them. This was the great sin of the Church for many years until the modern missionary movement. The sad commentary now, in this day, is that we are reverting to the premodern missionary movement mind set. Missions is in a serious decline today in our churches.
He desires that we know Him, other wise why would He have bothered revealing Himself to us? If His Word is final, and we know it has the answers, why do we go to the books and the super preachers for our answers? The Sword of the Lord sent out over one million pounds of books in 1988 or 1989. That cost over a million dollars in postage plus all of the retail prices of all those books that probably have never been read, and that are probably drawing dust on the shelf.
 by Stanley L. Derickson. DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.