By Fred Zaspel–

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The following helpful summary is from the late Robert J. Dunzweiler, my theology professor at Biblical Theological Seminary around 1990. These summary points are drawn from his analysis of such Biblical passages as Psalm 19, Romans 1, Acts 14:17, and 17:22-31.

Doctrinal Formulation Concerning External General Revelation

1.  There has been and continues to be an external general revelation; i.e., a divine self disclosure in mediate, nature mode that comes to the recipient from outside of himself.

2.  This external general revelation discloses God mediately, by means of the created objects and providential events of the time-space universe.

3.  This external general revelation can be referred to as a “word” from God.

4.  This external general revelation discloses God’s attributes of glory, wisdom, goodness, power, and divinity, as well as God’s works of creation and providence.

5.  This external general revelation, although marred, is not vitiated or totally annihilated by sin, either objectively or subjectively.

6.  This external general revelation reaches every part of the world and every person in the world. It transcends all spatial, temporal, and cultural barriers, especially those of language.

7.  This external general revelation has been and is being perceiving by the senses and apprehended by the minds of all rational beings in the world.

8.  This external general revelation has been and is being suppressed and perverted by all unrighteous human beings.

Doctrinal Formulation Concerning Internal General Revelation

1.  There has been and continues to be an internal general revelation; i.e., a divine self-disclosure in mediate, natural mode which comes to the recipient from within himself.

2.  This internal general revelation discloses God mediately, by means of man’s awareness of his creaturehood and partial likeness to God, God’s Law written on man’s heart, God’s moral judge (the conscience) operating in man’s consciousness, and the continuous working and outworking of these factors, despite the effects of sin on them.

3.  This internal general revelation discloses God’s attributes of rationality, personality, holiness, and justice, as well as God’s works of creation and judgment.

4.  This internal general revelation, although marred, is not vitiated or totally annihilated by sin, either objectively or subjectively.

5.  This internal general revelation reaches every human being in the world. It transcends all spatial, temporal, and cultural distinctions and differences, especially ethical and moral relativism.

6.  This internal general revelation is actually known by all human being.

7.  This internal general revelation has been and is being suppressed and perverted by all unrighteous human beings.

Practical Implications of the Doctrine of General Revelation

1.  General revelation is constantly pressing (both from without and from within) on both the native of Philadelphia and the native of the Amazon basin, on both the native of Moscow and the native of the Philippine rain forests. No human being is without a revelation of God as Creator.

2.  By means of this revelation all human beings have an awareness, a sense of God, although they constantly engage in suppressing and perverting that awareness.

3.  No human being is entirely successful in suppressing and perverting God’s general revelation. This means that no human being is a complete atheist, in the sense that he has no religious consciousness at all.

4.  Because of this universal awareness of God that cannot be entirely suppressed, every human being has a point of contact, a God-given preparation for the presentation of the gospel.

5.  Although general revelation reveals a number of God’s attributes, and His works of creation, providence, and judgment, yet it does not reveal the grace of God that brings salvation. General revelation simply does not provide a knowledge of God as Redeemer, despite some claims to the contrary.

6.  Since general revelation does not provide a knowledge of God as Redeemer, it cannot be made the basis of anything more than a preparation for the gospel. General revelation cannot be viewed as a means of salvation, even to such as have never had opportunity to hear the message of salvation from sin through Christ’s incarnation, atonement, and resurrection. Only a radical new birth, in which spiritual life is imparted to those who are spiritually dead, will suffice; and such a sweeping transformation cannot be brought about by general revelation, but only by the gospel of Christ!

Fred Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also the interim Senior Pastor at New Hyde Park Baptist Church on New York’s Long Island, and Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is also the author of The Continuing Relevance of Divine Law (1991); The Theology of Fulfillment (1994); Jews, Gentiles, & the Goal of Redemptive History (1996); New Covenant Theology with Tom Wells (New Covenant Media); The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010). Fred is married to Kimberly and they have two grown children, Gina and Jim