James 2:17-19 faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”
I was reading through some excellent little study on our revelation of God and realized that, in this day and age that we are in, how great the need is to communicate to a world of conflicting views of religion about the distractions that draw our minds and hearts away from the true of the Creator God that made and loves us. They explain that, in biblical terms, to be religious does not necessarily mean you are godly. To be religious can mean simply that you’re involved in the trappings of religion, which may be a member of a false religion. That is why you may hear that Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. Yet, the Scriptures sometimes speak of religion in a positive sense, in the sense of practice that is the fruit of true faith in Christ and commitment to His Word.
The Apostle James focuses on religion as the practice of those who have true faith in Jesus, and he says that true religion demonstrates the presence of “saving” trust in the Lord. What true godliness looks like, he tells us, is not a matter of merely holding to the right doctrine with our minds, though that is essential. No, true godliness means that the doctrine shapes our lives to such a degree that we manifest and lives out the kind of life God wants us to live. As evangelist Ray Vander Laan states: We are no to just bring the message of the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ; we are to be the message for all to see. James gives a definition of true godliness, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: To keep oneself unspotted from the world.” Know the difference between “right’ and “wrong”, and choose to do “right”.
Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the shy above proclaims his handiwork”.
The article points out that God reveals Himself in His Creation. In theological categories, we speak of God’s revelation of Himself in the created order as natural revelation. This is in contrast with special revelation, wherein God speaks directly to us through the Word and the Spirit. God’s revelation of Himself in natural revelation is less direct and is addressed not to a specific person or community but rather to humanity in general for all to see and know. For this reason, natural revelation is also known as general revelation.
Romans 18-19 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men (and women) who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made has made it plain to them.”
We say that natural revelation is less direct than special revelation because in natural revelation, the Lord does not disclose specific truths about salvation or specific plans for individuals. Instead, He reveals Himself and His attributes in a general way. Essentially, God reveals Himself through natural revelation as the Creator of all things. The heavens themselves proclaim that they are the handiwork of a personal Creator, emphasizing the universality of natural revelation. There is no place on the planet where God’s natural revelation does not proclaim that He is and that He has made all things.
Romans 1: 20-21 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
This passage fleshes out this revelation a bit more, explaining that natural revelation proclaims God’s power and that we owe Him honor, thanks and worship. It does not tell us everything there is to know about the Lord, and we can hardly build an extensive theology based natural revelation. But it des tell us enough-that we are creatures and that there is a Creator to whom our worship is owed. At the end of the day, no one can be a true atheist because natural revelation is so clear. God’s essence, indeed, is incomprehensible, utterly transcending all human thought; but on each of His works His glory is engraved in characters so bright, so distinct, and so illustrious, the none, however deceived, dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse. The fingerprints of God are everywhere you look.
Natural revelation is limited is its scope, but that does not mean it fails to achieve its purposes. God reveals Himself in nature so that no one will be able to plead ignorance of His existence on the last day. His message gets through, and we can appeal to creation as proof of His existence when we are talking with unbelievers. Let us not be afraid to use God’s natural revelation to point others to Him.
In Christ, Brian