I recently heard someone sarcastically compare man’s relationship to God to a cruel game of hide-and-seek where God supposedly hides slightly out of reach and demands to be found. Man is “it”—seeking the ever-elusive God but never able to find or please Him.
The analogy fascinated me because, in a way, there is an ongoing version of hide-and-seek between God and man. However, from the beginning, people have been hiding from God while He seeks them (Gen. 3:1–24). In God’s eyes, it is no game. It is a matter of life and death, and He has spared no cost in seeking a restored relationship with the ones He created and loves.
God is not hiding. He seeks meaningful relationships with men and women and delights in revealing Himself to them, which He does through general and special revelation.
General revelation is the witness of the created world. Evidence of God’s existence is available for all to see through observation of the physical universe. The wonders of creation reveal His glory and handiwork (Ps. 19:1; Rom. 1:20). History declares His faithfulness and sovereignty (Ezek. 36:22–24, 36; Dan. 4:31–37). And life’s circumstances and miracles point to His presence. Such divine encounters and glimpses can leave one speechless, bewildered, and longing for more.
But general revelation alone is not sufficient to provide the truths necessary to bring someone into a personal relationship with God. So God provided special revelation. He did not hide the truth but specifically revealed it in His written Word, the Bible (Ps. 119:1–176; 2 Tim. 3:15–16).
The Scriptures provide the fullest divine revelation. They do not tell us everything about God, man, and the universe; but they do tell us everything we need to know for salvation and the Christian life.
Of course, knowing facts about God is not the same as knowing God. No one recognizes Him, understands His voice, or relates to Him unless God first reveals Himself (Lk. 10:21–22; Rom. 3:10–12). God does not require us to find Him but, rather, to believe and receive what He has revealed.
Divine revelation is not the result of human effort or observation. We do not discover God like an archaeologist digs up an ancient relic. God is alive and vibrant. He alone unveils hidden truth about Himself and His works—things we could never discover by ourselves.
Years ago, I was invited to participate in an open discussion on the radio about God, the Bible, and religion. The broadcast included several face-to-face encounters with an extremely controversial talk-radio host whom I will never forget.
Widely known for his offensive style and uncanny ability to torment guests and callers alike, the host was mean and caustic, especially toward Christians. He twisted their words, overwhelmed them with obscure Bible verses, and delighted in enticing them to make outlandish spiritual proclamations. To him, the Bible was merely an ancient book filled with ridiculous miracles, oppressive rules for life, and unbelievable myths about a cruel god. He knew the Bible, quoted theology, tossed in details from church history, and recited the gospel. But regardless of how many facts he knew, he did not know God.
We sat in front of live microphones for two hours at a time in a small, dark studio filled with smoke. I felt uneasy, to say the least. The first hour was filled with the host’s unrelenting and well-researched questions.
Afterward, he opened the phone lines, and the onslaught against God and Christians intensified. Callers identified themselves as atheists; agnostics; and self-proclaimed experts from various cults, religions, and denominations. Ignorance, foolishness, and falsehood demonstrated themselves in abundance.
Determined not to venture into this spiritual battlefield with vain arguments, philosophies, or opinions, I chose to respond only with God’s revealed truth about Himself, His gospel, and His love. God did not need me to defend His honor; He already had revealed all that was needed for anyone to have a redeemed relationship with Him.
To the best of my knowledge, the radio host never changed his mind. He continued to choose to reject God. The gospel was foolishness to him. As the Scripture says, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). I only hope that, in some small way, God revealed a little bit about Jesus from that small studio.
Christians responded to the program in various ways: Some prayed, some criticized, and some thought I was wasting my time. We may easily write off the opinions of the non-Christian world. But a reflective glimpse of our hearts in the mirror of God’s Word exposes the truth that foolishness and ignorance are not exclusive to those outside the church.
God clearly states who He is in His Word. Yet even Bible-believing Christians are often confused about what God is really like. Too many distractions cloud our vision of Him and dull our hearing of His Word.
Jesus confronted a religious system that searched the Scriptures but totally missed the point of who God was and what He was doing (Jn. 5:39). In fact, Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees they had invalidated God’s Word with their long-standing traditions and practices (Mt. 15:6).
The early church dealt with people who wanted to customize the truth to their liking. They distorted the truth of Scripture with fables and myths they learned from their culture or heard in the local market (2 Tim. 4:3–4).
The writer of Hebrews warned people not to harden their hearts to God’s voice or refuse to allow His Word to change them (Heb. 3:7–14). Jesus taught His disciples that if they responded appropriately to what they already heard, they would understand more truth (Mk. 4:24).
Is it possible that we, too, have become so attached to our religious practices that we nullify the Word’s requirements that we change? Do we want truth to conform to our way of thinking? Has our ability to understand spiritual truth diminished because we have not properly responded to the truth we already know? We want more of God, but what will we do today with the knowledge we already possess about Him?
Revelational people––those who have personally responded to God’s general and special revelation––are characterized by an awareness that God reveals Himself all around them. They expectantly listen to and read His Word to know more about Him. They believe what He says in the Scriptures, and they understand that Jesus is God revealed in the flesh; He is the living Word (Jn. 1:1–5).
A revelational outlook is not a skill that can be taught; rather, it proceeds from a heart that yearns to experience the revealed glory and grace of God. Revelational people do not simply affirm a theology; they have real, vibrant relationships with God. A revelational heart develops from a passion to love and hold fast to Jesus as the very sustenance of life.
Like sheep with a shepherd, revelational Christians are receptive to Jesus’ call. They know His voice, and He knows them. They follow Him alone and flee from strange voices. They know, without a doubt, He is the only one who gives eternal life (Jn. 10:2–5, 27–28).
At times, God speaks in a still, small voice. Other times, He speaks through life’s miraculous and tragic events. A revelational ear can hear Him in the laughter, tears, and difficult questions. He can be found in the emotional words of David the psalmist and behind the scenes in the book of Esther. God is the central character in every book of the Bible.
Take a close look. The point isn’t what Moses did for God but what God did through Moses. It isn’t how great King David was but, rather, how great God’s grace is. We can stop hiding because the point is how much God did by giving His Son to seek and save us.
The fingerprints of God can be found on each day of our lives and each page of Scripture. If we have a revelational heart, we recognize those fingerprints and grow in the knowledge of who He is and what He has done. It is a never-ending cycle: The more we see, hear, and know Him, the more we trust His daily plan for our lives. The more we trust Him, the more we see and hear Him.
[May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Eph. 1:17–19).