Our knowledge of God is based on the fact that God created all things: time, the universe, the physical world, all matter, all living things, as well as the spiritual world and its inhabitants. He then revealed Himself to humankind in a general way through His creation (known as general revelation), as well as more specifically through the Bible (known as special revelation).
The Bible teaches that God created the universe ex nihilo, Latin for out of nothing. Before the universe existed, before time existed, before matter existed, God eternally existed. Anything and everything else that exists, whether physical or spiritual, was created by Him.
There is a great deal of discussion and debate surrounding the creation of the universe, the creation of the world, and the creation of living things. This includes the controversy about how life on earth originated and how human beings came into existence. This topic is much studied and discussed within the scientific community, and is debated by atheists and Christians alike, and many Christian theologians, apologists, philosophers, and scientists have varying views based on their interpretation of Scripture and/or the way they believe the creation account in the book of Genesis should be read and understood.
It is standard Christian doctrine that God always existed, and that God created the universe and all that is in it out of nothing. This basic statement does not address how or when God created the universe, the world, and all living things, both physical and spiritual; only that He did.
I made the earth and created man on it; it was My hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.—Isaiah 45:12
The key to the Christian understanding of God is rooted in the biblical teaching that He is the Creator of all things, as well as understanding His role as Creator and our role as beings who were created by God. In today’s world, thinking of ourselves as creatures—created beings—is often unpopular and is even offensive to some. But if God created all things, then everything is a creation of God, and we are therefore creatures.—Peter Amsterdam
God’s world is not a shield hiding the Creator’s power and majesty. From the natural order it is evident that a mighty and majestic Creator is there. … General revelation is so called because everyone receives it, just by virtue of being alive in God’s world. This has been so from the start of human history. God actively discloses these aspects of himself to all human beings, so that in every case failure to thank and serve the Creator in righteousness is a sin against knowledge, and denials of having received this knowledge should not be taken seriously. God’s universal revelation of His power, praiseworthiness, and moral claim is the basis of Paul’s indictment of the whole human race as sinful and guilty before God for failing to serve Him as we should.1
God has now supplemented general revelation with the further revelation of Himself as Savior of sinners through Jesus Christ. This revelation, given in history and embodied in Scripture, and opening the door of salvation to the lost, is usually called special or specific revelation. It includes explicit verbal statement of all that general revelation tells us about God, and teaches us to recognize that revelation in the natural order, in the events of history, and in the makeup of human beings, so that we learn to see the entire world as, in Calvin’s phrase, a theatre of the glory of God.—J. I. Packer
People can obtain a knowledge that God exists and a knowledge of some of his attributes simply from observation of themselves and the world around them. David says, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”2 To look at the sky is to see evidence of the infinite power, wisdom, and even beauty of God; it is to observe a majestic witness to the glory of God. Similarly, Barnabas and Paul tell the Greek inhabitants of Lystra about the living God who made the heavens and the earth: “In past generations, he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways: yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with good and gladness.”3 Rains and fruitful seasons, food produced from the earth, and gladness in people’s hearts all bear witness to the fact that their Creator is a God of mercy, of love, and even of joy. These evidences of God are all around us in creation to be seen by those who are willing to see them…
The knowledge of God’s existence, character, and moral law, which comes through creation to all humanity is sometimes called “general revelation” (because it comes to all people generally). General revelation comes through observing nature, through seeing God’s directing influence in history, and through an inner sense of God’s existence and his laws that he has placed inside every person…
The fact that all people know something of God’s moral laws is a great blessing for society, for unless they did, there would be no social restraint on the evil that people would do and no restraint from their consciences. Because there is some common knowledge of right and wrong, Christians can often find much consensus with non-Christians in matters of civil law, community standards, basic ethics for business and professional activity, and acceptable patterns of conduct in ordinary life. Moreover, we can appeal to the sense of rightness within people’s hearts4 when attempting to enact better laws or overturn bad laws, or to right some other injustices in society around us.
The knowledge of God’s existence and character also provides a basis of information that enables the gospel to make sense to a non-Christian’s heart and mind: unbelievers know that God exists and that they have broken his standards, so the news that Christ died to pay for their sins should truly come as good news to them.—Wayne Grudem
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