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God’s Silent Witness

  • June 2018 Issue
Theology Matters

One of the first things we learn about God in the book of Genesis is that He is not silent. According to Genesis, God spoke and creation came into existence. God also speaks through what He has created. The heavens “declare” God’s glory and the skies “proclaim” the work of His hands (Ps. 19:1). The beauty of the heavens recounts God’s glory by putting His handiwork on display.

This witness has two important features. First, it is conspicuous. The Hebrew word translated as proclaim in Psalm 19:1 means to reveal something or make it plain. The second feature of this divine witness is that it is universal. God’s self-testimony continues day after day and night after night, even though no audible voice is heard. “They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them,” the psalmist says. “Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Ps. 19:3–4). The fact that God’s self-testimony is expressed nonverbally through what He has made means that language is no barrier to its message. It is readily accessible to everyone.

Because of this, all people are without excuse when it comes to God. What can be known about God has been made plain through what has been made (Rom. 1:19). Yet the witness of creation is not enough. God’s testimony of Himself cannot be avoided, but it can be ignored.

As a result of our fallen nature, humanity’s default response to the testimony of creation is to stifle its message. We are inclined to suppress and distort what creation teaches us about God (Rom. 1:18, 22–23). This means that creation can be a kind of primer but it can never serve as the final text about God.

Fortunately, God has also given us another, clearer testimony about Himself. The psalmist describes this explicit witness in Psalm 19:7–9: the testimony of God’s written word. God’s law, statutes, precepts, commands, and decrees will not change our thinking automatically—to truly understand God, we must also know Jesus Christ, who is God’s final word about Himself (Heb. 1:1–3; John 1:1–4). He opens our eyes and changes our hearts by His Spirit.

To learn more, read General Revelation: Historical Views and Contemporary Issues by Bruce Demarest (Zondervan).

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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