September 10, 2017 – Bible Doctrine # 2 – The Bible

Survey of Bible Doctrine, Week 2 – The Bible: God’s Special Revelation to Man

OUTLINE OF THE LESSON:

General Revelation – God reveals Himself to all people

  • Through nature and the universe – Psalm 19:1-6
  • Through man’s conscience – Romans 2:12-15
  • General revelation shows that we are guilty before Holy God – Romans 1:18-21
  • Man needs special revelation because of our sin problem – Romans 3:23

Special Revelation – God reveals Himself more fully to some people (the Bible is God’s special revelation to mankind)

  • Salvation is only available through special revelation – Romans 10:17
  • God’s Word is perfect and beneficial – Psalm 19:7-11
  • The purpose of God’s special revelation is the SALVATION of individuals – Ephesians 2:4-10

Lesson Date: September 10, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: Psalm 19:1-11; Romans 1:18-21; 2:12-15; 3:23; 10:17; Ephesians 2:4-10

AIM: To lead students to grasp the difference between general revelation and special revelation, and to express their thanksgiving for the Bible – God’s special revelation to mankind.

 

Before class: Have enough copies of the lesson outline handout for your anticipated attendance. Write the word “Revelation” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following story to the class:

Jacob grew up in a happy home. From the time he was old enough to understand, his parents were straightforward in telling him that he was adopted. As Jacob grew into his young adult years, he became increasingly curious about his biological mother. His parents told him all they knew: she was a 19-year-old single girl. Jacob’s curiosity drove him to contact the adoption agency, seeking to locate and get in touch with his birth mother. The agency refused to give him any information, but said they would notify his birth mother so she could contact him, if she chose to.

Jacob was stuck. He had a little bit of general information about his biological mother but could not learn any more about her or build a personal relationship with her unless she chose to reveal her identity to him and initiate that relationship.

– OR –

Ask: “How many of you know who the President of the United States is?” (probably everyone in class will know the answer). Ask: “How many of you have a close personal relationship with President Donald Trump?” (probably no one in class has such a relationship). Explain that since the president is surrounded by a bubble of security they can know who President Trump is and they can learn a lot about him, but they cannot get to know him personally unless he decides to allow them access to build such a relationship.

Regardless of which introductory activity you use, tell the class that through today’s lesson you hope to help them understand the differences between God’s general revelation and His special revelation. Read the lesson aim to the class. Remind the class that this quarter we are involved in a study of Bible doctrine. Be certain each person has a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly and understands how to use it.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Central Truth):

  1. Review and Introduction.
    • Ask the class what last week’s lesson was about (the Bible’s authority and inspiration).
    • Ask if anyone would recite last week’s memory verse (2 Tim. 3:16).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Revelation” written on the board.
    • Ask them to suggest definitions for the word (revealing, uncovering, unveiling, or disclosing).
    • Tell the class God is infinite (limitless), but we are finite (limited). As such, it is impossible for us to understand God (see Rom. 11:33) unless God reveals Himself to us.
    • Stress the fact that all we know about God is what He has chosen to reveal to us (see Matt. 16:15-17).
    • Tell the class God has chosen to give us two types of revelation of Himself, which we call general revelation and special revelation.
    • Give each student a copy of the lesson outline handout.
  2. General Revelation – Nature.
    • Write the numbers “1” and “2” on the left side of the board below the word “Revelation.”
    • Write the word “General” beside the number “1.”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Psalm 19:1-6.
    • Tell the class these verses describe one form of God’s general revelation of Himself to everyone on earth.
    • Ask: “According to verses 1-3, what reveals the glory of God?” (the heavens and the beauty of nature).
    • Ask: “According to verse 3, is there any language on earth in which people cannot recognize God’s glory in nature?” (no).
    • Tell the class that throughout the history of the human race, people all over the world have recognized that there is a god of some sort who created and oversees the universe. They can see God’s hand in nature. That is why all cultures all over the earth worship something, even though they do not know the God of the Bible.
    • Ask: “According to verses 4-6, what is felt by every person on earth, which reveals God’s existence?” (the heat of the sun).
    • Tell the class God reveals Himself to all mankind (general revelation) through the glories of His creation, but there is also another way.
  3. General Revelation – Conscience.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Romans 2:12-15.
    • Tell the class verses 12-14 remind us that everyone on earth is a sinner.
    • Ask: “According to verse 15, what did God place inside every person that tells us the difference between right and wrong?” (the conscience).
    • The conscience is a God-given, innate sense of right and wrong. Regardless of where they live or whether they have ever read the Bible, people have a natural sense of right and wrong. God places this inside us to warn us against doing wrong.
    • Tell the class God reveals Himself to mankind through man’s own conscience.
    • Ask: “Why then, do many people sin and apparently feel no sense of guilt or shame?” (because repeated sin and rebellion toward God causes the conscience to become ineffective; the Bible says their conscience is “seared with a hot iron” – see 1 Tim. 4:2).
  4. General Revelation – What Does It Do?
    • Tell the class we have learned that God reveals Himself to all humanity through nature and through the conscience. The next verses will tell us what general revelation reveals.
    • Read Romans 1:18-21.
    • Ask: “What does God reveal through general revelation?” (His wrath and hatred of sin).
    • Ask: “According to verse 20, what excuse do people have before Holy God?” (none).
    • Tell the class that everyone who rejects Jesus Christ does so in spite of the knowledge of God they have through general revelation.
    • Ask the following rhetorical questions: “What good is general revelation? Can a person be saved through general revelation only?” (the answer to both questions is “no”).
    • Explain that general revelation is sufficient only to condemn. An awareness of God’s greatness and holiness through nature and through our conscience shows us that we are guilty before Holy God.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Romans 3:23.
    • Explain that because we are all sinners and cannot save ourselves, and because general revelation only reveals God’s greatness and our sinfulness, we need a special word of revelation from Almighty God.
  5. Special Revelation – What is It?
    • Write the word “Special” beside the number “2” on the board.
    • Tell the class that general revelation is God’s revealing of Himself to all humans, but special revelation is God’s revelation of Himself more fully to some
    • Read Romans 10:17.
    • Ask: “Where does faith in Jesus Christ come from?” (through hearing the Word of God).
    • Explain that while general revelation comes to us through nature and our conscience, God’s special revelation of Himself to mankind is found only in the Bible.
    • In other words, to be saved an individual must come in contact with Jesus Christ through some exposure to the Word of God (see 1 Pet. 1:23).
    • General revelation only shows that we are all guilty sinners; we need special revelation to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
  6. Special Revelation – What is it Like and What does It Do for Those Who Read It?
    • Read Psalm 19:7-9.
    • Explain that while we usually refer to the Word of God as the Bible, in these verses the words law, testimony, statutes, commandment, and judgments are used to refer to God’s Word.
    • Tell the class you are going to read those verses again, but this time you want half the class to listen for how the Word of God is described, while the other half listens for what the Word of God does. Read the verses again.
  • The first half should find that the Word of God is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and it is true and altogether righteous.
  • The second half should find that the Word of God converts the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, and endures forever).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Psalm 19:10-11.
    • Ask: “How much should we desire God’s Word?” (more than wealth or food).
    • Ask: “In what ways is it beneficial to study the Bible?” (we receive warnings and great rewards).
    • Stress the fact that God’s Word is perfect and beneficial.
  1. Special Revelation – Why do we Need It?
    • Remind the class that general revelation is available to every person on earth, revealing that there is a Holy God and that we are sinners. Sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:2).
    • Tell the class that God has graciously chosen to give mankind special revelation through His Word, the Bible.
      • While special revelation through the Bible is not as readily available as general revelation through nature and the conscience, it is available to most people who want it. (There are still some languages with no Bible translation and some governments that outlaw the Bible.)
      • God’s special revelation of Himself through the Bible is freely available in America to almost anyone who wants it.
    • Remind the students that God gives His special revelation (the Bible) so people can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
    • Ask the class to listen for the things God does for us when we accept His gracious gift of salvation, as you read Ephesians 2:4-10 (He shows us mercy and love, He makes us alive with Christ, He puts our life on a heavenly plane, He shows off His grace in us, He gives us faith so we can be saved, and He re-creates us so that we can work for Him).
    • Tell the class all of these wonderful things are the results of hearing God’s special revelation through the Bible and receiving Christ as Savior and Lord.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class you are about to ask them a question that people have wrestled with for centuries. Ask: “If an individual lives his entire life in a remote part of the world where he never sees a Bible or hears the name of Jesus Christ, will that person go to heaven or hell when he dies?” (since no man comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ [John 14:6], unfortunately that person will go to hell). This question may provoke some response. If a question of fairness arises, remind the class that God was not obligated to grant special revelation to anyone. The fair thing would have been to allow all sinners to go to hell. Remind the students that we read in Romans 1:20 that sinners are “without excuse.”

Ask: “When was the first time you heard the name of Jesus Christ or saw a Bible?” (most were children, too small to even remember). Ask: “Based on the doctrinal truths we have learned today, how should we react toward God’s special revelation, the Bible?” (we should humbly express our gratitude that God let us be exposed to His special revelation, recorded in the Bible). If no one had shared God’s special revelation with us we could not have been saved. There are people on earth who have never been graced by God to receive His special revelation; such people are utterly hopeless unless someone tells them about Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus told His followers: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Tell the class hypothetical questions are interesting, but the most important question is much more personal. Ask: “What about you? Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, or do you just admit the fact that there is a God? If you’ve never accepted God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus, please do so now.” Briefly explain how a sinner can confess his sins and place his trust in Jesus Christ for salvation (use the verses printed on the back of the Sunday School Member Quarterly as a guide).

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes for a brief time of silent prayer. Urge any who want to be receive Jesus Christ to confess their sins and ask God to mercifully save them. Ask everyone to silently express their thanks to God for the Bible – God’s special revelation to mankind. Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Offer to speak privately to any who may have questions about their salvation. Tell the class next week we will try to answer a very big question: “Who is God?” Encourage everyone to do the Daily Bible Readings every day this week and to read their Sunday School lesson and answer the questions in the quarterly. Remind them to express thanks to God for the Bible every time they read it this week. Tell them to look for evidences of God’s glory in nature (general revelation) this week.

Urge everyone to come back next week, especially those who are visitors and those who are often absent. Be sure to make contact with all absentees during the week and encourage them to come next Sunday. Don’t let a week go by without letting them know you care about them!

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