The gospel makes very little sense in our culture. Saying “Jesus saves,” simply begs the question, “from what?” This is partly due to the fact that general revelation has been misunderstood in our day. Without an understanding of general revelation, special revelation won’t make any sense. We have to help people get the first in order to understand the second. 19th century theologian, B.B. Warfield wrote of how important each is to understanding the other:
[I]t is important that the two species or stages of revelation should not be set in opposition to one another…. They constitute together a unitary whole, and each is incomplete without the other.… Without special revelation, general revelation would be for sinful men incomplete and ineffective, and could issue… only in leaving them without excuse (Rom. 1:20). Without general revelation, special revelation would lack that basis in the fundamental knowledge of God as the mighty and wise, righteous and good, maker and ruler of all things, apart from which the further revelation of this great God’s interventions in the world for the salvation of sinners could not be either intelligible, credible or operative.
1. Law of Nature
Psalm 19:1-6 is a celebration of the unbreakable natural law that God has put into creation. The sun is the most powerful force in our solar system, it is a “strong man” that “runs his course with joy” because God—through the law of gravity—has commanded it! Like gravity, God has placed a moral law into the heart of every person.
2. Law Breakers
Unlike the sun, we don’t obey the moral law, which is why David writes what he does in Psalm 19:12-14. C.S. Lewis put it this way:
[H]uman beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. [And] they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.
Our law breaking has caused a chain reaction in the universe that has spread brokenness all across it (Romans 8:19-22). The human race has gone off course, and the entire universe is following suit.
3. Law Keeper
David asks that God would “declare me innocent from hidden faults” (v.12). David is a law breaker; only a law keeper could be declared innocent. Jesus Christ is that Law Keeper who stood in our place, gave us his innocence and takes our guilt upon himself (2 Cor. 5:21).
Reflection and Discussion Questions
What are some examples of the moral law that every person knows innately? Which of these would your neighbors agree on?
Where else in the Bible is the idea of “natural law” taught?
Why does death follow from breaking the moral law that God put into creation?
Why does the rest of creation suffer from human beings breaking the moral law?
Only Christ Jesus can declare us innocent (Ps. 19:12). Find a passage of Scripture that speaks to the way he makes us innocent before God.
Bring It Home (tangible ways to live the truth daily)
Listen for two people quarreling this week (children, neighbors, family members). What kinds of things do they say? Do you hear any appeals to the natural law?
Take 5 minutes to listen to your conscience one day this week. What is it saying to you? Does it tell you to do things you don’t want to hear? Do you hear it convicting you of law breaking?