How Can We Know God?

God Reveals Himself

In order for us to know God it must only be through what He has chosen to reveal to us. Millard Erickson states, “Because humans are finite and God is infinite, if they are to know God, that knowledge must come about by God’s taking the initiative to make himself known” (Erickson 26). God has revealed himself in different ways at different times to different people. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). He has revealed Himself generally to all peoples through creation and our inner sense of God. He has also revealed Himself more specifically to people by speaking directly through the prophets, His son Jesus, and His written word. These two categories are commonly known as general revelation and special revelation. Although God has revealed Himself, it is also important to understand that we will never comprehend everything there is to know about God, but we can know God on a personal level. 

General Revelation

Scripture tells us that all people have a knowledge of God that can be seen through creation. The Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Paul writes, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Scripture also teaches that we all have a knowledge of God through our inner sense of Him. This is why throughout every culture in the world we see a moral sense of right and wrong. Why is this? It’s because it’s written on our hearts and we are created with a sense of morality. Paul says, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:14-15). We can clearly see that Scripture teaches that all people have a certain knowledge of God through both creation and our inner sense of Him. 

Special Revelation

Millard Erickson describes special revelation as, “God’s manifestation of himself to particular persons at definite times and places, enabling those persons to enter into a redemptive relationship with him” (Erickson 40). Although we can know about God and know that He exists through general revelation it is only through special revelation that one can be reconciled to God and enter into a true relationship with Him. General revelation is still of great importance and value as it teaches us many things about God that we would otherwise not understand. Special revelation has come through different modes such as God’s written words in Scripture, His spoken words through the prophets and apostles, and through His son Jesus in the incarnation. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible teaches that the Scriptures are the actual words of God and Jesus attested to this fact in the many references He had from the Old Testament Scriptures. Through special revelation, God has shared with us the story of redemption and allowed us to be saved from the penalty of our sins through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. 


God is incomprehensible yet knowable. He is complex in one sense yet simple in another. Although we can never know everything about God, we can know God personally and enter into a redemptive relationship with Him. God is who He is. When Moses asked God what he should tell the people when they ask what His name is here is how He responded, “”I Am who I Am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I Am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).  God simply is. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Yet, He has chosen to reveal Himself to us. This should lead us to awe, wonder, and worship of Him.


Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Baker Academic, 2015.

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