No one discovers God. God can remain unknowable if He so desires. But the fact is God has revealed Himself to all men in a general way through His work of creation and in a personal way to some of us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The study of God’s revelation concerning Himself and His relationships with His creation in a structured way is called Systematic Theology. On the other hand, Covenant Theology is the systematic study of God’s progressive self-revelation whereby we come to understand God’s nature, attributes and character and His purposes and will for man through a covenantal framework.
This study helps us to know God and, as a result, understand our own existence. It looks at God’s covenant with His creation and with His people and how God has established His sovereignty over His entire creation since the beginning of time. It looks at how God reveals Himself in a way that at first was general or universal into a way that is so particular and how God’s self-revelation turns from an impersonal way into something personal, even intimate.
A. God’s Self-revelation Through His Covenant With Creation
First, God reveals Himself through nature as a Covenant God. Jeremiah 33:25 makes reference to God as the one who “established his covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth.” Understanding the fixed laws of nature means understanding the principles that govern the universe, the nature of creation and its covenantal relationship with its Creator. In Hebrews 1:3 we are told that God sustains all things by His powerful word. There is order in the universe because it is bound and held together by God’s word. His word is His bond with His creation.
Second, God reveals Himself through nature as a Sovereign God. Creation provides the external evidence for the existence of a divine and sovereign being with eternal power. But for an internal witness to men, God had implanted the requirement of His laws, thus His sovereignty, in their hearts (Romans 2:14-15). The Bible reveals to us what we already know naturally. Romans 1:18-20 tells us that the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Everyone and everything are under God’s authority.
A. W. Tozer defines God’s sovereignty “as the attributes by which he rules his entire creation, and to be sovereign God must be all-knowing, all-powerful, and absolutely free.” He continues to say, “Were there is even one datum of knowledge, however small, unknown to God, his rule would break down at that point.” (Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer, 1961, Harper and Brothers p.115)
James E. Bordwine in one of his sermons on the distinctive features of Covenant Theology said this: “To say that God is sovereign is to say that his power is superior to every other form of expression of power; it is to say that God is completely free of external influences so that he does what he chooses, as he chooses, when he chooses. To say that God is sovereign is to say that he is accountable to no one, but all creation is accountable to him; it is to say that the will of God is the single determining factor for all that transpires.
Third, God reveals Himself through nature as an Independent God. God made all things without outside influence of any kind. God alone designed His creation and determines the course of its history. Events in creation do not happen by chance, by impersonal fate, or by inevitable necessity. Man has no say even in matters that affect his very own life – – parents, nationality, physical features and mental faculty, economic standing, the era and geographical area in which to begin and spend his existence. Man has absolutely no choice in these matters. This is not to say though, that man is without free choice or that God does not involve Himself in man’s personal life, public or private. It is saying though that man’s free will, as many would like to think of it, has got to be the most overrated concept in the universe.
Fourth, God reveals Himself through His creation, particularly with His relationship with man, as a Delegating God. After God had blessed Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and increase in number, to fill the earth and subdue it, and to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground (Genesis 1:28), the LORD God took them and put them in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). This two-fold mandate is sometimes referred to as the dominion and cultural mandate. Man was to give form to the formless earth (see Genesis 1:2). In effect, God entered into a covenant with all of creation whereby, by virtue of God’s own sovereignty, man through delegation had become the governor of creation with all the powers and authority inherent to such a position.