There are a few consequences to the reality of general revelation.
First, the folly of Atheism.
Because God has revealed Himself to all men through what has been made, all men are without excuse. Yet the atheist says he or she doesn’t believe God exists because they say God has failed to give sufficient proof of His existence. Well, these passages teach that deep down even the atheist knows God in a very real way. So what’s really happening in atheism is not a belief that God doesn’t exist, but rather a rejection of the God they know to exist. This is why Psalm 14:1 says it is only the ‘fool’ who says there is no God.
Second, the Boingo Boingo man.
Many people, many Christians even, believe that if someone grows up and lives their life in a remote part of the world where the gospel has not yet reached, and die, that they’ll go to heaven. So consider the man in boingo boingo. Growing up, living, dying without ever having heard the gospel. What happens to him? Is he innocent or guilty? According to our previous passages he is not innocent. Rather, he has had the whole of his life to seek out the God he knows to be true. How does he know God to be true? From what has been made, therefore he is without excuse.
Third, the physically blind.
Now, you may be tracking with me so far, but think there’s a loophole in this because there are people who are born into this world without sight. Are they without excuse? They can’t see what God has made in creation. Correct, they can’t see it, but the Bible says they can feel it. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 God says He has planted eternity in the souls of all men, so that we know there is more to life than what we experience. Also Romans 2:14-15 says the law of God has been written on our hearts which gives men, as John Calvin said, ‘sensus divinitatis’ or a sense of the divine. So those without the ability to see and those who have working eyesight know the general revelation of God and are without excuse.
Some of you may be thinking, ‘The gospel saves, people must know the gospel, how could someone ever know the gospel from just looking at creation?’ Well, one of the reasons general revelation is called general is that is doesn’t reveal any details of the redemption. You can’t learn of the birth, life, death, resurrection, or ascension from a sunset. You can’t learn of the call for repentance and belief from a palm tree. R.C. Sproul says, ‘Millions have never seen a Bible or heard Scripture preached, but they have lived in the theater of nature, where God manifests Himself.’
This shows us the difference between general revelation and special revelation. General revelation does indeed give a true knowledge of God, but it is only in God’s special revelation (the Bible) where we gain a knowledge of God that is sufficient for salvation.
Which leads us to the next way God reveals Himself: special revelation