Why Doesn’t God Reveal Himself To Everyone?

By Lisa Quintana

There is the anguish of doubt in some who search for God and yet don’t seem to find Him. It is a troubling experience and an objection to the existence of God. Some say, “If God is real, why will He not just reveal Himself to everyone to let them know He is the true God?” This objection can be answered in a variety of ways[1]:

  1. If we are to obtain “faith,” the only place to do it is outside the presence of God. There is zero need (or possibility) of faith if He shows up the moment we wonder.
  2. He has already revealed Himself in everything we see—He created it all. (Rom. 1:18-21) 
  3. Jesus performed miracles in front of people who were expecting Him, yet they still didn’t believe. It was His message they were rejecting—still is. 
  4. God doesn’t make it hard. People make it hard. People choose not to believe. 
  5. He will reveal Himself to everyone who seeks Him. (Jer. 29:13)

Nevertheless, some claim that they have sought God and have not found Him (or said He had not revealed Himself to them). This argument is called “Divine Hiddenness,” which states that if God exists (and is perfectly good and loving), every reasonable person would have been brought to believe in God, yet there are reasonable, nonresistant nonbelievers.

God is perfectly good and loving, but does it naturally follow that He must always be open to personal relationships with finite beings? Some argue that a perfectly good and loving God would ensure that in the created world, all goods would be “relationship-compatible,” including a conscious-relationship experience. There is, of course, a need in humans to see an ordered creation guided by certain principles, relational principles among them, but exactly how that should be defined when it comes to God can be challenging.

Theological Understanding

There are relationship-compatible goods, but perhaps some people don’t see them as they want them to be. A Christian worldview states that the relational principles are in us—we are the vessels God has selected to bring this relational aspect to the world.  

Luke 16:16 states, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached” (emphasis mine). God is using preachers today; before the coming of Jesus, it was the Law and the Prophets. With Jesus’ ascension, the Holy Spirit was released. Currently, God uses preachers, believers, and His Spirit (for understanding of the Bible and inspiration) for these “relationship-compatible” goods.

Nonetheless, this does not seem to satisfy those who insist God should interact with us in the same ways humans interact with each other. Yet, God is not human. 

Should God Reveal Himself the Way a Person Desires?

My dad was a skeptic. When I became a Christian at age 25, he noticed many positive changes in my behavior. He thought it was good for me but still didn’t believe it. He used to tell me that he wanted a Damascus Road experience (Acts 9). He’d say, “Why doesn’t God just knock me off my donkey?”

Sadly, my dad passed away as a nonbeliever. From all that I know, he never had the experience with God that he wanted. His demands were, for the most part, misguided. I mean, there is a reason God knocked Saul off his donkey—God needed to transform Saul into Paul, who would then be used to write most of the New Testament! God is not arbitrary in His revelations.

The Rich Man’s Demands

In Luke 16:27-31, a rich man (from his eternal place in Hades) begs Father Abraham to send the poor man Lazarus (in Heaven with Abraham) to warn his brothers about the place of torment (hell) he is in; Abraham says no and reminds the rich man that his brothers have been warned by Moses and the Prophets. The rich man doesn’t think that is adequate and believes that if a dead man (Lazarus) warns them, they will repent. Abraham responds, “They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (This attitude still exists today since there are many who don’t believe in the Resurrection of Christ, even with all the historical evidence available.[2]) It’s important to note that the wealthy man’s attitude did not change even in death: The rich man still asks if God would reveal Himself to people in the way he wants. 

Even if God were to reveal Himself in the way a person wants, what guarantee would there be that the person would believe? He still might dismiss Him or find a naturalistic explanation. And this does happen: “When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him” (John 12:29, NLT, emphasis mine). People in the same crowd heard the voice from heaven (v. 28) as either thunder or an angel. How could they hear it so differently? My guess is the inclination of the heart—is one’s heart inclined toward trusting the truth of God or not?

How God Reveals

There are two basic ways in which God reveals Himself to people:

  1. General revelation
    • Common grace: “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28
    • The natural world, fine-tuning for life on Earth; the first cause of everything.
  1. Special revelation
    • The Inspired Word (the Bible)
    • The person of Jesus Christ
    • Personal experiences

Personal Experiences

Some call this a “mystical union with Christ,”[3] which is when a believer has the Holy Spirit and is able to know the Shepherd’s voice (John 10:27). This union is not absorption into God like pantheism, where the individual loses her identity; rather, it’s more like a marriage, where two are so closely united that they become identified with each other as one unit. How do we know this? If Jesus is alive (and He most certainly is!), then we can expect to personally know Him.

Philosopher William Lane Craig sees that a “personal relationship” with Christ should be based on John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” Jesus also gives the parable of the vine and its branches (John 15:1-8), where a believer is “grafted” into the Vine through faith. 

In the gospels, there are many different examples of this union. Do we believe these words or not? One could wonder if being grafted in by faith somehow produces this “conscious-relationship experience” that many nonresistant nonbelievers desire. Must we believe to see?

Biblical Examples of God Experiences

In addition to reading the Scriptures, there are several biblical examples of how people could experience God:

  1. Gift of prophecy: “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” (1 Cor. 14:1)
  2. Dreams and visions: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
  3. Thoughts and feelings like peace. (1 Cor. 14:33)
  4. Angelic visitations. (Acts 8:26; 27:23-24; Ps. 91:11)
  5. Impressions/prelinguistic ways of knowing/sensing something. (Mark 2:8)
  6. Providential circumstances. (Ps. 103:19; Dan. 4:35; Acts 17:26)
  7. The natural world, such as encounters near trees (Zech. 1:11; Deut. 20:19)

God-Obscuring Resistance

Some people simply don’t experience God because of pride (James 4:6), unrepentant sin (Mark 7:20-23), and deception (Jer. 9:6; 2 Tim. 3:13; Col. 2:8). There are times, too, when God purposely hides (Is. 45:15).

Sometimes God’s hiddenness is a mystery, which brings with it uncertainty that some atheists dislike. They want unadulterated proof of God, arguing that the concept of faith requires blindness. The best apologetic understanding of faith is that there is enough evidence to make a reasonable choice to trust in Jesus Christ. While faith in this way is not blind, it does require an element of trust in what we cannot completely see or know fully. 

Nonresistant Nonbelievers

Nonresistant nonbelievers are the people who have looked at the available evidence yet still do not believe. If God exists, some atheist philosophers conclude that there will never be nonresistant nonbelievers. I am not sure I agree with that, but there is an anguish of doubt experienced by these nonresistant nonbelievers that I feel compassion for; they want to experience God but have not been able to.

“I have sincerely asked him (God) for years with no response whatsoever; then I read the Bible looking for answers. I  found that, at best, the Bible was stories to teach a lesson or explain how the world works.”  —Anonymous atheist on Twitter

As Christians, we need to demonstrate the love of God toward these people. At the end of the day, sometimes all we can do is to love others with no expectations, including those who cannot seem to find God, trusting that God will use us. It is the love of Christians that drew me into the faith as a non-believer. Love others well.


[1] These answers were taken anonymously from a social media thread which asked this question.
[2] WIA has published a 30-day devotional on the historical evidence for the Resurrection.
[3] John Calvin, Inst. 3.11.10, pp. 736-37.

Disclaimer: All views expressed by those associated with this ministry or on our platforms do not necessarily represent the opinions of Women in Apologetics, Inc. or its individual team members.

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