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Can a Person be Saved by Christ if all They Have is Universal Revelation?

How do we know God? In His high priestly prayer Jesus prayed to the Father on behalf of those whom the Father had given Him and Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Jn 17:3, NASB95)

Since eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son can a person know God if all they have is universal Revelation? “The study of God’s revelation of himself to humanity has been classified in two ways: general revelation and special revelation. The general revelation of God has been found in three areas: nature, history, and humanity.” (Erickson 2013, 121) Can a person look at nature, study history and look within themselves to know God?

David wrote,
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Ps 19:1, NASB95)
David could look at what has been made and say, “God made this, what an awesome God.” However, when David wrote this Psalm He knew the Lord. David had an intimate relationship with his Creator already, therefore, David had eyes to see the glory of God in His creation. Can an unsaved person have that same insight?

The apostle Paul said, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” (Rom 1:18-23, NASB95)

This passage is saying that the witness of God is there, it is an objective witness, but men are unable to see it because they are wrapped up in sin. (Erickson 2013, 125) I would, therefore, argue that a person cannot be Saved by Christ if all they have is universal revelation, because they are blinded by their sin. The Philippian Jailer asked Paul and Silas, “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:30b-32)

When someone is reading this passage they often take note of what the Jailer asked Paul and Silas to do and also what they told the jailer to do, but did you notice what they did after that? “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:32, NASB95) The apostle Paul said, in his epistle to the Romans, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Hearing implies word; words can either be spoken or written. Paul and Silas didn’t just tell the jailer to believe in Jesus assuming that he could know the Lord by universal revelation. They followed this up by telling him about Jesus.

Bibliography

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.
The Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

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