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General Revelation

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Godspell, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. Some, particularly among the evangelical tradition, propose the existence of a general revelation which God confers to all mankind everywhere which ultimately convicts them of sin--therefore making it impossible for them to plead ignorance.

    I do think that the similarity of ethical and moral values across culture, as well as a common religious themes like heave, hell, the messiah, as well as scriptural doctrine that the general revelation is a real thing. I wonder, however, if it is possible to attain faith and God's grace by the general revelation alone.

    Lately I've tended to think that it is possible, because we find individuals gripped by invincible ignorance who nevertheless perform virtuous and altruistic acts which as a consequence of the curse of original sin I would normally judge to be impossible without the grace of God.

    I'm also starting to think that special revelation (viz. the Bible) may serve a purpose distinct from salvific conference, and instead may be the means to which a community of Christians (the Church) can be formed ultimately to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth.

    I will say that whatever the case is, I think it is ultimately a mystery which eludes us, but I thought that it might make for an interesting theological discussion.
  2. Really this is a Creation perspective issue because we tend to over think history eliminating the authority of biblical history as truth: in other words; we take the simplicity of the Gospel/ God's Word and statement of creation and over complicate it.

    If I recall: you're in Catholicism in agreement with a more 'theist evolution' creation perspective correct? If not please don't be offended. Do you believe there was a global flood and Noah and his family were the only survivors? This all leads to our 'worldview' and how we view history, the world and make decisions on that perspective...
  3. What does this have to do with general revelation?
  4. Because it starts with the original creation of man in the Garden: Genesis. Man was created in the image of God; to have the characteristics of God. Given the ability to think and reason; and ultimately given free will to choose or deny God and His creation.

    It is in our 'DNA' quite literally from the beginning to 'be like' God.

    Genesis 1:
    26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

    Original man had no excuse-Adam saw God face to face (depending on your theology). From this man we are all descended. It is not 'God's fault' that mankind abandoned the knowledge of God. Mankind has chosen throughout history to ignore God. It is God that reaches down to us-His creation; to communicate through His creation.
  5. Brother Mike, I am not opposing you on anything you've said here. Your assuming things about my theology. This really is not about creation. It is general revelation and whether or not general revelation confers the capacity to be saved.

    This is the question about the "fate of the unlearned". But I agree with you that discernment of sin is grafted into our DNA. So, we know when we do something wrong even if we have never read the Bible. The question, can we also be saved if we've never read the Bible? And I'm tending to think that it is possible.
  6. Possible? Yes-anything is possible with God. However, Jesus Christ finished the work on the Cross until His return. 'Christians' were charged (commissioned/ commanded) to preach the Gospel to the lost. Jesus Says:

    John 3:
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    Matthew 28:
    18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    Acts 1:
    7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

    Christ is a reminder of His power and of His Creation. He is the potter, we are the clay. If God said that they must believe in 'His name'; then they must believe in His name.

    We are the descendents of 8 people who got of the ark and knew full well the power and might of God and His creation; also His wrath and judgement. Yet some 4000 years later here we are with people not having 'knowledge' of God because mankind has failed to teach the truth to its generations.

    2 Peter 3:
    1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

    Romans 1:
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    It is we that have 'forgotten' God willfully.
  7. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    This is effectively what I am getting at. I don't believe virtue is possible outside of God because God is in fact virtue itself. In that case, if one is virtuous despite invincible ignorance is he condemned?

    A better question, dogmatically, how much does a person NEED to know to be saved? I guess I'm postulating that the knowledge is innate, but evangelism is essential in order to bring those who have the "spiritual" gospel into the "physical" Church, not to get them into heaven, but to help bring heaven to Earth.
  8. Jesus Christ IS the only way:

    John 14:
    6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

    Else we make Jesus Christ a liar and the whole thing is pointless.

    Being 'Good' and doing 'good deeds/ works' does not get you into heaven by any means of man's virtue:

    Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

    Ephesians 2:
    4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    'God hath before ordained' mankind at the beginning of creation being 'predestined' to be the image of Himself for fellowship with mankind. We were created to choose our destiny; God has always given mankind the option-heaven or hell; HIS way.

    Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

    John 10:
    25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.
  9. Matthew 7:
    13 Enter ye in at the strait gate *(Jesus Christ)*: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

    John 10:
    7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

    Friend; I am trying to share this larger truth with you because I have been down this road myself. You are looking for a false answer. I know it is not easy to accept because we have a tendency to want to find 'good enough' reasons for people to go to heaven- especially our lost loved ones.

    We forget that we are God's creation to do with what He pleases; having a biblical creation perspective eliminates our humanist thinking and allows us to look back at mankind as God does through the lens of eternity rather than our limited temporal human finite condition locked into the laws of time and space-CREATED by God.
  10. We are told in scripture that unless you accept/confess Christ as Lord and Savior, you are lost and condemned. I think? what @Brother_Mike_V was referring to by bringing up creation/origin is that God created us perfect and by our disobedience we were corrupted and so our nature turns naturally to sin/disobedience - we think in terms of "I". Even the best of "I" falls way short to bridge the gap between us and God's presence. Having said that, I know why you ask the question in the OP. I am glad that it is not man that will do the judging. But then I want everyone saved, say except Hitler, Mengele, Stalin and probably Pol Pot. :). But heck I want to be sure I am so I go by what it says in scripture and keep praying that eyes, ears, and hearts will be opened to the will of God.
  11. I'm going to propose that the partition of faith and works is a null point. The grace of God allows someone to perform altruism.

    However I don't believe this grace is ever withheld from someone who opens their heart.

    Conscious assent to a dogma is a kind of work also, which is why I am not convinced salvation depends on foreknowledge. I will say however that no one with the spiritual gospel would reject the physical gospel, provided it is presented to them in good faith.
  12. This is true. But what I'm saying is that the logistics of this is ambigious because it has long been held that the Trinity is a mystery. So no one can truly understand who Jesus was or how he is God. So is it just professing a creed or is it something deeper and more spiritual than that?
  13. I'm not sure I'm clear on what you are asking? When I think of each part of the Trinity, I think in terms of their aspect/role/function That all 3 are God and not separate except in terms of function/role. Which is all geared to bridge the separation between man and God. Christ as the bridge has to have a dual nature - son of man - son of God. It is not paying lip service to dogma or creed so I guess I go with deeper/spiritual. Going by scripture (lead by the indwelt HS in each believer and written by the HS) is how you stay to the path, make corrections. Because none of us know everything. I thought your OP was, for instance, like the 3 teenage Jewish boys, very religious, who were murdered by Hamaas last summer. It's hard to understand the fairness that they are lost/condemned. You have to trust that God is fair and just and good at judgement. We will not have partial knowledge then.
  14. Let me approach this another way:

    I believe that God will 'reveal Himself' to those who are truly seeking Him; He will send a messenger, He will provide His Word- either to an individual or a culture. There is no amount of 'human virtue' (no matter how "good" a person is) that will allow a person to be "saved" without Jesus Christ.

    I have heard many stories from missionaries about how a person/ people/ tribe somewhere was touched by the Word of God and later on a missionary arrived with the truth and many were saved and baptized into the name of Jesus Christ.

    If there is a soul-seeking truth; God will make a way for them to hear the name of Jesus Christ.

    Mark 9:
    38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part. 41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

    I believe we will be pleasantly surprised by the work God has done when we get to heaven....
  15. John 4:

    34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

    You are looking at the human race as 'evolving' rather than diminishing. The "work" is done. We are the remnant as Christians.

    30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
  16. Like Silk; I guess I am slightly confused as to how to reply to this:

    To go to Heaven; we must be "saved" ("born again" spiritually). There is no dogma, creed, law, deed / work, reasoning, bloodline, etc...that will "save" a person. Salvation is a heart condition issue. We must change our hearts to God-in 'faith' by HIS Grace for what He has done.

    When we deny our origin: Creation, when we deny the flood, when we deny the Biblical historical account, when we deny salvation through Christ alone-we are denying God's Word. We are rejecting GOD!

    This is what we must repent of: in faith we trust in God's Word-The BIBLE! Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit indwells in us when we are 'saved'! The Holy Spirit Guides us to do 'Good Works'; to spread the Gospel as the remnant of God on this earth-waiting for the earth to be remade at Christ's return.

    The indwelling Spirit guides us and helps us see the truth in the things around us.

    I sat through secular indoctrination before I was saved- I heard all about evolution. I supposed it could be true. When I was saved; all the deception melted away and I could see the depth of wickedness we are truly surrounded by.

    God says:

    John 3:
    3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    It is not by my thinking-it is the Word of God. There is ONE Holy Spirit, ONE Son of God-Jesus Christ, ONE Heavenly Father; these three are ONE. No other 'good spirit' will bring a person into Jesus Christ's sheepfold.

    God makes the rules....
    Silk likes this.
  17. This is what I was getting at. Reciting a creed does not save you, nor an deep theological understanding, but it is repentance and contrition which coupled with the cross allows permits a person to particiate in the age to come.

    If that's the case it is not a salvific prerequisite to have special theological knowledge. As you say God will show the one who seeks. The only difference here is that I'm also distinguishing between vincibe and invincible ignorance. If someone is unable to accept the physical gospel through no fault of his own, I don't believe he is condemned as long as he sought God through the General revelation.
  18. I think that trusting in God's perfect justice and omnibenevolence are key. I will also say that the ultimate truth is a mystery and judgement of souls is a divine prerogative. I'm actually not opposed to leaving this a mystery, but it can help people better serve God to have a more concrete answer.

    So in that case, let's say the Jewish kid who was murdered was spiritually baptized. Contrite about his sins and generally strived to be a virtuous person, I think that he would be saved because these things are only possible with divine grace.

    I think ignorance is only damnable if it is due to pride, arrogance or sin.

    If someone lacks knowledge due to isolation, cognitive dissonance, or a gripping fear of hell from their own religion, I would not say this is a sin, or that it is unforgivable. And if they have opened their heart to God even in their ignorance I believe they'll be saved.
  19. I hope you are right @Godspell and you make a case for "universalism". It is said throughout scripture that God wants us all back and surely there is a way He can get what He wants. It is a mystery to me how this could be accomplished. But scripture tells us there is only one way back - belief in Christ. We are all damned except thru Christ.
  20. Actually it's already answered in the Scriptures:

    Romans 2:13-15 (KJV)
    (For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; )

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