Even Without the Bible, People Have Some Knowledge of God

Even Without the Bible, People Have Some Knowledge of God

Section 2: The Bible

Week 3: The Bible Is Necessary

Day 5: Even without the Bible, People Have Some Knowledge of God

Rom 1:18-20

We’ve spent the week talking about the various ways in which the Bible is necessary. We’re going to close out the week, though, by discussing something we don’t need the Bible for. The Bible isn’t necessary to know God exists or to gain a basic understanding of right and wrong.

General Revelation

In Rom. 1:19-20 Paul says, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it 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.” Paul’s point is that even those who have never seen a Bible still ought to know God exists because we can see evidence of his existence everywhere we look. The world around us points to God as its creator.

Theologians refer to this as “general revelation” (as opposed to the Bible and other forms of direct revelation from God, which are referred to “special revelation”). It’s general in the sense that God has revealed himself in this way to everyone.

To some degree, everyone also has an inner sense of God’s character and his moral law (Rom. 2:12-16). You don’t need to be a biblical scholar or have even read the Bible to know certain things are right and certain things are wrong. Our consciences make that clear to us. This basic knowledge of right and wrong goes under the category of general revelation as well.

Common Ground

General revelation is important because it means, despite the differences that exist between believers and non-believers, we still share some common ground. And that common ground provides a foundation from which we can help unbelievers come to know God better.

An Analogy

One of my favorite science-fiction shows from the mid to late 90’s was called Sliders. If you’ve never seen it, here’s the basic premise: Quinn Mallory, a brilliant physics student played by Jerry O’Connell, develops a device that opens wormholes to parallel Earths. In the first episode, Quinn and three companions “slide” to an alternate Earth, but before they can get back home they break the device. Although they can still slide, they can’t control which Earth they slide to. They still hope to somehow find their way back home. But in each episode they wind up on an Earth that is identical to their Earth in many respects, yet different in subtle and strange ways.

In one episode, the team slides to a parallel Earth in the midst of an epidemic called the Q. The disease is fatal and so feared that anyone infected with it is either rounded up and thrown into “Protection Camps” or forced underground. One of Quinn’s companions, the Professor, soon realizes the disease has a simple cure—Penicillin. The only problem is Penicillin hasn’t been discovered on this Earth yet.

On our Earth, mold played an important role in the development of Penicillin. But, on this Earth, mold is viewed as “dirty”. So they’ve never thought of it as the source of a potential cure. Yet they had enough medical understanding that the Professor was able to help them see how mold could be used to manufacture a cure.

The Lesson for Us

The differences between believers and non-believers are similar to the differences between the parallel Earths. There are significant differences in the way believers and non-believers see the world. But common ground exists as well, and that common ground is crucial. Even if unbelievers refuse to look at a bible, they know enough to know God exists, that he expects certain things of us, and that they, therefore, have a big problem because they haven’t lived up to those expectations.

There is more they need to know, of course. But that’s a start. And it’s something we can build upon. If we use it, the common ground we share can become the foundation we use to point them to Jesus—the cure for their sin.

Reflection Questions:

Think about the family members and friends you chose to focus on earlier in this study. What do you think is keeping them from putting their faith in Christ?


Ask God to give you opportunities to help them overcome those obstacles.


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