Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Oct 10, 2012.
Can one be saved through general revelation? Why or why not?
John Gill in his A Body of Divinity [page 5, chapter 1] presents the following example of General Revelation. Gill takes the passage from Crantz’s History of Greenland:
John Gill notes about the above testimony: “A glaring proof this, that a supreme Being, the first cause of all things, is to be concluded from the works of creation.”
I will give you two answers.
1. I don't know. This is a question I have asked myself many times. The Apostle Paul seems to be telling us in Romans 1 that the General Revelation is and has been rejected by most of mankind.
2. God will bring all His elect to salvation!
We do have a positive declaration in Romans that the rejection of the general revelation of the Creator (Jesus) given through creation is sufficient for condemnation.
Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 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:
However, in the absence of a similar positive declaration that people can be saved through the general revelation, we have to say "we don't know".
Thanks for sharing that note from John Gill. I had not seen it before.
No one is saved through General Revelation
The categories of revelation commonly accepted are general, what we can discern about God through what He has made, i.e. creation, and special revelation, what God has revealed through his inspired words, visions and dreams to individuals chosen to be His prophets. This excludes what God has revealed to you or me with the light of the Holy Spirit, because God has not authenticated those insights such that they are meant for others to accept as His word. Rather they are limited to your or my understanding of God's revealed word found in scripture.
So lets back up to the good guy born and raised where the gospel was never presented in any form understandable to him. He is condemned already because of unbelief, and how can one believe without a preacher? They cannot. This person faces perfect justice in the after life, no more and no less. He will not be punished for rejecting Jesus, but instead will be punished for doing what He knew was wrong, i.e. treating others differently than he would want to be treated.
What do you mean by 'SAVED'? (I assume you gom it up, as do the many, and make it to be synonymous with the 'birth from above')
Ro 2:13-15 makes it crystal clear that there were those that neither have the law, nor have heard the law, yet have had the law written upon their hearts. These are also described as 'doers of the law that are justified'.
The above referenced passage alone totally blows 'external means' ('abracadabra') regeneration out of the water.
But I'm sure you're going to go to great lengths to show free will man's choice in the matter of having the law written upon one's heart.
A question posed in my first Systematic Theology class:
If it is sufficient for condemnation, must in not also be sufficient for salvation?
I would say that breaking one law makes us guilty of the whole law, but keeping one law does not cause us to be justified. The way of destruction is broad, but the way of salvation is narrow. So, no, just believing in general revelation does not save us. I know this because I believed in God before I got saved. The book of James tells infers that just believing in one God does not save us.
I can't say that genral revelation alone is enough to save, but it is enough to cause a man to seek more information. Thus finding Christ in His search. I guess you could say it depends on the man and his desire to know more. The desire to know is what causes us all to search the scriptures daily. I know myself I can't get enough of what I learn from scripture. It seems impossible there is so much to learn from them.
We should be clear as to what we think has been revealed by what God has made. What are the "invisible attributes" of God, what is His "eternal power" and his "divine nature." Is it not that God exists, that He is, and therefore creation declares "I AM!" Does creation not declare that God is good, lighting the day and providing for our needs. Yes wicked fools say there is no God but they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
But even though we knew God existed, and provided for our needs, did we give thanks? Nope. Instead we engaged in "speculation" and darkened our hearts. We became great theologians, professing to be wise, why I have greater knowledge than the other guy, we exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for man-made images. Our man-made gods allowed us to be proud, and seek the lusts of our heart, even to dishonoring our bodies. Unloving, unmerciful, greedy, arrogant and on and on. Therefore every man is without excuse, even though they never heard the gospel or were tutored by the Law.
God will render to everyman according to his deeds, providing perfect justice for those with the Law and those apart from the Law.
Having a knowledge that there is a God does not change man internally.It does not explain the cross.Man supresses the truth,and turns to idolatry.
Only God's mercy saves.....so general revelation along with the God given conscience
exposes man as guilty...but does not save.
Good way of putting it...
Why do some come to the conclusion that Romans 1-2 teaches that revelation is sufficient for condemnation, but not for salvation? What is the excuse for exactly? What might a person offer an excuse for? For whatever it was that condemned him, right? Well, it bears to reason that if he has NO EXCUSE for whatever condemns him that he has NO REASON that he could not have been saved from that condemnation.
After all, we are not saved by law or doing something which merits our salvation. We are only saved by grace, which clearly God is willing to grant to whoever believes in Him and his promises. So, even if you break the rules, which we all do, you still have no excuse because you have everything you need to 'acknowledge God as God' and believe what He says is true. If you choose to trade the clearly revealed truth in for lies, then you will be justly condemned, without any excuse for your action, but there is nothing to suggest that mankind is unable to believe God's revelation of himself and respond accordingly. Is there?
I ask again:
"What do you mean by 'SAVED'? (I assume you gom it up, as do the many, and make it to be synonymous with the 'birth from above')"
You say this as if you a sure he doesn't have a choice in the matter. (when I say 'choice,' I actually mean two actual options)
So, either man freely choose to suppress the truth, by his own independent will, but he could have willingly done otherwise (which is what I believe). Or man is born conditioned to suppress the truth by design from his creator.
(Note: that design may be fallen due to Adam, but nevertheless it was by God's design, for He and no one else decided what the result of the fall would be. He decided what the punishment for Adam's sin would be. No one else could have decided that except God, so you can't avoid the charge that this is by His design.)
Is general revelation enough for salvation? I don't think so. I cite Paul in Romans 10:14
A pastor of mine once said that if a man will follow the light that he has, God will give him more light. If he rejects the light (the evidence of creation), God is under no obligation to give more light.
Yet, in his mercy, He may do so. I'm sure many of us can testify that God sought us out when we were not looking for him.
So, I stand with Paul in holding that no one can be saved independently of the gospel.
That raises the question, on what basis will they be condemned? It cannot be for unbelief, for they've never heard of Jesus. I believe Paul again, provides the answer in Romans 2:14-15
To me, this means that all of us have a moral code. Since we know that we cannot keep the law perfectly, neither can we keep our own moral code perfectly. I cite myself as an example. Even knowing right and wrong, I am sometimes disobedient.
That, then, is the basis for their condemnation.
If one holds that general revelation is sufficient for salvation, or that God saves independently of the gospel, then the natural question follows: Why evangelize, why witness? Let's call all our missionaries home.
We won't do that, of course, because the scripture is clear:
I Cor 1:22
John 1:9; Titus 2:11; Romans Chapter 2
I'm reminded of Jesus' words to Thomas, "You have seen me and believed, but blessed are those who don't see yet still believe."
Couldn't you say that of those who don't hear, but still believe? I'm not saying that they are saved apart from Christ's work, I'm just saying that God in his grace may credit whatever faith they do have in whatever revelation they have been granted. (reminds me of those who believed John the Baptist's message but had yet to be baptized in Christ...clearly they believed the truth of what had been revealed up to that point but they just didn't know the whole truth yet)
And I agree with your pastor friend. I believe God will give more light to those who follow what light they have been given, but isn't God's grace deep and wide enough to cover someone's ignorance of scripture's more specific revelations, if for whatever reason more light (i.e. the gospel) never comes? Do we really believe that Rahab had any real understanding of Jesus or his atoning work on the cross? I think she just feared the God of Israel and chose to hide the spies in faith that their God would save her too. That response didn't earn salvation. She still deserved hell and just punishment for her sin, which Christ took on her behalf. But, didn't God simply credit righteousness to her account on behalf of the faith she acted upon in hiding those spies? Is that mustard seed size of faith sufficient for God, in his Grace, to exalt the humble, the weak, the undeserving, if He so chooses?
Notice, I'm not saying she deserved salvation. She didn't merit it. It is ALL of grace.
Does what I'm saying make sense?
oooouuu, be very careful, you're beginning to sound like an Old Baptist.....