Finding God Without Understanding Christ (Part 1)
I was seeking to resolve the passages on ‘Making our election Sure’ 2 Peter 1;3, and ‘Jesus, the only way to the Father’ John 14;5-12. The first passage seemed to show how people who might have never even heard about Christ could be saved, but the second says that no one comes to the Father except through the son. Let’s first take a look at some key verses that help us to understand what is going on here:
Making One’s Calling and Election Sure – Adding Goodness, Knowledge, Self-control, Perseverance, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness, & Love To A Life Of Faith
NIV 2 Peter 1;3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance ; and to perseverance , godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
This passage urges us to take steps beyond just believing to ensure our election. We are promised effectiveness, and really knowing our Lord, and remembering that our sins are forgiven when we follow this. These steps help us to live the life of faith that we are called to. It identifies the problem, our evil selfish desires. When we build on our faith in Christ, trusting that God has already given us all we need, and add Goodness, Knowledge, Self-control, Perseverance, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness, & Love, to our life of faith we will be effective and our election is sure.
Made Alive with Christ
NLT Eph 2;1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
The key point to understand from this passage is that refusing to obey God, still following the desires of our sinful nature is actually following and serving the devil.
Verse on Gentiles obeying God
NLT Rom 9; 30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, “I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Jesus saves all who trust & follow him. People can say they trust Jesus without really doing it. True trust requires seeking & following. It requires listening to the Holy Spirit and obeying.
God ‘s Anger at Sin
NLT Rom 1; 18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. 21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God ‘s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
The first mistake men make is refusing to give thanks and worship to our creator. When we reject his obvious eternal power and divine nature displayed in the universe, God no longer restrains us from our shameful evil desires. Then men began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like & men fell into; homosexuality, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. This also explains how people can find God without knowing about Jesus. When they recognize the eternal power and divine nature of the Creator, worshiping and giving thanks, God’s Holy Spirit restrains them from the shameful desires of their heart. What this verse is saying is that we needn’t understand and worship Jesus for God’s Holy Spirit to “restrain us from our sinful desires”. The real requirements are to recognize the eternal nature and divine power of the creator, worshipping and giving him thanks. Then God takes over and restrains people from their sinful desires. We still have to cooperate and follow God. He doesn’t prohibit them from indulging in those sinful desires, he just “restrains” them! These folks still need to be listening and following.
Those who do this are really working thru Jesus and His Holy Spirit, even though they don’t know it. The are “coming to the father “through me” [see below]
I even think it is possible for people to call God by the wrong name, and come to know him. Lets look at the verse that seems to contradict this.
Jesus the Only Way to the Father
NIV John 14;5-12 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Although this passage might at first seem to contradict this idea, when we
understand that we can come to God thru his resraining spirit without really knowing Jesus, it make perfect sense! The passage of the Unpardonable Sin reinforces this concept. Those who testify against Jesus can be forgiven.
The Unpardonable Sin
NLT Mat 12;31 “Every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven . 32 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven , but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven , either in this world or in the world to come. 33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
The John 14 passages requires folks recognize the eternal nature and divine power of their creator, worshiping and giving him thanks, then God takes over and restrains them from their sinful desires. If they then choose to follow God, if they choose to listen to his Holy Spirit, they are not Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. When they refuse to honor the creator, their actions blaspheme against Jesus.
I don’t think scripture gives anyone the authority to declare ‘Without Jesus you are going to Hell’. These folks are still sinners in God’s eyes, but this sin can be forgiven. When we understand this concept, we understand how wrong much of today’s conventional wisdom is. Many have been given an improper answer to the question ‘What about my relatives who died without believing in Jesus’. If they had recognized the divine power and eternal nature of their creator, giving him thanks and worship, and following his restraining voice, they too turned from their selfish desires. They can be a new creation in Christ Jesus, even though they never knew it! After Losing A Loved One
May we all come to a full knowledge of God, recognizing the divine power and eternal nature of our creator, giving him thanks and worship, and letting him complete and perfect as we grow in the knowledge of his son, In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
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You’re currently reading “Finding God Without Understanding Christ (Part 1),” an entry on The Big Picture Ministry
- March 12, 2009 / 9:56 pm
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