How does God expect people to know that He is the true God among gods?

Hi,

In Romans 1:20, God expects people to know that He is the true God among gods, from the created nature of the world, quoting the passage, “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 people are without excuse”, so that people are without excuse.

My questions are …

Q1. How does God expect people from different countries, with different cultures, believing that there is a “God”, who created the heaven and earth, but fashioned Him from their own cultural perspective. Eg, the Chinese believe that there is a “God”, who created the heaven and earth, and there is hell too. But their version of the “God” is fashioned on their mythical god from Chinese folklore. In their hearts, they firmly believe god and hell, and they worship him by burning jockstick in the temple …etc. But, they would never be able to know that what they were worshipping was not the true God of the Bible, as they didn’t have access to the Bible, hundreds or thousands of years ago, even now in most of the provinces of China. In this case, is it fair for God to condemn them, even though they have the moral capability to choose right from wrong? In this case, the “believers” truly believed that they are worshipping the “true God” in their minds. That is, they thought they had made the right moral decision.

Q2. For Abram, how did he know that the god that was speaking to Him was the “true God of the Bible”, since there were thousands of “false gods” that people worshipped in those days ?

Thanks.

Henry Auw

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But does their folklore god love sinners like him?

Enough to suffer the penalty for his sins in his place?

Did this folklore god rise from the dead?

Can he promise to raise all who follow him as well?

And the really huge question – can this folklore god give his worshippers any real assurance of salvation? Because no sinner’s heart can ever give him that. He may clutch a false hope, but it will never give real peace, because in the wells of his soul he’ll always know that he’s never done enough.

So until he has a God Who can give him that assurance because of all He’s done for sinners like himself, he still needs to seek Him. Because God says in Jeremiah 29:13, ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

And Wikipedia estimates there are 54 million Chinese Christians around him who are carefully looking for seekers just like him.

As for Abram, how did he know that the god that was speaking to Him was the “true God of the Bible”?

Abraham descended from Noah’s son Shem who still lived during Abraham’s life.

Shem would have known the gospel of the Promised Seed of the woman from Genesis 3:15. He would have known about the offering of a lamb as a sacrifice in token of the worshippers faith in that coming Seed.

Even though Abraham’s own father Terah was an idolater (Joshua 24:2), Shem’s knowledge was evidently passed down, since Abraham knew about offering lambs on altars to this God (Genesis 12:7-8 and 22:8).

And God repeatedly appeared to Abraham and gave signs and fulfilled His word to Abraham in miraculous ways – despite Abraham’s repeated failures. This was obviously a God of grace and love Who would provide Himself a sacrifice – unlike the gods of Babylon that he had left behind - gods that never gave assurance to sinful men.

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Thanks James for your replies!!

All of your questions are valid for those genuine seekers who have had the opportunity to study the Bible and compared the God of the Bible with other {false) gods they were believing in. But, for the rest of the people without the access to the Bible or the Gospel, they wont be able to know the difference and ask the questions that you ask.

And still, it is still my question on how are people expected, without access to the Gospel or the Bible, know that the God of the Bible is their true God, according to Romans 1:20 ?

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@henry_auw thank you for these questions. I have been thinking about them all morning. For your first question would that not be our job to share the good news of the gospel with these people? Is this not one of the primary responsibilities of the church?

Well, you are right about those questions being relevant for a seeker. But that is why the last question is so important - does the lost man have peace about his salvation? One doesn’t need a Bible to realize his troubled soul.

As as for how he can know the true God without a Bible - well, he can’t – Romans 10:14.

There is only so much that one could infer about God from the light of creation and conscience.

And what one can infer about Him is not enough to discover the gospel. But it is enough to reveal that the gods of men do not measure up, and that therefore his search is not over.

The passage you mentioned says the problem is not that men are wanting to see evidences of the Creator, but they can’t. It says they can clearly see evidences of Him, but they don’t want Him.

Clearly Whoever made the universe must have been before the universe, so He is eternal. Clearly Whoever created all the power in the universe must be all-powerful (Romans 1:20).

His unchangeableness is clearly seen in the circuit of the seasons, the night and the day, the rains and the rivers, the rising and falling of generations (Ecclesiastes 1).

Whoever created all the incredibly delicate balances of nature must be incredibly wise.

We witness His goodness in that He gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).

His omnipresence is not far from every one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:27-28).

His violated holiness is felt in the inner witness of man’s conscience (Romans 2:14-15).

His wrath is revealed from heaven in the fallen creation that sends lightning and storms, plagues and floods (Romans 1:18 and 8:22).

Whatever gods one was taught to worship from childhood, John 1:9 says that God enlightens every man who comes into the world.

There comes a time in every idol worshipper’s heart when something inside him looks at the little tiki statue on the altar with the incense burning around it. He looks around at the vast creation. He thinks to himself, “My uncle (grandfather, neighbor, village witch doctor) carved this and put it here when I was a child (or my father, or his father) – how could this god have made all of these things? How could it order all of the forces around us?”

And then he must decide whether to pursue that thought, or consider the consequences if he parts with his family, his village, his tribe.

A parable: picture the whole human race scattered throughout the labyrinth of a cave deep beneath the roots of a mountain. Those nearest the opening have a flood of light to guide them out. Those in the deepest recesses have a much longer journey.

But a man groping in his blindness comes to a cross tunnel. He turns one way and sees nothing but darkness. He turns the other and sees the faintest glimmer of light.

If he turns toward the darkness, he’ll continue to grope.

But if he turns toward the light, what do you think he’ll find at the next crossroad? In one direction, more darkness, but in the other – greater light! And as long as he keeps turning toward greater light, he will continue to discover more.

Jeremiah 29:13, ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

From mission fields around the world (including China) there are amazing stories of God’s grace guiding people out of the darkness. And Wikipedia estimates that there are 54 million Christians in China who would be very glad to introduce such a seeker to such a Savior.

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Dear James, thank you so much for you patience with me and sharing with me your point of view.

In light of your comments on Romans 1:20, I re-read it together with verse 18, 19 and 21. I think there are something that are being assumed here. My guess is that, Romans was written in the time of the Jews and Gentiles, when some knowledge of the God of the Bible being the creator of the heaven and earth, was passed down to them. People in those days may have learned about Abraham, Moses, the Exodus, and the divine power of their God, but some of them refused to seek Him and believe in Him.

I believe that without this assumption, it is unlikely that people in general, living in different countries, countries other than Israel or middle east, with different cultures, would think of the God of the Bible, just by looking at the nature. Even if the people in these other countries do believe there is a “god”, they would believe this “god”, fashioned by their culture, not the God of the Bible automatically.
And it is even close to zero chance of knowing the gospel, if nobody is preaching to them, or have some influence about Jesus.

I think our true God is always reaching out to draw people to Him, in whatever way that God thought appropriate for each individual. However, some would not turn to Him, but some would. Those who would turn to seek God, would need a “starter light” given to them. Some are given more than the other. For those that are given more light, would turn to God slowly but surely. But for those that are given less, may give up after all. This is like the power of a radio receiver. For those having a powerful receiver can tune to the right channel, but for those that have less power, may only receive a weak signal and eventually lose it. This may points to a debatable topic of “election” and “pre-destination”. So, for those whom God had elected and predestined, may get to seek Him and eventually hear about the gospel. But for those that are not, they have no chance of being saved.

I think I had better not pursue this further, as I may get more confused!

Well, yes - it is true that some people have more light and some less. And God’s judgment of each man is based on how he responded to the light he was given, not to the light he wasn’t - Romans 2:12. So those with more light are held to a higher standard of accountability than those with less - Matthew 11:20-24. And those with no light at all - not conscience, not creation, not scripture - will face no accountability at all (we’re talking primarily about infants here - Romans 4:15 and 5:13).

Thanks again James. Much appreciated!!

Hello Henry

In context and the timeframe of when this was written not having our amazing knowledge of science, universe, and space the world all around them was the evidence of a greater God than all others.

Romans 1:16‭-‬20 NKJV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse

They had to recognize an all powerful creative being. Sure some like today were skeptics but even skeptics have that negging thought what if.

In our post modern world people can find justification to dismiss God with so many thoughts opinions about everything. God has to personally show them who He is.

Take note of verse 16 a preface to your question if you will?

Christ came to seek and save so we could be His ambassadors showing forth His truth, Love by our life example the one true God the only god who gave His life for us. When we can discern truth (age varies) God begins to reveal Himself in various ways
In a nutshell our Walk with Him transformed by Him is the most compelling evidence of how much greater our God is.
Praying this will speak to you.
Mike

@henry_auw,hi the answer to your questions are this.
because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. *For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse
Now me, when God showd Himself to a human being it is enough to draw and or condemn. Acts 17 is a great example of this. Just because we don’t understand how he does it today does not mean it is less effective. You’re question implies that the condition or environment of the individual is key to him or her knowing God. But this is not what the scripture implies. It had been and always will be God that makes Himself known.
Hope this helps.