Before Jesus Came, How Did People Know God?

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Marti Pieper

Before the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus, how did men and women know God? Theologians explain this through a concept called “natural religion.”

Host Mike Shreve of the Revealing the True Light podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network explores natural religion in his most recent episode. Natural religion begins with “our instinctive desire to know and to serve the Creator that happens in the heart,” Shreve says. He shares Romans 1:20-21 (AMPC) to help explain what he means:

“For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile andgodless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.”

Why does this passage of Scripture describe people as “knowing God” when Jesus had not yet come to earth and the Holy Spirit was not yet dwelling within those who believed in Him? Shreve says natural religion explains it: “Because God has made Himself known through the things which He has done. The Creator has reflected His invisible nature, His attributes, in the creation.”

But that doesn’t mean God dwells in the creation, Shreve says. “That’s a New Age concept, that there’s an essence of divine life when everything is based on pantheism, but He does reflect His nature through different aspects of the creation, and He reflects a testimony of His tremendous power through what He has done. In fact, God’s great power is revealed by the immensity of the universe. You cannot go out under a starry sky without being filled with awe. It is estimated that there are over 2 trillion galaxies in the universe. Think of that.”

To learn more about how God reveals Himself through His creation, listen to the entire episode titled “What Is ‘Natural Religion’?” here.

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