Can a person please God or be saved without direction revelation?

These are some thoughts from my father on this subject – one that has bothered me for a long time now and I have often sought to figure it out in more detail. But as you can see in a list of 26 points, the Bible is pretty clear — absolutely!

  1. Enoch, who had no access to any direct revelation from God, “walked with God” (Gen 5:24). Apparently human beings, even without direct revelation, had been given enough to enable them to seek to live righteously and to be able to please God.
  2. Likewise Noah “walked with God” prior to receiving any direct revelation from God; he was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time” (Gen 6:9); and “he found favor in the eyes of the Lord”–before God spoke to him (Gen 6:8)
  3. It seems unlikely that Enoch was the only human being who pleased God during the time between Noah and Abraham (the two individuals who received direct revelation from God). God apparently did not seem pressed to give more direct revelation in order to make it possible for the millions of human beings who lived during those 10 generations to hear, and be saved.
  4. Did all the people on earth go to hell during the 400 years that the Israelites sojourned in Egypt, since there was no direct revelation from God during that period of time?
  5. Did all the people on earth go to hell, except for a few Israelites, between the time of Moses (ca. 1440 B.C.) and Jesus’ death (A.D. 31), since no one except for the Israelites had access to God’s direct revelation during this time? If God provided a way for human beings without direct revelation to be accepted by God during these years, does this mean that God-fearing people in the Fiji Islands (or China or Tibet) could go to heaven if they lived during the time from 3000 B.C. to 31 A.D., but would go to hell if they lived during the time from 31 A.D. onward? Wouldn’t this mean that Christ’s death actually doomed to hell countless thousands or millions of God-fearing people in distant lands who had the misfortune of being born after, rather than before, Christ’s death?
  6. If God provided a way for God-fearing non-Israelites to “be saved” without access to direct revelation during the millennia before Christ, did he suddenly change the rules at the moment Christ died on the cross?
  7. God’s revelation of himself to the Israelites (the OT) never claims that it gives the Israelites a better chance of going to heaven than non-Israelites.
  8. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who had never received revelation from God, was a priest of God and instructed Moses (Exodus 18).
  9. Melchizedek, who never received any direct revelation from God, was a priest of God who was highly commended in Scripture.
  10. The Law given to Moses was not perceived as a way for people to “get saved” or go to heaven.
  11. God would have saved the city of Sodom if there had been 10 righteous people there–which suggests that people in a non-Israelite city could live righteous lives and be pleasing God.
  12. The Syrian Naaman and the Phoenician woman of Zarephath were righteous individuals, and they were more pleasing to God than the Israelites, despite the fact that, unlike the Israelites, they had not received any divine revelation.
  13. Job, who had never received any direct revelation about God, was the most righteous man on the earth at the time. This would mean that Job was more pleasing to God than any of the Israelites, who had access to God’s direct revelation. People in OT times who had never heard about the true God of Israel could live righteous lives and be more pleasing to God than those who had received God’s direct revelation.
  14. The book of Job often refers to “the righteous” (among the nations), as those who please God, etc. (e.g., Job 28:28).
  15. God accepts Job’s three friends (Job 42:9ff.)
  16. The books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes divide mankind up into “the righteous” and “the wicked”–without regard to whether or not they have received direct revelation (e.g., “it will go better for those who fear God . . . ”–contra the wicked)
  17. In the NT, the Phoenician woman amazed Jesus by her faith (Matt 15:21-28).
  18. The Roman centurian amazed Jesus by his faith (“I have not found such great faith in Israel!” (Matthew 8 ).
  19. Jesus declared, “Many will come from the east and west and take their places at the feast of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the subjects of the kingdom [of Israel] will be thrown outside . . . ” (Matt. 8:11-12)
  20. The Roman Cornelius and his family were living lives that were pleasing to God before they heard anything about the Gospel: “He and his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (Acts 10).
  21. Peter to Cornelius: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (Acts 10:34-35)
  22. The woman from Thyatira, Lydia, who was not Jewish, is described as “a worshiper of God”; and the Lord opened her heart to receive Paul’s message of the Gospel (Acts 16:14).
  23. Not only Jews, but God-fearing Gentiles keep turning to Christ throughout the book of Acts.
  24. Paul to the Athenians: “God has given all men life and breath and everything else, . . . God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each on one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’. As some of you own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’” (Acts 17:25-28).
  25. God said to Paul, about the city of Corinth: “Do not be afraid; I have many people in this city (Acts 18:9). Apparently a number of the (Gentile) inhabitants of Corinth, even before Paul arrived there with the Gospel, were God-fearing people that God considered his own.
  26. Regarding those who have never received the kind of direct revelation which the Jews received, Paul explains: God judges all human beings justly, rewarding those who seek to live righteously and punishing those who live wickedly. God gives eternal life to the righteous, and he punishes the wicked (Romans 2:6-11).

Leave a Reply