GOD’S WITNESS TO MEN
A. Introduction: For several weeks we have been talking about who Jesus is and why He came into this world
—according to the New Testament, the portion of the Bible that was written by eyewitnesses of Jesus.
1. We need to understand who Jesus is and why He came into this world, so that we are protected from
deception (false Christs and false gospels), and so we can accurately represent Jesus to those around us.
a. Jesus is God become man without ceasing to be God. Two thousand years ago He took on a human
nature and came into this world to die as a sacrifice for sin. John1:1; John 1:14; Heb 2:14-15
1. All humans are guilty of sin before a holy God, and face eternal separation from Him. Without
a death (the shedding of blood), there is no remission (forgiveness, wiping out) of sin. Heb 9:22
A. By shedding His blood at the Cross, Jesus paid the price we owed for our sin. He is the
once and for all sacrifice that takes away sin. Heb 9:26; I Tim 2:5-6; Col 1:19-22; etc.
B. To experience the effects of what Jesus did, a person must accept Jesus and His sacrifice.
He is the only way to be reconciled to God. John 3:15-16; John 3:36; John 8:24; etc.
2. When a person accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, God can
declare that person righteous or justified (restored to right relationship with Him). Rom 5:1
b. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through Me. His
apostles echoed the message that there’s no salvation from sin apart from Jesus. He’s the only way
to God because His sacrifice is the only remedy for our problem—guilty of sin. John 14:6; Acts 4:12
2. It has become increasingly common to hear people say that there are many paths to God, and that to
declare that there is only one way to God is bigoted and narrow minded.
a. A common objection people bring up is: What about all the people who live in lands where Jesus is
not known? And what about all the people who lived before Jesus was born? How could a loving
God reject them just because they haven’t been exposed to Him.
b. When we study the Bible we find that every human being born into this world (past, present, future)
receives enough light from God to respond to Him in a saving way—in a way that restores them to
right relationship with God the Father through Jesus.
1. John 1:9—John the apostle wrote that Jesus is the true light that gives light to every person
coming into the world. John used the word light figuratively, to mean knowledge of God.
2. Jesus is the true light in the sense that He is God’s complete and full revelation of Himself to
humanity. John14:9; Heb 1:1-3; Col 1:15; etc.
3. In this lesson, we’re going to examine some of what the Bible says about how God reveals Himself to
humanity so that they can respond to Him in a way that results in their salvation from sin.
B. Almighty God is Omniscient or all-knowing. He foreknows and loves every human being who has ever
been or will be born into this world. He knows when and where we’ll each be born. He knows our names
and how many hairs we have on our head. Jer 1:5; Matt 10:30; Ps 139; etc.
1. All the people who lived before Jesus and the Cross, and all who live in countries where Jesus’ name is
unknown, matter to God. Not only did the Lord know them before they existed, He loved them enough
to suffer and die for them so that they could be restored to relationship with Him.
a. Almighty God knew before He formed the earth that humanity would choose independence from
Him through sin. Rather than destroy the race and start over, God chose to redeem (or deliver)
people from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus, and restore them to Himself.
1. The New Testament refers to Jesus as the Lamb who was “slain [in sacrifice] from the
foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8, Amp).
2. Jesus is called the Last Adam (I Cor 15:45). He went to the Cross as the representative of the
entire human race, and paid the price of redemption for everyone who has or will ever live.
b. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice (His death on the Cross), men and women can be restored to their created
purpose and become sons and daughters of God through faith in Him. Eph 1:4-5
2. God is not only All-knowing, He is outside of time. He is not limited by or subject to time. He created
time as we know it. Almighty God knows the end from the beginning. Isa 46:10
a. Because He knows what will happen before it happens, God dealt with the sins of people who lived
before Jesus went to the Cross, on the basis of what Jesus was going to do through the Cross.
1. There is more in the passage just below than I have time to cover in this lesson. Short version:
Paul was explaining that God is fair and just in the way He deals with men’s sins. Note one
point—God dealt with sin (pre-Cross) on the basis of what Jesus was going to do at the Cross.
2. Rom 3:25—For God once publicly offered Him in His death as a sacrifice of reconciliation
through faith, to demonstrate His own justice (for in His forbearance God passed over men’s
former sins) (Rom 3:25, RSV).
3. This verse is found in Paul’s most systematic presentation of the gospel—the fact that on the
basis of Jesus’ substitutionary death, men and women are saved from the guilt of sin, and
justified or made righteous through faith in Him.
b. As Paul explained why God is just and fair in His dealings with sinners, he noted that men who
refuse to turn from sin and come back to God are without excuse. They deserve His right and
just punishment because they refuse to accept what can be known about God through creation.
1. Rom 1:19-20—For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this
knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth
and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal
power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God (NLT).
2. The witness of creation is intended to inspire men to assume that there must be something
out there bigger than themselves (namely, a Creator)—and then seek to know Him.
c. As Paul made the point that all men are guilty of sin and need salvation through Jesus, he also
referred to the witness of conscience—the fact that humans have an innate sense of right and wrong.
1. Every culture has some standard of justice, and reward and punishment. Fallen humanity’s
standards are skewed (that’s why we need the objective standard of God’s Law), but it’s part
of the image of God that men still bear even in their fallen condition. Gen 9:6; James 3:9
2. Rom 2:14-15—Even when Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow
what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They
demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse
them or tell them they are doing what is right (NLT).
d. The witness of creation and conscience is less light that the full revelation given through Jesus, but it
was enough light to respond to God in a saving way, pre-Cross, on the basis of the Cross.
3. The New Testament says there is no salvation (righteousness) for anyone except through Jesus’ sacrifice.
Yet the Old Testament lists many pre-Cross men whom God called righteous. How is that possible?
a. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, God began to reveal His plan to recover men and women through
Jesus, with the promise that the Seed of the woman would crush the Serpent’s head. Gen 3:15
1. The Seed is Jesus, the woman is Mary, the Serpent is Satan. Bruise the serpent’s head means
break his power over humanity through the crucifixion (where Satan bruised the Seed’s heel).
2. This promise is known as the Proto-Evangel or the first gospel, the first proclamation of the
good news about Jesus.
b. At that point, the first humans (Adam and Eve) had no idea what that meant or what it would look
like. But God began to give increasing revelations of Himself and His plan of redemption.
1. The Lord made coats of skin to cover them. This required the death of innocent animals and
pictured what the promised Seed would do—shed His blood as a sacrifice for sin. Gen 3:21
2. Adam passed this practice of animal sacrifice down to his children. His son Abel brought an
animal sacrifice to the Lord, and God accepted it (Gen 4:4). God declared Abel righteous on
the basis of Abel’s faith or trust in Him, expressed through offering the sacrifice (Heb 11:4).
3. The Lord was able to do this on the basis of the Cross of Christ and the sacrifice of Jesus that
was still to come. Abel expressed faith in the revelation (light) of Jesus that he had.
c. Abel is not the only a pre-Cross man who responded to the light he was given from God. A number
of others are called righteous, including Noah (Gen 7:1); Job (Ezek 14:14); Abraham (Gen 15:6).
1. We mentioned Abraham in other lessons when we talked about Jesus’ preincarnate appearances
(before He took on flesh) in the Old Testament (see lessons TCC—1214 and TCC—1215).
2. Preincarnate Jesus appeared to Abraham and told him that he would become the father of a
great nation, and that through him all nations would be blessed. Gen 12:1-3
A. Abraham trusted in the Lord, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). He
did not know the full extent of God’s plan, but he responded to the light he was given.
B. Note that God’s message to Abraham is called the gospel: God…announced the gospel in
advance to Abraham: All nations will be blessed through you (Gal 3:8, NIV).
C. Abraham’s descendants (Israelites, Jews) are the people group through which Jesus came into this world, and
and the ones to whom God gave the Scriptures. Rom 3:1-2
1. The Old Testament is mainly the history of the Jewish people, down to the coming of Jesus. It reveals
how God interacted with people as He gradually unfolded His plan to deliver men and women from sin
through the sacrifice of Jesus.
a. The Bible is redemptive history. It doesn’t record everything that happened everywhere. It is a
record of people and events directly related to the unfolding plan of redemption. But, we find that
even though the focus was on Abraham’s descendants, God didn’t abandon the rest of humanity.
b. The Old Testament records instances where Almighty God made Himself known to people not
directly connected to Israel and God’s unfolding plan. This information assures us that God knows
how to reveal Himself to all men and women. Let’s briefly consider two examples.
2. Job is referred to as a righteous man, pre-Cross (Ezek 14:14). The Book of Job is an account of the
many trials that he faced. (See lessons TCC—780 through 785 and Chapter 6 in my book God Is
Good And Good Means Good for a detailed explanation of Job and the questions raised by his story.)
a. Job lived in a place called Uz (in present-day Saudi Arabia) in the time of Abraham. During Job’s
ordeal, three friends interacted with him as they tried to figure out why he was suffering.
1. It’s clear from the dialogue that these men knew God (Elohiym) the Supreme God, the Creator,
the same Lord (Elohiym) who interacted with Abraham (Gen 14:22).
2. Note what Job said: I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at
last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God (Job 19:25-26, NLT).
b. Job and his friends had no contact with Abraham or his descendants, yet they had enough light to
respond to God. The Bible doesn’t tell us how God made Himself known to them, only that He did.
3. Abraham was born into an idol worshipping culture in what is today the nation of Iraq, but God reached
him, called him to leave his homeland, and move to Canaan (modern-day Israel). Acts 7:2-3; Gen 15:7
a. The inhabitants of Canaan were known for idolatry, child sacrifices, and gross sexual immorality.
Yet Abraham encountered a person named Melchizedek, the king of Salem (Jerusalem) and a priest
of God (the One True God). His name means King (Melchi) of righteousness (Zadok). Gen 14
1. Melchizedek referred to God as the most high God (El Elyon) the possessor or Creator of
Heaven and earth (Gen 14:18-20). El Elyon is the same God (Yahweh or Jehovah) who had
called Abraham to Canaan (Gen 14:22).
2. How is it that we find this king of righteousness, who served the same God as Abraham, among
the wicked, idolatrous Canaanite? The Bible does not tell us. Somehow God reached him.
b. A quick side note. People argue over Melchizedek’s identity because of a passage in the epistle to
the Hebrews. Heb 7:1-3 says he had no mother or father, no pedigree or beginning or end of days.
1. Some say he was Preincarnate Jesus. There is nothing in Gen 14 to indicate that this was an
appearance of Jesus before Bethlehem. In other places where He appears it’s clearly indicated.
2. Heb 7:4 says Melchizedek was a man. Melchizedek was a type of Christ—a real person, but
aspects of his life picture or foreshadow something about Jesus. David prophesied that the
Messiah would be a priest forever like Melchizedek (Ps 110:4). (Jesus is now our high priest.)
A. Priests were from the tribe of Levi. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah so He did not have
the right ancestral line (pedigree) for the priesthood. Melchizedek, being without father or
mother, refers to the fact that there is no record of parentage (his ancestral line or pedigree).
B. Levite priests had a beginning and an end to their days as priests. They began performing
performing menial tasks at age 25. At 30, they began priestly duties. At 50, their priestly
life ended. Melchizedek, as a type or picture of the unending priesthood of Jesus, had
neither predecessors nor successors, and his priestly life did not end at age 50.
4. Are there other examples (besides those recorded in the Bible) of people to whom God revealed Himself
and they believed? There’s no reason to think that there were no others. But these examples help us
see that God gives a witness of Himself to men and women so that they will choose to believe in Him.
D. Conclusion: The Scripture is clear that there is no other way to be saved from the guilt of sin but through
Jesus and His sacrifice. It’s also clear that all people receive enough light to respond to God. John 1:9
1. God created human beings with an innate sense of eternity and a desire to know their purpose, in the
hope that these factors will inspire men and women to seek Him and choose relationship with Him.
a. Eccl 3:11—He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time; He also has planted eternity in
men’s heart and mind [a divinely implanted sense of purpose working through the ages which
nothing under the sun, but only God, can satisfy] (Amp).
b. Acts 17:26-27—From one man he (God) created all the nations throughout the whole earth…His
purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward s
him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:26-27, NLT).
2. Acts 10 is an account of Peter the apostle proclaiming Jesus, and the full revelation of God’s plan of
salvation, to Gentiles (non-Jews) for the first time. In this account we meet Cornelius, a devout man
who feared God, prayed, gave alms, and instructed his family in the things he knew. Acts 10:1-2
a. Cornelius begun life as an idol worshipping Roman, but seems to have become a Jewish convert
(though not a circumcised covenant man). God was aware of and heard his prayers. Acts 10:3-4
b. Cornelius was seeking God, and through a series of supernatural events, he was put in contact with
Peter who brought the full light of the gospel to him. Two points relate to our discussion.
1. Acts 10:34-35—Then Peter said: I see very clearly that God doesn’t show partiality. In every
nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right (NLT).
2. Peter wasn’t saying that people are saved from sin no matter what they believe, because Peter
preached a very specific message to them—peace with God through Jesus—so that they would
be saved. Peter brought greater light to Cornelius and a more specific response was needed.
3. When Peter later explained what happened to Cornelius, he said that Gods knows men’s hearts
(Acts 15:8). Almighty God sees those who seek Him and gets them enough light to be saved
through Jesus and the Cross.
3. Everyone receives enough light to respond to the Lord in a saving way—some say yes, and some say no.
But we need to know that God is fair and just, so we can answer accusations that undermine our
confidence in His goodness and leaves us vulnerable to false gospels about Jesus.