Can you know God Without Jesus? General Knowledge of God Vs Saving Knowledge of Jesus

I received a question on my instagram that is a GREAT QUESTION! And I want to take the time to answer it here:

The Question:
Hello. Real question, do you really think people who have never heard about Jesus can never be connected to the real God ? Or are there cases where it could be (indigenous people for instance, who talk about and with « the great spirit, the great mystery »… or even occidental people who would just talk to « God ».

The answer to this question can be found in understanding the difference between a Saving Knowledge of Jesus VS a General Revelation of God. 

General Knowledge/Revelation of God 

All people - though many will not admit it - have a general knowledge of God. We have general knowledge of God through our conscience and our capacity for moral reasoning. And we also have this general knowledge through how God has revealed Himself in Creation. 


The Bible teaches us about God’s revelation of Himself through creation in Romans 1:18 - 20

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,  since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  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.


In this passage, Paul is writing about the fact that God has shown His majestic and Eternal nature through the beauty of Creation. The word “understood” is used here in this translation to highlight the fact humans have a deep and primal understanding of God and even know more about God than we would care to admit! When we are still unbelievers, our sinful nature will suppress the reality and truth of God.

Children often spontaneously pray to God. People will spontaneously thank God in times of beauty and peace. And humans in difficult situations will cry out to God, or even curse God even people who claim to not believe in God will do this. It is a primal instinct because our spirit knows that God is real. 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has put Eternity in our hearts. That means that we have a knowledge of heavenly things - eternal things deep within us. No matter how much we want to resist that knowledge.

With regards to the question about the Great Spirit or people who talk to God - this would be classified under this category of having a General Knowledge, or General Revelation of God. This knowledge is a step close to God - but not the full saving knowledge of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. 

So what is a saving knowledge of God?

A saving knowledge of God includes 2 key things: 

  1. Recognition of the Love and Holiness of God as revealed in Jesus 
  2. Recognition and Repentance of Sin 

Colossians 1:15 - 23 gives us an understanding of who Jesus is and what His purpose was here on earth:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,  he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.


This passage helps us understand that Jesus is revelation of God. That means that when we see Jesus - we see the character of God:
His love and His desire to call all people to Himself and be with us
His perfection because Jesus lived a perfect and sinful life
His desire to judge sin because Jesus was here to convict the world of sin and teach us righteousness

Jesus said: If you have seen me, you have seen the father John 14:9.

When we see Jesus - we see God. His perfection, Holiness, Love, Tenderness and Mercy - and we also see His authority and power. 

When we start to SEE Jesus with spiritual eyes - we are starting to come to a saving knowledge of God. This is the place where we see Him on the cross and the sacrifice He made, where we see the power in His resurrection, and where we begin to desire more of Him and to be made like Him. 

From here, we begin to be convicted of sin. God begins to heal our damaged conscience and moral reasoning. And we begin to recognize the sin-stain that all humans carry.

As Romans 3:23 states: We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

In this place we start to recognize that we are separate from God, and that our sinful nature is what is separating us from Him. In this place, our hearts begin to cry out for a covering, and for a Savior! 

We cry with the desperation of a helpless newborn: JESUS! Save me! Forgive me of my sin! I want to be with you. I want you to be my Lord - I recognize that my brain and my heart is broken without you. I recognize that I need you. I want to live my life for you and with You.
And from here we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and it is the Spirit that allows us to live victorious over sin. 

In summary, we can certainly be connected to God through General Revelation of Him and even pray to Him and interact with Him. 

After all the Spirit of the Lord desires for all people to know Him. But it is not until we come to know Jesus - the only one who can bring us close to God - that we are able to experience salvation. The saving knowledge of Jesus is the washing of the heart by the blood of Jesus through repentance (asking for forgiveness of our sins) and submitting to Jesus as Lord of our lives.


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