There is a universal knowledge of God. Every person on the planet has an awareness of the Creator God. Yes, even someone like Richard Dawkins, perhaps the most famous atheist in the world today, knows God. Some of you are unconvinced at this point so allow me to make my case.
The apostle Paul writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).
What Paul is saying is that God has revealed himself to all men through the medium of the created world. As we look at creation, it is almost as if there is an arrow pointed upward directing us to the Creator. In another well-known passage, David writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). In other words, the creation speaks. It tells us of God and his handiwork. That’s why Paul says, “what can be known about God is plain” (Romans 1:19). You simply can’t miss it!
In the study of theology, we learn of two types of revelation, or two ways in which God reveals himself to humanity. These are general revelation, the kind already referred to above and, special revelation, the kind that comes to us through God’s Word, the Bible. As I already explained, general revelation points us to God. It tells us that the beauty we see in the created world is not an accident, even though many would have us believe that. Rather, it came to be through the creative power of the One who spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1). It is because of general revelation that Paul says, “they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). On the Day of Judgment, no one will be able to accuse God of not sufficiently revealing himself. This is why Paul follows up by saying, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God” (Romans 1:21). In short, they rejected the Creator God and they will die in their sins.
At this point you might be wondering about the “few” (Matthew 7:14) who don’t reject God? This is where special revelation comes into play. General revelation points us to God, but it is unable to tell us about God’s redemptive work through the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, God wrote a book (2 Timothy 3:16) that we call the Bible. As we read the Holy Scriptures, we are continually pointed to the saving work of Christ on the cross. In fact, Jesus once said, “it is they (the Scriptures) that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). So special revelation is entirely necessary because it teaches us how we can be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.
The bible is clear that everyone knows God. Unfortunately, not everyone responds appropriately to this knowledge. But for those who call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13) and repent of their sins, they will be saved. They will have the amazing privilege of coming to a true “knowledge” of God. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).