Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Existence of God

The opening words of the Bible relay the fundamental assumption of the text: “In the beginning God…” Unlike systematic theology books which have bled ink on hundreds of pages in an attempt to lay out the case of God’s existence, the Bible opens with an unabashed, bold, unquestioned claim that God simply is. Whereas Hodge spends over 170 pages filled with unbearably small print, Chaefer barely uses 50. These and countless other theologians proliferate explanations of the simple yet confounding Scriptural commencement – “In the beginning God…”

The Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of God. Instead it begins with an assumption – rather a statement of fact – then builds from there. Moses, borne along by the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded words that turned the worldview of the Egyptian-influenced world on its head. The religions of Egypt and the world told the children of Israel that personal gods with whom they could have contact were fallible and often petty. Behind them was the “original” god – the great unknowable god behind all gods. This god of the universe could not be known and was referred to in their myth stories as “chaos.” Moses’ writings stated that the true God of the universe was a person and he knew Him by name. To add to the shock, he recorded, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void.” The Hebrew word translated “without form and void” is the word for “chaos.” Moses essentially told the Egyptians of his day, “This unknowable chaos that you think is behind everything was a created thing – and I have a personal relationship with the God who created it!”

It was not necessary for God to list reasons why He exists in His Word. By creating man in His image, we were built to have relationship with Him. Many have historically referred to this as a “God-shaped void.” Philosophers throughout history have been astute enough to recognize there are certain things that are inherent in man – ethics, a need to know, an appreciation of beauty, a need to communicate, and a religious nature, among others. Apart from the blinding lies of our adversary Satan, these inherencies should be sextants that inevitably focus on the stellar light of God. Depraved man, due to his unwillingness to submit to a holy and righteous God, covers up and pushes down his innate knowledge of God. Paul put it like this in his letter to the Romans:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Paul goes on to say that because of man’s inherent knowledge of God, he is without excuse. In other words, God has revealed enough of Himself in His creation that all men everywhere know He exists. Oddly enough, the Scriptural passages that deal with God’s existence speak exclusively of the foolishness of those who suppress His knowledge and deny His existence.

Rather than spend His time telling people what they already know, namely that He exists, God used His Word to record His acts of faithfulness, love, grace, and mercy to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Bible does not attempt to prove God’s existence, rather it proves His character and is, in essence, His love letter to us.

2 comments:

  • billwhitt says:
    February 22, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    I agree that the Bible assumes, rather than proves, God's existence in Genesis. What's interesting, though, is how we see Jesus prove His authority in the New Testament through miracles. There is a sort of proving going on there:

    "Even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles" (John 10:38).

    "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves" (John 14:11).

    Jesus didn't perform miracles to prove there was a God... but, instead, to show who is the true God. Without the signs and wonders in Jesus' ministry, humans could potentially take their instinctive knowledge of the divine (Rom. 1) and mistakenly apply it to a false religion. But thanks to His miracles -- especially the greatest miracle of all, His resurrection -- we're left without a doubt that God exists and that Jesus is God.

  • Pastor Jim says:
    February 23, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Thanks for the comment. I agree that Jesus used miracles to demonstrate His power and authority as God the Son. Amazingly, people still didn't believe.

    God's existence is declared by His creation, by His written Word and by His living Word. Creation reveals His existence, but He is only personally revealed through His written and living Word.

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