"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Genesis 1:1
††††††††††† The Bible makes no attempt to prove the existence of God. It never occurred to any prophet or apostle to prove that God is. All the inspired writers presupposed an awareness of Godís Being among all men. I make that same assumption. All attempts to prove the existence of God are as redundant as it would be for a man to try to prove that light is light, fire is fire, ice is cold, or heat is hot.
††††††††††† The words which head this page are a simple and forthright declaration of the fact that God is. The existence of God is confirmed by many, many things; but the Bible is, as John L. Dagg put it, ďThe Volume of Revelation, a light emanating from the Father of lights, and is, of itself, an independent proof of his existence.Ē While heaven and earth, day and night, speak for God, we do not depend upon natural things for our knowledge of him. Instead, we look to the Bible. Here God speaks for himself. Creation never contradicts, but always confirms what is revealed in the Bible. Yet, we must never build our faith upon natural things. So we will begin and end our study of Godís Being with the Bible, and make no appeals to any other source for the proof of his existence. We begin where the Bible begins in Genesis 1:1. -- "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.Ē The Bible begins with the announcement of the fact that God is and that he is the sovereign Creator of all things.
††††††††††† The Being or existence of God is the foundation of everything. ďThe Being of God is the foundation of all religion; for if there is no God, religion is a vain thing; and it matters not neither what we believe, nor what we do; since there is no superior Being to whom we are accountable for either faith or practiceĒ Ė (John Gill).
††††††††††† When we come to the study of God, we come to the most transcendent theme that can ever occupy the minds of men. The Being of God is a subject as inexhaustible as it is incomprehensible, a theme that is delightful, profitable, and blessed beyond measure.
††††††††††† The Bible tells us that Godís Being, his existence, and certain aspects of his nature are made known to men in several ways.
The Physical Universe
††††††††††† Read Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:18-20. God has never left himself without a witness. Every human being who has ever enjoyed the privilege of living upon Godís earth with sanity and reason has seen and heard Godís testimony of his own existence in creation and providence. This is what Paul and Barnabas told the heathen at Lystra who worshipped them as gods (Acts 14:15-16).
††††††††††† Three things are revealed to all men in creation, which cannot be denied by anyone. The Book of God declares that all men know these three things about God. (1.) God is. (2.) God is wise. (3.) God is almighty.
††††††††††† Throughout history wherever human beings have been found they have demonstrated a knowledge of these three things. This natural knowledge is inadequate and is always perverted because of manís depravity; but all men know that God is, that he is wise, and that he is almighty, because all men live as his creatures upon the earth he created, where his voice is heard every day and every night.
††††††††††† Creation is not the only source of light possessed by all men. The Scriptures also tell us that all men are aware of Godís Being, because he has stamped his image upon manís soul and written his law in his conscience (Rom. 2:14-15).
The Conscience of Man
††††††††††† Man is by nature, by the stroke of his Creator, a religious being. Every human being lives with an irrepressible God consciousness. Every manís conscience proclaims loudly that God is, that he is almighty, that he is holy, and that he will punish sin.
††††††††††† According to the first chapter of Romans, all men by nature ďhold the truth of God in unrighteousness.Ē That is to say, they hold it down, suppress it, and try to deny it; but they cannot escape it. They will by training and education become either professed atheists or base idolaters. That is the best that training and education can do, apart from the grace of God. Civilization has never turned barbarians into Christians. It only turns them into clothed barbarians who can read and write. This God consciousness has all men convinced of three things. No matter how they try to suppress it, all men know that God is omnipotent and holy, that they are sinful and in need of a sin atoning sacrifice, and that they possess immortal souls which must meet the holy Lord God in judgment.
The light of nature, this God consciousness, renders all men without excuse, but brings none to a saving knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit tells us (Rom. 1:18-20) that this knowledge of God by creation and conscience renders all men without excuse; but it never leads to or gives repentance and faith. It reveals ďthe wrath of God,Ē but never the grace of God. The witnesses of God in nature do not constitute gospel light, but only a basis for judgment and condemnation.
††††††††††† Men are without excuse because they will not obey the light of God in creation. They never have, never will, and never can do so, because all men are depraved, perverted, and spiritually dead. Therefore, they take the knowledge of God that they have and pervert it, heaping upon themselves even greater condemnation (Rom. 1:18-32).
††††††††††† As you read Romans 1:18-32, be sure to note the order of manís degeneracy. It is written for our learning. This is the way of man when left to himself. First, he suppresses the truth of God. Then, he changes the truth of God into a lie and makes images of God to suit his own ideas of God. Idolatry is followed by utter uncleanness, vile affections, moral perversity, and the universal acceptance of them.
††††††††††† †Because all men are dead in trespasses and in sins, perverse and depraved at heart, it takes more than the light of nature given to and stamped upon men by creation to bring them to the knowledge of God. Therefore, the Lord God reveals himself and makes himself known to his creatures by his written Word.
††††††††††† Read Psalm 19:7-11 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Blessed beyond comprehension are those men and women who are privileged of God to have his Word delivered to them. If we had nothing else except the written Word of God our blessedness would be incalculable; but there is a blessedness even greater than this. God graciously sends his messengers to his elect, making himself known to chosen, redeemed sinners by the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:9-17). He establishes gospel churches in which he meets with and speaks to sinners and allows himself to be worshipped by men (Matt. 18:20). Added to that is this great, great boon of grace, God almighty then allows saved sinners to be the instruments by which he makes himself known to other chosen sinners. No wonder Paul spoke as he did to the church at Rome as one who was a debtor to all men who owed it to all men to preach the gospel to them (Rom. 1:14-17). Every saved sinner ought to have the same attitude. We are honor bound, in payment of a debt, to carry the good news of the grace and knowledge of God to perishing men.
††††††††††† Yet, in the purpose and pleasure of God, there is necessity for more knowledge still. It is not enough merely to have the light of creation, and of God consciousness, and even the light of the written Word of God. The knowledge of God by which sinners are saved and have eternal life comes by the revelation and knowledge of God in Christ (John 1:1-3, 14, 16-18; 17:3; Heb. 1:1-3).
The Incarnate Word
††††††††††† The Lord Jesus Christ is the incarnate Word of whom the written Word speaks. It is utterly impossible for sinners to know God apart from Godís revelation of himself in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, his dear Son. It is in, by, and through Christ that we have the complete revelation of God. He is the sum of all Godís purposes, the fulfilment of all the types and pictures of Holy Scripture, and the message of all the prophets. In Christ all the fullness of God resides. In him is the expression and revelation of all Godís Being. If we want to know who God is, what God is, what God has done, and what God requires of men, if we want to know the way to God, we must look to and study the words, works, ways, and person of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; 9).
Herein lies the necessity for the preaching of the gospel. The Scriptures cannot be known, and Christ cannot be known, except through the preaching of the gospel (1 Pet. 1:23-25; Rom. 10:13-17). Yet, the mere preaching of the gospel will never communicate a saving knowledge of God to lost sinners. The only way sinners can know God is by the gift and operation of God the Holy Spirit in the new birth, by the gift of faith (Heb. 11:1-6; Eph. 2:8-9).
The Experience of Faith
††††††††††† The only way we can know God is to believe him; and the only way we can believe him is for God himself to give us faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is the gift and operation of God in us, created in and bestowed upon chosen, redeemed sinners in regeneration by the irresistible power and grace of His Spirit (Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; Col. 2:12). This gift of faith is communicated to and wrought in Godís elect through the instrumentality of gospel preaching (1 Cor. 1:18-24). With this gift of faith, every believer is given the abiding unction of the Spirit by which we are given grace through the Word of God to know all things spiritual (1 Cor. 2:12-16; 1 John 2:20-27).
††††††††††† It is a sad, sad proof of human depravity that men everywhere deny or disregard the existence of God. We read in the Book of God of the fool who cries, ďno God,Ē of nations that ďforget God,Ē and of individuals who do not have God in all their thoughts. Such people, while they cannot convince themselves that there is no God, so despise him that they want nothing to do with him. They say, ďDepart from us. We desire not the knowledge of your ways.Ē There is only one cure for this sad, cursed condition. The only effectual cure for menís souls is the new birth (John 3:3-7).
††††††††††† Yet, even in the thoughts of regenerate men and women, even among those who are true believers, sometimes horribly sinful questions and doubts arise concerning the existence of God. These are things with which Satan harasses and seeks to destroy Godís elect. For such harassing thoughts the only cure is grace. The remedy for such wicked thoughts is the diligent study of Godís Word and works, asking him to graciously apply them to your heart. Carefully mark the hand of Godís providence in everything. Prayerfully and confidently acknowledge God in all your ways. Walk humbly with God, seeking and bowing to his will in all things. ďIf we habitually walk with God, we shall not doubt his existenceĒ (John L. Dagg). Let us ever remember our God and walk before him and with him in the humility of faith. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wineĒ (Pro. 3:5-10).