God’s Existence in the Bible

fgbdhfhDoes the Bible speak explicitly or implicitly to God’s existence? Never does one find a discussion concerning the existence of God within the Scriptures. In the book of Job, the debate between the suffering man and his foolish friends relates to the goodness and justice of God; not the existence of God himself. Though the Bible presupposes the existence of God (Gen. 1:1), statements made throughout the canon lead one to believe his existence and some aspects of his character can be known apart from special revelation. The Bible seems to teach we can know about God’s existence through nature, conscience and providence.

Psalm 19 extols the glory of God being seen in nature saying, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psa. 19:1)” All communication bears a message and the message of the heavens is the excellent reputation of God. The sheer magnitude, profundity and beauty of the heavens begs the question of who? Scripture answers with the resounding cry of “God.” Other verses point toward this truth also (Psa. 145:9; Acts 14:15-17, 17:24-27). Romans 1:20 says, “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.” God’s just wrath is revealed against humanity for suppressing the knowledge of the true God and for their descent into immoral idolatry (Rom. 1:18-23). The fundamental truth of the universe is that God exists and that he should be worshipped and served and his name should be praised. This is in some sense evident from the world around us. The evidence of the physical world led John Calvin to conclude, “…wherever you turn your eyes, there is no portion of the world, however minute, that does not exhibit at least some sparks of beauty; while it is impossible to contemplate the vast and beautiful fabric as it extends around, without being overwhelmed by the immense weight of glory.”

kwefjkqewMan’s moral nature or conscience also speaks to the existence of God. In Romans 2, Paul writes that “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. (Rom. 2:14-15)” Paul’s point is that the Gentiles occasionally abide by the Law and their abiding is introduced here to show the Jews that the mere hearing of the law is of no advantage. Paul is saying the unbelieving Gentiles know some of the Mosaic Law intuitively without knowing the actual commands. The Gentiles know this because it is within their conscience (συνειδήσεως). Their conscience approves and disapproves of what they do. A plea of moral ignorance then is nullified because we are “…convicted by our own consciences both of sloth and ingratitude.” The fact that humanity is made in God’s image would presumably explain why there is a moral aspect to us and point beyond itself (Gen. 1:26-27, 5:1-3, 9:5-6; Psa. 8:3-8; 1 Cor. 11:7; Col. 3:8-11; Jas. 3:7-9).

Lastly, scriptural statements concerning providence can be used as a defense for God’s existence. The Bible teaches that God is sovereignly controlling and working out all things for his purposes, plans, and perfections (Psa. 103:19; Dan. 4:35; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 15:27; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:13). Because of that, history is an unraveling of manifold wisdom and is directed by the invisible God who reigns on the throne. Calvin again writes, “…we must be persuaded not only that as he once formed the world, so he sustains it by his boundless power, governs it by his wisdom, preserves it by his goodness, in particular, rules the human race with justice and Judgment, bears with them in mercy, shields them by his protection; but also that not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or rectitude, or genuine truth, will anywhere be found, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause; in this way we must learn to expect and ask all things from him, and thankfully ascribe to him whatever we receive.” Most people regard their lives as being directed by something or someone. People speak of luck or coincidence whereas the Bible says “sovereignty.” Just as a good book has a plot, life also exhibits evidence that history and our lives are going somewhere.

photodune-686768-bible-xsThough the Bible presupposes the existence of God, the existence of God has been scattered throughout this world and ourselves. One writer notes, “I believe God is ‘really there,’ of course, because he has revealed himself to all men generally by creation and providence, that is to say, all men already have an awareness of God (sensus deitatis) by virtue of his divine image within them and the revelation of himself both in nature and in his providential dealings with his world.” Though not mentioned, there are other ways creatures can know about the existence and character of God. Peter Kreeft argues that God can be known through twelve avenues: Jesus, Scripture, the Church as a whole,  individual saints, nature, conscience, art, reason and logic, experience, history as a whole, doing God’s will, and through prayer. I believe Dr. Kreeft to be correct in his assessment. The knowledge of God is not grossly hidden in our world. The passages mentioned above seem to lend themselves to validating some of the theistic proofs for God’s existence. The moral argument trades on the objectivity and universality of moral truths which Scripture agrees exists. Design arguments are founded upon the idea that certain features and characteristics of the natural world point beyond themselves to something greater. The psalms and other passages of Scripture agree. Historical arguments concerning the person of Christ and his resurrection also lend credence to the idea that history is going somewhere and is being guided by a good, sovereign God. Scripture certainly does not speak against such theistic proofs and their use in reasoning with people who do not yet believe.

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