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Existence of God

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How do we know that God exists?

The answer can be given in 2 parts: 1) all people have an inner sense of God 2) we believe the evidence that is found in Scripture and in nature.

Humanity's Inner Sense of God

All people everywhere have a deep inner sense God exists, that they are his creatures, and that he is their Creator. Paul says that even Gentile unbelievers "knew God" but didn't honor him as God or give thanks to him (Romans 1:21). He says that wicked unbelievers have "exchanged the truth about God for a lie" (Romans 1:25), implying that they actively or willfully rejected some truth about God's existence and character that they knew. Paul says that "what can be known about God is plain to them," and adds that this is "because God has shown it to them." (Romans 1:19) Scripture recognizes that some people deny this inner sense of God and even deny that God exists. It is the fool" who says in his heart, "There is no God." (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). This indicates both that sin leads people to think irrationally and to deny God's existence, and that it is someone who is thinking irrationally or who has been deceived who will say, "There is no God."

Paul also recognizes that sin will cause people to deny their knowledge of God: he speaks of those who "by their wickedness suppress the truth" (Romans 1:18) and says that those who do this are "without excuse" for this denial of God (Romans 1:20)

Some people deny that they have an inner sense of God, but their awareness of God will often make itself evident in a time of personal crisis, when deep-seated convictions of the heart show themselves in outward words and deeds. "Several years ago I was a passenger in a car with several friends, including a young woman who in conversation was firmly denying that she had any inner awareness of God's existence. Shortly thereafter the car hit a patch of ice and spun around in a complete circle at high speed. Before the car came to rest in a large snow bank (with no serious damage) this same woman could be heard distinctly calling out, "Lord Jesus, please help us!" The rest of us looked at her in amazement when we realized that her agnosticism had been disproved by words from her own mouth."

In the life of a Christian this inner awareness of God becomes stronger and more distinct. We begin to know God as our loving Father in heaven (Romans 8:15), the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:16) and we come to know Jesus Christ living within our hearts (Ephesians 3:17; Phil 3:8, 10; Col. 1:27; John 14:23) The intensity of this awareness for a Christian is such that though we have not seen our Lord Jesus Christ, we indeed love him (1 Peter 1:8)

Believing the Evidence in Scripture and Nature

In addition to people's inner awareness of God that bears clear witness to the fact that God exists, clear evidence of his existence is to be seen in Scripture and in nature.

The evidence that God exists is of course found throughout the Bible. In fact, the Bible everywhere assumes God's existence. Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible, does not necessarily present evidence for the existence of God but begins immediately to tell us what he has done: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." If we are convinced that the Bible is true, then we know from the Bible not only that God exists but also very much about his nature and his acts.

The world also gives abundant evidence of God's existence. Paul says that God's eternal nature and deity have been "clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Romans 1:20) This suggests that in some sense every created thing gives evidence of God's character. It is man himself, created in the image of God, who most abundantly bears witness to the existence of God: whenever we see another human being we should immediately realize an incredibly intricate, skillful, communicative living creature could only have been created by an infinite, all-wise Creator.

The "rains and fruitful seasons" as well as "food and gladness" that all people experience and benefit from are also said by Barnabas and Paul to be witnesses to God (Acts 14:17). David tells us of the witness of the heavens: "the heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge" (Ps 19:1-2). To look upward into the sky by day or by night is to see sun, moon, and stars, sky and clouds, all continually declaring by their existence and beauty and greatness that a powerful and wise Creator has made them and sustains them in their order.

Everything that exists gives evidence of God's existence. Every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass, every star in the sky, and every other part of creation all cry out continuously, "God made me! God made me!" If our hearts and minds were not so blinded by sin, it would be impossible for us to look closely at a leaf from any tree and say, "No one created this: it just happened." The beauty of a snowflake, the majestic power of a thunderstorm, the kill of a honeybee, the refreshing taste of cold water, the incredible abilities of the human hand - all these and thousands of other aspects of creation simply could not have come into existence apart from an all-wise all-powerful Creator.

So, for those who are correctly evaluating the evidence, everything in Scripture and everything in nature proves clearly that God exists and that he is the powerful and wise Creator that Scripture describes him to be. When we believe that God exists, we are basing our beliefs not on some blind hope apart from any evidence, but on an OVERWHELMING amount of reliable evidence from God's words and God's works.

These evidences can all be seen as valid proofs for the existence of God, even though some people reject them. This doesn't mean that the evidence is invalid, only that those who reject the evidence are evaluating it wrongly.

(By Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology)

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