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The Bible teaches that there is a God and that "he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11.6) Life for the Christian is knowing God, serving God and enjoying his favour and friendship. Many people do not even accept that there is a God and they therefore have a very different view of what life is all about. What people believe makes a big difference to how they live. The Christian would say that God's existence is basic to everything else. Without the God of the Bible, everything falls to pieces. It is basic to this created world that there is a Creator. It is basic to the continuing of our world that there is an almighty Governor and Provider. It is basic to our stewardship conduct in the world that there is a fountain of life and lawgiver to whom we are responsible. When the Christian says that there is a God in whom he trusts he does not mean that "out there somewhere" there is "something", as though God were some cosmic "It" way beyond us. When the Christian says "God is" he means that the God of the Bible exists and that this God is a personal creator of a definite character. One Christian catechism describes God in this way: "God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth." (Westminster Shorter Catechism) This is based upon the Bible which tells us that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4.24). Psalm 90 verse 2 tells us that God is "from everlasting to everlasting" and through the Prophet Malachi God declares: "I am the Lord, I change not..." (3.6) The Bible speaks of God as "the only wise God" (1 Timothy 1.17), and speaks of his "eternal power" (Romans 1.20). Although God is "holy" (Revelation 15.4) and "will by no means clear the guilty" yet he is "merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34.7,6) The Bible tells us not only that God is but also who he is and how he will act towards his creatures.
It is not new for people to deny the existence of such a God. Several thousand years ago the psalmist could write: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psalms 14.1) The existence of God is denied in different ways. The Atheist does not believe that there is a living God. He sees God as an invention of men having no real existence. Usually such a person does not believe in life after death and may be heard to say: "When you are dead, you are dead, and that's it." The atheist may, however, go to church from time to time but does not regard himself as being accountable to God in any way. He would join Pharaoh in saying: "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?" Agnostics usually claim that they do not deny that there is a God but only say that we cannot be sure whether he exists or not. The agnostic is, therefore, waiting for more evidence to turn up to prove that there is a God or that there is no God. As long as he or she remains undecided the agnostic cannot really worship or serve God. He is not prepared to accept the Bible's testimony to God's existence but usually looks for some scientific or rational proof one way or the other. There are other people who say that they believe in God but they do not accept that he is as the Bible describes him. Some of these people are Pantheists. The name means "all is god" and Pantheists make everything to be God and God to be everywhere and everything. For them "all is God" and there is no separate creation. In the ancient world the pagans were Polytheists. This means that they believed in many gods and for them the God of the Hebrews was only one among many. There are also people that the Bible speaks of as hypocrites. They pretend to serve God, or think that they are serving God, but they have no real love for him. Such would not say openly that there is no God and would go to a place of worship and say prayers but in their hearts they have no true love of God or holiness. Their religion is just the form of godliness. Most people today who are not atheists or agnostics like to think of God as they would like him to be. This usually means that they emphasize some of his perfections at the expense of others so that they do not need to be too worried about being accepted by him. They might think much about God's goodness but do not want to think about his justice.
The Bible's verdict on all those who deny the God of the scriptures is that they are fools. But when the psalmist says that the fool has said in his heart that there is no God, he does not mean that they are simple, but that they are empty or hollow. They might be well-educated people but they go against the clear evidence of the world about them; "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…" (Romans 1.19-20) The atheist and agnostic are not even prepared to accept that there is such a display of god's power and glory in the universe. Such people, therefore, continue to live without the one in whom Christian believes and they know nothing of the reward of those who diligently seek him.
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Hebrews 11.3)
Diligent, existence, stewardship, cosmic, catechism, evidence, testimony, rational, verdict, manifest.
1. What does the Bible teach about whether or not there is a God?
2. What does the Christian mean when he says that there is a God?
3. How can we briefly describe God?
4. Explain what is meant by each of the following: (a) Atheism, (b) Agnosticism, (c) Pantheism, (d) Polytheism, (e) Hypocrisy.
5. What does the psalmist mean when he calls atheists "fools"?
6. Why does the Bible say that it is foolish to deny the existence of God?
Study the conversation below and write down for each speaker what position they are advocating.
FRED: "There is no God."
PAT: "We cannot be sure whether there is a god or not."
JOE: "Don't be foolish. God is everywhere. Everything is a part of God.
JANE: "I think you are all wrong. There are lots of gods, not just one."
Find books to tell you about the gods or idols of the ancient world in Egypt, Greece and Rome.
That there is not a God, the fool
doth in his heart conclude:
They are corrupt, their works are vile;
not one of them doth good.
Upon men's sons the Lord from heav'n
did cast his eyes abroad,
To see if any understood,
and did seek after God.
They altogether filthy are,
they all aside are gone;
And there is none that doeth good,
yea, sure there is not one.
These workers of iniquity
do they not know at all,
That they my people eat as bread,
and on God do not call?
There fear'd they much; for God is with
the whole race of the just.
You shame the counsel of the poor,
because God is his trust.
Let Isr'el's help from Sion come:
when back the Lord shall bring
His captives, Jacob shall rejoice,
and Israel shall sing.