Is God Real?
Helix Nebula image by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Is God Real?

Does God exist? Does God care for us? And is the God of the Bible the only true God? These are the most important question we can ask, and how we answer them and respond impacts our eternal destiny.

Today, many people doubt the existence of God. Even if they find some type of higher power plausible, it seems arrogant to them to assert the existence of only one God, only one way to be saved. People throughout time and across cultures have worshipped so many gods in so many ways, how could just one of them be correct?

Even many Christians find themselves confused and unsure when challenged. It is important that we be able to defend our belief in the God who reveals himself in Scripture and ultimately in Christ.

Biblical Foundation

There are lots of philosophical, theological, and even scientific arguments for God’s existence. But none of them can conclusively prove that the God of the Bible is the real and only God. This is because God exists outside of our universe and is not subject to our testing. So we rely on revelation to know about God—we can only know what he reveals to us.

The Bible never tries to argue for God’s existence—it assumes it. God’s existence is such a self-evident fact that even when the Bible says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” it is not speaking of atheists as such (King David would not have come into contact with anything like a modern atheist), but of corrupt people who ignore God’s existence as if he will not judge them (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).

God is personal, not an impersonal force, and he is relational. From the very first verse of Scripture, God is active. We can see his power from the effortlessness of his creation—he speaks, and what he commands comes into existence. From the first moment that other relational beings are brought into existence—the first humans, Adam and Eve—God is in relationship with them. This also excludes any ideas of a deistic creator who made the world but now is uninterested and uninvolved.

We always have to approach God from the foundation of what he has revealed in Scripture. However, that does not mean evidence in our world plays no role in our believing that God exists—it means that evidence can only play a secondary, supporting role.

God Is a Trinity

Christians believe that God is a triune Being—that is, he is one Being made up of three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While the word “Trinity” is never used in the Bible, the Bible clearly teaches each of the tenets of the doctrine of the Trinity:

  1. There is only one God.

    “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

    “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

  2. The Father is God.

    “That together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6)

  3. Jesus, the Son, is God.

    “Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (John 20:28–29)

    “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)

    “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1)

  4. The Holy Spirit is God.

    “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? . . . Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’” (Acts 5:3–4)

There are many other verses to support the doctrine of the Trinity other than the ones listed above. Another powerful evidence is trinitarian formulas in Scripture. Paul is especially fond of them—for instance, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14, emphasis added). And, notably, Christians are baptized in the name (singular) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share a name—it would be unthinkable for a creature to share the name of God!

The main attacks against the Trinity involve either denial of the deity of the Son (i.e., claiming that he is an exalted creature or the greatest prophet, but not God) or the personhood of the Spirit (i.e., claiming that he is an impersonal force). For this reason, it is useful to know a few verses to defend each doctrine.

1. Deity of Christ

Jesus says things that only God can say, does things that only God can do, and is portrayed in ways that would be blasphemous were he not God.

John says of Jesus, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him” (John 12:41). When did Isaiah see someone’s glory? In Isaiah 6, Isaiah has a vision of Yahweh’s glory. If you went back to the Old Testament and asked Isaiah whose glory he saw, he would say, “Yahweh’s.” If you ask John whose glory Isaiah saw, he would say, “Jesus’ glory.” Yahweh’s glory and Jesus’ glory are the same; therefore, Jesus is Yahweh.

Also in the Gospel of John, Jesus asks, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5). Jesus explicitly claims to have existed before the world and to have shared God’s glory. God explicitly says he does not share his glory with another (Isaiah 48:11); therefore, Jesus must be God.

2. Personhood of the Holy Spirit

It is common for anti-trinitarians to explain the Holy Spirit as the impersonal power of God. However, the Holy Spirit is described as personal. The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30) or resisted (Acts 7:51). He can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10). He can speak (Mark 13:11; Acts 1:16, 13:2; Hebrews 3:7), reveal things (Luke 2:26; Acts 20:23), teach (Luke 12:12), and send out (Acts 13:4). He descended on Jesus in bodily form (Luke 3:22). He can bear witness to things (Acts 5:32).

Furthermore, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit as another Helper—the word for “another” means “another of the same sort” (John 14:16). Jesus is a Person; therefore, the Holy Spirit must be a Person. Also, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as “he,” not “it.”

Evidence for Logic and Design in Nature

The universe runs on physical laws that are reducible to mathematical formulas. But why should the universe be constructed in such a way if it is the result of a big bang? So many things about the earth and universe seem to be fine-tuned, such as the earth being the perfect distance from the sun for life to thrive. To use an old comparison, we would not expect a tornado running through a junkyard to randomly assemble a Boeing 747 from junk parts, but the junkyard at least has the advantage of having preexisting matter! Rather, the universe seems to be delicately tuned by a master Engineer.

William Paley, an eighteenth-century English clergyman, used the idea of coming across a watch along the beach of some island. Even if you were the only human on the island, and even if you didn’t know of any previous human ever visiting the island, you would recognize the watch as a product of human intelligence because blind natural forces do not create gears and springs intricately placed to form a functioning mechanism. However, even the most complex watch—or, for that matter, the most complex technology humans have invented—is crude compared to the machinery inside a cell.

We also recognize language as an indication that it was produced by an intelligence. This is the case even if we cannot decipher the language, as was the case for hieroglyphics before the discovery of the Rosetta stone. Yet inside every living cell, there exists DNA, a complex language regulating how the organism develops and functions.

If we recognize human design and language, even without knowing exactly who it came from, surely vastly greater examples of design and language in the created world point to a Creator. And the Bible reveals that the Creator is the one true God.

Some might ask, “If God created everything, who created God?” We live in a world of cause and effect, so it is an understandable question to ask. But God never began to exist, so he does not need a cause.

Evidence from Religion and Morality

Human beings were created in the image of God to worship him and to be in relationship with him. Even people who reject God cannot erase this image. Recognizing this reality makes sense of several characteristics of humans that evolution can’t adequately explain.

First, most people throughout time and across cultures have believed in God or false gods. Because Christians deny false gods, atheists say, “We just believe in one less god than you do.” But the worship of false gods does not disprove the true God. Rather, the fact that some humans will go so far as to worship animals and statues that they create themselves should show that the instinct for worship runs deep in us. Why would evolution program us to worship?

Also, almost every behavior has been linked to some sort of evolutionary survival advantage. Rampant promiscuity can help an animal spread his genes, but monogamy can help his offspring’s chances of survival. Thievery can help secure resources that will allow a creature to better survive and thus pass on his genes, but cooperation can provide strength in numbers, ensuring the survival of a group.

Almost everyone is against at least extreme promiscuity and stealing, but from an evolutionary standpoint, there is no right and wrong, only survival. Morality puts certain behaviors “off-limits,” thus narrowing someone’s choices. This makes sense if we are the image-bearers of God—it is horrific for image-bearers of God to act in ways that deface that image. But atheists, who would give lip service to the idea that we are the products of evolution, mostly act inconsistently with that.

Evidence from Conscience

The conscience is a part of our God-given reasoning, an inner awareness that bears witness to the moral values we recognize when determining right or wrong. When we conform to the dictates of our consciences, we feel a sense of pleasure or relief. But we feel guilt, anguish, and/or shame when we violate the values of our consciences. Everyone has a conscience, and the Apostle Paul tells us that it serves as a moral compass and even a law to those who have never heard of Scripture.

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 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:14–16)

Of course, the conscience can be repressed (Romans 1:18) or “seared” (1 Timothy 4:2), conditioned to accept evil as good and good as evil. But we need to realize that our current postmodern and relativistic culture is not “new” but has been around since the fall. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

But why would a conscience have developed in an evolutionary view? What benefit to the individual does a sense of guilt and shame bring? And why in the evolutionary paradigm would one animal feel guilty for harming or defrauding another animal? Does the lion feel guilt over his killing of the antelope? Does the seagull feel guilty for stealing food from a human? However, if a moral law is written into humanity’s conscience, then there must be a moral Lawgiver who created it and put it in our hearts. Further, this moral law must be universal and absolute to have meaning, shown to be the case by every culture on earth having laws, civil procedures, and even taboos. If we try to deny the existence of absolute and universal moral law, then we have no right to pass judgment on anything. We can’t legitimately criticize anything as “bad” or “wrong” if absolute moral law does not exist. Yet the atheist who denies God is usually the first to argue that God is to blame for allowing moral and natural evil here on earth. Thus everyone testifies that moral law exists in their conscience by passing judgment on others’ actions.

Jesus: God in Flesh

The greatest evidence for God’s existence we could imagine is if God came to earth and lived with us. And that is exactly what happened during Jesus’ life and earthly ministry. While God appeared at various times throughout Old Testament history (these appearances are called “theophanies” and many theologians believe these to be the preincarnate Christ), Jesus lived for over 30 years on earth, day in and day out, and the record of his life in the Gospels tells us a lot about what God is like.

For Jesus to be proof in the flesh that God is real, we have to establish: Is Jesus God? First, Jesus’ birth fulfilled prophecies made hundreds of years before. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus being born to a virgin of the royal house (Mary was a descendant of King David through his son Nathan; Isaiah 7:14). Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and Daniel prophesied about the timing of Jesus’ birth (Daniel 9).

Jesus was able to do things that only God could do. He was able to command the weather, and it obeyed him. He was able to walk on water. He did miracles that no other prophet had been able to do. The Father himself endorsed Jesus twice.

The ultimate proof of Jesus’ deity is his resurrection and ascension into heaven. The Father raised Jesus from the dead, which authenticated Jesus’ claims of deity and his power to forgive sins. This is a well-documented historical event, with over 500 people at one time seeing the resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6). Jesus’ apostles began preaching about his resurrection at a time when lots of eyewitnesses were alive and could have pointed out where his tomb was—if it wasn’t actually empty.

Our Response to God

God created us with a desire to worship and have a relationship with him. In this fallen world, sometimes that desire is twisted toward worshipping other things. Our sinful nature means that before we can have a relationship with God, we have to be cleansed from our sin and delivered from its penalty and eternity in hell separated from him.

The Bible explains the history of the world, how God created everything good, how Adam’s sin corrupted the world and introduced death and suffering, and how God has been working ever since to undo the curse. He brought the nation of Israel into existence specifically to bring the Messiah into the world, because only the death of the sinless Son of God could fully atone for our sins.

The fact that God created us, loves us, and is actively working to save people and redeem his creation from the effects of the curse is the best news possible! If you have not yet responded in faith and trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, why not do so today?

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