Basic Christianity – Session 3
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT GOD
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Actually, the Scripture does not make the case for the existence of God; it begins with the assumption of God’s existence. The first statement in the Bible is “In the beginning God…”
Have you ever heard someone say, “You cannot prove the existence of God”? As strange as it may sound, there is a sense in which that statement is true, if one is talking about a classical proof of logic. A proof of logic is a series of statements, which if true, lead to an undeniable conclusion. The oft quoted example of a proof of logic is:
A – Socrates is a man
B – All men or mortal
C – Socrates is mortal
If one accepts A and B, then C has to be true. To my knowledge, no-one has come up with a proof of logic that proves the existence of God. But, in the strictest sense, one can hardly prove the existence of anything by using a proof of logic.
But, there is ample evidence of the existence of God. As opposed to proof which compels belief, evidence builds a case that leads to belief in God’s existence. What is some of the evidence for God’s existence?
· Four classical philosophical arguments for God’s existence
o ONTOLOGICAL (study of being) ARGUMENT – God is, by definition, the greatest conceivable being. However, a being that exists in reality is greater than a being that exists only in our thoughts. Therefore, God must exist.
o COSMOLOGICAL (study of the universe) ARGUMENT – Since the universe exists and since nothing comes into existence without a first cause, there must be a God who caused the universe to exist.
o TELEOGICAL (study of design or purpose) ARGUMENT – The complexity and balance of our universe argues for an intelligent God just as the existence of a watch argues for a watchmaker.
o MORAL ARGUMENT – The existence of moral laws argues for a Lawgiver. Built into all people is a sense of there are some things that are right and some things that are wrong. While the specifics of what is right and wrong may vary somewhat from culture to culture, every culture is characterized by moral standards. This sense of “I should” implies a “Thou shalt” from God.
· The testimony of others – Millions of people claim to believe in and to have a personal relationship with God. If one person made that claim it could be dismissed, but since virtually every culture makes that claim it must be at least examined seriously.
· Personal experience – There is something in us that cries out for God. Augustine, the 4th century theologian/philosopher, described it at a god-shaped blank in our hearts. He said our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God.
THE REVELATION OF GOD
Many arguments can be made for the existence of God. However, none of them lead directly to the God of the Bible. We do not know the God of the Bible because we have searched for Him and found Him. We know the God of the Bible because He has revealed Himself, made Himself known, to us. The God of the Bible is a God who has revealed Himself. There are two types of Revelation:
· GENERAL (NATURAL) REVELATION – This is God’s revelation through the natural universe. (See Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18-20)
· SPECIAL (SPECIFIC) REVELATION – This is God breaking into human history. (see Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 3:1-6; Hebrews 1:1-2; John 1:1-3-5, 14) The Bible is all about God’s special revelation.
THE NATURE OF GOD
God is person or personal (God can be known…Jeremiah 9:23-24a; John 14:9-10)
God is one (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; Galatians 4:8-9).
o Monotheism – Many scholars believe that Judaism was the first monotheistic religion.
God is three in one or a Trinity
o The word "Trinity" comes from the Latin noun "trinitas" meaning "three are one." The Trinity expresses the belief that God is one Being made up of three distinct Persons who exist in co-equal essence and co-eternal communion as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
o Although the term "Trinity" is not found in the Bible, most Bible scholars agree that its meaning is clearly expressed. These are some of the verses expressing the concept of the Trinity - Matthew 3:16-17, Matthew 28:19, John 14:16-17, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Acts 2:32-33, John 10:30, John 17:11&21.
o The most difficult thing about the Christian concept of the Trinity is that there is no way to perfectly and completely understand it. The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain. God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we should not expect to be able to fully understand Him.
ATTRIBUTES OF GOD (A quality or characteristic that is true about someone)
God is omniscient or "knows all things" (Acts 15:18; 1 John 3:20).
God is omnipotent or "all powerful" (Psalm 115:3; Revelation 19:6).
God is omnipresent or "present everywhere" (Jeremiah 23:23, 24; Psalm 139).
God is sovereign (Zechariah 9:14; 1 Timothy 6:15-16).
God is holy (1 Peter 1:15).
God is just or "righteous" (Psalm 19:9, 116:5, 145:17; Jeremiah 12:1).
God is love (1 John 4:8).
God is true (Romans 3:4; John 14:6).
God is spirit (John 4:24).
God is the creator of everything that exists (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 44:24).
God is infinite and eternal. He has always been God (Psalm 90:2; Genesis 21:33; Acts 17:24).
God is immutable. He does not change (James 1:17; Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 46:9-10).
The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 2:11-12; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1, 14, 10:30-33, 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 1:8).
A.W. Tozer – “A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living…I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.”