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Don Stewart :: How Do We Know That It Is the God of the Bible Who Exists?

Don Stewart

There are reasonable arguments that give testimony to the existence of God. But which God exists? Is there only one God or many gods who exist? If there is only one God, is it the God of the Bible or some other God? How can a person be certain that the God of the Bible really exists?

Only The Biblical God Exists

As the evidence is evaluated the only reasonable case that can be made for the existence of God comes from the Bible. The evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible includes the following: the Bible itself, predictive prophecy, Jesus Christ, and changed lives of believers.

Evidence 1. The Testimony Of The Bible

One of the reasons we can have confidence that God exists is the Bible. The Bible is like no other book that has ever been written before or since. It claims to be the inspired Word of God, and has more proof for that claim than any other book.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

But the mere claim of divine inspiration does not make it true. There has to be evidence to back up the claim, and the evidence for the inspiration of the Bible is sufficient to the reasonable questioner.

The Bible Has A Unique Makeup

The Bible, though made up of sixty-six separate books, is in reality one book. One of the strongest arguments for the inspiration of the Bible is its unity.

It Was Fifteen Hundred Years In The Making

The first book of the Bible written was either Genesis or Job (about 1400 B.C.). The last book composed was either the third letter of John or the Book of Revelation. They each were written toward the end of the first century A.D. This makes a total of about fifteen hundred years from the composition of the first book of the Bible until the last.

There Are Many Authors With Many Occupations

In addition, there were over forty different authors who composed the books of the Bible. They came from a variety of backgrounds and different occupations. For example, Amos was a herdsman, Peter and John were fishermen, Luke was a doctor, Joshua, a military leader, and Daniel a prime minister.

It Was Written In Three Languages

The Bible was written in three different languages-Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; and upon three different continents-Africa, Asia, and Europe.

It Covers Many Different Subjects

The subject matter contained in the Bible includes many controversial matters including the existence and nature of God, the formation of the universe, the creation and purpose of humankind.

The Bible Is A Unity

Thus the Bible is sixty-six books, composed by forty different human authors, over a fifteen-hundred-year span, written in three different continents, covering many controversial subjects. One would expect the result to be a confused and disjointed text, anything but harmonious. Yet the Bible is a unity. It is one unfolding story from beginning to end written with complete harmony and continuity. This feature is remarkable when one considers the different factors involved. The only reasonable way that this Book came together so precisely is that the ultimate author behind it was God Himself

Evidence 2. Predictive Prophecy

The Bible itself is a starting point for us to believe in the existence of God. But there is much more. One of the strongest lines of evidence that can be marshaled for God's existence is the subject of predictive prophecy. The Scripture records many events that were predicted in advance by God. These fulfilled prophecies are evidence of God's knowledge of all things. Only God, who is outside of our time-space existence and our finite knowledge, could accurately and consistently reveal the future. The Bible says,

We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of humans, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21).

Prophecy is God foretelling events before they occur. Biblical predictions are not vague prophecies but are specific in nature. Furthermore, they cannot be accounted for by chance, common sense, or collusion.

The Biblical Tests Of A Prophet

For predictive prophecy to be considered valid, it must pass the following tests.

  1. The prophecy must be given before the fulfillment takes place.
  2. The prophecy must be of an explicit nature - it must be able to be falsified if the event does not come to pass.
  3. Those who give the prophecies cannot have any part in the fulfillment.
  4. The fulfillment must correspond exactly, and in all points, to the predictions that were given.

Some Examples Of Fulfilled Prophecy

The Old Testament predicts the coming of a Savior known as the Messiah. The predictions surrounding Him are very specific. They include:

The Birthplace Of The Messiah Predicted

He was to be born in Bethlehem.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).

The Family Line Predicted

The Old Testament predicted the exact family line that the Messiah would come through. This includes the line of Abraham (Genesis 22:18), the line of Isaac (Genesis 21:12), the line of Jacob (Numbers 24:17), the family line of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), and the line of David (Jeremiah 23:5).

He Must Come Before The Temple Is Destroyed

The Messiah was to come on the historical scene before the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.

And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Daniel 9:26).

The Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. Thus the predicted Messiah was prophesied to come upon the scene of history before A.D. 70.

The Prophecies Were Literally Fulfilled In Jesus

The odds that one person could fulfill these prophecies by chance are astronomical. But Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled these and many others demonstrating He was the promised Messiah.

The Bible also gives many prophecies concerning nations and individuals, which have been literally fulfilled. These also demonstrate that God exists and that He is controlling history.

Why Has He Told Us The Future?

Since the Bible gives us examples of God predicting the future we may rightly ask why He does this? Why has God at times predicted future events? Through the prophet Isaiah God gives us the answer to this question:

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure' (Isaiah 46:9,10).

Isaiah also recorded God saying.

I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from my mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass . . . Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, lest you should say, 'My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them' (Isaiah 48:3,5).

From these verses we can deduce the following:

  1. By telling us what is going to happen in the future we know that God exists for only God could know with certainty what will happen.
  2. We can also know that He is the only God who exists for no other God or idol has been able to foretell the future with complete accuracy.
  3. Humanity can also rest assured that other predictions God has made, which have not come to pass, will indeed be fulfilled.
  4. We can also trust anything else that God says because He has given us a basis for trusting Him.

We can, therefore, have confidence that God is controlling history and our own lives. By realizing that God has predicted the future accurately, we can live in the security of what He has told us will happen.

Evidence 3. Jesus Christ

There is a third reason why one should believe in the existence of the God of the Bible-Jesus Christ. The New Testament declares that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the one true God. The Gospel of John begins by stating the eternal nature of Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1,14).

Here is the clear testimony that Jesus, the eternal God, became a man. The Jews were offended at Jesus' claim to be God.

Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God (John 5:18).

Were His Claims True?

The fact that Jesus claimed to be God is clear; but were His claims true? Jesus gave evidence that He was God by doing the things only God could do. This included healing incurable diseases and raising the dead. As we have already noted, His coming to earth fulfilled a number of prophecies that could not have been fulfilled by mere chance.

In addition, Jesus did something else only God could do; He forgave sin. Jesus said to a paralyzed man who was brought to Him, "Son, your sins are forgiven you" (Mark 2:5).

This claim brought a heated response from the religious leaders:

Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Mark 2:7).

They were absolutely right. Only God has the ability to forgive sins. The prophet Isaiah records God as saying:

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).

Jesus, by claiming the ability to forgive sin, put Himself on an equal level with God.

Jesus Conquered Death

Jesus' greatest feat, however, was conquering the greatest enemy we all face, death. The Bible says that the resurrection demonstrated that Jesus was God the Son.

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).

The death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead is the gospel, or Good News, in which we place our faith.

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1,3,4).

The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated the fact that He is God. It showed that He has authority in all matters including life and death.

Summary

Therefore we can sum up the matter as follows:

  1. The New Testament testifies that Jesus is the eternal God.
  2. Jesus demonstrated that He could do the things only God could do, including conquering death.
  3. Jesus' resurrection is evidence that He indeed was God the Son.

Evidence 4. The Testimony Of Changes Lives

There is, as we have seen, much objective evidence to tell us that God exists. There is a final line of evidence and that is the testimony of changed lives. The Bible encourages people to experience God.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who trusts in him! (Psalm 34:8).

Christian experience does not in and of itself prove the reality of the Christian faith. Yet if God has revealed Himself in the Bible, we should expect Christian experience to provide a testimony consistent with that revelation.

The Changed Lives Of Jesus' Disciples

The disciples of Jesus are an example of experience validating God's Word. They all abandoned Jesus when Judas Iscariot betrayed Him. Simon Peter even denied knowing Him. When Jesus was tried and crucified His disciples were nowhere to be found. Yet, less than two months later these same cowards were boldly proclaiming the truth of Christ to the world. They testified that seeing Jesus risen from the dead is what made the difference. Each one of these men suffered persecution the rest of his life and, with the exception of John, went on to die a martyr's death for his belief in Christ.

They Saw The Risen Christ

Something changed their lives. Cowards do not become martyrs without a reason. What was it? The disciples testified that it was seeing the risen Christ that made the difference. This was an historical event, not just a fairy tale. The Apostle Peter declared,

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when such a voice came to him from the Excellent Glory: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1:16-18).

The Conversion Of Saul Of Tarsus

The changed life of Jesus' disciples serves as a testimony to the truth of the Christian message. Saul of Tarsus is another example. He was a persecutor of Christians, but his life changed when he experienced the risen Christ while on the road to Damascus. This was a genuine experience, not a fantasy. He told King Agrippa:

For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner (Acts 26:26).

As was the case with Jesus' disciples, there is no disputing that Saul's life was radically changed. Like the disciples, he testified that it was caused by seeing the risen Christ. His changed life adds another testimony to the truth of the Christian faith.

Millions More Can Testify To Changed Lives

Since the time of Christ, there have been millions of others who have had their lives changed by experiencing the risen Christ. The experience of those who have believed in Christ is further confirmation of the truth of the Christian message. We may conclude:

  1. Christian experience is based upon the facts of the gospel.
  2. The disciples of Jesus and Saul of Tarsus are two biblical examples of the confirmation of Christian experience.
  3. Millions of others since the disciples have had the same experience.
  4. Thus Christian experience gives a further confirmation of the truth of the Christian message.

Summary On God's Existence

The following lines of argumentation can demonstrate the existence of the God of the Bible.

  1. The traditional arguments (cosmological, teleological, anthropological, moral, biological and universal belief in His existence). They show that belief in God is not contrary to observable evidence.
  2. The evidence from the nature and the reliability of the Bible.
  3. The evidence of fulfilled prophecy.
  4. The person and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  5. The testimony of changed lives.

This combined evidence gives sufficient testimony to the existence of the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. We cover these issues in much more detail in our course The Case For Christianity.

Summary

While evidence from the traditional arguments argue for the existence of God it does not tell us what God exists. There is a separate line of evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible. One line of evidence is the Bible itself. Another strong evidence for believing in the existence of the God of Scripture is predictive prophecy. The person of Jesus Christ gives a resounding testimony for the existence of the God of Scripture. Finally, there is the personal evidence - the change lives of the followers of Jesus. Each of these lines of evidence provides a strong reason for the belief that the God who exists is the God of the Bible.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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