Does God Exist?

I. Introduction

“God is Dead.” -Nietzsche, 1882.
“Nietzsche is Dead.” -God, eternal.

We’re working through various aspects of the Psalms, and this week we’ll explore how God reveals Himself to us. In other words, How do I know God exists, and how does that affect me? Does God Exist?

Two weeks ago on September 7, journalist John T. Elson died. John Elson made a name for himself in 1966 by writing a cover story for Time Magazine called, “Is God Dead?” The article began, “Is God dead? It is a question that tantalizes both believers, who perhaps secretly fear that he is, and atheists, who possibly suspect that the answer is no.” At the time it was written, it caused an uproar.

Do you know what struck me as common between Nietzsche and John Elson? They both now have their answer.

How do you know God exists?

II. Psalm 19:1-6, Natural Revelation

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

Psalm 19 begins by telling us that God’s creation itself is evident of God. Philosophers call this the Cosmological Argument. The argument goes like this: Did the universe have a beginning, yes or no? Scientists have generally accepted a Big Bang theory or some equivalent; by looking at the path the stars in the heavens are taking, they can be traced back to a single point. Another piece of evidence is the Second Law of Thermodynamics that essentially says everything, including energy, is eventually used us and decays. If the universe age was infinite, then all the energy would have been used up and arrived at a temperature of absolute zero. I know it feels that way in church sometimes, the air conditioner is set so low, but there’s actually quite a lot of useful energy in our universe.

So the universe had a beginning, so what? Well, then the next question is whether the beginning of the universe is caused or uncaused. In other words, did someone or something cause it to happen? Trying to argue that it simply started all by itself is challenging. Name one other thing or event that just came into existence by itself. Poof. Everything we know about has a cause, so it’s reasonable that the universe was caused.

So if it was caused, who or what caused it? When the universe was created, all time, space, and material was created. What created time? Must have been something timeless. What created space and matter? Something more powerful than all space and matter. Why would the universe without time or space or matter suddenly pop into existence? Could it do it on it’s own? The only conclusion that makes sense is that something created it, decided using free will that it should exist, and free will requires a personal Creator.

That’s the 50 cent summary, you can spend a lot of time studying the Cosmological argument. Usually the argument takes the form of, say, you’re walking along a path, and on the path, you find a pocketwatch. It’s run by intricate little gears inside and it keeps perfect time. Did the watch spontaneously appear there? Did it create itself? Or is a pocketwatch complex enough to give evidence that somebody must have created it? If a pocketwatch is a complex indication of a creator, have you ever really studied how our universe is put together? Our earth just the right distance from the sun to support life, plants that can convert sunlight into energy, animals that eat the plants and have complex circulatory systems with blood that takes oxygen from the air and delivers it to muscles and take carbon dioxide back to the lungs to exhale. Perhaps people just spontaneously popped into existence by themselves. Perhaps simple little microbes somehow decided they’d be better off organizing themselves into a person. Or perhaps we too, are evidence of a Creator.

What evidence have you observed that indicates that we have a Creator?

The evidence is all around us, and all it takes is observation. Many people, though, remind me of the story of a college philosophy professor that asked one question on the final exam. He picked up a chair, he put it on his desk, and wrote on the board, “Using everything we have learned this semester, prove that this chair does not exist.” Philosophy classes get a kick out of that sort of thinking. The students opened their notebooks and wrote and wrote and wrote for the entire hour, churning out pages and pages of deep thoughts and philosophical logic. But one student turned in his paper after less than a minute and he was the only one to get an A. All he wrote was, “What chair?”

We can ignore the Creation that God placed before us if we wish, but it makes no sense to say, “What creation?”

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

The Psalms declare that this evidence reaches every person, every where, so that no one may have an excuse. David says in Psalm 51 that “The fool has said in his heart that there is no God.” It takes a fool to not notice the evidence God has given us.

But besides external evidence of the existence of God, we also have internal evidence, the effect of God’s Word on our lives.

III. Psalm 19:7-14, Personal Revelation

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

God declares His Word is perfect. The bible is an incredible creation. It was written over a period of 1600 years over 3 continents by 40 different people such as kings and doctors and farmers and shepherds, 1189 chapters and 31,173 verses, yet contains a single, unifying, non-contradictory message of God’s justice, mercy, and sacrifice.

It’s inspired, 2 Peter 1:20-21, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

It’s useful, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

And it changes lives, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”

The bible has the power to change lives, pick drunks up out of the gutter, make saints out of infidels, restore broken marriages, and gives hope to the murderer on death row. There is no other book that has this power.

Think on your own life for a moment. Can you think of a particular time that the Word of God had an impact on your life? A word that challenged or comforted you?

Skeptics can challenge the evidence of Creation and foolishly deny that God exists, but the power of a personal testimony is powerful and cannot be argued. I know what happened to me. I’ve been comforted, I’ve been challenged, meaning has been illuminated in my life to give me purpose, relationships have healed. I am a better man, not because of my own efforts but because of the Holy Spirit working in my life, backed by the power of the Word of God.

Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher, was once asked to defend the Word of God. His response, “Defend it? I would as soon try to defend a lion. God’s Word does not need defending. Just preach it. Let it out of its cage and it will defend itself.”

Look back at Psalm 19 again, verses 7 to the end. How is the teaching of God described? (Perfect, reviving, trustworthy, simple and wise, right, joy, radiant, pure, enduring, sure, righteous, precious, sweet, warning, rewarding, discerning, forgiving.) God’s Word is powerful. One of my recent favorite verses is Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” I get comfort from this, as it tells me that God’s word is true. He has not only a purpose for me, but for everybody. We will find His purpose in His Word.

In what ways can the bible change your life?

How can sin rule over people?

What results from obeying God’s commands?
How does God’s word demonstrate God’s love for us?

How can we show our love for God’s Word?

God’s Word will absolutely clean up lives. Verse 11 reminds us that God’s command is not to limit our freedom but to free us from sin and it’s repercussions. When we are obedient to the Word, there is great reward. And by reward, I mean rewarding lives that impact others and display the power of God in our lives

One of my pet peeves that I believe distorts the power of God is the prosperity teaching, that we can have material rewards, money, fame and power, if we just call on God to provide it. Or a feel-good message that promises a peaceful and joyful life. Both of these are incomplete messages that do not address God’s plan to Refine us, through sacrifice and suffering. I believe the entirety of the bible must be taught to understand God’s will. Likewise, I think it’s important that each and every one of us study God’s Word from beginning to end, for that is the only way we can truly understand God’s plan for us.

Without reading the bible, we’ll never come to an understanding of sin in our lives. Sin is not just doing bad things; sin is missing the mark, missing out of God’s plan for our lives. The problem with prosperity teaching is that as long as things are going well, you feel you have faith and that God loves you. When things don’t go well, then you feel like your faith is weak and that God doesn’t care. In these economic times, I would not be surprised that people that attend a prosperity church fall away, convinced that God isn’t at work after all. But deeper understanding teaches us God is at work, even when we don’t see Him, and that the struggles we endure strengthen us.

Verse 7 says that God’s Word is perfect, converting the soul. Here’s a couple of examples. Imagine I just told you that someone just paid a $50,000 speeding ticket on your behalf. You’d probably look at me like I wasn’t making sense. My good news isn’t good news to you. You’d think, what speeding ticket? You might even be offended because I’ve accused you of breaking the law.

But what if I told you that this morning on the way to church, you were clocked going 55 mph through a school zone for blind and deaf children, the maximum speed limit was 10 mph, and you sped through 10 warning signs. Police clocked you and were coming to arrest and fine you, but somebody stepped in and paid the fine. You’re free.

The difference is the amount of knowledge you have. If you don’t know the law, the good news seems stupid or silly. If you know the law and understand how you’ve broken it, the good news is good news.
Just like the gospel, literally, the good news of Jesus Christ. Just walking up to a nonbeliever and telling them, Jesus died for your sins, makes no sense. What sin? I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m a pretty good person. Lots of people or worse than me.

Likewise, a prosperity message falls on thin soil. Imagine getting on an airplane and somebody hands you a parachute. “Here, put this on, it will improve your fyling experience.” After a while, you feel the weight on your shoulders. The ride still seems bumpy, and the parachute doesn’t seem to do anything for you. So you take it off.

But instead of “this will improve your flying experience,” they hand you a parachute and say, “Here put this on. The plane’s going to crash and you’ll need them when it’s time to jump out.” All of a sudden, that parachute feels pretty comfortable.

Likewise, the man that is told that going to church will bring prosperity and improve his life experience will be unprepared for the troubles that will come. Understanding the entirety of God’s Word and that it will save your life makes the troubles light and momentary in this world.

But the Word of God is perfect and converts the soul. The Word of God trains us in all righteousness. The Word of God saves.

IV. Conclusion

God has provided everything we need to understand He exists, He has a plan for us, and how to live righteous lives with purpose. His Creation calls out His glory; His Word transforms lives. Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be open.” Jesus promises we will find, but only if we seek. God has given us 31,173 verses, but we’ll only find if we seek. Ask God to open our hearts, and let us show Him our love by opening His book.