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How may we know there is a God?



QUESTION AND ANSWER THREE


Q. 3: How may we know that there is a God?


A. 3: The light of nature in man and the works of God plainly declare there is a God; but His Word and Spirit only do it fully and effectually for the salvation of sinners.


EXPLANATION


In our previous post, we discussed the question, “Ought everyone to believe there is a God?” If God is the first and chiefest being, then we should believe there is a God. Naturally, the next question that comes up is, “How may we know that there is a God?” The Catechism provides a singular, qualified answer.


The answer contains two parts. First, it states that “the light of nature in man…declares there is a God.” What is the light of nature in man? The Catechism cites three passages to the answer, one that features primarily in our understanding of the light of nature in man. Romans 1:19-20 reveals this truth, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature.” (ESV) We will deal with creation itself momentarily (i.e., “the works of God”). However, the observation of creation, with its vast creativity and perplexity, are, by human beings, understood to be demonstrations of a Deity. Human beings have the intellectual ability to “perceive” these evidences. We see, and through reason, understand that God exists.


Now, before we go further, we must understand that this does not tell us anything particular about God, other than that He is the creator and has “eternal power” and a “divine nature.” However, it is clear that human beings can reason that there is a God.[1]


Second, the Catechism teaches us that we may know that there is a God through “the works of God.” This is demonstrated in Romans 1:19-20. This refers to creation, from the smallest particle to the grandest galaxy. However, the Catechism also provides two additional passages to support this part: Psalm 19:1-3 and Acts 17:24.


Psalm 19:1-3, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heart.”


There is much that we can glean from these verses, so I will try to limit it to bullet points:


· Creation cries out that God exists

· Each day reveals proof that there is a God and that we can know this

· Absolutely no one will be unable to reach this conclusion


Regardless of what Richard Dawkins may write, the earth demonstrates God exists.[2] No human being, capable of viewing and grasping creation in the slightest, will be excused for their denial. Applying these truths (though not with a direct reference to Psalm 19:1-3), Paul encourages the Athenians to submit to the one who created everything (see Acts 17:24).


It would seem, then, from both Scripture and the Catechism, that all who have the ability to interact with creation would accept the truth that God exists. This is not the case, however. We will see why in questions 16-22. More is needed for humanity to embrace God as God.


This is why I said the Catechism offers a qualified answer. “But His Word and Spirit only do it fully and effectually for the salvation of sinners.” What does this mean? It means that, without the Word of God applied by the Spirit of God (for a Scriptural example of this, see Acts 16:11-15), humanity will be left with simple head knowledge. It will make no difference in the eternal, long run. 1 Cor. 2:10 demonstrates the need for the Spirit of God to grasp “the depths of God.” (ESV) Paul also discusses this in a more organized way in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.


APPLICATION


Everyone capable of seeing and interacting with this grand world has no excuse not to believe God exists. For our work in spreading the Gospel, physical existence provides a wonderful tool to witness! While there may be some hinderances through the rampant belief in evolution, the Christian does not need to fear the created universe. Rather than declaring there is no God, creation emphatically and unapologetically proclaims that there is a Maker.


It also helps us see the need for the Word and Spirit of God for salvation. In our efforts to evangelize, we certainly need to pay attention to the manner and message of communication. However, we must not place too much emphasis on ourselves. God is the giver of physical life and spiritual life (see John 1:9-18). Let us seek His guidance as we share the good news that Jesus saves, trusting His Word and His Spirit to provide regeneration.

_____

[1] For an interesting look at these thoughts from a scientific perspective, see J.P. Moreland, ed., The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1994). [2] See Dawkins comical comments in Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (New York, NY: Free Press, 2009), 8-9.