QUESTION AND ANSWER TWO
The second question and answer of the Baptist Catechism is,
Q. 2: Ought everyone to believe there is a God?
A. 2: Everyone ought to believe there is a God; and it is their great sin and folly who do not.
Last week we established that the beginning point for our life with God (and truly, all life) is God. Logically, the Catechism moves from that foundational thought to humanity. Because God is the first and chiefest being, then, what is humanity’s response to be?
This involves belief. The Catechism provides two supporting Scriptures for us to consider Hebrews 11:6 and Psalm 14:1. Let’s look at these Scriptures first, and then we can more effectively unpack the Catechism’s teaching.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”—Hebrews 11:6, ESV
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.”—Psalm 14:1, ESV
The verse from Hebrews is extremely profitable for our question and answer. If God is the first and chiefest being, then it makes sense that we must believe in Him. The author of Hebrews posts it in an even more significant way, informing us that without faith (i.e., belief) humanity cannot please God. It is impossible.
Furthermore, it is not enough simply to believe. The author of Hebrews says, “whoever would draw near to God must believe that he [God] exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (My emphasis). There are many that believe in God (or, perhaps more accurately, a god), but belief is as far as it goes. The author of Hebrews makes it clear that mere belief is not enough. Belief in God as first and chiefest being should change the way in which we live (i.e., that God rewards obedience positively and punishes disobedience negatively). Question 6 will address this idea further.
Additionally, if God is the first and chiefest being, it makes sense that humanity would want to be close to Him. We read in Hebrews 11:6, “whoever would draw near to God,” which implies that there are some who would not draw near (a point that is addressed with Psalm 14:1).
If God is the first and chiefest being, then yes, everyone ought to believe that there is a God.
We could say more about Hebrews 11:6, but now let us turn our attention to Psalm 14:1. Ought everyone to believe there is a God? Yes, but what about those who do not? The Catechism teaches us that this unbelief is a “great sin and folly.”
The psalmist offers much that helps us understand this great sin and folly. First, it is a belief that stems from the innermost part of the unbeliever’s being (i.e., the heart). Books, articles, and monographs have been written upon this subject, but at the heart (forgive me!) of the matter is that the Hebrew way of thinking about one’s heart concerned the entirety of the being’s mental and emotional decision-making factory.
Second, we see that the unbeliever’s life opposes God. “They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” In other words, they are depraved. Beeke and Smalley’s definition of total depravity is helpful, “Total depravity means that corruption infects the whole person and stains every act he performs.” Correlation does not equal causation. However, there is a connection between a refusal to believe in God and act in accordance to His truth, and that connection is found in total depravity. Paul teaches us this in Eph. 2:1-3 and Rom. 3:9-18 (which also quotes our psalm).
How can we apply this to our daily lives? I see at least three ways.
First, we must believe that there is a God. He is the first and chiefest being, therefore we should trust in Him (as stated in Heb. 11:6). Belief also requires knowledge. In other words, I cannot believe in gravity if I do not have any idea of what it is or what is means. We are working on the foundational knowledge that God exists and that He is the greatest being. Our goal, then, should be to expand this knowledge. We will deal with this in question three, however, we need to ask ourselves if we are developing our knowledge. If you believe in God, you will!
Second, our lives should demonstrate a belief in God. That is, we should live differently if we believe that God exists. We have already discussed this from a positive standpoint, so we will not reiterate this point again. However, we should apply this belief to our actions. If we say we believe in God, but our lives do not demonstrate this, then we are lying to ourselves and others. James tells it like this, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22, NRSV).
Third, we must guard our hearts against unbelief. While we rejoice in God’s goodness in allowing our depraved hearts to be regenerated, we also acknowledge that sin can find its way into our hearts in the form of unbelief. Solomon warns us, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23, NRSV). Guard your heart against the great sin and folly of unbelief. This can be applied to a variety of situations. We can doubt God’s Word that He will provide for all our needs (cf. Matt. 6:33). We can doubt God’s Word that He will be with us all the time (cf. Matt. 28:20). The list could go on, but I think we get the picture. We must guard our hearts against unbelief.
 Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 404.