THE REALITY OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-16-73 12:00 p.m.
The series of brief messages that will be brought at these noonday hours concern the doctrine of the faith: today, The Reality of God; tomorrow, The Incarnation of Christ; Wednesday, The Remission of Sins, The Forgiveness of Sins; Thursday, The Resurrection from among the Dead; and Friday, The Second Coming of Christ; today, The Reality of God.
The Scriptures open with these solemn words, “In the beginning God” [Genesis 1:1]. And that is the whole argument and presentation of the Bible concerning the reality of God. There is nothing more and nothing else said or added. That is one of the strangest things to me to be found in the faith.
Only one other small exception to that affirmation that God is: you find it in the fourteenth chapter of the Psalms and in the fifty-third chapter of the Psalms. Both times it begins exactly alike, “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” [Psalm 14:1, 53:1]. There is nothing else in the Scriptures about the affirmation of the existence and reality of deity. It is never discussed. It is never debated. It is never argued.
When you pick up these heavy tomes of theology, they are so different in their presentation than you find in the Bible. It was my thought in preparing this message today, to follow the intellectual arguments that you find in theological tomes regarding the reality and the existence of God. Is there such a being? Is God real? Does He exist?
Well, these theological books will follow five great arguments debating, arguing, affirming, the existence of deity. One, they will use the cosmological argument. That is, there has to be some cause to account for so vast an infinitude as we see in the created universe. What is that cause? And the argument: God. That’s one.
Second: there is a teleological argument, from the Greek word teleos, meaning “perfect, complete, mature.” And that argument is that the universe shows intelligence and design. Who is that intelligence and who is that architect and who thought out that design? God.
The third argument you find in these theological books is an anthropological argument. It comes from the personality of man. Is it possible that innate matter could create human mind and personality? The fact that we are persons leads one to conclude that wherever we came from, whoever did it, must Himself have been a person of mind and intelligence. That is God.
The fourth argument you find in these theological volumes is an ontological argument, from the Greek word ontos, “being, existence.” And the argument is, because the man has in his mind the idea of God, there must be a supreme being.
The fifth argument you find in those books is a moral argument. That is, we are morally sensitive, and wherever we came from, and whoever made us, must Himself, have been a morally sensitive person, and that would be the perfect God.
Well, as I look through those volumes and reread those arguments concerning the existence of God, it came to my heart, it is better, instead of entering into debate and discussion concerning the existence of a supreme being, how much better for the people of God to do what the Bible does.
No argument, no discussion, no debate, just a firm everlasting affirmation: God is, God does, God speaks, God moves. “In the beginning God” [Genesis 1:1], and then the rest of the Bible is the story of that self-disclosure.
So when we pick up the Bible and look at it, we find there the answer to our question, “What is God like?” Not, “Is there a God?”
The Scriptures say, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” [Psalm 14:1, 53:1]. Don’t cast your pearls before swine [Matthew 7:6]; don’t find yourself bogged down in endless discussions of atheism or agnosticism; just the affirmation, “God is,” and our question, “What is He like?” And that is the great self-disclosure that is written on the sacred pages. What is God like?
Now if I could sum the whole Bible up in two words, what is God like: God is first presented in the Bible in the order as He is self-disclosed.
God is first our glorious, infinite almighty Creator. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. So God is the majesty and the glory that lies back of the infinitude above us and the finite around us, the macrocosm of the firmament and the microcosm of the infinitesimal; the God of the starry, sidereal spheres and the God of the face of a little painted pansy; the God of the big and the God of the little; the God of the marvel of the expanse above us [Genesis 1:1-25].
This universe of ours is a part of the galaxy that we call the Milky Way. The Milky Way is made like a watch. It’s 100,000 light years across it. Going at the speed of a 186,000 miles a second, and it would take light 100,000 years to cross our Milky Way.
It is 30,000 light years thick. Light traveling at a 186,000 miles a second would take 30,000 years to go through the thickness of our Milky Way.
This is the galaxy to which we belong. And we are just one out of uncounted millions of such galaxies, the glory of the infinite above us, the macrocosm beyond us.
But He is no less the God of the microcosm beneath us, the God of the tiny and the infinitesimal, for everything we see is made out of little solar systems. There are nuclei, and around them swirl neutrons and protons.
The size of a man is about middle ways between the infinitesimal and the infinite, between the microcosm beneath us and the macrocosm above us. The size of a man is just about halfway in that scale of the big and in that scale of the little.
And the Scriptures present to us the Lord God as being that infinite, sovereign, omnipotent Creator who made it all. The Bible opens with that creative handiwork [Genesis 1:1], and the psalmists sing about it, such as Psalm 104:24, “O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.”
That leads us to the second self-disclosure of God in the Bible. He is not only the Creator, the omnipotent Maker of the vast infinitude above us and the infinitesimal microcosm beneath us, but He is also the God of redeeming love. For us, He is self-disclosed to us in the Bible as somebody who wanted, sought for a fellowship, a communion, a koinōnia [1 John 1:7; Revelation 21:3].
For how could a planet love God? Or how could oceans and mountains talk to God? How could they respond to God’s love? How could they think God’s thoughts after Him? So the Lord made the man in His own image, in His own likeness [Genesis 1:27]—that is, to talk to God, and to respond to God, and to love God, and to fellowship with God. That’s why God made him.
In the providence of life, the man broke that fellowship in disobedience, in sin, in transgression [Genesis 3:1-6]. And he found himself alone in shame, cast out [Genesis 3:17-24]. But what kind of a God is God? What is He like? In the self-disclosure of the Almighty, in the pages of the Book, the story is unfold year after year, chapter after chapter, of God’s seeking the return of the man that He made in His own likeness and in His own image [Genesis 1:27].
I close. “Pastor, do you mean to say that the God of the universe, the God of the infinitude, the God of the illimitable, immeasurable expanse, that He cares and loves a little infinitesimal speck like me? Does He? Does He know me? Does He? Does He know my name? Does He see me? Is it a care to Him about me, my troubles, and my heartaches and my life? Does God see and does God care? The great majesty that I see around and above me, and I so inconsequential, a speck in the vast firmament of God’s universe, stuck here on this tiny planet—does God know me? And does God care about me? Does He know my name?”
All right, look: if you were the richest man in the world and you had on Fifth Avenue in New York a palatial mansion, and on the inside of that mansion there were paintings and draperies and carpets and silverware and all of the accouterments of wealth, and also a little baby that is in your image and in your likeness and called by your name—a little tiny thing, maybe it doesn’t weigh but seven-and-a-half pounds.
While you’re at work, say, in the fortieth floor of the Manhattan Tower on Wall Street, the telephone rings and a voice in haste speaks to you from the other end of the line and the voice says, “Your beautiful mansion is on fire. It is burning down!”
What would you say? “Oh, oh, my mansion’s on fire! It’s ablaze. It’s burning down. What of my paintings? What of my silverware? What of my draperies and my carpets? What of the beautiful marble stairways? What of the accouterments, the furnishings?” Or would you say, “Tell me, tell me, is that little baby saved?”
Well, the answer to that lies in you. If you had a heart, your first anxiety would be, “The painting, forget it. The silverware, forget it. The carpets, forget it. The draperies, forget it. Is that little child saved?”
God has a heart. That is a self-disclosure of the Book. God is redeeming love [John 3:16]. That is the page after page as He worked through time and history to bring back the man that He made. And this is the story of His seeking and searching and pleading through the days and the centuries of our life in the earth: that the man come back. “Adam, Adam, Adam, where art thou?” [Genesis 3:9]. This is a reality of God, as He self-discloses Himself in the sacred page of the Bible.
And tomorrow, we pick it up in the incarnation of God in Christ our Lord. And the next day, in the remission of sins, and the next day, in the triumph of our resurrection from the dead, and the next and final day, in the coming kingdom when we shall, with Him, be sons of God, kings and priests, and joint-heirs with our Lord in the inheritance of the vast universe that God hath made for us.
And our Lord in that self-disclosure of the Almighty, that God knows us—He knows me [John 10:3], and He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities [Hebrews 4:15]—that in His sympathy and tenderness and loving kindness He seeks us [Luke 19:10]; though He is the God of the infinite universe [Isaiah 40:22], He is also our Lord, our Savior [Titus 2:13], our faithful High Priest [Hebrews 4:14], and Redeemer [1 Peter 1:18-19]. And Master, learning of Thee [Matthew 11:29-30], reading of Thee [Matthew 11:29-30], experiencing Thee, may we love Thee in the Spirit of Jesus, and in our Lord’s precious name, amen.
THE REALITY OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Five arguments for God’s existence
II. Scriptures do not argue nor debate God’s existence Psalm 14:1; 53:1
III. Omnipotent Creator
1. Self disclosure in Scripture
2. Macrocosm, microcosm
IV. Personal Redeemer, Friend, Heavenly Father