The Existence of God and the Reality of Love

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1 (NASB)

“…God is love.” – 1 John 4:8 (NASB)

It has been said that (and I paraphrase) if you travel the world, you may not always find a bank. You may not always find a concert hall. You may not always find a sports arena. However, there is a good chance that you will find a place or object of worship. Even those who do not believe in God have something – a person, a place, an activity, work, a career, themselves, etc. – that serves as the object of their strongest desire and attention, something that they place at the very centre of their lives. Human beings were created to worship! Yet there is a question in the hearts of many people that concerns the very existence of a God. This is no small matter, for if a loving God exists, then by extension several things are also true: we have a Creator, we have One from whom we derive meaning and purpose, we have one who can be an anchor for our lives, we can find hope in Him, and we have the confidence that there is One greater than ourselves – One who is greater than all – who loves us and has our best interests at heart.

The alternative is to believe that there is no God. With this position, at best we can find some pleasure in this life. We can enjoy the company of others and certain activities, yet all is ultimately meaningless. At most, we exist for a few decades, and then everything is lost. Morality becomes relative. While the murderer may appear worse than the one murdered, without any transcendent reality to define their actions, both have simply done what seems best to them. And then there is love! If there is no transcendent Being to give meaning and definition to love, then our affections for each other, the powerful bonds of unity between parent and child, husband and wife, friend to friend, are merely accidental. And if accidental, then why does love evoke such passion, such ecstasy, and such delight? And why does the loss of love – or the loss of a loved one, evoke such pain, broken-heartedness, and despair?

It should first be noted that the Bible does not debate the existence of God, but simply declares that He is. The first ten words of the Bible are “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” One of the most powerful testaments to the existence of God is creation itself. The Bible states:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. – Romans 1:18-20, NASB.

This passage reveals that God’s “invisible attributes,” His “eternal power,” and His “divine nature” are “clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…” The existence of creation – the stars, the universe, the seas, the planets, human life, etc. – all provide sufficient reason to believe that there is a God. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” (Psalm 19:1). A simple analogy will help to demonstrate the necessity of a Creator: X + X will always equal X when both X’s are zero. That is, 0 + 0 = 0. Simply put, nothing + nothing = nothing. So long as a true state of nothingness exists, nothing can arise. The only way to change a state of nothingness from nothing to something is to introduce something into that nothingness. But that is impossible in a state of total nothingness, since nothing exists to be introduced. That is, 0 will always be zero.

This simple formula might not be a perfect analogy, but it helps to illustrate an important fact: the existence of the universe requires a Creator. Even if we attempt to credit the laws of physics, or natural processes (even processes we may not be aware of yet) with giving rise to the universe, those laws and processes themselves need a source – a cause, a reason for being.

Now, one may suggest that the universe has simply always been there – that it is eternal. Yet even the leading scientific argument for the existence of the universe – the Big Bang – negates the idea of an eternal universe. To go further, the very cause-and-effect nature of the universe as well as its changeable nature implies a created universe, not an eternal one. The best explanation for the existence of the universe – and in fact the only logical one – is that the universe was brought into existence by a rational, intelligent, and powerful being. To decide to create requires rationality. To create with intricate order and design requires intelligence. And to actually create requires power. Thus, the existence of the universe testifies to the existence of a rational, intelligent, powerful Being that we call God.

God is the source of all that has been created. Concerning Jesus Christ, the Bible states:

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” – John 1:3, NIV.

 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:16-17, NIV.

One may object that if all things require a source, than who created God? I will simply say this with respect to that question: God Himself is pure existence. He does not merely have existence, but is existence and as such, is dependent on nothing else or nobody else for His being. One of the names of God in Scripture is YHWH, Yahweh, or the Lord.[1] This name stresses the changeless self-existence of God.[2] The customary designation of this name is probably related to the verb “to be.”[3] In reference to God’s revelation to Moses that He is “I AM WHO I AM,” (Exodus 3:14), theologian Norman Geisler notes that God is absolute and utter “I AM” – ness; He is self-existent and depends on no other for His being.[4] God simply is, period! He is the One who exists, and does so without dependence on any other. He is without beginning and without end. He simply exists. “From everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2). God is pure existence, and pure existence cannot not exists. It is everlasting. Remember God does not simply have existence, but is existence.

A couple more things should be said on this issue of God’s self-existence. First, we must recognize that God is the ultimate source of everything that is created. We cannot have an endless, eternal chain of cause-effect processes. There must be an initial cause to “get everything started” so to speak. This initial cause is God! It is far easier to believe that there is an initial cause that is Himself eternal, intelligent, and rational giving rise to all that has been created, than it is to believe that a dynamic, complex creation exists accidentally through an endless, eternal chain of causes that have no ultimate first cause. There must be a first cause. A series of causes requires something to “start the process,” and this “something” must itself be uncaused, possessing its own self-existence. We see in this that once again, the Biblical revelation of God (in this case, as a self-existent, rational, intelligent being) answers the question of why we have something (creation) rather than nothing.

Secondly, there may still be a stumbling block for some in that it is difficult to conceive of an uncreated, self-existing Being. But again, that very objection is not inconsistent with the reality of God’s existence. If God exists, One who created the universe, then He exists prior to the universe. Thus, He cannot be contained by the laws and logic of the universe. He made the universe, and thus “stands outside” of it (though He still relates to it lovingly, and can interact with it). God cannot be captured by the laws and logic of the universe since He made the universe. It is not surprising then that there are simply some things about God that we cannot understand using our logic. We cannot scientifically capture Him. This is why faith is central to a relationship with God (but that is another discussion altogether). To say finite human minds can understand everything about an infinite God is like trying to fit the Atlantic Ocean in a wine glass. The fact that the wine glass cannot contain the ocean does not mean that the ocean does not exist. Nor does it mean that the wine glass is faulty. It simply means that it does not have the capacity to contain the ocean. Likewise, finite human minds – though wonderfully created by God – cannot understand every detail about God, not because God does not exist, nor because logic is not useful, but because a finite mind (human beings) cannot capture in totality an infinite being (God).

Yet this brings us to a most critical point, one which we will pick up next time. Though we cannot rationally understand everything about God, we can know Him. God is not simply a distant, theological or philosophical concept. He is a relational, loving, Creator and Sustainer. If God exists, then it means that we have someone who is greater than us who can lovingly guide us, protect us, provide for us, and take care of us. We have one who can be a refuge for us in times of trial.

Love exists in the world. Husband-wife, parent-child, sister-brother, friend-friend, etc. Love is rational in that we choose to love. It is also ordered in that there is a particular object of our love. It is also relational in that it involves a lover and a beloved. What all of this means is that, just as creation cannot be accidental, so love cannot be accidental. It must have a source. It is a real thing. There must be something from which human love ultimately derives, – a source. What is that source? Ah…“…God is love” (1 John 4:8). This is very important, and should not be overlooked. God Himself is love. He does not merely have love, He is love. The eternal, uncreated, source of everything that has been created, is love. Now do you see why love is so important to us, and so central to our existence as human beings? We were made by love, for love. Again, everything in creation has a source. Human love, as a real thing must have an ultimate source. We have our source in the God who is love, and thus, crave love, find fulfillment in love, and have the ability to give love. But the God who is love is not a vague, impersonal “force.” He is rational, personal, and relational. He demonstrated His love for us by becoming a man in the Person of Jesus Christ and dying for the sins of the world, so that we could be forgiven of all our sin through faith in Jesus – receiving Jesus. God is not only love, but He is also just and must punish sin. Yet in His love He became a man, Jesus Christ, and took the very punishment for sin that we all deserve so that we could go free. A familiar verse:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Next time we will take a closer look at the God who is love, and what that means for the human experience.

[1] Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999), 53.

[2] Ibid., 54.

[3] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008), 202.

[4] Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: Volume 2 – God, Creation (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2003), 32.

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