We continue our study of Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ). After spending the first few chapters establishing an understanding of the Word of God (revelation, authority), he now moves on to the doctrine of God. Chapter 5 is entitled ‘The Existence and Being of God.’
In all of our thinking, God must be the starting point. All too often, MLJ critiques, many try to start with man and work backward. Since the Bible is the revelation of God, one must understand everything else, including man, in light of who God is. The Bible itself begins, “In the beginning God…” MLJ states, “The knowledge of God is ultimately the sum of all other doctrines; there is no sense, there is no meaning or purpose, in any other doctrine apart from this great central, all-inclusive, doctrine of God Himself” (47).
The Existence of God
The most basic starting point is the existence of God. The Bible does not argue his existence, it simply declares it; his existence is not proven, it’s assumed. There are a few arguments that are typically used to argue for the existence of God such as:
- Cosmological argument- an argument from nature that everything must have a cause
- Teleological argument- everything must lead to something
- Moral argument- the innate sense of right and wrong in man points to a moral being
- ‘Think and feel’ argument- people all over the world, even in remote tribes, have this sense that there is some sort of higher power
While these arguments are helpful, ultimately they will not create faith in someone. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in man, even the best arguments will not win him over to put their faith in God. Faith is a gift from God, and without it we cannot know him.
When God gives us faith to believe, we can know him and understand his word. Scripture teaches that God is:
- Incomprehensible- we cannot fully understand God. But, thankfully, he can be known by us even if it’s only a partial knowledge
- Infinite- he is an absolute being who is the cause of everything else. He is free from any restrictions. He was and is and is to come (Rev. 4:8).
- Spiritual- Jesus tells the woman at the well that ‘God is Spirit’ (John 4), he does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48), and he has created all things (Acts 17:24). He doesn’t dwell in a building or a body.
- A Person- He has intelligence, will, reason, self-consciousness and self-determination. He is not just some invisible force, or the universe, he is a person to whom we worship.
- One- “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
Our greatest need is to know God: “The goal of all our seeking and all our worship and all our endeavor should not be to have a particular experience; it should not be to petition certain blessing; it should be to know God himself – the Giver not the gift, the source and the fount of every blessing, not the blessing itself” (50).
Do we desire God himself? Is there a passion to know him as he has been revealed in Scripture? Do we long for an intimate relationship with him? Or, are we simply looking for some blessing, experience, or sense of forgiveness. The point of all blessing and experience is to point us to God. The reason we rejoice in our forgiveness is that it frees us from our sin so we can have a relationship with a holy God! In John 17:3 we are told that eternal life is to know the only true God. The greatness of heaven is not because of the golden streets, the crystal sea, or a mansion. The greatness of heaven is that we get to walk with God completely unhindered by sin. With an unveiled face we’ll be able to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.
MLJ concludes the chapter:
And so we see that the glorious truth we have been trying to look at together is just this, that this infinite, absolute, sublime, transcendent, glorious, majestic, mighty, everlasting being who is Spirit, who is truth, who dwells in light no one can approach, this God has been graciously pleased that you and I should know Him, that we should talk to Him and that we should worship Him. And He is prepared to listen to us, to meet with us, and receive our unworthy and poor worship, and our praise and adoration. Blessed be the name of God! (56)
Next time, we’ll examine chapter 6, “The Attributes of God’s Absolute Personality.”