Reading: Acts 17:16-28
God Is (1)
Almost as long as mankind exists, there is a discussion going on about ‘Who Is God?’ Or even: ‘Does God Exist?’
Adam and Eve fell in sin because they wanted to be like God. They wanted to be their own god. With that they rejected God. This all happened at the instigation of the devil, as the Heidelberg Catechism says (Lord’s Day 4), but nevertheless, it is mankind that made this decision and mankind is responsible for it.
Once mankind listened to Satan, who is called the father of lies by our Lord Jesus Christ in John 8, it came in the power of Satan and he did not stop exercising his influence on human beings. Once they rejected God, it was not hard for him to make them replace God with other gods, or to make some even think that there is no God at all.
The essence of the covenant that God made with mankind in paradise, is that we must trust in God and believe Him. That is still now the core of the covenant: believe in God. The form for the baptism in the Book of Praise says about this (page 597): ‘We are to cleave to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to trust him, and to love him with our whole heart, soul, and mind, and with all our strength.’
To believe, to trust, to love, that all means that we don’t need to prove that God exists. We believe Him. There is no room for a demand for proof in our relationship with God. To believe that God exists is a matter of faith and of love. To believe that God does not exist is also a matter of faith, but then in the opposite: unbelief, and hate (for God). Yes, hate also, because it is a desire for God not to exist. Mankind chose to rebel against God and since that moment it is the natural inclination of human beings to deny the God, Who created us and made His covenant with us. Throughout all generations, mankind has been busy creating other gods, all in man’s own image, and not as God Himself revealed to us. Even atheism is a religion because, despite its denial of God’s existence, it puts the man in the centre of worship and makes himself a god.
We will not discuss or try to prove here what can only be believed: that God exists. We only conclude that throughout all generations, there has always been a desire among the vast majority of mankind to believe that God (or a god, a higher power) exists. Even though many made their own gods, it does show that there is a need and desire for mankind to live in relationship with God. The number of hardcore atheists, who believe that there is no god at all and that there is nothing outside the realm of this ‘creation’ or the ‘universe’ as we can observe it, is small.
When Paul was in Athens, the centre of Greek philosophy, he discovered that the Athenians were very religious. He sees that as proof that human beings do need God. They are seeking God, even though they cannot find Him. God put this in their hearts. God made this creation in such a way, and He upholds it in such a way, that human beings should seek the Lord (verse 27).
Key text: Acts 17:26-27: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us”
Meditation: How do we see in the current events, that God is preparing people to seek Him? And how can they find God?