"It is astonishing that any man can forebear enquiring whether there is a God; whether God is just; whether this life is the only state of existence" —Samuel Johnson
More than 200 years after the period of literary giant Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), journalist and historian Paul Johnson wrote: "The existence or non-existence of God is the most important question we humans are ever called to answer. If God does exist, and in consequence we are called to another life when this one ends . . . our life then becomes a preparation for eternity" (The Quest for God, p. 1, emphasis added).
All that said, even in our secular Western world the majority at least acknowledge the existence of God. So perhaps the more relevant question for our modern age remains: Is God real to us? Even the best of us occasionally behaves as if God is powerless to deal with our misdeeds: unable to forgive, free us from guilt and set us back on the right path.
However, the Bible tells us that "he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). The patriarchs, prophets and apostles all experienced the reality of God in a personal way. Consider the patriarch Abraham. He learned over time that whatever God had promised He was able to perform (Romans 4:20-21).
Of course, the Bible itself never questions the existence of God. The Holy Scriptures are built upon the solid reality and presence of God. They are reliable witnesses to many personal encounters between God and His chosen servants—first the historic Hebrew prophets and later the first-century apostles. The Bible includes the Hebrew writers in the "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) listed in Hebrews 11, which recounts the stories of many of God's faithful servants.
Did God establish personal contact with certain people?
"God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am'" (Exodus 3:4).
This is the account of the burning bush—the first of many personal, direct conversations between God and Moses (compare Numbers 12:6-8; Exodus 33:11).
As professor Keith Ward wrote in his book Religion & Revelation, "When one reads the biblical accounts of revelation, one finds records of long, almost everyday, conversations between God and Moses. It is as though God is Moses' companion, telling him in particular situations what he needs to do" (p. 115).
Truly God did appear to Moses, revealing His divine words, which the prophet carefully recorded for future generations. In the Bible we are told that "Moses wrote all the words of the Lord" (Exodus 24:4).
Did God clearly identify Himself?
"Moreover He said, 'I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God" (Exodus 3:6).
The One Moses encountered was the God of the Hebrew patriarchs such as Abraham, who also had personal conversations with this same God (Genesis 18). Moses' initial fearful reaction to the awesome presence of God is entirely understandable. Later he overcame that fear and requested to see God personally (compare Exodus 33:18-23; Exodus 32:11-14; Deuteronomy 3:24).
Many today don't know who and what God is! This fundamental knowledge has escaped the majority of mankind. The prophet Hosea lamented that the house of Israel had willingly lost and abandoned the knowledge of God, with tragic consequences (Hosea 4:1-6). How much more in this present age!
Do the biblical prophets tell us who the Creator is?
"Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it" (Isaiah 42:5).
God clearly tells us that He is the Creator of both the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)—and human beings (Genesis 1:26-27; compare Acts 17:24-26).
From time to time throughout history God has chosen to remind certain men that He is the Creator of all things. The patriarch Job was one such man. Four chapters in the book of Job are devoted to God extolling the intricate wonders of His creation (Job 38-41). Genesis 1 is not the only chapter about creation in the Bible.
Can we understand more about God through His creation?
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead . . ." (Romans 1:20).
A millennium earlier, King David similarly expressed the understanding that God also reveals Himself through His wondrous creation (compare Psalm 19:1-6). It makes a lot of sense to most human beings that the creation requires a Creator. Just as a finely tuned watch doesn't come into existence by itself, so our magnificent, awe-inspiring universe did not somehow create itself. God carefully planned, crafted and created it. He is not a blind watchmaker. God fully understood what He was doing (compare Genesis 1:31; Revelation 4:11).
Does God say that there is a direct relationship between belief and behavior?
"The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt" (Psalm 14:2-3).
The context of Psalm 14 is clear. Unbelief and corrupt behavior go hand in hand. But, the better we know and understand God, the better our Christian conduct is likely to be.
Although God is Spirit (John 4:24) and far above us in nature and stature, what is His approach and attitude toward His people?
"For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15).
God "inhabits eternity" and therefore is not inhibited by the physical laws of time and space. Yet He is quick to forgive and encourage those who are really repentant and desire in their hearts to do His will (Isaiah 55:6-7).
And, although there is ample scientific evidence from many fields of learning confirming the existence of God, the most meaningful proof remains personal.
When we really achieve a private spiritual relationship with God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our elder Brother, we know that They exist.
We should not underestimate the power of God's Word. Lydia of Thyatira heard the preaching of the apostle Paul. As a result, "the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14; compare Romans 10:14-15).