God makes himself known in the Bible. Scripture is a lot of things, but mostly it is divine autobiography. Sadly, not everyone sees God in Scripture; some see only an ancient religious text. But “when we truly believe in Christ, we recognize our deep dependence on the Word of God as uncontestable wisdom and truth.” When Jesus speaks in the Bible, “the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:4).
Apologetics is often associated with the so-called proofs of God’s existence: ontological, cosmological, teleological—and already my head is spinning. But the quest to prove God has several problems. First, it ignores that all people already know God. Even animals can tell us that God created the world (Job 12:7–10). Everyone knows God. Not everyone honors “him as God or gives thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). Second, it risks confusing intellectual assent with faith. Saving knowledge of God is a heart-soul-strength-mind love for him (Luke 10:27). “Our knowledge of God can never be limited to that which is merely grasped cognitively or academically.” Third, it wrongly makes human reason the conclusive factor. But creatures have no right to decide if there is a creator. When Job and his friends were judging God, they put themselves on the wrong side of the bench (Job 38:1–2; 40:1). Fourth, it underestimates humanity’s brokenness. Denying God gives way to futile thinking and darkened, foolish hearts (Rom. 1:21). Is such a person competent to judge God’s existence?
Christian apologetics is not responsible for proving God. Instead, it establishes “the existence of a God who is capable of being known by man and who has made himself known, not only in nature but in the revelations of his grace to lost sinners, documented in the Christian Scriptures.” To do this, Christian apologetics relies on three primary truths that we must believe and make known to others.
That God exists needs not be proved. It is understood. Humans are hungry for God. We are restless for him. Whether we admit it or not, we were made to seek and find the God who is (Acts 17:27). And we know this. We sense divinity because we proceeded from the divine. John Calvin taught that “There is within the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity. This we take be beyond controversy” since “God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty.” J.H. Bavinck concurred: “There is in man an ineradicable intuition that there exists a Higher Being, a God, and that this God is concerned about his life… . Life continues to be… a dialogue with the mysterious Unknown, whose existence we can deny, but whom we can never wholly banish and expel from our thoughts.”
Some people “deny that God exists, yet willy-nilly they from time to time feel an inkling of what they desire not to believe.” Atheists establish God’s reality by venomously opposing the God they claim doesn’t exist. To borrow from Shakespeare, they protest too much. Only a fool denies the existence of God (Ps. 14:1). Only where such fools coercively challenged the corporate sense of divinity do we find any significant population that denies God.
Atheists want theists to bear the burden of proving God. But the existence of the Triune being who has created the world and still governs and preserves it doesn’t have to be proved. The onus rests on those arguing against God’s existence. But given human limitations, critics can never finish their search for the God they say does not exist.
The Bible “presupposes the existence of God in its very opening statement” and declares who he is and what he has done. Paul seized on the Athenians’ sense of God to proclaim to them what they knew only vaguely (Acts 17:23). The confessions and catechisms of the Reformation acknowledge and announce the God who is. “We all believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that there is a single and simple spiritual being, whom we call God.”
But even if God is, and even if we can sense the existence of a deity, can he be truly known?
God Can Be Known
Knowing God is the most basic of all truths. “And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). God is. And we can know enough about him to believe that he blesses faith.