Biblical Answers to Challenging Questions
Must I Believe God Exists Before I Seek Him?
Question: In my daily Bible reading, I came across a verse that really puzzles me: “Without faith it is impossible to please him [God]; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews:11:6). Rather than God revealing Him-self to a seeking heart, it sounds as though one must already believe in God before seeking Him. How can that be the case?
Response: Would someone seek God if he didn’t already believe He existed? It would be a waste of time. In fact, everyone, including you, knows that God exists.
The true story is told of a London street preacher who announced to his audience that every atheist was a fool because the Bible said so. A well-known atheist in the crowd shouted back at him that it was a slanderous insult, which he took personally, and that he would sue the preacher for damages. The preacher responded, “It’s not slander to tell the truth.”
The atheist countered, “And it’s not truth unless you can prove it! You’ll have to prove in court that I’m a fool, or I’ll take every pound you’ve got!”
“I don’t have to go to court to prove it,” said the preacher calmly. “You say you’re an atheist?”
“Yes, and not just a casual one. I’ve spent my life proving God doesn’t exist. It’s a pernicious myth!”
“Spent your life proving God doesn’t exist, have you?” replied the preacher. “Tell me this: if a man who spends his life fighting against something that doesn’t exist isn’t a fool, who is?”
Likewise, one would have to be a fool to spend any time at all seeking to know a God without being convinced that He exists. God expects every person, as the first step in knowing Him, to admit the obvious fact that He exists. Furthermore, God expects each person coming to Him to have a proper concept of who He is. He won’t honor prayers to an idol or to some “force” or “higher power.” Each person is accountable on the basis of the evidence to come to a proper understanding of God and not to be seeking some false god. God also requires that those who come to Him truly believe that He is not a God of caprice or trickery but a God who “rewards those who diligently seek Him.”
What is it that any sincere seeker should already have concluded about the God he wants to know? Reason and evidence dictate the following: To create the universe, God must be all-powerful (omnipotent) and all-knowing (omniscient) and in touch with every part of the universe at once (omnipresent). He would have to be at least as personal a Being as we are in order to create us. He would need to perfectly embody all that we recognize as the highest qualities to which mankind could aspire—love, truth, justice, patience, kindness, compassion, etc.—or there would be no explanation for our admiration of such attributes. Furthermore, He would have to know the future consequences of every action in His universe. Otherwise, He could make some terrible blunders. And of course He must have existed eternally as God. He certainly couldn’t have evolved or developed out of something or someone that was less than God.
The true God must also be able to create everything out of nothing and not just build or manufacture His universe out of materials already available. Not energy, not matter, not gravity or electricity, but God alone must be self-existent in order to be the cause of all. Finally, He must be perfectly good and just, or there would be no explanation for the common recognition of right and wrong written in the conscience of all mankind all over this earth. These are the minimum qualifications of the true God, without which we couldn’t trust and worship and love Him.
Although we can understand the necessity of the above abilities, it is also completely beyond our capacity to comprehend such a Being: a God who has always existed and thus is without beginning or end; who not only created everything out of nothing but in order not to lose control of His creation must know where every subatomic particle in every atom ever was or ever will be; who must also know what every person who ever lived or ever will live has ever thought or ever will think or say or do, etc. Obviously, such a God is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
At the same time that God is beyond our comprehension, however, we have seen that both reason and evidence demand such a God as the only explanation for our own existence and that of the universe around us. To deny this God, though He is incomprehensible, would fly in the face of reason and common sense. It is both impossible and unreasonable for there to have been a time when nothing existed and to have everything, including God, somehow arise out of that void of nothingness. It is totally unreasonable to suggest that life and intelligence sprang unaided from dead, empty space and thereafter evolved by chance.
Having come to these conclusions about God on the basis of the evidence all around him and in his own conscience, the seeker is now in a position to cry out to this true God to reveal Himself. The precise steps and circumstances and inner convictions through which God will reveal Himself vary with each individual. It is through His Word, however, that the fullest and clearest revelation of God comes. And in this Word, God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, who declared, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John:14:9). Jesus also said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John:14:6). Whoever wants to know God must get to know Jesus. He is revealed in God’s Word, and He reveals Himself to those who open their hearts to Him. As He said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of every human heart] and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation:3:20).
— An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 47-49) by Dave Hunt