The Doctrine of Existence

existence means The Doctrine of Existence

It’s the most significant reality in the universe. It’s the glue that holds every aspect of theology together. It’s the place where the content of Scripture finds both its rationality and its reliability.

This doctrine provides vital information for the scientist, the psychologist, the mathematician, the business executive, the educator, the physician, the politician and the plumber. You either recognize it as true and humbly submit your life to its foundational implications, or you reject it as false and live in some form of rationality-denying delusion.

What’s this doctrine I’m talking about? The doctrine of God’s existence.

HUMAN BEINGS WANT GOD TO EXIST

I was in Northern India, touring one of the high and holy cities of Hinduism, when we were invited to enter a temple. I can only describe it as “the mall of the gods.” This temple was several stories high, with many hallways, and in each hallway were many rooms—like a shopping mall in America.

In each room was some kind of physical representation of the Hindu pantheon of gods. As I traveled up floor after floor, walked down hallway after hallway, and looked into room after room, my mind was blown and my heart broken. Why? This “mall of the gods” was a powerfully stunning physical portrait of a deep spiritual reality: Human beings long for God to exist. This longing doesn’t always result in religious activity, but it’s inescapable regardless of your philosophical viewpoint.

There was something else that hit me that day, like a violent stab in the heart. If every human being has this longing for God to exist, then billions of people respond to it in a way that’s horribly and destructively wrong.

Everything about that temple was wrong. Everything about it was corrupting the heart and life of the people who would go there. Everything about it was a delusion, a lie that would blind their eyes and deafen their ears to the real truths about the real God.

And yet, the people around me were beyond excited that they were in the temple. For many of them, it seemed to be the pinnacle of their spiritual experience. I wanted to scream, “No, no, no! This isn’t reality! This will never satisfy your longing! This will never give you the peace your heart craves! This will never bring you close to the God your heart is hardwired to have fellowship with! This is all wrong!”

But I couldn’t, and I didn’t. I just walked away with a heart broken at the darkness, but at the same time, deeply thankful that my eyes had been granted sight.

THE BIBLE DOESN’T ARGUE FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE

If you think about it, the Bible doesn’t lay out a logical, point-by-point argument for the existence of God. One reason for that is because the Bible wasn’t written as a systematic theology textbook. But I believe there’s another, more fundamental reason: The Bible doesn’t contain a section proving God’s existence because the Bible declares it.

You could argue that every book of the Bible is a historical declaration of the existence of God. Every form of literature in the Bible is a creative means of announcing his existence. Every command teaches what his existence means for human existence. Every theological discussion unpacks the meaning of his existence.

The story of the Bible is God’s story; it never surrenders center-stage to anyone else. Just like a gripping Broadway play, nothing in the Bible would make sense if you removed the central character from the plot.

The Bible doesn’t wait very long to begin its page-after-page declaration of God’s existence; in fact, it doesn’t wait at all! As soon as the curtains are pulled back and the lights come on, the leading character walks to central stage to deliver his most important lines: “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1).

From there on out, the script begins to reveal to the audience God’s power, holiness, sovereignty, wisdom, justice, grace and much, much more. The declaration not only makes the Bible his book, but makes life and all that it contains his as well.

God exists before the story, he authors the story, and he controls the characters and the plot and the destiny of all who exist in the story. He never changes, but he controls all of the twists and turns of the plot. He creates glorious things, glorious people and glorious events, all to give himself glory.

Why does the existence of God matter? I’m deeply convinced that we’ll only ever know ourselves if we know him first. We’ll only ever understand the depth of our need once we understand the expanse of his glory. We’ll only understand the true meaning of our life when we first embrace the true meaning of his existence. We’ll only know what it means to be fully human when we first live in submission to the full reality that he was, he is and he ever will be.

In this way, the doctrine of God’s existence is not some academic, distant-from-reality, dusty “back of the theology library” book for us to ruminate about. No, it’s perhaps the most practical and formative thing we could ever analyze. We simply can’t embrace this truth and walk away unchanged.

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Paul David Tripp
Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. This vision has led Paul to write many books on Christian living and travel around the world speaking and teaching. Paul's driving passion is to help people understand how the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks with practical hope into all the things people face in this broken world. Paul and his wife Luella reside Philadelphia. They are the parents of four grown children.

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