Question: Is The God Of The Bible A Real Living Being Or Merely A Concept Or Idea?
Answer: If the God of the Bible does exist, then it is important to know what type of God He is. Does the Bible teach that God is real living being who truly exists or does it indicate that God is a mere concept or idea that only exists in the minds of people? In other words, what type of God does the Bible portray?
God Is An Actual Being Who Exists
As we look at the Scripture we find consistent teaching about the God who is revealed, the God of the Bible does actually exist. He is not merely something humans have dreamed up to meet our deepest needs.
This can be seen in two ways. First, we find that God has interacted with humans in history. Second, there are passages in Scripture which assert the fact that He is a living being.
God Has Been Involved In Many Events In History
We know that the God of the Bible is not merely something that exists in the minds of the biblical writers because of the various works or actions attributed to Him. The God of the Bible is a God of action. Indeed, from the first page of the Bible until the last, we find God working His plan in our world.
For example, the Bible begins by telling us that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning (Genesis 1:1). God then created humans according to His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28). When humanity sinned (Genesis 3) God pronounced judgment upon humanity and the earth. The remainder of the Old Testament records God dealing with His people Israel. He made them a special people who would represent Him to the world. These are the acts of a personal living being. They are not merely ideas in the minds of the biblical writers.
In the New Testament, we find the same truths being taught. God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that Jesus came to show us what God is like.
No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known (John 1:18 NET).
If we want to know something of the character of God, we need to examine the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ. From the life and ministry of Jesus, we discover that the God of the Bible is a God who truly exists as a personal living being. He is not merely some idea or concept that was in the mind of the biblical writers.
The Bible Says That God Is A Personal Being
Not only has God acted in history, the Bible specifically states that God has a form or essence. He truly does exist as a personal being!
In the Old Testament God told Moses to tell the children of Israel that He, God, had sent him to the people of Israel. Moses then asked what he should tell the people if they asked who this God is. The Bible records God’s answers as follows.
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14 NIV).
The response of God to Moses testifies to the fact that God is a personal being. He is One who actually exists.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus existed in the “form” of God. He put it this way.
Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage (Philippians 2:5,6 HCSB).
The idea behind the word translated “form” is that Jesus was the same essence as God. Since Jesus had a genuine identity, it logical follows that God Himself has a genuine identity. He is a being which in fact exists.
When Paul wrote to the Galatians he compared the God of the Bible to gods who are not God “by nature.” He wrote.
But in the past, when you didn't know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods (Galatians 4:8 HCSB).
The translation God’s Word puts it this way.
When you didn’t know God, you were slaves to things which are really not gods at all (Galatians 4:8 God’s Word).
Paul compares the God of the Bible to gods whom the Galatians had formerly served. He said that these gods did not possess any genuine essence. In other words, they were non-existent.
This is in contrast to the God of the Bible who does exist as a being which has genuine substance of essence. Again, the fact of God’s genuine existence is made clear in Scripture.
In addition, Paul wrote to the Colossians.
For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9 HCSB).
Unless God is a real being, this statement would make no sense. In Jesus Christ, the entire fullness of God existed. This assumes God has genuine existence.
Paul wrote that nature testifies to the existence of God. He said the following to the Romans.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:19,20 NRSV).
According to this statement of Paul, God’s existence is known to everyone. Indeed, His divine nature can be seen from the things which He has created. This is further evidence that God is a being who truly exists.
Consequently, the Scripture is clear as to the nature or character of the God of the Bible. He is indeed a living being who exists. He is not merely some idea or concept that was in the mind of the ancient Hebrews.
Summary To Question 22 Is The God Of The Bible A Real Living Being Or Merely A Concept Or Idea?
If God does exist it is important to know as much as we can about Him. Is He a personal living being or is He merely an idea or concept? Are we to understand Him as One who has genuine existence or is He One who simply exists in the minds of people?
The Scripture is clear on this matter. The God of the Bible is a distinct or actual being who exists and who acts in history. From the first page of the Scripture until the last, we find God working His purpose and plan for humanity. In all of this there is the assumption that God is a real being who exists apart from the minds of the biblical characters. He is truly there and He has interacted with humanity from the beginning. Furthermore, Scripture specifically teaches that God is not merely a concept in the minds of people. Rather it is the united testimony of the Bible that God is a personal being who has genuine substance or essence.
In fact, when the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, he contrasted the non-existent gods whom the Galatians formerly served with the God of Scripture. These gods do not exist but the God of the Bible does. This is the message of God’s Word! Thus, when we speak of the God of Scripture we are speaking of a being who not only exists, He has personally interacted with the human race from the time He created the first human being. Furthermore, the good news is that He still interacts with people today.
This question is from my forthcoming book “Does The God Of The Bible Exist?”