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THEOLOGY > God > God's Existence > Characteristics of God's Existence  


Perhaps these characteristics should be discussed under the essence or attributes of God. But four characteristics of God's existence will be briefly mentioned: God's living-existence, distinct existence, self-existence, and eternal-existence.

God’s existence is living-existence (Ex. 3:14; Ps. 42:2; Isa. 37:17; Dan. 6:26; Jo. 5:26; Acts 14:15; II Cor. 6:16; I Thess. 1:9; I Tim. 3:15; 6:16; Heb. 10:31).

To say, “God is,” is to say that God is alive. He has life; He is life. God is called “the living God” (Ps. 42:2; Isa. 37:17; Dan. 6:26; Acts 14:15; II Cor. 6:16; I Tim. 3:15) and Jesus said that “the Father has life in Himself” (Jo. 5:26). Paul referred to God as “the living and true God” (I Thess. 1:9) and claimed that God “alone has immortality” (I Tim. 6:16). God is not a force, a power, a concept, an ideal, nor an abstract idea; He is not the postulate of man’s mental projection, a projection that is designed to make daily life more bearable. The God-thought is not evolving as man evolves. God is not like the heathens’ idols and gods which are the works of the heathens’ hands. Their gods cannot see, cannot hear, do not speak, and will not respond; therefore, the heathens worship that which is not.

The God of Scripture is the living God: He sees, He hears, He speaks, He acts; believers worship the One who is. Any idea that suggests that God is anything less than living Being, or living Reality, is false. Man is not alone in the universe; there is One who is opposite him—it is the God who is. God is real and God is living. And it is a fearful thing to fall into “the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

God existence is distinct-existence; that is, God is separate from the universe (Gen. 1:1). Before the universe existed, God was living (see: Before Creation); before it came into being, God could declare “I Am.” The very existence of the universe (matter) is the result of the creative act of God, for He brought all things into existence. Because He created all things (see: Work of Creation), He is separate from all things. God is distinct or different from His creation, meaning there is an ontological distinction between God and all else that exists. Christian Truth does not tolerate pantheism, the view that all is God or God is all.

God and the universe are not to be merged in our thinking. Matter and Spirit are distinct; creation and the Creator are separate; man and Deity are not to be confused. Matter was brought into being by Him who is Spirit; creation is the result of the work of the Creator; and man is made in the image of Deity. God is set apart from all that exists and is not to be identified with any part of the universe to any degree. There is a total disconnect between God and all that has been brought into existence. To search for God within one’s self, or within the butterfly, the tropical fish, the sky, or the sunset is a vain and sinful search. The search itself denies God’s distinct-existence (see: God and then Creation).

God’s existence is self-existence (Ex. 3:14; Jo. 5:26). This is known as aseity (aseitas), a word which states that the basis for God’s existence or the reason for His being resides within Himself; that is, the explanation for God's existence is internal to Him not external to Him. Unlike man, God is not contingent and is independent in His existence and in the reason for His existence.

To Moses God said: “I Am” (Ex. 3:14). It is generally accepted that this Hebrew word is a form of the verb hawah, which means “to be.” God is giving a revelation about Himself and informing Moses that His life is internal to Himself. In the most profound sense of the phrase the revelation to Moses is that “God is”; He is Absolute Being—He is life. He has life in Himself. Only God can proclaim: “I Am.”

There are two obvious implications.

One, God is not caused; He has no cause and does not require one. All creatures have a beginning—they are caused; their existence is derived from Another. But God’s existence is not derived-existence but self-existence. The reason for God’s existence is within Him; to be self-existent is what it is to be God. God is and of Himself, therefore, God cannot not be. He cannot but be. This is true of no other.

Two, God is not contingent; He is not dependent on anyone or anything for the continuance of His existence. In the fullest sense of the word He is absolutely self-sufficient. He needs no one, and He needs nothing. All other beings depend upon God, and He depends upon no other, either for His being or His continual being. All of creation, animate and inanimate, is contingent, but God alone is not contingent. In His existence He is absolutely independent, meaning that within God resides the basis for His being God and remaining God.

God’s existence is eternal-existence (Gen. 21:33; Ps. 9:7; 90:2; 93:2; 102:27; Dan. 7:9; Is. 63:16; I Tim. 6:16; Rev. 4:8-10). Eternal means that His existence is a “perpetual now” (Dagg, M of T, 65). God has always existed and He will always exist. He never began and He will never cease. He was present before the beginning of Genesis 1:1, and He will be present after the end revealed to John—before creation and after the consummation. “He is not a temporary, but an eternal God” (Charnock, E and A, I, 278). This is to say that God is without beginning and without end, a truth impossible to comprehend. In the words of the psalmist: “From everlasting to everlasting You are God” (90:2), and “You are from everlasting” (93:2). Even His name, “I Am,” speaks of his eternity.

“The eternity of God has been defined, existence without beginning, without end, and without succession” (Dagg, M of T, 65). Only God Himself is eternal, but all else had a beginning. “Nothing eternal is created, so nothing created is eternal” (Charnock, E and A, I, 292). God, who alone is eternal, brought into existence that which is not eternal. That which is created may have no end because God so created it or because God grants it unending existence, but only God has no beginning. If God had a beginning it must be from another, and if from another, then the another would be greater than God. But God “alone has immortality” (I Tim. 6:16). Being immortal means that there is not another who can or will cause God to come to an end. He who originates all is without origination or termination.

Holy, holy, holy is YHWH of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!
Isa. 6:3

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