The existence of God is something disputable among the emerging generations. Although most Africans acknowledge the existence of God when we look at creation, some dispute if God exists. The majority of Africans hold the view that God exists, with the exception of a minority, who reject the existence of God, based on their learning. The majority view is in agreement with the psalmist when he says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalms 19:1). Here is what I mean: when you go outside your home and look up in the sky, then look down and around, at the trees and diverse creatures, there is a strong acknowledgement that indeed there is a God. The created order causes us to acknowledge that there is Someone far superior than the rest of creation. This is not only clearly stated but it is practically evident in daily living.
The created order causes us to acknowledge that there is Someone far superior than the rest of creation
However, as much as the idea of God is central and universal to most groups, the practical implications of this belief are not evident. For example, if you were to go into the streets of Windhoek or any other place in Africa and ask any one you meet, ‘Is there a God and do you believe in him?’ The immediate answer one tends to get is, ‘yes, God exists and will forever be, and I am a Christian!’ However, in honesty, that belief is divorced from the people’s daily living. God has merely become an idea. For others he is merely a Sunday icon or figure.
If God Exists…
A pressing question that I cannot avoid asking is, ‘If God really does exist, why do we live lives that claim otherwise’? This question is not only for non-Christians. It is also for genuine Christians to think through and for them to reform their manner of life. In this brief article, I aim to point to three necessary implications of the idea of a ‘God’. Under each point we will also consider practical application for our daily lives.
Three implications to the idea of ‘God’
These three implications reveal that the idea of a God is not just a vain thought but with it are inevitable life consequences. The challenge is that if these three are not taken into account, then one’s profession of believing in God is hypocritical, and that simply reveals a rebellious heart. Simply stated, ideas about God that do not reflect in daily living fail the litmus test of the disciple of Jesus—genuine worship of God. Below are the three implications:
1. This God must be Sovereign
To be sovereign simply means that God is in total control of all things and that there is absolutely nothing that is not subject to him. The pocket dictionary defines God’s sovereignty this way, a “biblical concept of God’s kingly, supreme rule and legal authority over the entire universe. God’s sovereignty is expressed, exercised and displayed in the divine plan for and out working of salvation history”. If indeed you are saying that there is a God, this God must be above everything that is in creation. It is only right that this God be so, if not, then he ceases to be God. He must be above all that is in creation. “For the LORD Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a skilful psalm. God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne” (Psalm 47:2, 7 and 8).
You are still bound to his governing rule; no wonder he has the right to condemn attitudes and actions in our lives that are not aligned to his character and will
Read in a shallow manner, many at this point will still be comfortable with the natural order of things. But to get the weight of this thought, you must understand that you are also included in that reign. That means that you too are subject to this God. The biggest question that is facing you every moment is, ‘is the sovereignty of God reigning in my life’? The question is basically inquiring whether you are willingly submissive to God. Because whether you are acknowledging God’s reign over your life or not, understand that although God has given you a free will to choose and decide, you do not have unlimited freedom. You are still bound to his governing rule; no wonder he has the right to condemn attitudes and actions in our lives that are not aligned to his character and will.
Saying there is a God is not enough! It calls for a changed life, and foremost, genuine worship of this God
The point here is that it is not only enough to say that you believe that God exists and remain passive. Saying there is a God is not enough! It calls for a changed life, and foremost, genuine worship of this God. This means that we must submit to him and live life according to his ways. Psalm 47 spells out this implication well by declaring, “O clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy”. Worship is imperative; it is a must to worship! Otherwise you might be a disobedient creature, but do not think that you will get away or escape his rule. If you are not willingly obedient now in the moment of today, you will be later. For every knee will bow and every tongue confess the Lordship of God (Philippians 2:9-11)! Sadly, your later obedience will not save you from God’s judgment, but it will make you run submissively to your destined place.
2. This God must be a Personal Being
This is not implying that God is a person like you and I; rather, it is to say that this God is a being, he is a personal being. In him are all the attributes of personhood. He knows, feels, wills, and speaks. He is a self-conscious being. No other text than Exodus 3:14 better put this, saying, “I AM WHO I AM”. This means that God is not just some form of object or abstract idea. However, God is a rational being, who purposes and accomplishes all things according to his perfect will. Because God is a personal being, one must know him personally. It is only right to think so, for if he is not personal, then this betrays his sovereignty. Rational creatures will only willingly submit to him if they personally relate to him. Not having a personal knowledge of this God dilutes the whole concept of a God.
Because God is a personal being, one must know him personally
If God exists and he is the creator, there should be a relational connection with the rational creature. Here is a weak illustration but it proves the points: There is a personal and relational connection between a mother and a child, for they are both personal beings. However, the child has no personal and rational connection with the placenta. The placenta is merely a thing that is needful for the child’s survival as he/she comes into this world. But the child’s affection is with the mother. The idea here is not that we are birthed by God, but that since we are creatures of a Creator, and we are rational beings, then God must be a rational being as well; thus, we must relate to him personally. Gerstner rightly put it by saying, “It is unthinkable that personal beings could come from an impersonal being”. Since God is ultimate, then ultimate personality can also be found in him.
Do you know God? Do you know him personally? And are you known by him? Jesus Christ said that this was the aim of eternal life. He said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Jesus, who is God of very God, further says, “I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). So listen, it does not help you to know that there is God in the sky or to assume a higher power being. It is just not enough, and consequently, your ‘god’ is merely an idea and a delusion. But since God is, he has to be a personal being, and this implies that you must be personally known by him and you must know him personally too. If you do not personally know God then you do not know him, and your idea of him is closer to falsehood.
3. This God must have Personally Revealed Himself
Finally, it consequently follows that God must reveal himself to us in order for us to know him. By personal revelation, we are basically saying that besides natural knowledge or common sense or awareness of God, God has also personally explained himself to us. God has told us who he is and what he expects from us. Observe what he says in Jeremiah 9:24, “but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD”.
God has to come down to us and explain who he is and what everything else means in our human terms so that we can understand
Firstly, this is possible because God has given us his word through his chosen people, the prophets. And whatever they spoke was actually from God (2 Peter 1:20-21), and what they spoke was meant to affect the lives of the people (2 Chronicles 7:14; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Secondly and specially, it is possible to know God because God has revealed himself to us through the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 1:2). Jesus is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14). And the words of Jesus are the ones recorded for us by the New Testament writers. Not just the Gospel books but all the books of the New Testament, for these other books (like Romans and Jude) were written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who was revealing the teachings and will of Christ to the human authors, and consequently revealing the will of God (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13). A written or personal revelation from God is necessary for you and me. God has to come down to us and explain who he is and what everything else means in our human terms so that we can understand. I hope you are now getting why human authors are necessary in this process. Thus, the Bible is the written revelation from God.
It then strongly implies that one must know God based on his terms that he has revealed and must live his/her entire life by those terms. Therefore, the Bible is not just an optional book, but it is a necessity. Your living depends highly on it. Where did you get your knowledge of God from? Where do your daily thoughts of God come from? And is your life affected by this revelation? If God has personally revealed himself, the danger that you and I are in is to form up our own opinions of God and even to live life by our own terms and conditions. Hearing God’s word is fundamental to your living, even your faith is dependant on it (Romans 10:17).
The End Goal of our ‘Idea of God’: to Worship God
If all things owe their existence in God, any thought of him is to result in worship and in unending praise. Listen, it is not enough for you to say that God exists but your life proves otherwise! You must personally know this God. You must be born again, and you must have eternal life. Seek to understand how you can know God personally and for you to be personally known by God.
If God has personally revealed himself, the danger that you and I are in is to form up our own opinions of God and even to live life by our own terms and conditions