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Thoughts From Daniel Fuller

Dear Friends,

Have you ever been challenged by a skeptic to “prove” the existence of God? I have. And though I can’t offer “proof” sufficient to convince every skeptic, I can say the most reasonable argument for God’s existence begins by affirming our existence. It goes like this:

Being cannot come from non-being. That is, something cannot come from nothing. Existence cannot come from non-existence. Therefore, if we reason backwards – since being cannot come from non-being the fact that we exist proves God's existence. And his existence proves the eternality of his existence, since he could not be if he had not always been. If there is a God, he must always have existed, for if he did not, he would not and could not exist now – and neither could we or anything else.

With some slight differences of nuance, or phrasing, most theologians would tend to agree. Yet that raises another question: If God has always existed, why did he wait so long to create? Stretch the timeline back far enough and most scientists would now say there was a time when “nothing” existed. With this the Bible agrees, since the author of Hebrews tells us God created “out of nothing” – “ex nihilo” (Heb. 11:3). Though I should clarify that “out of nothing” means “out of nothing other than himself” – the eternally existent One.

With that said, I offer you this week’s thought from Daniel Fuller taken from his book, "The Unity of the Bible" (a must read by the way if you want to engage with skeptics) in the chapter entitled: "Why Did God Wait So Long to Create the World?" In a world full of skeptics who don’t like pat answers, these things can be helpful to ponder. Enjoy.

"The declaration in Psalm 90:2 that, 'Before the mountains were born or you (God) brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God," indicates that vast eons of time elapsed before God acted to establish the earth, so it would reflect His glory.

But Irenaeus, Augustine, and Calvin – some of the church's greatest leaders – have sternly warned people not to ask what God was doing before he created, or to wonder why he waited so long to create... I believe, however, that it is both lawful and expedient to ask why the triune God waited a long time to create the world. For from the very fact that God waited, we know that he did not create out of the necessity involved in need-love [He did not create because he was “lonely,” or had some "inner unmet need to have someone to love,” as some suggest].

Since God the Father found infinite happiness in Jesus, the Son, then it becomes clear that from all eternity God has enjoyed his Son's love and companionship, showing that the creation of the world was NOT a necessary act that God undertook to overcome loneliness, but an act that flowed from the freedom involved in benevolent love.

It would be threatening to our future happiness to know that God created us to meet some need in himself... Yet the moment we understand that all of God's need-love was met in being a Trinity, then we see that he was free to act toward us, his creation, solely in terms of the freedom of a benevolent love… When God invites us to a banquet out of benevolent love, he wants us to join with him as guests at his table, to enjoy the feast along with him – as the psalmist put it, to drink from the river of his delights (36:8).

So, God's having delayed creation for a long while makes it unmistakably clear that he created us not out of need, but in the freedom of his benevolent love – out of mercy and grace. Therefore, contrary to Irenaeus, Augustine, and Calvin, it is most edifying to know why a long period elapsed before God created the world.”

I might add that if one believes that God created out of need-love – or because he was lonely and needed beings outside himself to offer him love in order to feel complete – and those creatures upon whom he has made his happiness depend reject him, or desire no communion or fellowship with him (which we see throughout Scripture), then that sets such people up for viewing God as nearly always sad, mad, depressed, weeping, or unfulfilled. If God’s joy is dependent upon receiving love and adoration from the creatures he has made – rather than the Son with whom He is always pleased, and in whom he always delights – and they don't respond to him in love, it can lead such people to have a very depressing view of God.

Just some food for thought, Pastor Jeff


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