The Bible is the Word of God, Christ the Son of God, salvation an act of God. But who is this God? Why did He create us? And how should we respond to Him?
Who is God?
The word God (Elohim, “mighty one”) in Genesis 1 stands out against other views of God in the ancient world. First of all, it is in stark contrast against atheism, which claims there is no God. It affirms, with Judaism, the monotheistic view that there is one God: “Hear, O Israel! the Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). There are not many gods (Exodus 20:3), as polytheism proclaims. The Creator is also contrasted with pantheism, which identifies God with the universe that God made. Further, He is unlike deism because He is personally and miraculously involved with His universe (see Genesis 1-3).
Also, He stands apart from finite godism since He created the finite world. Even panentheism (God-in-All) fails to describe Him because the universe is not the body in which God dwells. He is before the universe. He made it. He sustains it.
As Creator, God is as different from the universe as an architect is from his architecture. As C.S. Lewis put it: “the Christian idea is quite different. Believers think God invented and made the universe—like a man making a picture or composing a tune. A painter is not a picture, and he does not die if his picture is destroyed. You may say, ‘He put a lot of himself into it,’ but you only mean that all of its beauty and interest has come out of his head.”
Who Made God?
So who made God? Where did He come from? This question has unnecessarily perplexed many minds because it is a gigantic category mistake. It is asking who made the Unmade God. It is like asking, “Who is the bachelor’s wife?”
No one made God.
He is the unmade Maker of everything else that exists. He was always there. Theism affirms that God was neither created, nor can He be destroyed. And since the Second Law of Thermodynamics asserts that usable energy in the universe is running down, the universe cannot be eternal (it would eventually run out of usable energy). Thus if the universe is not eternal, then it necessarily had a beginning. And whatever had a beginning had a Beginner (God). So God is the unmade Maker, the beginningless Beginner, the uncaused Cause.
How Did God Create the World?
If the universe had a beginning, then how did it get here? Clearly, it was not made out of God (ex Deo). God is spirit (John 4:24); the universe is matter. God has no beginning, but the universe does. The universe, consisting of physical matter, was not fashioned out of matter (ex materia) but by God’s commanding words (Hebrews 11:3). The physical universe is matter, and it had a beginning. God made physical matter when He “created the heavens and the earth.” So the universe was made out of nothing (ex nihilo). Put another way, it was not made out of something. Before the universe came to be, there was God—and nothing else.
Thus, God created from nothing.
Someone may object: “Nothing came from nothing; nothing ever could.” This memorable line from The Sound of Music means simply that nothing cannot make something. It does not mean that Someone (God) cannot make something where before there was nothing else but God. In fact, everything that comes to be has a cause. So when the universe came to be, it too had a Cause (God).
Why Did God Make Us?
The Apostle John declared that “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3, NKJV). But why did God create the universe at all? Why did He make us? The biblical answer is: God made us to glorify Him. John declared: “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things” (Revelation 4:11). Thus the Apostle Paul exhorted: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Some suggest that it is egoistic for God to want to be worshiped. It would be for us, but we are not God. However, it is not wrong for God to want recognition for who He is—the Creator. And we, His creatures, are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). It is not egoistic; it is realistic.
When we ask why God created, we can mean two things: what prompted God to do it, or what purpose did He have in doing it? The biblical answer to the first question is: God was prompted by nothing beyond His own will. As John affirmed of God, “because of Your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11). Also, He was free to not make us. As amazing and humbling as it may be, God did not make us because He had to; He made us because He wanted (willed) to do so. Of course, in making us God had a certain purpose in mind—to redeem us so that we could know Him through repentance and faith, and we could live obedient lives to the praise of His glory.
David said to God: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV). If God needs nothing, then what can we give Him? The answer is praise, adoration and worship! We certainly cannot add to His already perfect nature (Matthew 5:48). The best we can do is to magnify the nature that He has.
So worship—attributing worth to God—is the ultimate a creature can do for his Creator. This is why the basic sin of sinful mankind was that they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
God wants us to do here what we will do there—in Heaven, namely, to sing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come” (Revelation 4:8). He desires us to proclaim: “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
It is indeed humbling to acknowledge that all we can give to God is what He has already given to us—even if we literally give our lives for Him. As missionary martyr Jim Elliot once said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Worship is like the fine spray of Niagara Falls that rises from below and moves up toward the endless source that feeds it. Thus when we worship God, we are merely giving back what the Source provided. ©2015 Norman L. Geisler
Dr. Norman Geisler is professor and chancellor of Veritas Evangelical Seminary and author of more than 90 books including Knowing the Truth about Creation and Creation in the Courts.