“Gramma, how do you know that God exists?”
My dear, sweet granddaughter, only five years old, you are asking an age old question whose answer no one agrees on. Basically, I think, there are two kinds of people. There are those who look out at the world, and they see the world. There are others who look out at the world, and they have a great desire to know who made the world.
The first group feels no need to think there’s a maker. They don’t know that God exists. Neither do they know that he doesn’t exist. It just happens that they’re happy enough without him.
The second group is not satisfied and never will be until they meet the one who made the world. How do they know that someone made the world? They don’t. It’s just the only explanation that makes sense to them, because the world bears the imprint of God. Why these two groups? Only God knows.
How do people in the second group–we can call them believers–how do believers know that God exists? By faith. What is faith? Faith is choosing to believe in God even when you don’t know. Faith is desiring God. Here is what the Bible teaches about faith.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3 ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
Believers know God as a person. Ask any believer and they will tell you that by some means or another God has spoken to them and changed their life somehow. This is how they know that God exists. God is invisible Spirit. He cannot be known by the five senses nor deduced by measurement. He is not an intellectual conclusion. He is a Being who speaks, hears, and acts. All believers have experienced some sort of interaction with God that amazes them. This amazement persists throughout the remainder of their lives.
Now, after a person becomes a believer, that is, after they experience their initial transaction with God or become aware of his presence in them, then there are a multitude of ways that knowing God exists gets reinforced throughout their lives. Here are some of those ways.
- They hear the stories of many, many other believers which in some ways match their own story.
- They read the Bible and experience the voice of God speaking directly to them through its words.
- They read the Bible and notice how incredibly well each part supports and interacts with other parts.
- They read the Bible and are convinced by the prophecies it contains.
- They experience miracles in their lives or hear first hand from people who have had miracles happen to them.
- They feel an influence upon their minds, hearts, and behaviors that makes most sense as coming from God.
- Good things happen to them. When bad things happen, they know they are not alone. They find that God helps them through the bad stuff.
- God continues to speak to them in such a way that they know it’s him. “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3 ESV)
- Something convinces them that God has heard them thinking.
- Prayers get answered.
- They sense God’s presence.
- They’re happier than they have ever been before they knew God.
My little one, the best way I know for you to know that God exists is to speak with him. Tell him that you want to know that he exists, but you don’t know how. Actually speak to him. Address him respectfully by name. Be honest with him and tell him where you’re at. If you find in your heart that you would like to know God, then be patient–God will reveal himself to you, just as Jesus promised.
If anyone wants to do God’s will, he will know about my teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak from my own authority. (John 7:17 NET)
Let me explain that verse to you. God wants everyone to know him. If you want to know God, then he will show himself to you. If you want to know God, just ask him. If you’re not sure that you want to know God, but you think you might perhaps like to know him, then tell him that. God loves you, and he would love for you to turn to him. He is not a monster, and he won’t eat you alive.
So to answer your question, how do I know that God exists, I know that he exists because when I talk to him, he answers me. When I talk to you and you answer me, I don’t say, “How do I know my granddaughter exists?” I know you exist because I know you. It’s the same way with God.