Who Made God?

Shout to Grace asked a simple question: “Who made God?”

The quick answer: No one made God; He has always been. God is eternal, with no beginning and no end.

This is demonstrated in several passages of Scripture; here are two:

LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (Psalm 90:1-2).

Adam Clarke said of this statement, “This is the highest description of the eternity of God to which human language can reach.”

Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting (Psalm 93:2)

So, when Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, we understand that God Himself was before the beginning.

Some are troubled by the questions, “Where did God come from?” and “Who created God?” The answer is found in the definition of God – that God is the uncreated Being, eternal – without beginning or end.

The late Dr. J. Edwin Orr used a memorable definition of God, which was thoroughly Biblical: God is the only infinite, eternal, and unchangeable spirit, the perfect being in whom all things begin, and continue, and end.

All our wishing there is a God will not create a God if there is, in fact, no God.

Every atheist denial of God will not remove God if there is, in fact a God.

Old-time atheism: “I don’t believe in God.” Modern atheism: “You’re a fool to believe in God.”

Those who believe in God are often accused of doing so out of a psychological need to believe that there is a God who makes sense of the world. Yet it can just as accurately be said that those who claim there is no God believe that out of the psychological need to avoid or escape accountability before the Judge of all the Earth.

Many modern arguments against God (or the Bible) come down to a simple denial of God’s right to judge, or the demand that God should judge things just as His accuser would demand.

In the present day, the most effective efforts for atheism are not based on logic or arguments at all – they are based on mockery.

Despite the attacks and mockery, there remain many excellent reasons to believe in the existence of God.

2. The Argument from Efficient Causality [An Aspect of the Cosmological Argument]

  • All things that exist are the result of some cause.
  • There must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent. This being we call “God.”
  • The idea that something can be caused by nothing is absurd.

So, who made God? No one. By definition, God is eternal – He has always been. It has been said that at the end of it all, you either have an eternal Creator or an eternal creation; either God is eternal, or matter is eternal. It makes a lot more sense to say that God is eternal.

What is the difference between the Ransom Theory/Christus Victor and Penal Substitutionary Atonement? Do you prefer one over the other?

Please compare and contrast the Ransom Theory/Christus Victor with the penal substitutionary atonement. Please explain why you prefer one over the other.

The Ransom Theory is the idea that the Atonement of Jesus was like a ransom that was paid, and which set His people free. There have been very elaborate theological discussions concerning to whom the ransom was paid. Was the ransom paid to God the Father or to Satan? There has some debate about that throughout the history of theology. But the Ransom Theory basically sees the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross as a ransom payment, which freed the captive people of God.

The Christus Victor understanding of the Atonement emphasizes the fact that the atonement which Jesus accomplished at the cross was fundamentally a victory over the powers of darkness and death. Thus, it is this victory over the powers of darkness and death which sets the people of God free, who were held in bondage. These two theories are not exactly the same, but they’re certainly related.

Penal Substitutionary Atonement has to do with the law. In the United States, a prison, or place where criminals are held, is called a penitentiary. It’s related to that word, “penal.” We call it a penal institute because it has to do with law. So, this idea of Penal Substitutionary Atonement really means a law substitutionary atonement or a punishment substitutionary atonement. The idea is that Jesus stood in our place as guilty sinners, and He received the punishment which should have come upon His people. He bore that punishment so that His people – those who trust in Him, those who are elect – would not have to suffer the punishment.

Concerning whether I prefer one over the other, I don’t believe that these different understandings of the atonement are contradictory. Is there a sense in which the Atonement of Jesus on the cross was in fact a ransom? Yes, because Jesus spoke of it in those terms. He said that the Son of Man gives His life as a ransom for many. Is it true that the victory of Jesus at the cross was a victory over the powers of darkness and death? Absolutely. In Colossians, it says that He triumphed over principalities and powers and disarmed them. But I think that the Scriptures most strongly present the idea that what Jesus accomplished at the cross was the freeing of God’s people from the guilt and penalty of sin and judgment they deserved.

I don’t regard these things as contradictory; they are complimentary. The work that Jesus did at the cross is many-faceted; no single understanding of the Atonement encompasses every aspect of what Jesus did. We need multiple views of what took place.

I would perhaps place greater prominence on the idea of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement, the idea that Jesus suffered in our place for the legal punishment of our sin. But it certainly does not exclude these other understandings of the Atonement. I think we need to understand the many dimensions of what Jesus did for us at the cross. No single understanding of what Jesus did at the cross comprehends everything that was accomplished by it.

Wasn’t it against the Roman law for the Jewish leaders to stone Stephen to death?

The Jewish leaders stoned Stephen, but wasn’t that against Roman law? Earlier the leaders had said they needed Pilate to declare a death sentence against Jesus because of Roman law.

You are exactly right. When the religious leaders in the book of Acts stoned Stephen to death, they were operating outside the permission granted to them by the Roman law. They were running a risk. The sense is that they were so overcome with frustration, exasperation, and even hatred, that they were willing to do something dangerous. It was dangerous for them to go beyond what the Romans permitted. In executing Steven, they ran a risk.

When it came to Jesus, it’s possible that the religious leaders were unwilling to take such a risk, because it was the Passover season, and the Romans were much more sensitive to disruption in Jerusalem at that time. The religious leaders were not willing to take the risk of executing Jesus themselves by stoning Him. Rather, they forwarded Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, for execution. On a human level, that may be the reason why it happened.

On a divine level, the reason the Jews themselves did not execute Jesus, but forwarded Him to Pilate, was because the Old Testament prophecy had to be fulfilled. As Jesus Himself had predicted, He would be crucified and hung on a tree; this would fulfill the Old Testament which spoke of anyone hanging on a tree bearing a curse. There are many intimations in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be crucified, and there are many direct predictions by Jesus that He would be crucified. All of those had to be fulfilled.

If the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day had executed Him, it would not have been by crucifixion; it would have been by stoning. While your observation is correct, this tension is present in the Scriptures. The Jewish leaders were going beyond their permissions when they executed Stephen, and they ran a risk. We don’t know whether these leaders suffered anything for it, or if they were called to account before Pilate or another authority, but it was a risk for them to take.

How old is the universe? Is the universe 14 billion years old and did the big bang start it?

How old is the universe? The Bible says the earth is 6000 years old, but did the universe exist before that? Is the universe 14 billion old? Did it begin with a big bang?

The Bible does not exactly say that the earth is 6000 years old. That is a conclusion which many people have drawn simply by going back in history, counting the years of the generations given to us in the book of Genesis and other places. We need to understand that those generations are not necessarily complete. So, I can’t say with any confidence that the earth is 6000 years old. Again, I know where people get that figure; but we are assuming that those generations are complete, and they are not necessarily complete.

The vast majority of scientists and other researchers say that the Earth and the universe are millions upon millions of years old. However, the most direct understanding of the Bible does not suggest that either the Earth or the universe are that old. My resolution is this: I don’t have a problem with God creating an Earth with age built into it. Now, I understand that there are dear and serious brothers and sisters, who are kind of outraged by that suggestion. Honestly, I don’t quite understand their outrage. They think that it makes God deceptive. But I don’t necessarily think so.

Consider what we understand about Creation in the book of Genesis. God created Adam, not as a fertilized egg, not as a newborn baby, not as a five-year-old; God created Adam as an adult male. God created Adam with age built into him. We also know that there were trees in the garden of Eden. When God created trees, did they have rings on the interior of the trees? That would be an indication of having age built into them. I could give you many other examples, but I think you get the point. I don’t have any problem myself, with God creating a universe with age built into it. As to why He did it, I don’t know; we could speculate on reasons why. But that would merely be our speculation.

I don’t want to hinder scientists in any way from doing all the research they can, or by observing and measuring known objects, to perceive how old the universe might be. We just need to understand that God may have built the universe with age built into it. I would say the same thing to the scientist as to the Bible student. We don’t need to feel dismayed by scientists saying, “The universe is this many billions of years old, and the Earth is this many millions of years old.” That’s fine; scientists do your work; we’re happy for your work. Just don’t think that you get the final word, or that you have the only voice when it comes to understanding the origins of life on this earth and in the universe.

That question goes beyond the scientist; it must also come back to the theologian. No, I don’t believe that the theologian has the only voice in that question either. We bring in our knowledge from many different fields, but we don’t exclude philosophy, theology, or most especially what the Bible says. I think the Bible gives us the greatest understanding about this.

So, did God use a big bang to start the universe? Well, I don’t see why not. I mean, when it says God created the heavens of the earth, something happened. And if it was a big bang, then praise the Lord for that. I tend to feel at peace with the answer that God created a universe and an earth with age built into it. I fully understand that there are other people who may have a problem with that answer, but I am answering for myself.

Can you explain the word Elohim?

To my understanding, in ancient Hebrew and related ancient Near Eastern languages, “El” is the generic word for “god.” God is a word which people apply to the true God, who is the God revealed to us in the Bible. It’s also the word used to refer to the Greek and Roman gods, to gods of other religions, or to objects which people might regard as a god, like saying, “He just bought a new car, and he treats it as his god,” and so on.

We understand that in English, we have a generic word for a deity: god. In ancient Hebrew, the generic word for deity is “el.” “Elohim” is the plural version of God. Now you could translate it simply in the plural, as “gods.” It is given that sense several times in the Old Testament. But there is also the idea of the plurality of majesty. This is true not only in ancient Hebrew, but also in many other related languages, where a single being is called by the plural to denote and to declare their majesty.

Elohim depicts neither the singular or the dual; it depicts the plural of three or more and declares great majesty. Elohim is the plural, generic word for God used in ancient Hebrew.

As Christians, and therefore as Trinitarians, we understand that the multiplicity in the word Elohim, is consistent with the idea that there is One God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There are others who do not understand the word Elohim as denoting anything Trinitarian. For example, the Jewish people wouldn’t agree with that. But they would agree with the idea of it denoting the great majesty of the One God.

That’s the background to the ancient Hebrew word Elohim. There are other words for God in the Hebrew language. His name is best expressed by the word Yahweh; a more ancient pronunciation of that name is Jehovah, but Yahweh seems to be more accurate. In the Old Testament, God is many times referred to by the name Adonai. Adonai is the generic ancient Hebrew word for Lord. Just like the English the word “Lord” can be used to denote God as being Lord overall, at other times it is simply a respectful address of somebody else, such as the old English title of “lord.”

Why did the archangel Michael and Satan argue about Moses’ body?

The book of Jude describes Michael the Archangel disputing with Satan over the body of Moses. In that dispute, Michael would not even defame or revile Satan, but he would speak to him in the name of the Lord saying, “The Lord rebuke you.” You’re asking a good question, but it is not answered directly by the Jude text. In Jude, we learn that they were disputing, but we’re not told why. I don’t think we can come to a firm biblical answer to that question, because the Bible does not tell us specifically. We can only speculate. To be clear, the answer below is not specifically given to us by the Scriptures.

Here’s what we might speculate. I believe that God had a purpose for the body of Moses, because God was going to reanimate and resurrect the body of Moses and use him for a special purpose, at the very least, to send Moses back to the earth to appear with Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration. We know from the Gospels that Moses and Elijah appeared, in true, real, physical, bodily form, with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration. There they had a little conference with one another.

Consider who these two people were who appeared with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. What happened to Elijah’s body? Elijah never physically died on earth. He was carried up to heaven in a whirlwind, accompanied by what seemed to be chariots of fire. God had a special purpose for the body of Elijah, so He carried him up to heaven. Perhaps even though Moses physically died on earth, God said, “I’ve got a special purpose for that body; Michael, go down and get it.” In the getting of it, he had to contend with Satan.

Again, the Bible does not specifically tell you what I just told you, so we treat it lightly. We don’t want to make a doctrine out of something that the Bible doesn’t specifically tell us. But it is interesting to consider that Moses had a very special appearance in the Transfiguration, and he is also perhaps one of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation. Maybe that’s a further purpose. Maybe God wanted to do something special with the bodies of Moses and Elijah, and this reflects that. That’s the best answer I can give you, recognizing that the Scriptures do not specifically tell us.

We all know Jesus is the Word, but what exactly does that mean?

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Apostle John then tells us more about the Word. John uses a very specific term to describe Jesus as the Word: “logos.” The term “logos” had a very rich background in both Greek and Jewish thought. In Jewish thought, the Word of God represented God Himself. As a matter of fact, Jewish rabbis would sometimes use the phrase, “the Word of God,” instead of God Himself. They would say the Word of God appeared to Abraham, instead of saying that God appeared to Abraham. This is tied up with some of the Jewish reverence for the name of God. They considered “the Word of the Lord” as a way of referring to God Himself. It was their way of understanding what the Old Testament tells us, that God is so intertwined with His own revelation from His Word that there is a unity between God and His Word. That’s the background of the idea of the word in Jewish thought.

The idea of the word in Greek thought, is, in some ways, even more wonderful. In Greek thought, the term “logos” meant the organizing principle behind the universe. Greek philosophers looked around the universe and saw that it was ordered and organized by design. This led them to wonder, who designed it? They would say the designer was the word; it was the logos. When John said that Jesus Christ was and is the Word, the Logos, in a sense he was speaking to Greek thought, saying, “You perceive that there is an organizing principle to the entire universe. I’m here to tell you that it is Jesus Christ.”

He was also speaking to his Hebrew or Jewish readers saying, “You understand that God has a way of revealing Himself. God’s revelation is sometimes known as His Word. Let me tell you who is the ultimate revelation of God: Jesus Christ is the Word.” We see that beautifully expressed in John 1.

It tells us that He is the organizing principle behind all things. He’s the mind that accompanies the universe. He is God, and He is the ultimate revelation of God.

God thinks so highly of His Word that He identifies Himself by title with His Word. Think about that. If God thinks so highly of His Word, should not we also think highly of His Word? Friends, we want to have the same opinion of God’s Word that God Himself has. We don’t want to think higher of God’s Word than He does, if that were possible; I don’t know if that is possible. But we certainly don’t want to think lower of God’s Word than He thinks of His own Word.

How is conviction from God different from condemnation from Satan in daily life when we sin?

How is conviction from God different from condemnation from Satan in daily life, when we regretfully sin?

This is a great practical question. When we sin and feel guilt, conviction, or condemnation, it’s a bad feeling about our sin. How do we know if that bad feeling about our sin is coming from the Lord in conviction of sin, or from the devil, in condemning us as filthy people who have no right to come before God?

Very early in my Christian life, I heard somebody express it this way: You can know the difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation comes from the devil and conviction of sin comes from God and the Holy Spirit. Conviction of sin from the Holy Spirit will drive you to God; it’ll drive you to the cross. You’ll say, “I’m a sinner, I need Jesus. I come to you, Jesus; would You please deal with my sin?” On the other hand, condemnation from the devil has a different effect upon us. It tells us something like, “You are such a filthy sinner; you have no business coming before God.”

Do you see the difference between the two? It is a substantial difference, and one to which we must pay attention. When you feel terrible about your sin, is that terrible feeling making you run to God for the cleansing of your sin? Or are you running away from God, because you feel that you’re such a filthy sinner, you have no place before Him? If it’s driving you to run away from him, that sounds like condemnation from the devil. If it’s drawing you to run to God and receive forgiveness and cleansing from your sin, then that’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 6:10, what does it mean when we pray “Thy Kingdom Come”?

In Matthew 6:10, what does it mean when we pray “Thy Kingdom Come”? As followers of Christ, what should our reactions be?

In Matthew 6:10 NKJV, Jesus instructed his followers to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This means that we should desire for God’s will to be done on earth, completely unhindered, with nothing blocking or stopping it, being done as unhindered on earth as it is in heaven. It does not mean that God intends for everything which is true or will be true about heaven to be exist on earth right now.

Sometimes people assume that if there is absolutely no sickness or disease in heaven, therefore, it can never be God’s will for there to be sickness or disease on earth. It’s true that there is no sickness or disease in heaven, but there’s also no marriage in heaven. We know God desires there to be marriage on earth, but there will be no marriage in heaven. We know that there will be no persecution in heaven, but God has allowed there to be persecution on earth. We know that there will be no suffering or pain and heaven, but God has allowed for there to be suffering and pain on earth, for a redemptive purpose.

We certainly don’t want to say that all suffering and pain is from God. We don’t want to say that all sickness is in God’s purpose. God’s purpose many times is to deliver His people from pain and suffering, and to deliver His people from sickness and disease, but not in every case. God can have a redemptive and teaching purpose in and through these things.

This verse means that we should desire and pray for God’s will to happen on earth as unhindered as it is in Heaven. Ultimately, every purpose of God will be accomplished. We have no doubt about that whatsoever. But at least from a human perspective, there is resistance to God’s will. There are ways in which God’s will is thwarted, though not ultimately. Ultimately, the Lord will do everything just as He pleases. But for His purpose, He right now allows at least the apparent thwarting of His will to accomplish His greater will in all things.

What are some examples that we as Christians, can or should do to “bear fruit”?

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

This passage lists the fruit of the Spirit. When our lives demonstrate love, joy in Jesus Christ, peace, and long suffering, these are demonstrations of the fruit of the Spirit. This is how spiritual fruit is displayed in our lives. If you are in a difficult situation, and someone’s really annoying you, as you trust and abide in God, He will give you the ability to display what might be even termed supernatural love and long-suffering. That’s the fruit of the Spirit on display. Look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and think of very practical ways in which the fruit of the Spirit can be evident in the actions of your life. That is a way that we can bear fruit for God.

Why did Joshua tell Israel that they wouldn’t be forgiven of sin and couldn’t follow the LORD in Joshua 24:19?

Joshua 24:19 – But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

This is part of Joshua’s great final speech to the people of God. Joshua makes this remarkable statement to God’s people. It seems that he is using some Holy Spirit-inspired reverse psychology on the people of Israel. Reverse psychology is telling somebody they can’t do something, to make them want them to do it. Basically, Joshua was telling the people of Israel, “I see you people; in many ways you seem to be far from God. I’m not overconfident in your ability to trust in God, to follow Him, or to honor Him. You are going to have to step up your game if you want to go forward, and really follow the Lord in this particular way.”

I really think that’s what he’s doing here. He’s warning them that it’s not a light or easy thing to follow the Lord. It’s as if the people of Israel thought that following the Lord was easy, and claimed they’d been doing it all along, but Joshua was saying, “No, you haven’t been doing it. I don’t know if you can do it.”

I love the response of the people of God to this in verse 21- “And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’” In other words, the response from the people is exactly what Joshua and the Lord desired. He wanted to stir up a strong response within them. They said, “You don’t know if we are able to, but we want you to know that we know we will pursue the Lord. We want to!”

Verses 22-23 – “So Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.’”

Joshua understood that they needed to do these things if they would follow the Lord in truth. He was very concerned that they should not have a light, casual, unthinking commitment to the Lord. Sometimes, the greatest enemy we face in following God is this sort of casual understanding, “Well, we’re all serving the Lord; we’re all doing these things.” But Joshua would not let the people of Israel get away with that. So, he warned them very strongly, “I don’t think you guys can do it,” all the while hoping that they would rise up and answer him and saying, “No, we are determined to serve the Lord, as we should.”