Q. How do I know God exists, when I cannot see Him? How do I know the Bible is truly God’s Word?
First, let’s consider the basis for knowing that God exists.
There is the revelation of God’s existence and attributes in nature:
For the music director, according to the gittith style; a psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth! You reveal your majesty in the heavens above! 2 From the mouths of children and nursing babies you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy. 3 When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made, and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them (Psalm 8:1-4, NET).
For the music director; a psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork (Ps. 19:1, NET – read the entire Psalm, which moves from the revelation of God in nature to the revelation of God in the Scriptures).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. (Rom. 1:18-21 NET)
God is revealed by His Word. Moses sought to know God better, so he asked God to show him His ways (Exodus 33:13) and His glory (Exodus 33:18). In response, God promised to cause “all His goodness” to pass before him (Exodus 33:19). And this is how God described Himself in words, which are a part of the Bible, His Word:
The LORD passed by before him and proclaimed: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, 7 keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7).
God has revealed Himself in His Son:
Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory– the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 15 John testified about him and shouted out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” 16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known (John 1:14-18).
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” 9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds” (John.14:8-10).
After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, 2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world. 3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs (Hebrews 1:1-4).
Second Question: How do I know the Bible is really God’s Word?
The Scriptures claim to be the Word of God:
Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Indeed, I will also make every effort that, after my departure, you have a testimony of these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly concocted fables when we made known to you the power and return of our Lord Jesus Christ; no, we were eyewitnesses of his grandeur. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory: “This is my dear Son, in whom I am delighted.” 18 When this voice was conveyed from heaven, we ourselves heard it, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, 21 for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:15-21).
The prophets’ claim they are speaking God’s Word:
For this is what the sovereign master has told me: “Within exactly one year all the splendor of Kedar will come to an end. 17 Just a handful of archers, the warriors of Kedar, will be left.” Indeed, the LORD God of Israel has spoken (Isaiah 21:16-17).
he will swallow up death permanently. The sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from every face, and remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. Indeed, the LORD has announced it! (Isaiah 25:8; see also Ezekiel 24:14; 26:5, 14; 28:10; 34:24).
Then Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak just what the Father taught me (John 8:28).
For I have not spoken from my own authority, but the Father himself who sent me has commanded me what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. Thus the things I say, I say just as the Father has told me” (John 12:49-50).
Now as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living!” (Matthew 22:31-32).
The apostles’ claims:
Both Paul and Barnabas replied courageously, “It was necessary to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).
If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command (1 Corinthians 14:37).
Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you– that is, Jesus. 21 This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21; see also 7:2-7).
We believe the Bible is God’s Word because many of its claims have been verified as true. One example would be the prophecies that have been fulfilled:
The chief priests took the silver and said, “It is not lawful to put this into the temple treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 After consulting together they bought the Potter’s Field with it, as a burial place for foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the “Field of Blood” to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price of the one whose price had been set by the people of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me” (Matthew 27:6-10).
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-3).
We can be confident that God’s Word is true when the Holy Spirit convinces us of the truth of Scripture:
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment– 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned (John 16:7-11).
On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the side of the river, where we thought there would be a place of prayer, and we sat down and began to speak to the women who had assembled there. 14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearing woman, listened to us. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying (Acts 16:13-14).
You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass; the grass withers and the flower falls off, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was proclaimed to you (1 Peter 1:23-25).
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created (James 1:18).
In summary, I would encourage you to ask God to make these matters clear to you. As I read Scripture, that is what He has promised to do:
But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).
If you lack faith, then ask God for that:
So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 Then Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 Now when Jesus saw that a crowd was quickly gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 It shrieked, threw him into terrible convulsions, and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus gently took his hand and raised him to his feet, and he stood up (Mark 9:20-27).
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearing woman, listened to us. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying (Acts 16:14).