Today's Broadcast

Something Is Eternal

A Message by R.C. Sproul

Why can't we just suppose that the universe was always here? Why must we assume God made it? These questions may intimidate you, but rest assured, there is a logical and reasonable response to those who assume the eternality of the universe. In this message entitled "Something is Eternal," Dr. Sproul explains the necessity of a self-existent eternal being who cannot be a part of the universe He created.

From the series: Objections Answered

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. devotional

    God's Self-Existence

  2. devotional

    One True Eternal God

  3. devotional

    God's Eternal Reign

God's Self-Existence

We conclude our study of the relationship between science and theology with an examination of aseity—the doctrine of God’s self-existence. Aseity is the view that God is entirely self-sufficient and not dependent or contingent upon anything else. In other words, He is the eternal, independent, and personal cause of the universe.

Some thinkers appeal to self-creation in order to account for reality while denying God’s existence. As self-creation is illogical, others attack the concept of causality itself. An appeal to the philosophy of David Hume is often made to prove that uncaused effects do exist.

Using his famous illustration of a pool table, Hume stated that we never perceive the immediate cause of anything that happens. True, we strike a cue ball with a pool stick and believe the ball moves because of the impact. However, this does not prove striking the ball causes it to roll across the table. All we have seen for sure, Hume said, is a relationship of contiguity ­— a relationship where one event follows another in sequence. We assume the cause behind the effect but cannot be certain that something else did not cause the ball to move. Perhaps an unseen force was the actual cause of movement (as Christians, we answer Hume’s skepticism by saying both the cue stick and the unseen force of God’s decree make the ball roll).

In any case, Hume did not deny that causes exist, he just believed we cannot determine what they are. The law of causality still holds true: “Every effect must have a cause.”

In order for anything to exist, an uncaused something, or someone, must exist. It is not an uncaused effect that must exist, for there can be no such thing. Self-creation, an uncaused effect, may be an illogical contradiction, but a self-existent, “uncaused cause” is not.

This “uncaused cause” must have the power of being within itself—it must exist in and of itself. This cause must be eternal, for that which does not exist cannot later bring itself into existence. Moreover, this cause must be personal for an impersonal one could not create personal beings. Only a personal, self-existent God can answer the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

One True Eternal God

As we have seen over the past few days, the doctrine of the Trinity is an essential part of the Christian faith, indeed, of the biblical gospel. The Apostles’ Creed, being a concise summary of the work of the Trinitarian Creator on our behalf, is therefore an excellent presentation of gospel truth. Yet when we begin talking about the Trinity, we are entering into one of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith. After all, with finite minds we are considering the nature of the infinite God Himself. We are treading on holy ground.

Nevertheless, although the Trinity is a mystery we will never fully understand, the fact that it is a mystery does not mean that we cannot understand it at all. God has revealed Himself in His Word, and He has sent His Spirit to illumine our minds and give us understanding of this Word (1 Cor. 2:6–16; 2 Tim. 3:16–17). Therefore, we can say much about the Trinity even if this biblical doctrine tells us that the Creator is far more complex than any of us can imagine.

In question and answer 25 of the Heidelberg Catechism, we are told that Christians speak of three persons in the one Godhead because that is how Scripture reveals this truth. We begin first with the biblical affirmation of monotheism. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is clear that there is but one God who alone is to be worshipped and served without hesitation. Today’s passage is perhaps the clearest statement of this fact. Deuteronomy 6:4 does not simply mean that there is one God for Israel but that there is only one God, period. Nothing else in existence is equal to Him in any way, not even human beings, who are more like the Creator than anything else in His creation (Gen. 1:26–27). He alone has created all things. He alone is independent and in need of nothing. He alone is underived from any plan, person, or substance. He is the Lord and there is no other (Deut. 4:39; Isa. 45:5).

We likely take the confession of Christian monotheism for granted, so it is easy to forget its practicality. Monotheism means that we do not have to worry about another god clobbering the One whom we serve or snatching us away from Him. Monotheism means that God can meet all our needs because He needs nothing from any other source. Let us understand that God is one, and let us therefore rejoice.

God's Eternal Reign

Psalm 19 begins by asserting that the heavens proclaim the glories of God (v.1), showing that creation's purpose is to declare the goodness and majesty of its Creator. Yet, the physical world is not alone in being tasked with extolling and revealing the Lord's glory. As we see throughout Scripture, those whom God has redeemed have the privilege of singing His praises. Those who serve the triune Creator are a chosen people who "proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

In today's passage, we find a model for praising the Lord for His sovereign reign, particularly as it is exemplified in His rule as the Creator. Our Lord is "robed in majesty" and "has put on strength as his belt" (Ps. 93:1). What is the evidence of His kingly office? The creation itself. God's world has been established and will never be moved (v. 2). This does not mean our universe will continue in its present state forever, as we know that there is a new heaven and earth coming where righteousness reigns (2 Peter 3:13). Instead, the psalmist is speaking of God's sovereign rule over all. Other ancient Near Eastern religions believed creation was subject to the reign of competing and chaotic powers, but the God revealed in Scripture has no rivals. Since He has established His throne over creation itself, nothing falls outside His sovereign decree. We can trust Him forever because He controls all (Eph. 1:11).

All creation testifies to the Creator's sovereign reign, but the people of God have the distinct privilege of witnessing to His rule over the universe. After declaring the Lord's power over the waters, which were symbolic of chaos in the ancient world, the psalmist looks to the decrees of God. The reference is to His revealed commandments, which are the means by which He exercises His rule over His people. Our Lord's law goes hand in hand with His presence among His people in His house—the Jerusalem temple under the old covenant, the church under the new covenant. As the people of God humble themselves before Him and seek to obey His covenant law in the power of the Spirit, they show forth His just reign in a manner that makes all people take notice. John Calvin comments, "The divine goodness is displayed in every part of the world, but the psalmist justly considers it as of all others the most inestimable blessing, that God should have deposited in his church the covenant of eternal life, and made his glory principally to shine out of it."

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