How do you know which God is the real God?

by Luke Wayne

When Moses asked God what he was to tell Israel when they asked him which God had sent him, God replied: "I Am That I Am." The ancient translators of the Greek Septuagint rendered this, "I am the being one," or, "I am the one who is." Essentially, God's response to Moses was, "tell them that the God who actually exists has sent you. I am the real God. That is who I am." Ultimately, I know which God is the real God because He has chosen to reveal Himself. I know the one true God who really exists because He has made Himself known. It is through His self-revelation that I can distinguish Him from all the false gods and idols of human religion. We know which God is real because God has spoken:

Revelation through Creation

The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Rome:

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures," (Romans 1:18-23).

God has made Himself known in creation itself. Though men willfully suppress the truth and choose to deny God and worship false gods, nature, or even our own secular autonomy, we are without excuse. God has left us sufficient information all around us in what He has made, and it is actually ingratitude rather than ignorance that keeps us from seeing it. This is why Paul elsewhere appealed to pagan unbelievers who worshiped anthropomorphic gods:

"Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness," (Acts 14:15-17).

The Psalmist writes:

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge," (Psalm 19:1-2).

And likewise:

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well," (Psalm 139:13-14).

So in all things around us and within us, there is ample evidence to point us to our true maker. If we could set aside our sinful pride and behold in humble gratitude, we would know to whom we ought to direct our thanks. Everything points back to the true God.

Many of the classical arguments for God's existence really just point us back to this fact. The ontological and transcendental arguments, when followed out to their logical conclusion, don't just lead us to a vague notion that some kind of God exists. They lead us to one specific God. The real God who is greater than all others, who governs all things, and who absolutely must be (i.e. the God of Christianity.)

Collectively, the arguments from design, morality, and the origin of the universe present us with a personal, all-powerful, extraordinarily intelligent, beginningless, immaterial, creator God who is distinct from His creation and holds men accountable for their actions. This pretty much narrows it down to the God of Genesis 1-3, the God of the Bible, the great "I AM," who spoke to Moses and delivered Israel.

Biblical Revelation

Obviously, the God who spoke to Moses is not only revealed generally in creation but specifically through prophetic revelation. God sent the prophets who proclaimed Him and recorded the words from God that they received for all time in the Holy Scriptures. As Isaiah proclaimed:

"Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none," (Isaiah 44:6-8).

The challenge is laid to those who would assert any other god; can your god declare things yet to come? It seems a fair test. A "god" who possess neither the knowledge of future events nor the power to bring his own predictions about is not much of a god. In fact, God warns regarding prophets:

"But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him," (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

The Bible is filled with prophecies about the rise and fall of nations which all came about. It predicts that the Jews would be uniquely preserved as a people against all odds and opposition, and they have. Consider the numerous prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ! The Bible is full of miraculous predictions.

To take one specific example, consider the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Before that temple even stood, Daniel predicted in Daniel 9:24-27 a restoration of Jerusalem, a coming anointed one (or Messiah) who would be killed shortly before the city and the sanctuary were destroyed. He predicted it would occur within a set time period. It states, for example:

"So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of a prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary," (Daniel 9:25-26).

While there is some debate about how exactly this time frame is to be calculated, it certainly places these events squarely in the first century AD. When Jesus Himself came, we read of His own predictions:

"Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, 'Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.'" (Matthew 24:1-2).

"When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation,” (Luke 19:41-44).

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" (Matthew 23:37-38).

And in other such words, Jesus and the prophets repeatedly foretold the coming destruction of the temple, and so it came to pass. There are many such examples in which the prophets of Scripture predicted specific historical events that later came to pass. As such, their writings bear the clear mark of revelation from God, and these Scriptures unanimously affirm the identity of Yahweh (Jehovah) as the one true God.

Revelation in Jesus Christ

Finally, it is in Jesus Christ that we know for certain who the one true God is. As the Scriptures tell us:

"For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him," (John 1:17-18).

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him," (Colossians 1:15-16).

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power," (Hebrews 1:1-3).

God is revealed to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This was attested not only (as mentioned above) through numerous fulfilled prophecies, but also through miracles (for which there is historical evidence) and ultimately in His resurrection from the dead!

Confirmed by prophecy, attested by God through miracles, and risen from the dead to glory, there is no one we ought to trust more than Jesus as to who God is. And Jesus points us back to the Bible and to the one, true God found therein, and confirms for us that the Triune God of Christian Scripture is the one true God. This is how we know who the real God is.