The Living God of the Bible -- By: Carl F. H. Henry

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 01:1 (Spring 1997)
Article: The Living God of the Bible
Author: Carl F. H. Henry

The Living God of the Bible

Carl F. H. Henry

Carl F. H. Henry is the dean of Baptist and evangelical theologians, having written, taught and lectured for over fifty years. His publications now include more than thirty volumes, numerous edited materials and scores of articles. Perhaps his crowning achievement is his six-volume God, Revelation and Authority (1976–1983). This article first appeared in 1982 in the fifth volume of that project. All quoted Scriptures are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. The founding editor of Christianity Today, Henry is now Senior Research Professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

That God lives is at once the simplest and profoundest statement to be made about him, for his life embraces the full reality of his sovereign being and activity.

Both the Old and New Testaments speak of “the living God” (2 Kings 19:16; Acts 14:15). That the Father “has life in himself” (John 5:26) is no figure of speech but a declaration of God’s essential being. Pagan gods and idols simply have “no breath in them” (Jer. 10:14). There is no other God but the one living God (Deut. 4:35; 2 Kings 19:15); God alone is God and there is none like him (Ex. 8:10, 15:11; 1 Chron. 17:20; Ps. 86:8, 89:8).

For this very reason the formula for an oath in Old Testament times was “as the Lord liveth,” “as God lives,” or “as the God of Israel lives.” When Hebrews were menaced they used this phrase to present Yahweh as the living One who, in contrast to the lifeless nonexisting heathen gods, evidences his existence and presence in absolute supremacy. Only rebels dispute God’s active sovereignty (Jer. 5:12); only fools deny that God exists (Ps. 14:1, 53:2; Job 2:10). By a self-affirming oath, Yahweh himself confirms the dependability of his promises and warnings: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezek. 17:16, 33:11, NIV).

What God’s life is cannot b...

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