Man Does Not Need God?

Modern Man Does Not Need God

It’s true. For all outward appearances, that person who denies the existence or relevance of deity can get along in life just fine without belief in one (see Psalm 73).

But this isn’t what we affirm. The Bible does not speak in terms of need or desire, except for some Psalms. The expression of desire or want of God speaks from the heart of a man who believes and trusts in the God of the Bible (Psalm 42) and the question of belief is not present.

The Bible doesn’t speak about want, need, or desire of God because that is not the problem. The secular humanism of the 1960s made it clear that man, in his current state, does not need God. God, therefore, is dead.

Of course, their assumption was that God was a psychological and evolutionary concept that was to be outgrown, but that’s another post.

No, the Bible speaks to another condition: rebellion:

[Genesis 14:4Exodus 23:21Numbers 14:9Numbers 17:10Numbers 20:10Numbers 20:24Numbers 27:14Deuteronomy 1:26Deuteronomy 1:43;Deuteronomy 9:7Deuteronomy 9:23Deuteronomy 9:24Deuteronomy 21:18Deuteronomy 21:20Deuteronomy 31:27Joshua 1:18Joshua 22:18;Joshua 22:19Joshua 22:291 Samuel 12:141 Samuel 12:151 Samuel 20:302 Kings 1:12 Kings 3:52 Kings 3:72 Kings 18:72 Kings 18:202 Kings 24:12 Kings 24:202 Chronicles 13:62 Chronicles 36:13Ezra 4:12Ezra 4:15Nehemiah 2:19Nehemiah 6:6Nehemiah 9:26Job 24:13Psalm 5:10Psalm 66:7Psalm 68:6Psalm 68:18Psalm 78:8Psalm 78:17Psalm 78:40Psalm 78:56Psalm 105:28Psalm 106:7Psalm 106:43Psalm 107:11Isaiah 1:2Isaiah 1:5Isaiah 1:20Isaiah 1:23;Isaiah 1:28Isaiah 30:9Isaiah 36:5Isaiah 48:8Isaiah 50:5Isaiah 63:10Isaiah 65:2Isaiah 66:24Jeremiah 3:13Jeremiah 4:17Jeremiah 5:23Jeremiah 6:28Jeremiah 52:3Lamentations 1:18Lamentations 1:20;Lamentations 3:42Ezekiel 2:3Ezekiel 2:5Ezekiel 2:6Ezekiel 2:7;Ezekiel 2:8Ezekiel 3:9Ezekiel 3:26Ezekiel 3:27Ezekiel 5:6Ezekiel 12:2Ezekiel 12:3Ezekiel 12:9Ezekiel 12:25Ezekiel 17:12Ezekiel 17:15Ezekiel 20:8Ezekiel 20:13Ezekiel 20:21Ezekiel 20:38Ezekiel 24:3Ezekiel 44:6Daniel 9:5Daniel 9:9Hosea 7:13Hosea 7:14;Hosea 8:1Hosea 9:15Hosea 13:16Zephaniah 3:1Zephaniah 3:11;Mark 15:7Hebrews 3:16]

This is a very surface survey, but it raises the question as to how we speak to others about the Gospel. Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions and making the wrong offer. “You need Jesus in your life,” can ring hollow to a person who is emotionally happy, physically well and economically doing well.

It is true that all people everywhere need a saviour, and that saviour is Jesus. But the Bible also tells us that we are in rebellion to the God we know:

Romans 1:18–25 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

The only solution to this cognitive disconnect between the felt needs of people today and their real needs, and their real peril is a holy church (Ephesians 1:4Ephesians 5:271 Peter 1:15-16).

What Christians must do is to stop trying to fulfill needs that are not needs and to continue to holiness. Isn’t an emphasis on holiness a path to irrelevance? Not for those who have an appointment (Acts 13:48). But offering a solution to what is not even perceived to be a problem will not bring salvation; obedience to the call of holiness will. The church must seek to be relevant only to her Lord.

New Series: The Doctrine of God

Beginning January 6th, we will take a six week break from our series on 2 Corinthians. For six weeks we will be learning what the Bible says about the Doctrine of God. Join us at 11 AM each Sunday or download the series as it is made available.

Topics are listed on the banner at the top of this page.

Sola Deo Gloria,

Scott Jacobsen

John Frame, “No Scripture, No Christ”







Appendix N


Note: This article is one of my earliest formulations of the doctrine of Scripture (1972). It focuses on the concept of the necessity of Scripture and therefore supplements chapter 30 of the present book.

Why is it so important to believe in an inspired, infallible, inerrant Bible? Because of Jesus Christ.

We are not here making the usual point about the relation between Christ and Scripture. The usual point is that Christ endorsed the authority of the Old Testament and endorsed in advance the authority of the New. That point is perfectly valid (cf. Matt. 5:17–19; John 5:45–47; 10:33–36; 14:26; 15:26f.; 16:13); but we are now making a different one, namely, that unless we have a fully authoritative Scripture, it is meaningless for us to confess Christ as Lord and Savior.


What does it mean to confess Christ as Lord? Among other things, it means confessing ourselves to be servants. In the Bible, the servant is one who has no claim upon the Lord God. He knows that his Lord owns (Ps. 24:1) and controls (Eph. 1:11) all things, and therefore owes no goods or services to anyone (Deut. 10:14–17). He owes nothing—and has a right to demand everything. The servant has no claim upon God, but God has an absolute claim upon him. Absolute, that is, in three senses: (1) It is a claim that cannot be questioned. The Lord God has a right to demand unwavering, unflinching obedience. God blesses Abraham because he “obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen. 26:5 kjv). He did not waver (Rom. 4:20), even when God commanded the sacrifice of Abraham’s son Isaac (Gen. 22:18). To waver would have been sin. (2) The claim of the Lord is absolute also in the sense that it transcends all other claims, all other loyalties. The Lord God will not tolerate competition; he demands exclusive loyalty. The servant must love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6:5; cf. Matt. 22:37). One cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:22ff.). In the NT, Jesus Christ demands—and receives—precisely this kind of loyalty from his followers (Matt. 8:19–22; 10:37; 19:16–30; Phil. 3:8). The Lord demands first place. (3) The claim of God is therefore also absolute in the sense that it governs all areas of life. Whatsoever we do, even eating and drinking, must be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31; cf. Rom. 14:23; 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 3:17). There may be no compartments in our lives where the Lord is left out, where he is forbidden to exercise his authority.



Even if we were not sinners, we would still have a Lord; we are called to be servants of God simply because we are his creatures. But in fact, we are not only creatures but also sinners. We need not only a Lord, but also a Savior; we need not only authority, but also forgiveness for disobeying that authority (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 3:4). Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, died on the cross to save his people from their sins (Rom. 5:8). But how can we know that this is enough? We know because God has told us. Who else could pronounce our sins to be forgiven? Who else could promise salvation to those who believe in Christ? The Lord, who speaks to demand obedience, also speaks to promise salvation. He who speaks the law speaks also the gospel. As Abraham (Rom. 4:19f.), we are called to believe the gospel simply because it is God’s own promise. We know that believers are saved because Jesus has told us they are (John 5:24). Only the Lord can speak the word of forgiveness, the word that declares sinners to be righteous, the word that promises eternal life.


But where can we find such a word? Where can we find a word that makes an absolute claim upon us and makes an absolute promise of forgiveness? We must have it, or there is no hope. We must have it; else we have no knowledge of our Lord’s demand or our Savior’s forgiveness. Without such a word, truly we have no Lord, and we have no Savior.

Liberal or neoorthodox theologians can provide no such word. They know of no words in our experience that can demand unquestioning obedience, transcend all other claims, govern all areas of human life. They know of no words that can unambiguously communicate the “sure promise of God.” Where, then, can we go? Others suggest that God gives each of us a private, individual revelation; but those who make that suggestion differ widely on what God has in fact said. If they are all right, then God contradicts himself frequently. What test is there to determine when God is in fact speaking and when he is not? How do we distinguish the voice of God from the voices of devils and the imaginations of our hearts?

The God of the Bible directs his people to a book. To be sure, he does speak to some men individually—Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Paul—but he instructs his people as a whole to find his will in a book.

When God first led his people out of bondage in Egypt, he gave them a book (Ex. 24:12). It was a book that he had written himself; the words of the book were his own words (31:18; 32:16). Indeed, he permitted Moses to help with the writing (34:27); but the authority of those written words was a divine authority, not a mere human authority (Deut. 4:1–8; 5:29–33; 6:4–25; Pss. 19; 119; Matt. 5:17–20; John 5:45–47). Later, others wrote books at God’s behest, completing what we know as the Old Testament—books that Jesus endorsed both in word (above, second paragraph) and in deed (for Jesus submitted himself entirely to Scripture, living in such a way “that the Scripture may be fulfilled”). The NT church turned to those books as the definitive transcript of God’s law and promise. The books of the OT were “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16, literal translation)—that is, words actually spoken by God. Also, these early Christians came to recognize further writings, the writings of apostles and others, as having the same sort of divine authority as the OT (1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Thess. 3:14; 2 Peter 3:16). It is to such divine writings that the believer must turn to avoid confusion (2 Tim. 3; 2 Peter 1:12–2:22). It is those writings that pronounce the word of supreme authority and certain forgiveness. It is those writings that utter God’s absolute claim and his sure promise, his law and his gospel. It is those writings by which he speaks to us as Lord and Savior.

Without such a word, there can be neither lordship nor salvation. Without such a word, we have no basis for confessing Christ as Lord and Savior. Lordship and Saviorhood, without authoritative Scripture, are meaningless concepts. That is why the authority of Scripture is so important. That is why we cannot say that we love Christ while disowning the Bible (cf. John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10; 1 John 5:3).

And that is why, when we present the gospel, we must present it as a word of authority and sure promise—a word that demands precedence over all other words, a word that will not be judged by the criteria of modern philosophy and science, but that demands the authority to judge all the thoughts of men (John 12:48–50). To present it as anything less is to detract from the very lordship of Christ and from the greatness of his salvation. As our Lord and Savior, Christ is the author of Scripture.