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 be determined by analyzing creaturely life and then projecting upon deity a vitality that characterizes intricate living creatures. The Bible never depicts life as an observable phenomenon, something known by empirical investigation that enables us to comprehend transcendent divine existence God’s life is not a unique configuration of impersonal processes and cosmic events. Nor is it merely a more durable form of the vitality imparted to lifeless man when God breathed into him “the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7, NIV) and the bearer of God’s image (Gen. 1:26). All conjectural attempts to refine the being of the world and of man into some generalized concept that can be projected upon an imagined deity are more hindrance than help for comprehending the One who through his own self-revelation makes himself known as the living God.