26 August 2021
In our study of Scripture, we may come across apparent contradictions such as the Sovereignty of God versus the responsibility of man, difficulty in reconciling the ‘puzzles’ and ‘mysteries of subjects like the Incarnation, the Trinity and so forth. We should not abandon faith in anything God has taught merely because we cannot solve all the problems it raises. We must remember that the measure of divine truth is not based on our individual intellectual competence and understanding.
We recall what the Lord Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Do we need to see and to understand before we believe? Augustine said, “unless you believe, you will not understand.” Faith first, sight a afterwards – this is God’s order, not vice versa.
Remember that God tells us that His Word will accomplish” His purpose (Isa. 55:11), His Word both “calls things that are not as though they were” (Rom. 4:17), and then it “sustains all things” (Heb. 13). God’s Word does not merely impart information to us; it actually creates life. It is not only descriptive; it is effective too – God speaking is God acting (Genesis 1:3,6,9). God’s Word is carried along by God’s Spirit in order to perform exactly what He intends for it. In Christian ministry, God’s servants must remember it is God’s Word rather than our words that are shaping people’s lives.
This is not an easy world in which to believe in a God of love. Death stalks us all. Disease is humanity’s constant companion. And we destroy one another in war and crime. So to claim that God is not only there but is also good raises “where is the evidence?” More than ever, today, we see the preponderance of death, disease raging, war and atrocities among men, crime and immorality increasing – why all these sufferings and pain?
The evidence provided by 1 John 4:9-10 is crucial for answering the questions posed. John writes, ‘This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ The Christian is to to look to the coming and cross of Christ to know that God is indeed love. The Scriptures offer narratival definitions of key terms. If we want to know what biblical forgiveness looks like, we go back to the story of how Joseph forgave his brothers who sold him into slavery (Gen. 50:15-21). If we want to know what repentance is, we think of the story Jesus told of the return of the prodigal son to his father (Luke 15:11-32). And if we want to know what divine love is in our sort of world and the evidence for it, we tell the story of the incarnation and the atonement.
It is from the life and death of Christ that we can understand the true nature of God’s goodness and love. This love of God is not vague; on the contrary, it becomes present in the features of one particular Person….it attains visibility in His very precise words, actions, sufferings and miracles.
John 1:1 begins in eternity with the Word, and climaxes with this Word becoming flesh. This Word is the agent through which creation happened and in this Word is found life and light for humanity. Jesus, as the Word made flesh, is a thoroughly concrete embodiment of the very nature of God. He is God expressed in human form.
It is no wonder that Jesus proclaims, “And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.” (John 12:45) and “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.” (John 12:44).
We have noted that God is transcendent – He is not confined by creation and not limited by time and space. Unless He reveals HImself to us His creatures and creation, we would not be able to know Him. In HIs love and mercy, He condescends to speak to us in our language through Scriptures. He supremely reveals Himself to us through His Son. In His Son in the incarnation, God comes alongside, dwells with us and travels with us in real space and real time. He did not send a representative or a surrogate – He sends His own Son! Christ is the window into the heart of God. To hear Jesus is to hear the Word of God; to see Jesus is to see the character of God; to watch Jesus in action is to see God in action. God no longer simply told His people about Himself, or even showed them by His actions. He came Himself, and walked among us, and we saw the invisible God in a human body.
Hence the seriousness and gravity of rejecting Jesus – we are in fact rejecting God!
Jesus Himself shared with His disciples after HIs resurrection about Himself and God from the Old Testament before His ascension. It is vital that we realise the prominence and primary significance of Scriptures – it is God’s revelation of Himself and HIs plan for mankind; the author is God Himself in the Holy Spirit who inspired men throughout many years to put together in a unity His revelation to us. To grow to know God and to walk in the Spirit must invariably involve a growing spiritual understanding and knowledge of the Scripture. We must not allow difficult texts to discourage us from looking to the Spirit to teach us. We must study the Word to be approved by God as His good servants so that we can bless others in handling accurately the Word of God.