The Young Man
And His Lord
Mr. Donald K. Steele of Peterborough, Ontario, continues his practical and edifying series on “The Young Man.”
When Moses approached the burning bush, after God had called his name twice, God said to Moses.
“Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).
Why was it holy ground? Because God Almighty, the holy One, was present there. In this remarkable incident, God revealed Himself to Moses as the God of his forefathers, and also as the God whose plans for the nation of Israel were to be pressed forward through Moses whom God had chosen for leadership in Israel.
I mention this incident, not only because it reveals the untarnished holiness of God, but also because I feel, as Moses must have felt, an uneasiness in approaching so great a topic. The relationship of the young man to his Lord, to God the Father and God the Son, through God the Spirit, is the vital hub of his whole Christian experience. Everything else that you think, say or do all relates directly to the relationship which you have with God.
This relationship began with your salvation. You were born from above, by the Spirit of God, through the shed blood of the Son of God, according to the plan of the Father, established before the world was created. The new birth, which is so clearly explained in John 3 and elsewhere, is the vital beginning of a new relationship with God for every man, woman, boy or girl who enters into the family of God by the only door God has provided.
Your relationship continues as time passes. You are in the family. Whether or not you grow will depend on whether or not you are fed, and the nourishment which creates growth includes the Word of God, the fellowship of saints, and the vital element of prayer, when you commune with God as a child with his Father. Some Christians grow rapidly, and their growth is evident to all; many grow very slowly, and spasmodically, and in some cases growth is almost impossible to detect. Since growth is the only evidence of life, in a plant or in a Christian, the very fact of the reality of the new birth has been called into question in many cases where growth was not evident.
In this study I am attempting to illustrate that your spiritual growth will depend at least in part on your concept of God. What is your understanding of God? How carefully have you considered who and what He is? How deeply have you pondered the mysterious qualities of a being who is infinite in so many areas where man is finite, or limited? Let us briefly touch on some of God’s wonderful attributes and see something of His nature.
Moses asked some of these hard questions. In Exodus 3:13 he asked God what His name was. God answered, “I AM THAT I AM.” By this remarkable description, God referred to His eternity, or the unending aspect of His nature. Our God is eternal! He has no beginning and no end! He always was, He always will be. For such a being, it is almost ridiculous to consider Him as being confined to time, for He created time. He sandwiched all the time there is or ever will be between two vast eternities — past and future. For such a God, time is irrelevant, and so He told Moses, I AM THAT I AM. We need to grasp the wonder of God’s eternal existence, and to understand that for Him time has not the same force as it has for us who live in its iron grip, watching the moving finger of time constantly turn our future into our past as we pass through the moment that we call the present.
We see also that this God was a personal God. He spoke to Moses as a personality. He identified Himself as an identifiable person, and the Jewish nation gave Him a series of names, each one of which highlighted some aspect of His nature. He was also the God of history, for He continued to act, not just in Moses day but for centuries before and after Moses, exercising His divine will among the chosen people, Israel, and later in the church during the age of grace.
A Progressive Revelation
God continued to reveal Himself. He is the Creator, the Preserver, the Redeemer and the Judge of life. Since modern man, with his propensity for sin and self-delusion chooses not to face God as a Judge, he seeks to blot out His other characteristics as well. This is one reason for the tremendous assault on God as Creator. If we can convince men everywhere that God did not create all that is, including man, then we can avoid any further responsibility to a holy God who will call us to account for our sinful lives and cruelty to our fellow man. The active propaganda mills of world communism strive mightily to deny the very existence of God, for any admission that God exists would, in and of itself, given His holy and righteous nature, condemn the cruelty and inhumanity of the communist system, which places the state above the individual and reduces the entire population of the nation to slavery. Yet we see, from Moses on, God’s progressive and historical revelations of Himself. The names El Elyon, “God Most High,” and El Shaddai, “God Almighty,” tell us much about the understanding that men had of God’s omnipotent nature thousands of years ago. Are we as clearly informed today about God? Or do we clutter up our minds with so many pieces of baggage from the modern world that we seldom ever think about God’s nature and power and purposes? It has been pointed out by others that the El Shaddai of the Old Testament was a God who controlled the processes of nature in order to reveal His divine grace. Thus we see El Shaddai, the Almighty One, fulfilling His promise to Abraham and Sarah by opening her womb and producing a son, Isaac, as the son of His promise, when such a thing seemed impossible by natural process. Can we not see in such an act how God pursued His purposes for one nation, and ultimately for all mankind through the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born into that nation, raised in that nation, but providing a salvation for the whole world?
God further revealed Himself as Yaweh, or Jehovah, as we render it in English, and this particular name is found 6,823 times in the Old Testament. Again we see Him as a God who takes fallen nature and transforms it in grace, thus shaping a new order of grace in the natural course of events.
As the New Testament era began, the more personal terms of Father, Son and Holy Spirit become more evident, and the revelation of God was lifted to even higher levels, for in the advent of Jesus Christ, the Son, to earth the great redeeming work of God was made evident in history for all to see. Once again modern sinful man attacks every aspect of this historical event, denying the virgin birth, the actual death and the literal resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, for to accept these things is to accept that He was God the Son, and also that there must therefore be a God the Father. You see how important our understanding of God becomes!
God is omnipotent. He has power to do whatever He may choose. He is also omniscient, which means that He knows everything there is to know. He is also omnipresent, meaning that He cannot be confined to one particular space or place at one particular time. We have already noted that He is eternal, without beginning or end. We know too that He is holy or righteous, meaning that He will not or cannot do anything inconsistent with His holy and righteous nature. Because of this, God is never unfair. He is often accused of being unfair, but this is impossible, if we understand His true nature. When Job had considered every aspect of his miserable condition, he could not conclude that God had been unfair with him. But perhaps the greatest revelation of God’s nature is that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). It is an inherent part of God’s nature to love. This love is evident in nature, but is most supremely revealed in the coming of Christ to earth, as God the Son, to offer Himself as a sinless sacrifice for all men everywhere, who would believe on Him. This supreme sacrifice, in which the creator died for the creature, demonstrates the love both of the Father and the Son, and in it all we see the hand of the eternal Spirit working unobtrusively throughout the whole wonderful story. Remember that the Spirit descended in the form of a dove, alighting on the head of Christ (John 1:31) as evidence that all three members of the Godhead were in unity of purpose concerning the earthly ministry and sacrifice of the Son. What a wonderful and compassionate God we have! That He should devise such a plan of salvation for those who did not regard Him for a moment, is indeed evidence of surpassing love.
Today man generally knows nothing of God in the true sense. In the permissive world of today, where anything goes, and one is never to take absolute positions on anything, the world worships what Nicholas Von Hoffman has called, “The Great Mush God.” He says:
“The great Mush God has no theology to speak of, being a cream of wheat deity. The Mush God has no particular creed, no tenents of faith, nothing that would make it difficult for believer and non-believer alike to lower their heads when the temporary chairman asks the Reverend, Rabbi, Priest, Mufti, or whatever, to lead in an innocuous prayer, for this God of public occasions is not a jealous God. You could even invoke him to start a convention of bartenders and he/she/it would not be offended … God of Rotary, God of Optimists Club, Protector of the Buddy System, the Mush God is the Lord of secular ritual… a serviceable God whose laws aren’t chiseled on tablets but written on sand, amendable to amendment, qualification and erasure.”
May I say it reverently, “Lord spare us from such a profane concept of God, of Yourself.” Let us as young men reverence our God, worship our God, hold His name high, and offer unto Him the glory, honour and praise that are due to His Holy Name. And let us also, as young men, deepen our understanding of His wonderful nature and divine attributes. This study has scarcely scratched the surface, of course, but we must all begin somewhere.