Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. Jeremiah 15:16
Divine Revelation (Continued)
He revealed God through His words: The Apostle John reports more of the discourses and dialogues of the Lord Jesus than do the other Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In several of these the Lord claims to reveal God through His words. It is John who says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared (interpreted) Him” (John 1:18).
The Lord Jesus claimed not to speak from Himself, but to speak doctrine given Him by the Father; therefore the very words of the Father. His teaching was a revelation of God’s mind to man. At the feast of tabernacles Christ said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself” (John 7:16-18).
Later in the temple, having flouted her accusers, and sent the adulterous woman away forgiven, the Lord spoke to His critics and said, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me; I speak these things” (John 8:28).
In His prayer in the Upper Room the Lord said, “I have given them the words which Thou gavest Me” (John 17:8). The Lord Jesus was the very mouth piece of God, and through His words revealed God to man.
He revealed God by His works: Dr. Griffith Thomas points out in his volume, Christianity is Christ, that in an attempt to prove Christ’s Deity by His miracles, frequently the reasoning is inverted. Other men performed miracles: Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, and they were not divine. Instead of arguing that, since Christ performed miracles He must have been divine, the argument should be that, since Christ is divine all that He ever did was miraculous. The greatest of all miracles is Christ Himself. That humanity could live in a world of sin, lust, and violence and remain holy, harmless, and undefiled is the miracle that proves Christ is God. Christ’s life on earth was a revelation of God in His absolute holiness.
There is a special miracle where the Godhead was clearly manifested, the healing of the palsied man (Mark 2:3-12). When Christ said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,” His critics said, “Who can forgive sins but God? “ Christ proved His Godhead by including the lesser in the greater. To forgive the sins of the soul was a greater work than to heal the sicknesses of the body. God was manifested through Christ’s perfect humanity. Later to other critics He said, “Though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:38).
In His prayer in the Upper Room, the Lord Jesus made reference to the fact that He had manifested God: “I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me” (John 17:6).
Josephus, the Jewish historian and contemporary of the Lord Jesus, bears witness that Deity was manifested in Christ:
“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first did not forsake Him; for He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from Him, are not extinct at this day.”
The Apostles’ Doctrine
A consideration of three important passages in the New Testament will elucidate the teaching of the apostles in regard to the manifestation of God in Christ.
The first was written by John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1 and 14).
The Greek word, “logos” used here implies matter, speech and purpose; that is, what to speak, how to speak, and why to speak. The Spanish Bible translated from the Latin Vulgate uses here the term verb: “The verb was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The particular part of speech called the verb, is that part in the sentence that expresses action. In Christ God becomes active. Christ, according to the doctrine of John, is God expressing Himself through the activities of perfect humanity.
The second was written by Paul: “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in (the) Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world and received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
Speaking indefinitely this refers to the manifestation of piety through humanity all the way from the incarnation of Christ to the rapture of the Church. God manifested Himself in the perfect humanity of Jesus; Jesus in His perfect humanity made visible God Who to man is invisible. Now He manifests Himself in our humanity in spite of its frailty.
Speaking definitely this refers to the manifestation of God in Christ. Here is the great mystery, God appeared as man. God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).
The third was written by the author of the Hebrews: “Who (the Son) being the brightness (the effulgence, outshining) of His glory, and the express image of His person (His substance)…when He had purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High” (Hebrews 1:3). The descriptive concept, “express image,” occurs twice in the King James Version. The other reference is in Colossians 1:15, where it reads, “The image of the invisible God.” This concept indicates that the Lord Jesus was the visible appearance of the invisible God.
Two ideas are contained in the term image. First, the idea of likeness. As the head that appears in relief on the coin is a likeness to the reigning monarch or former president, so the man Christ Jesus bears a likeness to God, a moral likeness before men. Second, the idea of representation, as the head in relief on the coin is a representation of a monarch or president, the Lord Jesus here on earth was the representation of God.
The Miracle of Calvary
It is not difficult to see God revealed in the person of Christ and by His words and miracles, but this study would be incomplete without considering the revelation of God in the death of Christ.
Several passages of Scripture suggest themselves. First, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “He (God) that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32). “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9-14).
In creation God manifested His eternal power and Godhead; creation bears special testimony to the personal attributes of God, the Triune God. In Christ God has made Himself manifest not only in all His personal attributes but in His moral attributes as well. It is through the revelation of God in Christ that we learn of the ultimate purposes of His love and righteousness.
Appendix to Revelation in Creation and in Christ I
The likeness of God: “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27). This decision of the Godhead to create man contains two important concepts, the image of God and the likeness of God.
1. The image of God: The word image in this connection may have a dual meaning; the first part, the word image suggests representation; as for example, the image on a coin or seal. Created man, as a rational being on earth, was to be God’s representative. Man was reminded of this after the deluge (Genesis 9:6).
The second part suggests that a moral fitness becomes such a representative.
The image of God in man has been greatly marred for he is no longer a true representative of God because of his fall in sin. Man no longer has any moral likeness to God. The idolatry into which man fell is full proof of this.
While here Christ was in the absolute what man should have been. Christ was the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).
Redeemed man eventually will bear the image of the Son of God (Romans 8: 29; 1 Corinthians 15:49). In this connection the image will be definitely moral for man will not be the representative of the divine when God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).
2. The likeness of God: It frequently has been said that man bears a likeness to God in that he is triunity even as God is a triunity; that man being a composite of spirit, soul and body is a reflection of the threefold manifestation of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This explanation may be partially true but more seems to be involved.
God is a rational being: perfect in intelligence, quick in perception and in all other mental faculties. In creating man after His likeness, He made him also a rational being with mental powers which elevate him far above the animals, and which enable him to fellowship with God.
See appendix to Christian Evidences I.
Appendix to Revelation in Creation and in Christ II
Godhead: The word rendered “Godhead” in Romans 1:20 in the Greek is the word “divinity.” It is another word altogether different from the word “Godhead” in Colossians 2:9.
In nature, ever since creation, God shows His divinity not only in the creating of the material universe but in sustaining the material universe: “By Him all things consist - subsist” (Colossians 1:17).
Man in his attempt to accomplish projects shows his humanity. His failures, imperfections and errors are a display of his humanity, as fallen.
Through the perfections of His workmanship, the precision of its form, the symmetry of its structure, the regularity of its operation, and the beauty of its appearance, God displays His divinity in creation.
Humanity is displayed by men; divinity is displayed by God; consequently, alone. Divinity in reality is God in self-manifestation; therefore, divinity is a manifestation of God in His triunity, in and since creation. The Father manifests divinity; the Son manifests divinity; the Spirit manifests divinity; it is, therefore not a great surprise that the translators of the King James Version have used the word Godhead in Romans 1:20.
Q Divine Revelation Through Providence
Providence is a term for God’s preservation and administration of the material Universe, and for His moral government over the affairs of men. It includes also the idea that men may obtain power and guidance from God to mould the course of events for the general good of mankind. Scripture substantiates this definition and states that God is the Saviour (Preserver) of all men, especially of those that believe (1 Timothy 4:10).
The annals of human history are full of incidents in which the hand of God was seen behind the acts of Providence. One of the earliest of these, one that is always contemporary, is the revelation of God in the rainbow. We see Him also in other natural phenomena, national events and in personal experiences.
In the Rainbow (Genesis 9:8-20)
The cross of Christ is frequently considered the token of the covenant of grace. The rainbow may well be considered the token of the covenant of Providence. This covenant, of course, was also made in grace.
Man’s sin and the deluge (Genesis 6:5-8): The deluge was a penal act of God resulting from human guilt. God determined to destroy (blot out) humanity from the earth. This He eventually did with a single reservation. Because “Noah found grace (favour) in the eyes of the Lord,” he and all his family were spared.
The covenant of Providence (Genesis 8:21-9:17): God set His bow in the clouds as the token of the covenant that He then made between Himself and the earth. He called Noah’s attention to the bow, and instructed him in its true significance.