The Supreme Revelation
There are no contradictions in the Word of God; it must not be interpreted according to private or human methods; the Bible is its own dictionary and therefore, its own interpreter; God’s ways and humanity’s way are entirely different from each other; the only way in which God destroys is by trying to save; and any destruction eventuating is because of rejection by human beings and not the action of God.
This being firmly established; the groundwork has been prepared for studying the various incidents of history in which God has played a part. Reference is made here to the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Plagues of Egypt, the execution of those who worshipped the golden calf, the stoning of the Sabbath breaker, and the adulterer, the glutton, Achan, the slaughter of the Canaanites, the obliteration of Sennacherib’s army, and many other such events, right through to the concluding one – the final liquidation in the lake of fire.
Evidence will now be presented to show that the Old Testament is not the place to begin examining the character of God. The convincing argument for this is that not even the holy angels were able to understand God’s character as it was revealed in the Old Testament. Not until the advent of Christ, and ultimately the demonstration of infinite love and justice given on Calvary, were they able to see God as He really is. At the same time, Satan was revealed in his true light. For the first time, the angels were truly convinced of the righteousness of God’s cause. The scriptural evidences for this has already been established and quoted but it is appropriate to quote them again.
Not until the death of Christ was the character of Satan clearly revealed to the angels or to the unfallen worlds. The archapostate had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings had not understood his principles. They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion (The Desire of Ages, p. 758).
There is a direct relationship between the misunderstanding of Satan’s character and the falsification of God’s. Therefore, to whatever extent the angels were not able to see the true nature of Satan and his work during the Old Testament era, then to that extent they were unable to correctly comprehend God’s principles of character and conduct. If holy angels, mighty in intellectual and spiritual power and personally involved in God’s workings in the Old Testament dispensation still had clouded views of God, then it is impossible for human minds to understand God from the evidence alone.
What was necessary for them is even more so for earthbound travelers seeking the knowledge of God, which is life eternal. This search must start with the finest and fullest existing revelation of Him – the life of Christ and the marvel of Calvary. Entering the study at this point will quickly impress on the searcher’s mind the necessity of penetrating beyond the commonly held view of the Old Testament God.
For many people, the Old Testament revelation of God, compared with Christ’s example in the New Testament, has provided an altogether contradictory picture. God is seen as a stern, exacting lawmaker who will not permit His will to be thwarted, while Christ is viewed as a tender, benign, loving forgiver of all sins. To God is ascribed one character and to Christ another. This destroys the precious truth that Christ and the Father are one in authority, character, spirit, aims and works. The belief is spawned that Christ is the appeaser of the Father’s fury, influencing Him to act contrary to His real character by showing mercy when it is not in His heart or nature to do so.
It is grossly inconsistent to hold such a position and only possible if the two ideas are carefully compartmentalized into separate areas of the brain so that they are never thought of at the same time. Let them be brought together, and the honest, thoughtful student will realize that one or the other has to go. Either Christ and the Father are one, or they are not.
Solving this problem is not difficult, for the Scriptures are emphatic that the Father and Son are one in every particular. Jesus testified to this repeatedly.
- I and My Father are one (John 10:37, 38)
- If I do not the words of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him (John 10:37, 38).
- If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him, and have seen Him, Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father?”Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you and I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves (John 14:7-11).
- Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner (John 5:19).
By these words, Christ, on His Father’s behalf, denied that there was any difference whatsoever between Them in character and work. Both are joined in the most intimate way, in dedicated purpose to save the perishing. Christ does not have to appease the Father, for He is doing exactly what the Father has commissioned Him to do.
Evidence was presented back in post number 3 that the specific method employed by Satan to drive wedges between God and His creatures was the false presentation of Gods character.
Sin originated in self-seeking. Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in heaven. He sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God, attributing to Him the desire for self-exaltation. With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator. Thus he deceived angels. Thus he deceived men. He led them to doubt the word of God, and to distrust His goodness. Because God is a God of justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God, and the night of woe settled down upon the world (The Desire of Ages pp. 21, 22).
Satan on earth used the same misrepresentation of God’s character as he had in heaven. He portrayed God as severe and tyrannical. Satan when he left heaven, then instilled this same cunning lie upon Eve and through Eve Adam.
Adam believed the falsehood of Satan, and through his misrepresentation of the character of God, Adam’s life was changed and marred. He disobeyed the commandment of God and did the very thing the Lord told him not to do. Through disobedience Adam fell; but had he endured the test, and been loyal to God, the floodgates of woe would not have been opened upon our world. Through belief in Satan’s misrepresentation of God, man’s character and destiny were changed, but if men will believe in the Word of God, they will be transformed in mind and character, and fitted for eternal life.
You see, Satan’s method of destroying the unity of the universe can only be counted by the restoration of the truth about God. That character was manifested in all God’s dealings with both loyal and rebellious individuals and nations between the fall and the first advent, but human beings, influenced and blinded by Satan, were not able to see the truths offered there.
Therefore, an incontrovertible revelation of God’s character had to be supplied to counteract Satan’s lies and make clear the real message of the Old Testament. There was only one being who could give such a demonstration and that was Christ, “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3) was commissioned by God to do so.
- The Saviour was deeply anxious for his disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory (Character) of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power.
- Christ came to earth to reveal to men the character of His Father, and His life was filled with deeds divine tenderness and compassion (Patriarchs and Prophets p. 469).
- Jesus the express image of the Father’s person, the effulgence of his glory; the self-denying Redeemer, throughout His pilgrimage of love on earth was a living representative of the character of the law of God. In His life it is made manifest that heaven-born love, Christlike principles, underline the laws of eternal rectitude (God’s amazing Grace p. 102).
So total is the revelation of God’s character as given by Christ that “all that man needs to know or can know of God has been revealed in the life and character of His Son”
There is not a single reason for doubting the veracity of these statement. Jesus confirmed the truth of it in His words to Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not know Me. Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’” (John 14:9).
As a description of this work, the title, “the Word of God,” is most appropriate. Falling from the lips of one who is entirely honest and truthful, words are an exact expression of the thinking and character of the speaker. Upon this earth, Jesus Christ was the Word of God.
That is, He did not speak His own words but those of the Father. He did not do His own deeds but the deeds of the One who had sent him. ‘He was the Word of God – God’s thought made audible”
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works (John 14:10).
Then Jesus said to them, “when you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak of these things” (John 8:28).
Therefore, great care should be taken to understand this aspect of Christ’s mission. The truth that Jesus was the very expression of the thought and character of God should hold so firm a place in the mind, that no matter what contradictory pictures of God may be presented, the only acceptable ones are those in harmony with Christ’s representations of God. In the New Testament, Christ gave us the true picture of God. Let the truth be forever and without question established in the mind. As surely as the Lord is consistent, then the Old Testament presentation of Him must coincide with the New Testament. The student must not rest until the two are harmonized.
To appreciate the full value of Christ’s matchless presentation of God’s character, it is necessary to recognize how all-encompassing it was. Did Christ come to present a partial view of God? Was it simply a shifting of emphasis? Did God, feeling that He had most satisfactorily convinced men in the Old Testament of the sterner and uncompromising side of His nature, leave Christ to emphasize the qualities of love, forgiveness, and mercy?
Such a view is adopted by many as a solution to what they feel would otherwise be a contradiction between the message of the old and New Testaments, but it is not the message of Scriptures themselves. Therein, it is asserted that Christ’s manifestation of the Father was complete. It leaved nothing more to be shown. This is not saying that everything about God’s character can be understood in one contact with the Saviour, for it will take eternity to see all that Christ came to tell. What must be recognized and accepted as truth is that the revelation of God in the face of Christ is complete. Therefore it is written: All that men needs to know or can know of God has been revealed in the life and character of His Son.
This statement is specific, comprehensive, and accurate. It leaves no space for the supposition that Christ revealed only a certain aspect of God’s character or even the larger part of it. It does not admit to the notion that Christ’s ministry provided a further stage in this revelation with final unfolding to be given in the future. All that remains is for the eager, spiritual child of God, through earnest study and prayer, to come into possession of this richest of all treasure. Some may counter that eternal life is the richest of treasures. This is true and in its truth establishes this point, for the knowledge of God is eternal life.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).
Christ Himself declared the totality of His revelation of His Father. “Then Jesus answered and said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).
Therefore as certainly as His life, so filled with activity, contained nothing done of Himself or from Himself, all that He did was of God and from God. It was the Father who was acting out His life and character through the medium of His beloved Son. Therefore, in Christ’s every act, we see God at work and know thereby exactly what the Father does in relation to His subjects, be they sinful or righteous. This is confirmed in Christ’s words: “for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).
The witness of Christ here is not simply in these terms, “what things He does,” but Whatever (Things) He does.” The addition of this word means that everything the Father does is included. This is a word that carried the idea of completeness, of infinitude. Therefore, Christ is attesting that everything the Father does, without any exceptions, the Son does likewise.
The student must not fail to observe the insertion of the word “likewise.” It adds significant meaning to the Savior’s message. It is important that we believe that Christ did upon this earth everything the Father did. It is equally essential for us to know that He did it likewise as the Father did. Not only did He do all the Father did, but He did it exactly as the Father did it.
In a further attempt to argue that the revelation of God by Christ was incomplete, it may be claimed that during the earthly interval Christ did not have a full knowledge of the works of God. Such an argument is stifled in the very next verse where Christ claimed complete knowledge of the ways and works of God. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel (John 5:20).
What a challenge this is to the old ideas about God. Every idea in which God is seen as the destroyer of those who refuse His offers of mercy, can be sustained only if we find Christ doing the same thing. What citadels of error must collapse before the onslaught of this impregnable truth! What an entirely new and glorious structure of living verities about the Father must now arise from the wreckage of those edifices of lies?
Consider the time-honored theories about God. He is viewed as One who initially seeks the salvation of His creatures. From His position of supreme authority, He calls upon human beings to repent of their sins and obey His will. He demonstrates patience while they play with His appeals, but the time comes when that patience is exhausted. Then He arises to perform His “strange act.” With terrifying power, wielded in His own hands, He wipes the rebellious from the face of the earth, thus demonstrating that He is not a God to be scorned. He thus asserts His will by the naked use of destructive force, convincing men that they must obey Him or perish. This is the view of the traditionalist.
Is this what God does? Is this a true picture of His patterns of Behavior? It is important to know the answer, for it is not correct, then it is a lying representation of God designed by the devil to separate us from Him and to effect our destruction. Certainly, it is the time – honored view of God and His ways, but that does not make it the truth.
Can this pattern of behavior be found in Christ’s life on this earth! It cannot be found. Search as exhaustively as possible, Investigate every word and act. Listen to His inspired utterances. See Him dealing with those who rejected His last appeals of mercy. Behold Him receiving abuse and mockery in return for love and mercy and never once can any suggestion be found on His even entertaining an idea of doing as humans have understood God to do. Not even by a thought did He enter into any work whereby He would use the mighty power available to Him to destroy the impenitent.
Humans have long seen God as having two faces. One of these is the forgiving, merciful face, which he turns toward individuals during the period of pleading for their repentance, while the other is the face of thunder as He is about to destroy them. Christ exhibited no such duality. Throughout His life only one role was ever played by Him – that of a Saviour and a Saviour only. Not once do we find Him lifting His hand to destroy anyone. He lived only to bless, to heal, to restore, and to save.
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38).
Christ stood at the head of humanity in the garb of humanity. So full of sympathy and love was His attitude that the poorest were not afraid to come to Him. He was kind to all, easily approached by the most lowly. He went from house to house, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting the mourners, soothing the afflicted, speaking peace to the distressed . . .
He came as an expression of the Perfect Love of God, not to crush, not to judge and condemn, but to heal every weak, defective character, to save men and women from Satan’s power (Welfare Ministry, p 53, 54 emphasis added).
Christ, the outshining of the Fathers glory, came to the world as its light. He came to represent God to men, and of Him it is written that He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and went about doing good (Christ Object Lessons pp. 416, 417).
Some may raise the objection that Christ cursed and destroyed the barren fig tree and that He drove the moneychangers out of the temple on two occasions by using a whip to do so. Both these events will be studied in our next post. The presentation of scriptural evidences will show that the wasting of the fig tree was not an act of destruction on Christ’s part. It will be shown that He related Himself to it exactly as He does to every sinner, by permitting His protection and life to be withdrawn from it. Likewise, it will be shown that it was not by personal, physical force that He was successful in clearing the moneychangers.
These are the only events that could be offered as an exception of the rule of Christ ministry. When it is successfully shown that they are not an exception, then it will be recognized that Christ did only good while upon earth. He came as a Saviour only.
For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).
At this point, some will be thinking that if they accept Christ’s life as the full complete picture of who God is, then how will they ever understand God’s actions in the Old Testament?
Let all be earnestly encouraged to take hold of Christ’s words by faith. Jesus said that He came to do the works of His Father. He told us that to see Him is to see the Father. Therefore, faith in those words assures us that the picture of the Father, which Christ came to give, is the truth in regard to the Father. Faith then comforts us with the happy thought that there is a better and more beautiful interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures than we have had in the past. Thus we are filled with eager anticipation as we return to the study of events prior to the first advent of the Word of God, equipped with new eyes. To our joy and peace, it will be seen that God is a Saviour and a Saviour only.
In our next post we will explore: Urged to Destroy
We will attempt to answer these questions: When the disciples called for fire on the heads of the Samaritans, who refused hospitality to Jesus and them, were they in harmony with the God of their Scriptures, our “Old Testament”?
If so, why did Jesus rebuke them?
When Jesus said He did not come to destroy people’s lives, was He only referring to the specific time or His earthly mission?
Will He at a later time come to destroy human lives?
Was the cursing of the fig tree an act of destruction?
Was the driving of the moneychangers from the temple an act of physical force?
If you have not had the opportunity to read the pervious posts in this series, I invite you to click on the links below and prayerfully consider what the Bible says about God and His Character and His law and government.
|01 He Wanted to Teach Respect||05 Approaching the Study of God|
|02 Why a Tree to Teach Respect||06 The Constitution of the Government of God|
|03 The End of the Great Controversy||07 A Perfect Law|
|04 Isaiah’s Wonderful Prophecy||08 God’s Principles Tested|
|09 A Summary of God’s Constitution||13 The Supreme Revelation|
|10 Contrasting Statements||14 Urged to Destroy|
|11 Statements and Principles||15 Magnifying the Law|
|12 Does God Destroy – But How||16 Go the Second Mile|