Who is our God? Chapter 12


The paramount difficulty with some of our readers is that they are unable to see how God is One. It is natural that many should look upon Father and Son as two distinct and separate Persons or Individuals. It is freely admitted that Father and Son are Two, but to declare them two Persons only creates difficulties, and would destroy the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead. In our chapter 7 we sought to show that even the Old Testament reveals a certain two-ness within God. God was so all-glorious that no one could look upon the glory of Him who met Paul near Damascus. We have shown that the same God in the Hebrew Scriptures appeared at times in common human guise, talking and partaking of human food with men, who continued living. He appeared to Adam and Eve, who heard the voice (or sound) of Jehovah Elohim walking about in the Garden (Gen. 3:8). Voices and sounds do not normally walk about. Moreover, Adam and Eve hid themselves. From the voice? No; but "from the presence of Jehovah Elohim."

There is no hint here that Jehovah Elohim was invisible, or merely spoke from the sky. Abraham and Moses also talked with God face to face. Stephen states that it was "the God of the glory" who appeared to or was visualized by Abraham (Acts 7:2). He who usually dwelt in glory unapproachable condescended to appear to Abraham in lowly human form.

Who would reason that there were two Persons or two Gods in the Hebrew Scriptures? One visible and one invisible? Would it not be true rather to say that visibility and invisibility were two aspects or characteristics of Deity? The true Hebrew did not possess the privilege of being allowed to argue about the existence of God. Genesis takes God for granted. Besides, their traditions had taught the Hebrews that God had spoken to Adam and Eve, face to face. The Old Testament is destitute of any attempt to discriminate between two Gods, one visible and the other invisible. The Hebrew believed that these two aspects were those of one Deity. Is there in all the Old Testament one single hint that God the invisible and God as visible to human beings was Two Persons?

Luke 24:31 tells us of a new phenomenon which was due to the resurrection. Whenever two of the disciples recognized the Lord, He disappeared from them. Literally, "disappearable HE became from them." A. T. Robertson renders as "he vanished from their sight," but in a note says He "became invisible." He was now free of all human restrictions and had been invested with all authority in heaven and on earth. Do we not here have an approximation to the God invisible of the Hebrew Scriptures?

We would press our argument, that if the Hebrews could understand God as being both the transcendent (invisible and unapproachable) and as the immanent. (visible and near at hand), why should not a similar relationship satisfy us to-day, in the fact of Fatherhood and Sonship? This two-ness may help to clear up that strange verse, Gen. 19:24. Why is Jehovah mentioned twice? Are there here two Jehovahs? According to the primitive Hebrew text, in verse 18 Lot is standing before Jehovah, pleading for safety. When he and his wife and two daughters are safely into Zoar, we read, "And Jehovah causes it to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah sulphur and fire from-beside Jehovah from the heavens."

Sometimes is has been argued that because the Lord shrank from drinking the cup and facing the hour (Luke 22:42; Mark 14:41 ; Matt. 26:39,42), He must have been a different "Person" from His Father. The matter has been partly pointed out in The Differentiator (March and May, 1950) the Greek word thelO signifies very much what our English "wish" and "want" do. As a true and real Man, it was only natural that He should not wish to undergo that dread hour or drink that bitter cup. But otherwise He would not have been truly human at all.

Would it not be infinitely better to understand the apparent conflict as revealing the intense storm which must have been raging within the very heart of God himself? Are we ourselves not sometimes subjected to such an agony and struggle, which would pull us both ways at one time? All God was behind the atonement. He must have suffered incredibly more than any human being could suffer.

Nothing could be more absurd and irrational than to imagine that such a mighty event as the Atonement was carried through by God—invisible spirit—plus one specially chosen human being who was not derived directly from Holy Spirit. Only God could have settled the Sin question. No outsider could have helped Him. Christ was no outsider in any sense. In chapter 3 we sought to shew that Christ is the exact representation of God's substantial reality. Apart from Christ we cannot even contemplate God at all. If ever we endeavour to see God elsewhere than in His Son we lose God altogether, and lower His Son correspondingly. You will never find God by looking behind the shoulders of His Son, or trying to climb around Him so as to approach the Father. God, as spirit, is not a Person in the way we understand the word. Spirit in Scripture is "invisible might." Spirit is invisible and it possesses vast power. When the Hebrews thought of "spirit" (ruach), they also thought of a strong wind, as wind and spirit are one word in Hebrew.
We have no right to look for another Person behind or above the Son. Christ is our only guide to this other "Person" whom you are seeking. You cannot find God anywhere else. If you wish to find the Person of God, or His personality, look into the face of His Son. This is a very simple theology. We cannot make it simpler. Moreover it satisfies and gives great delight. It honours the Son.

We have shewn that Jehovah means God in manifestation. God becomes personal to us alone in His Son. Without such manifestation God remains invisible spirit, not A spirit, as that would localize Him.

In 1. Cor. 8:6 Paul makes it clear that to us there is one God, the Father (i.e. invisible spirit), out of whom are all things, and we for (or, unto) Him); and one Lord, Jesus Christ (i.e. a personal human being) through whom are all things, and we through Him. Very significantly Paul adds, "But not in all is there the knowledge (of this)." Alas, very few are clear concerning God and His Son.

God, as invisible spirit, is the source of all creation. All has come out of Him, even His Son (John 8:42). Invisible spirit to us becomes concrete and knowable in Christ Jesus, but in no other way. All things are through the Lord, Jesus Christ, who has bridged over the tremendous chasm which to us seems to separate spirit and matter. The Greek word dia (through) originally meant "between." The Son is the Agent between invisible spirit and mankind.

God, as invisible spirit, is Father in the sense that He is the origin and source of all creation.
Very vividly do I remember while walking along the rocky banks of a river many years ago the profound shock I got on realizing that God is spirit. Till then I had tried to think of God as Another, someone who stood behind or beside His Son, a little older looking perhaps.

Paul was writing about idols in 1. Cor. 8. An idol is a human representation of a god that had no reality. The idol was meant to be the god's counterpart. But the idol was not a separate person from the god. The idol was one with the god it represented, and the god was worshipped on the idol. The god was meant to be seen in the idol, but most of the idols were ugly and repulsive enough.

Christ and God are complementary. The Father and the Son are complementary. We cannot have the one without the other. Christ is the visible of the invisible. God is the invisible of the visible Christ. Christ is the Image, the perfect Image, of God. But why should that make Him another Person?

Let us now consider another aspect of God's two-ness. Sometimes we term a man a "character" because he possesses many characteristics. He is versatile or many-sided. His polarities may be pronounced. This may make him difficult to understand. To man he may be a lifelong riddle.
Such apparent polarities or antinomies we ought to expect in God. The Jews were continually being puzzled by the Lord's paradoxical statements (e.g. Luke 5:26; "We perceive paradoxical things to-day"). Who was this plain, ordinary-looking man who could both forgive sins and cure a paralytic on the spot?

Our studies on "Who is our God?" would be very incomplete if we did not endeavour to shew the connection between Christ Jesus and the God of Sinai. Connection there must be, if only for the reason that in Exodus 19:9, 18-20, we read that Jehovah came down in flaming fire and smoke, which at once makes one think of Him who comes down in flaming fire in 2. Thess. 2:8. It is understood that God the Father, being invisible ubiquitous spirit, never thus localizes Himself, or renders Himself visible, unless in His Son.

We are there logically shut up to the belief that the Jehovah who came down upon Sinai was He who afterwards exchanged the form of God for slave form. Pulsford has said that "Jesus was in the bosom of the great and terrible God of the Old Testament; the great and terrible God of the Old Testament is in the Lord Jesus of our New Testament."

Incessantly we encounter books by shallow scoffers who liken the awful God of Sinai, the God who brought the Flood upon the earth, the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, to a cruel, vindictive, blood-thirsty monster. But how can such people be acquainted with righteousness? These are the people who would let murderers off scot-free and at the same time persecute those who bewail the vices of the land.

Yet observe how intimate and friendly was Jehovah with Abraham and Moses; just as He still is with His own people who honour and fear Him.

Sometimes it happens among ourselves that the man or woman who seems superficially to be most forbidding and austere turns out upon better acquaintance to possess the softest of hearts and the most considerate of natures.

Superficially the God of Sinai was altogether terrifying and unbearable. Even Moses was terrified and trembling. The glory and majesty which enveloped perfect holiness and perfect righteousness and perfect truth were too dazzling for human eyes to gaze upon. The object of this awesome theophany was that the nation might fear God and not sin (Ex. 20:20). All men must learn this lesson ere they can appreciate God's grace. Jehovah could not on Sinai reveal His heart. Joseph for a time could not reveal his heart to his brethren, but seemed very stony-hearted. Yet all the time his heart was bursting. He could hide his heart, just as God on Sinai did.
But on the Cross the heart of God was no longer hidden. The God of Sinai has stooped to the lowest place in His own universe. Is it logical to believe that the Face seen on Sinai (Ex. 24:10, 11) was different from that seen on the Cross? On the Mount of Transfiguration Moses evidently recognized the Face he had seen long before. And surely Abraham, when he sits down in the Kingdom in days to come, will do likewise.

All through the centuries Christendom and the Church have been led astray through the seeming paradox presented by the terrible God of Sinai so emptying Himself as to appear as it were like a lamb dumb before its shearers. Yet we all admit God can work wonders. Is not this the biggest marvel in all history, in all the world? One requires a vast amount of credulity to believe that the Babe sitting upon Mary's knees was consciously ruling the Universe at the same time. The Lord had to progress in wisdom (Luke 2:52). He "got to know" or "grew to know" (eginOsken) what was in man (John 2:25), through that percipience which comes of deep humility and close contact with God's Spirit. Such knowledge was extraordinary and most uncommon, yet it was human knowledge. All this proves that we must take Matt. 24:36 and Mark 3:32 exactly as it stands. Dr. Bullinger was a most reverent and devout scholar and expositor, but sometimes his exegesis of the Greek was at fault. The Lord stated that He did not know when He would reappear from the sky, or when the age would terminate No one knew the date, neither the messengers or angels nor the Son—except the Father. The word "except" is in the Greek "if not" (ei mE). Dr. Bullinger felt obliged to explain this as meaning "if not Christ was the Father." He could not believe Christ had limited knowledge. Such a statement by the Lord, however, would not have been satisfactory, especially when Matt. 24:36 reads "except the Father alone."

Had the Lord known that very important date at that time (which some to-day think they can fix), it would no doubt have tended to upset the course of His remaining days upon earth, and the lives of His disciples. It has been suggested that He was unable to respond to the query of the disciples in Acts 1:6. Yet we must remember that He was now in resurrection life, invested now with all authority in heaven and on earth. What would have been the good of telling His disciples that the restoration of the Kingdom was delayed for two thousand years?

I have indicated that the Lord must have acquired much of His information from the Hebrew Scriptures, through which God spoke (Heb. 1:1). From His own observation He must soon have discovered that Israel was for the time being hopelessly insensible. Especially in the Psalms He must have discovered gradually that they spoke concerning Himself. Yet in these Hebrew Scriptures He must have come to understand many passages which to us are still obscure. For example, what made Him seem skeptical regarding the faith, in Luke 18:8, "Moreover, the Son of Man coming, consequently will He find faith on the earth?" Did He find this predicted in the Old Testament? If so, where? And whence did He get the important prophecies found in Luke 21, which covered "eras of Gentiles"?

It should be a most fascinating study could we commence with His uttered prophecies and seek to discover their sources in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Our endeavour in these chapters has been to build up a picture of our God which will be found in harmony with every germane and vital revelation concerning Him. The sects of Christendom have produced an impossible and absurd hybrid—one who could act like a frail human being one moment, and as God Almighty the next moment.

We shall repeat our question, which so far no one has been able to answer. How could the Lord, while He was on earth, be conscious or realize that He was God, or possess, as some put it, "full Deity," if He admitted that His knowledge of coming events was limited? Would not His admitted lack of knowledge conceal from Him for the time being the clear consciousness that He was, what we with all our heart and soul and mind believe He was, God manifest in flesh?

End Chapter 12 (Alexander Thomson)

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009