KNOWING THE FATHER THROUGH THE SON

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What is God like? The best way for us to know what God is like is to look at the Son. Jesus said, “If you have known me, you have known the Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (Jn. 14:7). Jesus said in Matthew 11:27, “All things are delivered to me of my Father, and no man knows the Son but the Father, neither knows any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” In 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6, “Christ is said to be the ‘image of God,’ and that God ‘had shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ Where the apostle expresseth two things: 1, that Christ is the image of God; 2, that the knowledge of the glory of God, or the glorious God, is discovered in the face or person of Christ. He is the image of God; he is indeed the essential image of God, the natural image of God, possessing in one essence with the Father all the glories and perfections of the Deity.”[1] The Bible teaches us that Jesus is fully divine—that he possesses all the perfections of deity. There is nothing lacking in him. There is nothing in him but perfection.

This truth was challenged by a man named Arius who taught Jesus was not fully divine. Arius taught there was a time when the Son did not exist. For Arius, the Son was a creature who was made by the Father. If the Son was but a creature, then he could not be the perfect image of God. Hall noted that

Arius seems to be picturing the Father and Son as bottles or decanters that are filled by each other’s contents; in a similar fashion a prophet of God experienced this type of participation when filled with the Spirit. In this way Arius hopes to preserve the uniqueness of God while simultaneously elevating the “Son” to divine status, by participation rather than nature. For instance, when Jesus gently rebukes Philip for not recognizing “that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (Jn 14:10), Arius understands this participation or indwelling to be similar to that which other human beings have at times experienced, though Jesus experiences it to a much greater extent or degree.[2]

Christ was, according to Arius, no more than a glorified creature. This doctrine is held today, in various ways, by Mormons, Muslims, and other heretical sects claiming to be Christian. Athanasius responded that the Son was not filled with a measure of God’s deity. Instead, the Son is fully Divine. Athanasius appealed to, among other passages, Colossians 2:9 which teaches “that in him dwells all the fulness of the divine nature bodily.” Since the divine nature dwells fully in Christ, we can study Jesus to see the divine nature and how the Divine then interacts with humans.

In this study I hope we can look through the Gospel of John to see what God is like and how he relates to us. When we finish this study, we will see that God is omnipotent self-existing sovereign who has chosen to form relationships with his people so that they may be exalted as they are caught up in his own glorification.

 

THE SON IS THE ETERNAL GOD AND SOVEREIGN JUDGE

John 1:1-5 echoes Genesis 1:1, but it explains further things were like before creation. The Bible teaches that the Word was with the Father before time began. The Bible also taught that Jesus was divine (the Word was God)—Jn. 5:18; Jn. 10:30. John 1:3 teaches that Jesus is the Creator of all things. Jesus is the Creator of all things because in him is life (Jn. 1:4). Jesus, the life, is also the light (Jn. 1:4-5). Just as the Sun cannot exist without light, Jesus is the light of the Father. The light pierced the darkness and cannot be extinguished. Everything other than Christ, therefore, is darkness and pulls us away from God.

John 3 reveals God’s love for the world. God has sent his Son into the world as an act of love (Jn. 3:16). This reveals God’s love and will for his people to be saved. God has also limited salvation to those who are in Christ. This reveals God’s judgement. Those who do not believe in Christ stand condemned (Jn. 3:18). Jesus, who does not change, is the hinge of eternal destinies. How we react to him determines our eternal destiny (Jn. 3:19-21).

 

THE SON’S ACTIONS ARE PROOFS OF HIS DEITY

The wedding in John 2 provided Jesus with the opportunity to demonstrate his life giving power. Wine in the OT was a symbol of God’s blessings and life. As Jesus turned the water into wine, he demonstrated that he is able to give life. Jesus has life in himself because he is the radiance of the Father (Heb. 1). Since Jesus has life in himself, he is able to give life to whomever he wills. As the sacrifice he atoned for sin (Jn. 3:16), but he also gives life. Jesus brought life to the official’s son (Jn. 4:46-54). Jesus said, “as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will” (Jn. 5:22). Jesus gives physical and spiritual life (Jn. 5:28-29).

The life-giving nature of Christ is further demonstrated in his feeding of the 5000 in John 6. He is the bread of Heaven that came down to give us life. Jesus was able to walk on the water which was viewed as the resting place of spirits (Jn. 6:16-21). Jesus emphasized the impact of his works when he said, “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn. 10:37-38). Since Jesus’ works testified to his deity, he was able to affirm, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (Jn. 11:25-26). Those around him with ready hearts said “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (Jn. 11:28).

 

THE SON’S RESURRECTION IS A DEMONSTRATION OF GOD’S PURPOSE

Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have com to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (Jn. 17:27). In verses 31 and 32 of John 17, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, with draw all people to myself.”

God sent the Son to glorify himself, to judge the world, and to draw all people to himself. These three goals reveal that God must be glorified above all because he is worthy above all, that God’s holiness demands judgment in the world, and that God loves his people in such a way that he is willing to send his own Son to save them from sin. Paul took up this argument in 1 Corinthians 15:13-22 when he wrote:

 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. 15 Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ—whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. 20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Christ’s resurrection validates and empowers the Christian message. Without the resurrection Christianity is nothing, but Christ has been raised and Christianity is everything. “Χριστός ανέστη εκ νεκρών, θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας, και τοις εν τοις μνήμασι ζωήν χαρισάμενος” or “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, granting life.”

INVITATION

God’s nature and revelation of himself in Christ causes us to be in awe of him and to recognize our own need for salvation from him by him. Lewis A. Drummond of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said: “When everything else is over and said and done, only one thing ultimately matters: Do you know God? Can you face eternity with Him?”[3] He is waiting to bless you—to save you. Will you be saved? “Augustine declared: “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.”[4] What can you hold which will be better than God himself? Empty your hands and receive him fully and him only.

 

 

 

[1] Stephen Charnock, The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, vol. 4 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson; G. Herbert, 1864–1866), 111.

[2] Christopher A. Hall, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2002), 37–38.

[3] G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1986), 105.

[4] G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1986), 145.

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