The Essential Knowledge: A Personal GOD
The mighty power that works through all nature and sustains all things is not, as some men of science represent, merely an all-pervading principle, an actuating energy. God is a spirit; yet He is a personal being, for man was made in His image.
Nature Is not God
God’s handiwork in nature is not God Himself in nature. The things of nature are an expression of God’s character; by them we may understand His love, His power, and His glory; but we are not to regard nature as God. The artistic skill of human beings produces very beautiful workmanship, things that delight the eye and these things give us something of the idea of the designer; but the thing made is not the man. It is not the work, but the workman, that is counted worthy of honor. So, while nature is an expression of God’s thought, it is not nature but the God of nature that is to be exalted.
“The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth,
These shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens.”
“The portion of Jacob is not like these;
For He is the former of all things.”
“He hath made the earth by His power,
He hath established the world by His wisdom,
And by His understanding hath He stretched out the heavens.”
— Jeremiah 10:11, 16, 12, A.R.V.
“Seek Him that maketh the Pleiades and Orion,
And turneth the shadow of death into the morning,
And maketh the day dark with night;
That calleth for the waters of the sea,
And poureth them out upon the face of the earth
(Jehovah is His name).”
— Amos 5:8, A.R.V.
A Personal God Created Man
In the creation of man was manifest the agency of a personal God. When God had made man in His image, the human form was perfect in all its arrangements, but it was without life. Then a personal, self-existing God breathed into that form the breath of life, and man became a living, breathing, intelligent being. All parts of the human organism were put in action. The heart, the arteries, the veins, the tongue, the hands, the feet, the senses, the perceptions of the mind—all began their work, and all were placed under law. Man became a living soul. Through Jesus Christ a personal God created man and endowed him with intelligence and power.
Our substance was not hid from Him when we were made in secret. His eyes saw our substance, yet being imperfect; and in His book all our members were written, when as yet there were none of them.
Above all lower orders of being, God designed that man, the crowning work of His creation, should express His thought and reveal His glory. But man is not to exalt himself as God.
“Make a joyful noise unto Jehovah….
Serve Jehovah with gladness:
Come before His presence with singing.
“Know ye that Jehovah, He is God:
It is He that hath made us, and we are His;
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise:
Give thanks unto Him, and bless His name.”
“Exalt ye Jehovah our God,
And worship at His holy hill;
For Jehovah our God is holy.”
— Psalm 100:1-4; 99:9, A.R.V.
God Revealed in CHRIST
As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. Jesus, the outshining of the Father’s glory, “and the express image of His person” ( Hebrews 1:3), was on earth found in fashion as a man. As a personal Saviour He came to the world. As a personal Saviour He ascended on high. As a personal Saviour He intercedes in the heavenly courts. Before the throne of God in our behalf ministers “One like unto the Son of man.” Revelation 1:13.
Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator. No man has seen God at any time except as He is revealed through Christ.
“I and My Father are one,” Christ declared. “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” John 10:30; Matthew 11:27.
Christ came to teach human beings what God desires them to know. In the heavens above, in the earth, in the broad waters of the ocean, we see the handiwork of God. All created things testify to His power, His wisdom, His love. But not from the stars or the ocean or the cataract can we learn of the personality of God as it is revealed in Christ.
God saw that a clearer revelation than nature was needed to portray both His personality and His character. He sent His Son into the world to reveal, so far as could be endured by human sight, the nature and the attributes of the invisible God.
Had God desired to be represented as dwelling personally in the things of nature,—in the flower, the tree, the spire of grass,—would not Christ have spoken of this to His disciples when He was on the earth? But never in the teaching of Christ is God thus spoken of. Christ and the apostles taught clearly the truth of the existence of a personal God.
Christ revealed all of God that sinful human beings could bear without being destroyed. He is the divine Teacher, the Enlightener. Had God thought us in need of revelations other than those made through Christ and in His written word, He would have given them.
Christ’s Revelation of God to the Disciples
Let us study the words that Christ spoke in the upper chamber on the night before His crucifixion. He was nearing His hour of trial, and He sought to comfort His disciples, who were to be so severely tempted and tried.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” He said; “ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you….
“Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him….
“Lord, show us the Father,” said Philip, “and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” John 14:1-10.
The disciples did not yet understand Christ’s words concerning His relation to God. Much of His teaching was still dark to them. They had asked many questions that revealed their ignorance of God’s relation to them and to their present and future interests. Christ desired them to have a clearer, more distinct knowledge of God.
“These things have I spoken unto you in parables,” He said; “but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in parables, but I shall show you plainly of the Father.” John 16:25, margin.
When on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples, they understood the truths that Christ had spoken in parables. The teachings that had been mysteries to them were made clear. The understanding that came to them with the outpouring of the Spirit made them ashamed of their fanciful theories. Their suppositions and interpretations were foolishness when compared with the knowledge of heavenly things which they now received. They were led by the Spirit, and light shone into their once darkened understanding.
But the disciples had not yet received the complete fulfillment of Christ’s promise. They received all the knowledge of God that they could bear, but the complete fulfillment of the promise that Christ would show them plainly of the Father was yet to come. Thus it is today. Our knowledge of God is partial and imperfect. When the conflict is ended and the Man Christ Jesus acknowledges before the Father His faithful workers, who, in a world of sin, have borne true witness for Him, they will understand clearly what now are mysteries to them.
Christ took with Him to the heavenly courts His glorified humanity. To those who receive Him, He gives power to become the sons of God, that at last God may receive them as His, to dwell with Him throughout eternity. If, during this life, they are loyal to God, they will at last “see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” Revelation 22:4. And what is the happiness of heaven but to see God? What greater joy could come to the sinner saved by the grace of Christ than to look upon the face of God and know Him as Father?
Testimony of Scripture
The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?” Hebrews 1:1-5.
God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.
Jesus said to the Jews: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work…. The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth.” John 5:17-20.
Here again is brought to view the personality of the Father and the Son, showing the unity that exists between them.
This unity is expressed also in the seventeenth chapter of John, in the prayer of Christ for His disciples:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” John 17:20-23.
Wonderful statement! The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one.
The relation between the Father and the Son, and the personality of both, are made plain in this scripture also:
“Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying,
Behold, the man whose name is the Branch:
And He shall grow up out of His place;
And He shall build the temple of Jehovah;…
And He shall bear the glory,
And shall sit and rule upon His throne;
And He shall be a priest upon His throne;
And the counsel of peace shall be between Them both.”
— Zechariah 6:12, 13, A. R. V.
“The Everlasting God”
In the word, God is spoken of as “the everlasting God.” This name embraces past, present, and future. God is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the Eternal One.
“The eternal God is Thy dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms:
And He thrust out the enemy from before thee,
And said, Destroy.
And Israel dwelleth in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of corn and wine;
Yea, His heavens drop down dew.
Happy art thou, O Israel:
Who is like unto thee,
A people saved by the Lord,
The shield of thy help,
And that is the sword of thy excellency.”
— Deuteronomy 33:27-29, R. V.
“Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.
Thou turnest man to dust,
And sayest, Return, ye children of men.
For a thousand years in Thy sight
Are but as yesterday when it is past,
And as a watch in the night.
Thou carriest them away as with a flood;
They are as a sleep:
In the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up;
In the evening it is cut down, and withereth.”
— Psalm 90:2-6, A. R. V., margin.
“So teach us to number our days,
That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
“O satisfy us early with Thy mercy;
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
“Make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us,
And the years wherein we have seen evil.
Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants,
And Thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us:
And establish Thou the work of our hands upon us;
Yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.”
— Psalm 90:12, 14-17.
“The righteous cried, and Jehovah heard,
And delivered them out of all their troubles.
Jehovah is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart,
And saveth such as are of a contrite spirit.”
— Psalm 93:1, 2.
“All His work is done in faithfulness.
He loveth righteousness and justice:
The earth is full of the loving-kindness of Jehovah.”
“Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah,
The people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.”
“Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear Him,
Upon them that hope in His loving-kindness;
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
“Our soul hath waited for Jehovah:
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.”
— Psalm 33:4, 5, 12, 18-21, A. R. V.
“I sought Jehovah, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked unto Him, and were radiant;
And their faces shall never be confounded.
This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
“The angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them
that fear Him,
And delivereth them.
O taste and see that Jehovah is good:
Blessed is the man that taketh refuge in Him.”
“O fear Jehovah, ye His saints;
For there is no want to them that fear Him.
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger;
But they that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing.”
“The righteous cried, and Jehovah heard,
And delivered them out of all their troubles.
Jehovah is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart,
And saveth such as are of a contrite spirit.”
— Psalm 34:4-10, 17, 18, A. R. V.
“The Lord redeemeth the soul of His servants:
And none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate.”
— Verse 22.
“Jehovah is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness.
He will not always chide;
Neither will He keep His anger forever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins,
Nor rewarded us after our iniquities.
“For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His loving-kindness toward them that fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far hath He removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children,
So Jehovah pitieth them that fear Him.
For He knoweth our frame;
He remembereth that we are dust.
“As for man, his days are as grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone;
And the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the loving-kindness of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him,
And His righteousness unto children’s children;
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those that remember His precepts to do them.”
— Psalm 103:8-18, A. R. V.
His Providential Care
Our God has heaven and earth at His command, and He knows just what we need. We can see only a little way before us; “but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13. Above the distractions of the earth He sits enthroned; all things are open to His divine survey; and from His great and calm eternity He orders that which His providence sees best.
Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father’s notice. Satan’s hatred against God leads him to delight in destroying even the dumb creatures. It is only through God’s protecting care that the birds are preserved to gladden us with their songs of joy. But He does not forget even the sparrows. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31.
“Bless Jehovah, O my soul.
O Jehovah my God, Thou art very great;
Thou art clothed with honor and majesty:
Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment;
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain;
Who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters;
Who maketh the clouds His chariot;
Who walketh upon the wings of the wind;
Who maketh winds His messengers;
Flames of fire His ministers;
“Who laid the foundations of the earth,
That it should not be moved forever.
Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a vesture;
The waters stood above the mountains.
At Thy rebuke they fled;
At the voice of Thy thunder they hasted away
(The mountains rose, the valleys sank down)
Unto the place which Thou hadst founded for them.
Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over;
That they turn not again to cover the earth.
“He sendeth forth springs into the valleys;
They run among the mountains;
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild asses quench their thirst.
By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation;
They sing among the branches.
He watereth the mountains from His chambers:
The earth is filled with the fruit of Thy works.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
And herb for the service of man;
“That He may bring forth food out of the earth,
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
And oil to make his face to shine
And bread that strengtheneth man’s heart.
The trees of Jehovah are filled with moisture,
The cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted;
Where the birds make their nests:
As for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The rocks are a refuge for the conies.
“He appointed the moon for seasons:
The sun knoweth his going down.
Thou makest darkness, and it is night,
Wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth.
The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.
The sun ariseth, they get them away,
And lay them down in their dens.
Man goeth forth unto his work
And to his labor until the evening.
“O Jehovah, how manifold are Thy works!
In wisdom hast Thou made them all:
The earth is full of Thy riches.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
Wherein are things creeping innumerable,
Both small and great beasts.
There go the ships;
There is leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to play therein.
These wait all for Thee,
That Thou mayest give them their food in due season.
Thou givest unto them, they gather;
Thou openest Thy hand,
They are satisfied with good.
Thou hidest Thy face,
They are troubled;
Thou takest away their breath,
And return to their dust.
Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit,
They are created;
And Thou renewest the face of the ground.
“Let the glory of Jehovah endure forever;
Let Jehovah rejoice in His works:
Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth;
He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing unto Jehovah as long as I live:
I will sing praise to my God while I have any being.
Let my meditation be sweet unto Him:
I will rejoice in Jehovah.”
— Psalm 104:1-34, A. R. V.
“Thou that art the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of them that are afar off upon the sea:
Who by His strength setteth fast the mountains,
Being girded about with might:
Who stilleth the roaring of the seas, …
And the tumult of the peoples….
Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice….
Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness;
And Thy paths drop fatness.”
— Psalm 65:5-11, A. R. V.
“Jehovah upholdeth all that fall,
And raiseth up all those that are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait for Thee;
And Thou givest them their food in due season.
Thou openest Thy hand,
And satisfiest the desire of every living thing.”
— Psalm 145:14-16, A. R. V.
His Long-Suffering Mercy
No earthly parent ever pleaded so earnestly with an erring child as He who made us pleads with the transgressor. No human, loving interest ever followed the impenitent with invitations so tender:
“Thou hast not called upon Me, O Jacob;
but Thou hast been weary of Me, O Israel.”
— Isaiah 43:22.
“O My people, what have I done unto thee?
And wherein have I wearied thee?”
— Micah 6:3.
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him,
And called My son out of Egypt.”
— Hosea 11:1.
“Jehovah’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.
He found him in a desert land,
And in the waste howling wilderness;
He compassed him about, He cared for him,
He kept him as the apple of His eye.
As an eagle that stirreth up her nest,
That fluttereth over her young,
He spread abroad His wings, He took them,
He bare them on His pinions.”
— Deuteronomy 32:9-11, A. R. V.
“They kept not the covenant of God,
And refused to walk in His law.”
— Psalm 78:10.
“The more the prophets called them, the more they went from them….
Yet I taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them on My arms;
But they knew not that I healed them.
I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love….
My people are bent on backsliding from Me:
Though they call them to Him that is on high,
None at all will exalt Him.”
Hosea 11:2-7, A. R. V.
“But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,
And destroyed them not:
Yea, many a time turned He His anger away,
And did not stir up all His wrath.
For He remembered that they were but flesh;
A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.”
Psalm 78:38, 39.
Though He “delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy’s hand,” yet He said, “My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail.” Psalm 78:61; 89:33.
“Is Ephraim My dear son? is he a pleasant [Authorized Version] child? for as often as I speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore My heart yearneth for him.” Jeremiah 31:20, A. R. V.
“How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?
How shall I cast thee off, Israel?
How shall I make thee as Admah?
How shall I set thee as Zeboiim?
My heart is turned within Me,
My compassions are kindled together.
I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger,
I will not return to destroy Ephraim:
For I am God, and not man;
The Holy One in the midst of thee;
And I will not come in wrath.”
— Hosea 11:8, 9, A. R. V.
“O Israel, return unto Jehovah thy God;
For thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
Take with you words,
And return unto Jehovah: say unto Him,
Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good….
Assyria shall not save us;
We will not ride upon horses;
Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands,
Ye are our gods;
For in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.”
— Hosea 14:1-3, A. R. V.
“They shall walk after Jehovah. . . .
The children shall come trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling as a bird out of Egypt,
And as a dove out of the land of Assyria;
And I will make them to dwell in their houses, saith Jehovah.”
— Hosea 11:10, 11, A. R. V.
“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely;
For Mine anger is turned away from him.
I will be as the dew unto Israel;
He shall blossom as the lily,
And cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
His branches shall spread,
And his beauty shall be as the olive tree,
And his smell as Lebanon.
They that dwell under his shadow shall return;
They shall revive as the grain,
And blossom as the vine….
Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?
I have answered, and will regard him:
I am like a green fir tree;
From Me is thy fruit found.
“Who is wise, that he may understand these things?
Prudent, that he may know them?
For the ways of Jehovah are right,
And the just shall walk in them.”
— Hosea 14:4-9, A. R. V.
“Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth over the transgression
Of the remnant of His heritage?
He retaineth not His anger forever,
Because He delighteth in loving-kindness.
He will again have compassion upon us;
He will tread our iniquities underfoot;
And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
— Micah 7:18, 19, A. R. V.
“Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” “The Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.” “I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.” “My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, saith Jehovah.” Jeremiah 31:3, A.R.V., 11, 13, A.V., 14, A.R.V.
“Sing, O daughter of Zion;
Shout, O Israel;
Be glad and rejoice with all the heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem.
Jehovah hath taken away thy judgments,
He hath cast out thine enemy:
The King of Israel, even Jehovah, is in the midst of thee;
Thou shalt not fear evil any more.
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not;
O Zion, let not thy hands be slack.
Jehovah thy God is in the midst of thee,
A Mighty One who will save;
He will rejoice over thee with joy;
He will rest in His love;
He will joy over thee with singing.”
— Zephaniah 3:14-17, A. R. V.
“This God is our God for ever and ever:
He will be our guide even unto death.”
— Psalm 48:14.
— E.G. White, 8 Testimonies, pp. 263-278
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