How has God revealed Himself to us?
Man, by his own efforts, has not been able, and will never succeed, to know God. Unless God comes to His rescue and reveals Himself to us. The question then is whether God really wants to make Himself known? Does he want men to know the truth? Having created Mankind, is it not self-evident that he wants Man to know him? But, how is he going to do it?
Sometimes a simple illustration helps us to understand very deep truths. Let us imagine that a skillful master-carpenter of whom we have never heard, and who lives a long way away from us, decides to make himself known to us. How is he going to do that?
He could show us something He has made
(1) He could make a very nice table and send it as a sample of the excellence of his knowledge and abilities. In this way, everyone who sees this table will be able to say: “The carpenter who made this table is truly a master in his art! With regard to his work, it is clear that it is precise and perfect. He has talent, he loves the job well done, and designed this table to make it as beautiful as possible. He’s really good at what he does.” Like this, it is by closely exploring the Creation that we can form an idea about its creator.
Is this how God chose to reveal Himself to man? In a way, yes! And he has. The wisdom of God and His power are seen everywhere in His creation. Every day, science informs us more about the wonders of the universe created by God. It is as the prophet David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse of space reveals the work of his hands.” By observing the beauty, harmony, complexity of creation and even the most minute creature, we cannot help exclaiming: “How many are Your works, O LORD! You have made them in wisdom. The earth is full of your goodness.” (Psalm 104: 24)
If this world created by God is so wonderful, how much more is the God who made it. Whoever makes good use of his eyes, of his reason, and of good sense, must say that God exists, that he is great, wise, and powerful. But there is still more to be discovered of God than we would ever know by a simple observation of nature.
He could send us a written message, describing Himself
(2) If the carpenter wants us to know him better, he could write a personal letter to us with a manual explaining how he made the table, how long it took him and so on. Then he would send the letter through the intermediary of close friends. In their turn, once they arrived, they would be able to give us detailed information about the carpenter from the letter. For example: where he lives, his age, family (large or small), character, etc. With this further information, it seems to us now that we know more of him, at least, more than when we only had the table to inspect.
What about God? How did he proceed? Has he sent a letter for us? Yes! “The Holy Scriptures,” also called the Bible, are his letter for us. He sent his prophets (who are his friends) to deliver his message. The Bible is not the word of men, but the word of God (human and divine writing at the same time). Human writers were inspired by God in order to accurately write down the truth, free even from their own misunderstanding and ignorance. That is why, when we ask ourselves who is God, we do not need to let our imagination or opinion guide us. We can go to His revelation, the Bible. That’s where he talks about who He is.
As we read the Bible, we discover the information that God has revealed to us about him, including:
A – God is SPIRIT
B – God is so GREAT, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his being. As for knowledge, God knows all things (Psalm 139: 2-5; 1 John 3:20). God is present everywhere. As to time, God is eternal. God is absolutely independent and self-sufficient. He is always the same.
C – God is PERFECT. He is holy. God is perfect in character. That is what distinguishes Him from all His creatures. His eyes are too pure to approve of evil, and he can not look at iniquity with impunity. (Habakkuk 1:13). God is righteous.
D – God is UNSEARCHABLE. So these are some things that God Himself has revealed, but we cannot possibly know everything there is to know about the infinite God.
But is there another way in which God has clearly revealed Himself to be known?
So far we have spoken of two ways in which God revealed Himself. First through creation, and secondly, through His Holy Word, the Bible. But is there any other way in which it has become clearer? Yes! Let’s go back to our carpenter friend and see what other means he has used to make himself better known.
He could come, in Person, and visit us
Thirdly: If the carpenter now really wants us to know him more and enter his circle of intimates, what else can he do? He could visit us.
One day, wishing to make to our pleasure and surprise, here comes he is knocking at our door. We open it to him, welcome him with joy. We talk with him, and listen to his wise and benevolent words, and face to face!
Similarly, if God wants us to know him more, what would and could He do? He both could and would come in person to visit us and live among us. God, to some extent, revealed Himself to us through His wonderful works in nature, sending us prophets and giving us the Holy Scriptures containing a message from Him. However, we want to know more about Him.
Is such a thing possible? Can the Most High God in some way come and live among sinful men? We believe that God created all things, we say that He is all-powerful and that nothing is impossible for Him. Therefore, if He chooses to reveal himself to men, He is certainly capable of doing so. To say that God can not do this would be to deny his omnipotence, which would be blasphemy. Yes, God is both willing and able to come and live among men so that we may know Him more intimately.
The question to ask is, “Does God really want to visit us?” I now have good news for you. God so wished that we may know and love Him with all our heart, that in His infinite mercy He came to dwell among men.
Some two thousand years ago, in a special way, God made his light shine in our world. The Light of God, also called the Word of God, came to live among us in a human body, by his morally pure mother Mary, from whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. She had never lain with a man, not even her fiance.
John (one of Jesus’ disciples) wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the word was made flesh, and it dwelt among us, and we saw His glory.” (John 1: 1, 14). The apostle Paul said later: “The mystery of godliness is great: God has been made manifest in the flesh, justified by the Spirit, seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed in the world, and received up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus was truly a man, born of Mary. He had everything of man, except sin. At the same time, He was above man, for He was truly God. Therefore the coming of Jesus Christ into the world was also the coming of God among men. This is clearly stated in his title “Emmanuel”, which means “God among us”.
Jesus once said to his disciples, “If you knew me, you would also know my Father. And now you know Him, and you have seen Him.”” Philip (one of his disciples) having heard this, said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “I have been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip! He who has seen me has seen the Father; How come you are saying: Show us the Father? Do not you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14: 7-10).
Some of the attributes of God, such as wisdom, power, are revealed in nature; But it is in Jesus Christ alone and nowhere else that we come to know the thoughts, designs, and acts of God, such as purity, justice, self-giving, forgiveness of sins.
So it is that through Jesus Christ, God has clearly revealed Himself to all who desire to know Him and have an close relationship with Him. Jesus Christ is the way. It is written, “After having spoken to our fathers by the prophets many times and in many ways, God in these last days has spoken to us by the Son” (Hebrews 1: 1-2). There are so many sincere people in their search for God who have come to admit, “We only knew God when we found ourselves face to face with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.”
But, this God came into the world to deal with the problem that exists between us and God. It was this that meant He had to go to pay the penalty for our sins at Calvary, when God made Him, the One who never sinned, to be sin for us, so that we might become righteous before God.