Last Sunday I preached from John 14. My opening question was, ‘who is God?’ Now, that may seem like an absurd question… after all, isn’t the answer so obvious!? I was on a Christian holiday over the New Year period and I got into a conversation with a chap about the revelation of God and I asked him that exact question… ‘who is God?’ His response was ‘God is… God.’ That is all well and good, but can we do better than that?
It seems to me that swathes of people, some in the church, some outside the church, generally believe that we are down here and God is up there and that is the end of it. So, for example, if I were to sit down for tea and cake with a philosopher to chat about God, it is instantly obvious that we are talking about the same God, because we are talking about the ‘guy in the sky’. But… if I were to say to this philosopher that ‘God has a Son’ he may well choke on his tea. ‘What do you mean, God has a Son?’ ‘Hold on… are we talking about the same God here?’
Being in Oxford, it is a fairly permanent fixture in my life to hear people talking about ‘concepts of God’ or attempting to persuade people of an ‘intelligent designer’. On every occasion I am, without exception, left cold by what I hear.
Jesus Christ, the only revelation of God
So where am I going with this? Well, my question is: what makes our God, our God? Surely our starting point is to look at the revelation of God. It seems as if Scripture is pretty clear that there is only one revelation of our God, and that is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, the Eternal Mediator, Jesus Christ. That much is made clear by passages such as John 1:18:
18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.
And 1Timothy 2:5:
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
So wait… we may be getting somewhere here. If Jesus is God, then who is Jesus? Well, Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31 etc) and he is the One sent from the Father (John 5:23-24 etc). So Jesus is identified primarily by his relationship with the Father, i.e. the Father/Son relationship. Then surely it follows that the Father is identified primarily by his relationship with the Son. So to know God the Son is to know that he has a Father, and to know God the Father is to know that he has a Son. But let’s not forget that we cannot know the Father directly. It is only through the Son that the Father is made known.
So, our access point to God is only through the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other way. I can’t possibly put it better than the great Reformer, John Calvin, does here:
‘All thinking about God outside Christ is a vast abyss which immediately swallows up all our thoughts.’
So, unless he makes reference to Jesus Christ the Son of God, our philosopher cannot be talking about the same God as me. Concepts of God dreamt up in the minds of humans do not equate to our God. To believe that there is a creator god is not knowledge of our God, but partial knowledge of the nature of creation. If somebody has in mind some form of monad god who is numerically singular, then we cannot be talking about the same God. Our God is defined by the Trinitarian relationships.
I must admit that I have spoken with friends about ‘God’ in really general terms, as if by speaking about ‘God’ we are instantly speaking about the same ‘God’. I think what I’m trying to say is, when we speak with our friends about ‘God,’ let’s make it clear what ‘God’ we are speaking about.
There are lots of gods in this world (1Cor 5-6), but only one God – the God of Jesus Christ, the glorious Trinity, three Persons in unity.