What is God like?
Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered that question guided by the second chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “God’s Express Image.”
Tozer opens the chapter by pointing to Hebrews 1:3 as providing the ultimate clue as to what God is like. The verse begins, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (ESV). “He” is God’s Son (1:2), Jesus, and thus tells us that Jesus is the glorious light of God and the exact representation of His character. In other words, Jesus is what God is like and, as Tozer concludes, we no longer need to ask, “What is God like?” Note that while Tozer claims that “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” affirms that Jesus is God, I think that it just says that Jesus is the spitting image of God (the Father). However, I certainly agree with Tozer that Jesus is God.
The chapter contains five sections besides the introduction. We considered at least a part of each section and then discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. These are the parts which we considered:
(Convinced about Christ) Bible-believing Christians … may have different opinions about the mode of baptism, church polity, or the return of the Lord. But they agree on the deity of the eternal Son. Jesus Christ is of one substance with the Father‒begotten, not created (Nicene Creed). In our defense of this truth we must be very careful and very bold‒belligerent, if need be. (page 23)
(God Became Flesh) When we say that Christ is the radiance of God’s glory, we are saying that Christ is the shining forth of all that God is. Yes, He is the shining forth, the effulgence. When God expressed Himself, it was in Christ Jesus. Christ was all and in all. He is the exact representation of God’s person. (page 25)
(God’s Express Image) The words express image, of course, have their origin in the pressed-upon-wax seal that authenticated a dignitary’s document or letter. The incarnate Jesus Christ gives shape and authenticity to deity. When the invisible God became visible, He was Jesus Christ. When the God who could not be seen or touched came to dwell among us, He was Jesus Christ. (page 26)
(Religions Have No Answers) Often enough we have been warned that the morality of any nation or civilization will follow its concept of God. A parallel truth is less often heard: When a church begins to think impurely and inadequately about God, decline sets in. (page 29)
(Jesus Is What God Is Like) God’s revelation of Himself is complete in Jesus Christ, the Son. No longer need we ask, “What is God like?” Jesus is God. He has translated God into terms we can understand. (page 30)
These are the Reflect questions along with a summary of what we said in our Life group discussion of them:
1. What does it mean that Jesus reflects God’s glory? After we proposed various answers to the question, I noted two possible answers given by Tozer in the chapter: “Jesus is of one substance with the Father–begotten, not created” (page 23) and “Christ is the shining forth of all that God is…the exact representation of God’s person” (page 25).
2. Does knowing that Jesus is the express image of God change the way you view God? Although all of us felt that our studying the chapter hadn’t changed the way that we viewed God, we agreed that knowing that Jesus is the express image of God gives us a clearer picture of what God is like.
3. How in your own search for God might you have forgotten what He is like? We didn’t think that our search for God made us forget what He is like. However I suggested that possibly in trying to analyse God we might lose track of what is important about Him.