Monthly Archives: November 2017

4. The Revelation of God


What is the essence of God’s message to us?

Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered that question guided by the fourth chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “The Revelation of God.”

Tozer opens his consideration of the question by quoting and commenting on “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV). He observes that, although when the writer of Hebrews wrote this God had been speaking in many ways for some 4000 years, most people were alienated from Him and that that situation might have continued. However in His love and wisdom God spoke again‒this time through Jesus, His Son‒and completed His revelation in the Old Testament.

The chapter contains two sections besides the introduction: “God’s Message in the Past” and “God’s Message to Us.” We considered each of them and then discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. I’ll summarize each of the sections, present the Reflect questions, and note some of what we said about them.

God’s Message in the Past

Hebrews was written to confirm Jewish Christians in their faith in Jesus, the Messiah-Saviour, showing that he is superior to angels, Moses, and the Levitical priests. It lets us know that while our Christian faith grew out of Judaism it isn’t dependent on it. Thus if Judaism should cease to exist, Christianity would continue to stand, resting on the same living, speaking God that Judaism rested on.

Tozer emphasizes the uniformity and yet ever-widening elements in God’s spoken messages in the past from His speaking in early Genesis of a warfare between the serpent and the Seed of the woman to His giving the Law to Moses and telling of the coming Prophet who would be like him but superior to him. Between them Tozer notes God’s messages to Abel and Cain, to Noah, and Abraham.

God’s Message to Us

To us God says, “Jesus Christ is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Tozer, Jesus, page 42). But many don’t want to hear what God is saying to us through Jesus. Why not? Because, according to Tozer, God’s message in Jesus is, as it is throughout the Bible, a moral pronouncement. He quotes in this regard what Jesus said in John 12:47-48: “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

Fundamental to human morality is acceptance of the sovereignty of God and of His last word to us, Jesus Christ. We may not like what Jesus says about us and our sin but, as Peter told Jesus in John 6:68-69, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Tozer concludes:

This is the Savior whom God is offering. He is the eternal Son, equal to the Father in the Godhead, co-eternal and of one substance with the Father.
He is speaking. We should listen! (Tozer, Jesus, page 45)

Reflect Questions

1. How is it that divine revelation, whether from the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, is always the same?

We found the question ambiguous because it could mean “Why is the divine revelation always the same?” or could mean “In what way is the divine revelation always the same?” If it means the former, the answer would be that the three Persons of the Trinity are always in full agreement with each other. If it means the latter, the answer would be, according to Tozer, that it points to Jesus Christ and the salvation from sin that he would bring.

2. What is the essence of God’s message in Jesus?

Again we had two answers. One was that it is that we came from God and must return to Him by admitting Jesus into our lives as Lord and Saviour. The other was this quote from Tozer, “Jesus Christ is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Jesus, page 42).

3. Are there any ways in which you have tried to get a “second opinion” about |Jesus or His message?

All of us said that we hadn’t tried to get a “second opinion” about Jesus or his message. However we appreciated this answer to the question in a discussion by the Hunter Family Bible Study group at Facebook: “Tozer said we shouldn’t try to get a ‘second opinion’ about Jesus and His message. To me, each time I read what other Christians say about the Bible, I am getting a second opinion.”

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3. Creator, Sustainer, Benefactor

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV).

What is the glory of the Son?

Thursday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered that question guided by the third chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “Creator, Sustainer, Benefactor.” We began by proposing answers to the question and reading the introduction to the chapter.

Our proposed answers included Jesus’s miracles and his glorious appearance on occasion. In introducing the chapter Tozer asserts that the glory of the Son is “the truth that God has never done anything apart from Jesus Christ” (Jesus, page 31) and that this includes not only his being Lord and Saviour but also his being Creator, Sustainer, and Benefactor.

I observed that most commentators on John 1:14 note that in other places John identifies the glory of the Son with Jesus’ signs or miracles (2:11) and with his death and resurrection (13:31). I also observed that although John doesn’t describe the transfiguration, some commentators speculate that he is thinking here of it.

The chapter contains three sections besides the introduction: The Same God, Beholding His Glory, and Of His Fullness. We considered each of them and then discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. I’ll summarize each of the sections, present the Reflect questions, and note some of what we said in discussing the questions.

The Same God

Tozer opens the section by quoting part of John 1:17, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” He goes on to observe that in referring to the passage he isn’t employing a contrast between the Old and New Testaments, explaining:

The idea that the Old Testament is a book of the law and the New Testament is a book of grace is based on a completely false theory. There is certainly as much about grace and mercy and love in the Old Testament as there is in the New. There is more about hell, more about judgment and the fury of God burning with fire upon sinful men in the New Testament than in the Old. (Jesus, page 32).

Tozer devotes most of the rest of the section to illustrating grace in the Old Testament and law in the New Testament. His point is:

The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. The Father in the Old Testament is the Father in the New Testament. Furthermore, the Christ who was made flesh to dwell among us is the Christ who walked through all the pages of the Old Testament. (Jesus, page 32)

However in the middle of the section Tozer admits that there is a contrast between what Moses could do and what Jesus could do, explaining:

All that Moses could do was to command righteousness. In contrast, only Jesus Christ produces righteousness. All that Moses could do was to forbid us to sin. In contrast, Jesus Christ came to save us from sin. Moses could not save, but Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior” (Jesus, page 32).

Beholding His Glory

Tozer opens the section by observing:

The apostle John speaks for all of us also when he writes of the eternal Son and reminds us that we beheld his glory. It is right that we should enquire, “What was this glory? Was it the glory of His works?” (Jesus, page 34)

Then he refers to several of Jesus’ miracles, beginning with his turning water into wine and concluding with his raising the daughter of Jairus.

He closes the section by asserting:

The works of our Lord were always dramatic works. Always they were amazing works. We wonder if John had these things in mind when he said, “We beheld his glory,” bu I think not. I think John had a much greater glory in mind. We can never know all of the wonderful works of healing and mercy that Jesus performed while on the earth, but we should fix our eyes on His glory, which was far greater than the miracles and works of wonder. (Jesus, pages 34-35)

Of His Fullness

Tozer opens the section by referring to John 1:16, “And from his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace.” He goes on to explains that this doesn’t mean that any of us has received all of God’s fullness. Instead “[i]t means that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son, is the only medium through which God dispenses His benefits to His creation” (Jesus, page 35).

Tozer devotes the second half of the section to a thought that he had one day, “it could have been easy for God to have loved us and never told us” (Jesus, page 36). After quoting John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known,” he continues:

The eternal Son came to tell us what the silence never told us. He came to tell us what not even Moses could tell us. He came to tell and to show us that God loves us and that He constantly cares for us. He came to tell us that God has a gracious plan and that He is carrying out that pl\an. Before it is all finished and consummated, there will be a multitude that no man can number, redeemed, out of every tongue and tribe and nation. (Jesus, page 36)

Reflect Questions

1. What implications does Christ’s lordship, as Creator of the universe, have for your life? We said that it implied that we should put Jesus and his will first in our lives.

2. Does knowing that Jesus is the same God as the God of the Old Testament change your perception of God the Father? Our answers varied, my saying that it made me see God the Father as more compassionate.

3. If there is no opposition between the Old and New Testaments, what does that say about the relationship between the Father and the Son? We said that if there is no opposition between the Old and New Testaments, then the Father and the Son are in agreement with each other.

4. How have you received grace from Jesus? In what ways does Jesus want you to receive His grace in your life right now?