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)
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.”