John MacMurray

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The Revelation of God

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The other day I was talking with someone about eternal life. I had been saying that eternal life is the life of the Triune God and that it becomes ours because we know God. In other words, we experience eternal life because we say “yes” to a relationship with them. The Incarnation surely revealed this, yes?

My friend thanked me for my reminder and then politely corrected me explaining, “The relationship means nothing if I don’t have the “right doctrine”, which could only be found in a book—the Bible.”
I thanked him for his thoughts. As I was contemplating what I would say his wife added, “How do we come to know God if it isn’t through studying a book?”
Sadly, we were interrupted and I never got to answer. The next day I was still thinking about the conversation and how much I would have enjoyed discussing her question—because it’s a good and legitimate question—especially if you come from the tradition I was raised in.

What follows is not quite an “answer” but more of a starting point to one.

The Bible gives us metaphors, anthropomorphisms, names, and stories and all of it helps us begin to know something about what God is like, which may or may not lead us to know him. Decades of studying and teaching the Bible has helped me tremendously but to equate knowing a text with knowing a person is, well, just a bit foolish, yes? If God is a person (actually three persons) then knowing him requires an encounter with him, not just a book.

The Triune God does not want to be known as the invisible, metaphysical deity we conjure in our minds, who we desperately hope hears our prayers.
Nor do they want to be known simply as an omnipotent, omniscient Creator who knows the names of every one of the trillions of stars they hung in space.

The Triune God does not want to be known as the awesome and terrible Sovereign Wizard, who from behind heavens curtain controls and manipulates all events for his name and honor.
Nor do they want to be known as the benevolent king who rules over all that is theirs—seen or unseen.

The Triune God does not want to be known as an infinitely wise and morally perfect judge presiding over all that he has made.
Nor do they want to be known as the kindly and generous grandfather who delights in giving us treats and then leaves when we mess our diapers.

You could add a hundred more metaphors found in the book— a burning bush, a pillar of cloud or fire, etc. The Triune God does not want to be known as any of these—regardless of how much of it may or may not be true.

They want to be known by us as a man.

The good news that staggers my heart and mind is they have made themselves known as a particular man, Jesus of Nazareth.

This man, Jesus, is the Word of God. All other “words” pale in the resplendent light of this Word.

He is their best Word to a race that endures its existence in ignorant blindness and terrible pain. He is their final Word for he does not reveal something different from himself, as all other words have done from the beginning of Creation. He is revealing the relationship he is and has forever been with the Father and Spirit and it is clear, true, and good. It is absolutely perfect.

There is no other word. None. Even a written word in a book is just a sign pointing us to this Word. For this man Jesus is the fullness of the Triune God united to the blind, corrupted, and broken flesh of humanity. He is and will forever be, the one and only, unique God-Man.

The Word continues to speak today—to every single one of us. Do you hear him?

He is the word of light that dispels our darkness and blindness.
He is the word of humility that stoops to raise us up into their circle of love.
He is the word of peace that conquers our fears.
He is the word of reason that untwists our madness and insanity.
He is the word of kindness that transforms our hatred.
He is the word of forgiveness that reconciles.
He is the word of truth that sets us free.
He is the word of unceasing goodness that is always doing his unwavering best for us.
He is the word of balance that eradicates our prejudice.
He is the word of justice that will make all things right.
He is the word of balm that heals our hurt, pain, and abuse.
He is the word of wrath that says NO to our self-destruction.
He is the word that never tires.
He is the word that never abandons.

He is all these words and a thousand more, utterly and completely, for he is the Word of perfect love.

It is this Word that has renewed my mind and captured my heart. And I adore him!

Michael Showell