Jesus, The Way To God
In the last lesson, we saw that by His death on the cross, Jesus made possible the forgiveness of our sins. When our sins are forgiven, we are no longer the objects of God's wrath. As Paul stated in his wonderful epistle to the Romans:
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:9)
As wonderful as being justified by the blood of Jesus may be, we need more than this...we need the kind of close friendship that existed between God and Adam before the "Fall". But if a close relationship is to exist between God and ourselves, we must understand God and feel comfortable in approaching Him.
When we contemplate the difference between God and man, we can see that this is not easy...
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD AND MAN
Think for a moment on the difference between God and man; when we consider the nature of God as revealed in the Bible and nature, we see:
One with unlimited power, unlimited wisdom, unlimited holiness
One who is the Creator of all things, the Sustainer of all things, the Knower of all things
One who is eternal, immortal, and invisible
Indeed, this Supreme Being fills the entire universe with His Presence:
"Am I a God near at hand," says the LORD, "And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?" says the LORD; "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:23-24)
On the other hand, man is mortal, finite in knowledge and understanding. Man is the created one, the one who is sustained by the God who supplies all his needs. As Paul proclaimed in his sermon at Athens:
"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'" (Acts 17:24-28)
The difference between God and man is so great, it ought to overwhelm man with awe. Notice the reflections of David as expressed in the Book of Psalms:
O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. (Psalms 139:1-12)
In the Bible, whenever man came even close to approaching God in His Glory, it was terrifying! For example, notice what happened when God first spoke to Moses:
Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. (Exodus 3:6)
At Mount Sinai, the Israelites were likewise terrified:
Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin." So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:18-21)
How then can man hope to comprehend God and approach Him in a close relationship during this life? This difficulty was experienced and expressed by Job in one of the earliest books of the Bible. Speaking of God, Job said:
"For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both." (Job 9:32-33)
But what may have been true in Job's day (that there is no "daysman", or "mediator") is no longer true today! Jesus is the means by which man can comprehend God and also approach Him in such a way as to enjoy a loving relationship with Him!
Let's see how...
HOW JESUS IS THE WAY TO GOD
Jesus provides The Way To God, first by helping us to comprehend God. This Jesus did by coming to this earth. As John wrote in his gospel, Jesus declared or manifested God to us:
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)
How was Jesus able to "declare" (manifest) God? For one thing, He came to this earth from God, and is the only one who has truly seen Him:
"Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father." (John 6:46)
But also, Jesus is able to "declare" God because He is God Himself! This John clearly states in the prologue to his gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2)
Who is this "Word" that was with God and was God? The One who came in the flesh! As John says later:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The "Word" was Jesus! Therefore, it is in seeing Jesus that we are able to comprehend the Father. Just as Jesus told His disciples:
"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." (John 14:7)
In similar fashion, the apostles of Jesus proclaimed that He was the complete manifestation of God:
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; (Colossians 2:9)
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Yes, it is in Jesus that God is revealed in terms that mortal, finite man can comprehend and personally relate to. Therefore, as we study the gospels, we see Jesus and His attributes (power, wisdom, holiness, love, mercy, divine wrath). As we see Jesus, we see God and His attributes!
But Jesus also provides The Way To God by helping us to approach God. This we touched upon in our previous lesson, how that by offering Himself as a propitiation for our sins Jesus has made it possible for a sinful man to approach God who is supremely holy and just. But Jesus helps us to approach God in yet another way, as our High Priest in heaven. As the author of Hebrews wrote:
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14)
Though Jesus was truly God (as stated by John and Paul), by becoming man He fully understands our difficulties:
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
With such a wonderful high priest in heaven, One who is both God and has been man, Jesus makes it possible for us to approach God with great confidence:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Yes, through Jesus we can both comprehend God and approach God, making it possible to have a close relationship with our Heavenly Father, enjoying all the blessings such a relationship provides!
In order that we might better appreciate the beauty of this relationship available with God through Jesus, let's briefly notice some terms used in the New Testament to describe this relationship...
TERMS USED TO DESCRIBE THOSE WHO ARE IN JESUS
First, there are terms which proclaim a special relationship with our Heavenly Father. For example, we are called the "children" of God:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)
Also, we are called the "house" (family) of God:
But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)
There are also terms which proclaim a special relationship with a Holy, Supreme Being. One describes us as a special dwelling place of God, i.e., the "temple" of God:
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." (2 Corinthians 6:16)
Another descriptive term speaks of our role in service to God, that we are a "royal priesthood":
You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9)
Other terms might be considered, but these suffice to show that it is possible for those who were once lost in sin to enjoy a new, personal, intimate and fulfilling relationship with the Majestic God in heaven!
And what a wonderful relationship it is! One that offers promises that overwhelm you; for example, this one where God promises:
"I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
But let us be clear in our understanding...Jesus is the "The Way", the only way to God:
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
Only those who are in Jesus can have the assurance of enjoying this wonderful relationship with God!
How can we be sure that we are in Jesus, and as such the children of God? By taking to heart and life the truth of God's Word. For example, the apostle Paul spoke of how we can become the children of God:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27)
By faith, when we are baptized into Christ, we put on Jesus Christ, and in this way become the children of God. We remain the children of God by abiding faithfully in the teachings of Christ:
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9)
Have you become a child of God by receiving Christ in faith and baptism? If not, why not today? If you have, are you maintaining your relationship with both the Father and the Son by abiding in the doctrine of Christ? If not, why not be restored to God today (through repentance and prayer)?
Only in so doing can you let Jesus be your way to God!