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Sinner, do you know God? This ought to be the question of questions to you, for this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent (John 17:33And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)). The gospel is the gospel of God (Rom. 1:11Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Romans 1:1)). It is the glad tidings of the revelation of what God is! God was never revealed in what He is, His nature and character, till Jesus came. The only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him!
He was revealed as the good, beneficent Creator, with all power in creation. (See Gen 1:3131And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31); Rom. 1:1414I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. (Romans 1:14).) Even since the fall man was not left without witness as to His goodness, in giving him food and fruitful seasons, &c. (Acts 17). But all was dark as to the future.
He revealed Himself as the Governor of Israel, and His will (as far as to shew what man ought to be for Him), in the law. That so far showed Him to be a righteous God, requiring man to love Him with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself. But it did not tell what God was in love, and it also left man greatly in the dark as to the future existence, though there was enough to shew it, as the Lord told the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God! But in Christ He is revealed in His fullness. His full nature is shewn, and that in grace. God is light! God is love!
First, God is Spirit, the very source of thine immortal nature, sinner! Man is said to be God’s offspring (Acts 17:2929Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. (Acts 17:29)), and to have been created in the image of God! (Gen. 1:2727So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)). Sinner, you have a spirit within you, then, with as endless a life as God has! God, who is Spirit, not only created the heavens and the earth, but formed the spirit of man which is in him (Zech. 14:11Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. (Zechariah 14:1); Isa. 42:55Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: (Isaiah 42:5)). God is the God of the spirits of all flesh (Num. 16:2222And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation? (Numbers 16:22)). He is the source of their immortality, having breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul (Gen. 2:77And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)). Who are you, then, responsible to but to God, who formed you, and who will be your Judge, either to place you in eternal bliss for ever, or in everlasting woe, in the lake of fire? Oh, sinner, think of this! Your spirit must soon return to God who gave it! Are you ready for this change? God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:2424God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)).
But, secondly, God is light (1 John 1:55This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)). Light searches, light manifests. Bring a light into a dark room; it manifests all that is in the room, its state of order or disorder. Sinner, have you ever been made sensible that God is light? What does the light reveal? A heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:99The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)). Oh, can you bear to think about it?
Sinner, hear the glad tidings of the glory of Christ. Christ has been raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. He sits on the throne of God in glory. Gaze by faith at the Man there. A Man in whom the whole glory of God shines is there. God is light, and that Light shines in the face of the Man Christ Jesus. He is the Man justified. He is the Man at peace. He is the Man in whom eternal life is. He is the second Man, substituted for the first. Oh, sinner, do not you see Him with the eye of faith? Alas, if you do not, it is because you are lost! The god of this world hath blinded the minds of those that believe not, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Cor. 4:3, 43But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:3‑4)).
Thirdly, God is love. It is His nature to love sinners. When a test of four thousand years had brought out the fact as to what man was, as a lawless being and a law-breaker, and that he could give to God no righteousness; then God became a Man in the Person of His Son, took the name of Jesus (meaning Jehovah-Saviour), and became a man, to die to save His people from their sins. (Matt. 1:2121And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)). God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 5:1919To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)). The light had revealed man as a guilty criminal, under sentence of death, an enemy of God by wicked works, and a slave of sin. The love gave His dear Son to die, to meet that threefold condition. And Jesus did meet it to the full; He died for the sins of the guilty criminal, and rose for his justification. (Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25)). He made peace for His enemy, and has brought him nigh to God in Himself (Eph. 2:1313But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13); Col. 1:2020And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20)). He has so entirely condemned the sin in the flesh that held the poor slave under its dominion, and paid its wages (Rom. 6:23, 8:3), that the believer is completely delivered by His death and resurrection being applied to him. The believer has died to sin, and is alive to God in Christ Jesus. Oh, blessed good news about God! for God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life! (John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)).
And still this is not all. God in love gives us Christ, where He is in glory. He is our new standing in righteousness, peace, and eternal life. We are quickened together with Him, raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:5, 65Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:5‑6)). When He comes again He will descend into the air; the dead in Christ will be raised, the living be changed, and all believers caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be for ever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:16, 1716For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17)).
And is this God? somebody says. Yes, my friend. He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who hath given us in the meantime the earnest of the Spirit (2 Cor. 5:55Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 5:5)).
“Then, surely, if this be so, I may know I am saved,” says the now believing man. Yes, assuredly, my friend; and that is just the effect of knowing God, as Eliphaz said to Job, Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace (Job 22:2121Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. (Job 22:21)).
Things New and Old, vol. 25, 1882.