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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 17:3). The gospel is the gospel of God (Rom. 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 1:31; Rom. 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!
Who is God then? He is Spirit (John 4:24); light (1 John 1:5); love (1 John 4:8).
First, God is Spirit, the very source of thine immortal nature, sinner! Man is said to be God’s offspring (Acts 17:29), and to have been created in the image of God! (Gen. 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. 14:1; Isa. 42:5). God is the God of the spirits of all flesh (Num. 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. 2:7). 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 4:24).
But, secondly, God is light (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. 17:9). Oh, can you bear to think about it?
It reveals that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). It reveals that in you, that is in your flesh, dwells no good thing. It reveals that man is the enemy of God — yea, worse, that he is dead in trespasses and sins (Rom. 5:10, 7:18; Eph. 2:1-3).
But, blessed be God, it also reveals Christ on the cross, meeting all those conditions. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3). When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Rom. 5:10). By one righteousness the free gift went out to all men unto justification of life (Rom. 5:18).
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, 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. 1:21). God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 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. 4:25). He made peace for His enemy, and has brought him nigh to God in Himself (Eph. 2:13; Col. 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 3:16).
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, 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, 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. 5:5).
“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 22:21).
Things New and Old, vol. 25, 1882.