Understanding God Through Christ

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Understanding God Through Christ

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“He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 John 14:9Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
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).

The Bible is full of often-overlooked keys that can resolve many of our misunderstandings about God and His Word. In reading the Scriptures, one may vaguely sense these things but somehow never clearly see them because of misleading misconceptions about Scripture.

Jesus Christ came to reveal God the Father (Matthew 11:27 Matthew 11:27All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
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). Yet mainstream Christianity continually deemphasizes the role of the Father and focuses almost exclusively on Christ. In no way did such thinking originate with Jesus Himself. He told us to pray in this manner: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10 Matthew 6:9-10 [9] After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. [10] Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
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). Jesus always endeavored to acquaint people with the Father and point them toward Him.

God the Father can be seen, but Jesus is the only human being who has ever seen Him face to face in His full, glorified form.

Not truly comprehending the four Gospel accounts, the world suffers from a grievous misunderstanding of God the Father. The biblical reality is often the opposite of the way many, even those in the mainstream religious community, usually picture Him.

The Father is intimately concerned with the whole creation. Even the falling of a sparrow gains His attention (Matthew 10:29 Matthew 10:29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
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). Yet Christ said that human beings are of more value than sparrows (Matthew 10:31 Matthew 10:31Fear you not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.
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), and the Father is deeply concerned with His master plan for humanity.

He sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45 Matthew 5:45That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
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). He is kind to unthankful and evil human beings (Luke 6:35 Luke 6:35But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.
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). He is merciful (Luke 6:36 Luke 6:36Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
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), putting up with much from a wayward mankind. He is patient towards us all, always hoping for full repentance (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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).

God the Father is especially concerned with those called to eternal life now in this age—and particularly the vulnerable "little ones" who are in the first stages of conversion (Matthew 18:6-14 Matthew 18:6-14 [6] But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. [7] Woe to the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! [8] Why if your hand or your foot offend you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. [9] And if your eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. [10] Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. [11] For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. [12] How think you? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, does he not leave the ninety and nine, and goes into the mountains, and seeks that which is gone astray? [13] And if so be that he find it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. [14] Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
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). Those who are older in the faith are firmly advised to be cautious and to not offend "one of these little ones" (Matthew 18:7 Matthew 18:7Woe to the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
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, Matthew 18:10 Matthew 18:10Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
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).

Jesus, while human, demonstrated the way the Father thinks and lives. Truly He came to reveal the Father. It is through Christ Himself—through His life and work, through His sterling example—that we more completely comprehend the Father's nature and character. Many often overlook this crucial fact.

Christ reflects the Father

The New Testament sheds much light on how we are to understand the Old Testament, especially with regard to the Father and the Son.

Again, Hebrews 1:2-3 Hebrews 1:2-3 [2] Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; [3] 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 on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
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, quoted in part earlier, tells us that God the Father "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 [is] the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person..." Christ was exactly like the Father.

In this particular verse image is translated from the Greek word charakter. This term means "'a tool for [en]graving' ... [or] 'a stamp' or 'impress,' as on a coin or seal, in which case the seal or die which makes an impression bears the 'image' produced by it, and, vice versa, all the features of the 'image' correspond respectively with those of the instrument producing it" (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, "Image," p. 319).

No wonder Christ told the apostle Philip, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9 John 14:9Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
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). Christ is the express image of God the Father. We can gain much understanding from Jesus' conversation with His apostles leading up to this remark.

Jesus had said to Thomas, "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
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). Only through Christ could one know the Father and enter into a relationship with Him. Jesus continued, "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 John 14:7If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from now on you know him, and have seen him.
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).

It is easy to speedily read right over these words and not grasp their significance. The Bible is not a book for speed-reading or careless skimming. Understanding its depth of meaning requires calm meditation and deep thought. We should make it a habit to pause to reflect on the meaning of what we read.

The disciples were not yet converted—not yet begotten of the Holy Spirit—and therefore did not comprehend the incredible meaning of what Jesus was saying. Christ had told Peter in another place, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32 Luke 22:32But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.
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, KJV). In instituting the foot-washing ceremony as part of the Passover observance, He had said to Peter, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand" (John 13:7 John 13:7Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter.
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, NRSV).

After Christ's resurrection, God would send His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and then the disciples would begin to truly understand (John 14:16-17 John 14:16-17 [16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
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; John 16:12-13 John 16:12-13 [12] I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. [13] However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
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). But let's return to Christ's discourse with the disciples.

Philip joined the conversation, saying to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us" (John 14:8 John 14:8Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us.
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). Plainly Philip had not understood what Christ had just said to Thomas in the previous verse.

So now Christ responded: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9 John 14:9Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
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).

Jesus gently rebuked Philip for his lack of understanding. Yet the other disciples were in the same boat. Even today most people don't fully realize the spiritual impact of Christ's words. Though They were two separate individuals, Jesus was the express image of the Father. Jesus Christ was exactly like God the Father—yet the Bible clearly shows that They were and are two separate beings.

We understand God the Father through Christ. We comprehend the Father's nature and character through the Son—not through ancient philosophies or the incomplete, often-misleading knowledge of fallible human beings.

Comprehending the nature of spirit

Through relating people's actual experience of Christ, the four Gospel accounts shed much light on how we are to comprehend God. Even the nature of spirit is to some degree revealed through Christ having come in the flesh.

Consider the spirit world and ask yourself: Do spirit beings have form? Do they have discernible spirit bodies? Do they possess personality? Do they have faces? Do they have voices?

Can human eyes see God? Under certain protective conditions, yes, as God testified of Moses, "He sees the form of the Lord" (Numbers 12:8 Numbers 12:8With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
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). Putting all the pertinent scriptures together, we see that the divine being whom Moses saw was the preexistent Word, the One who became Christ and not God the Father.

Unique in all Scripture, under protective measures Moses was even allowed to see the back parts of God in His glorified form (Exodus 33:18-23 Exodus 33:18-23 [18] And he said, I beseech you, show me your glory. [19] And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. [20] And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. [21] And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on a rock: [22] And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by: [23] And I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
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). However, he was not permitted to view God's face in full glory because, since it shines as the sun in full strength, Moses would have perished on the spot (Exodus 33:20 Exodus 33:20And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
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).

On another important occasion, after the giving of the Ten Commandments, Moses, his brother Aaron, Aaron's two sons and 70 elders of Israel "saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was ... a pavement of sapphire, clear blue as the very heavens" (Exodus 24:9-10 Exodus 24:9-10 [9] Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: [10] And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
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, REB). Presumably in this situation, too, the preexistent Word shielded them from the full intensity of His glory.

The face of God

Such questions become even more intriguing if we apply them to God the Father, "Lord of heaven and earth" (Matthew 11:25 Matthew 11:25At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes.
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), Great Ruler over the entire universe. Christ gives us much insight as we explore the answers—not only by His own testimony, but by His appearances to the disciples after His resurrection to eternal spirit life.

Obviously the angels in heaven can see the Father. The plain biblical evidence is found in Matthew 18:10 Matthew 18:10Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
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. Jesus said, "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven."

In his book The Face: A Natural History, author Daniel McNeill asks: "Does the Christian God have a face? The Bible says he made people in his own image, which suggests he does" (1998, p. 140). That would be the normal conclusion of almost anyone not previously indoctrinated by erroneous philosophies that date back to ancient times.

The apostle John recorded much of what Jesus said about the Father. John 1:18 John 1:18No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
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is a case in point: "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." Again, Christ came to reveal the Father. God can be seen, but Jesus is the only human being who has ever seen Him face to face in His full, glorified form.

A little later in John's Gospel account, Christ said to a Samaritan woman: "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:21-24 John 4:21-24 [21] Jesus said to her, Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. [22] You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. [23] But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. [24] God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
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). God the Father is not physical; He is spirit—yet that does not mean He is without form and shape.

Christ stated: "And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form" (John 5:37 John 5:37And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
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). Yet it is plainly implied from these passages in the book of John that the Father can be both seen and heard, but not by human eyes. He has been seen by only the Son (John 6:45-46 John 6:45-46 [45] It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to me. [46] Not that any man has seen the Father, save he which is of God, he has seen the Father.
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) and the angelic host—as well as by a few human beings through God-given visions in their minds, including the prophet Daniel and the apostle John.

Because Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9 John 14:9Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
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), the resemblance between the Father and the Son must be strong in more ways than we may humanly imagine. Still, They are two distinctly separate beings who continually plan and confer with each other, working and fellowshipping together in perfect harmony.