From time to
time surveys are undertaken asking people whether they believe in
God. Surprisingly about 60% usually say they do, though only about
10% of them go regularly to a place of worship. But if the survey
goes further, and asks these professed believers in God what they
believe about Him, an almost incredible vagueness emerges.
Their general view of God reflects
their view of themselves. Most people are inclined to be indulgent
towards their own failings and they think of God as necessarily
being the same. "I like to think of God", they say, "as infinitely
kind, always forgiving and never condemning anyone, even
wrongdoers. Others will say, "Well, if God exists, and I do what I
think is right, I shall get whatever reward there is." Since in
part of the Western world all religions are now regarded as
equally true anyway, any approach to God is as good as any other.
The fact is that modern man is
largely pagan. He has lost any sense of the authority of God,
because he has lost any basis for belief. Left to his own
imaginings, he lacks all conviction; he is confused and
Where is the Basis?
It is surely self-evident that if a religion is to have any power
and authority for mankind, it must be revealed by God
Himself. For there is only one alternative: if the message is not
from God, it must come from man. But how can any man presume to
tell other men and women what is true and right?
The teachings of the great majority
of the religions of the world obviously come from human thinking.
There is one notable exception. The religion of the Bible -- the
Christian religion with which this booklet is concerned -- is
emphatically a revealed religion, the word of God for man.
Its message is never presented as
of human authority. "The word of the Lord" comes to the prophet
and he delivers it as just that. Old and New Testaments are alike
in this. When that Word is written down for the benefit of future
generations, it is, says Paul, "inspired of God". Literally he
wrote, "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16), a remarkable expression
conveying the thought that God's Spirit (or 'breath') was in the
very written words. So, says Peter, the Scripture "came not in old
time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were
moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). Notice the contrast: not
"by the will of man", but from God direct by His Spirit.
This is why the Bible is the
book of supreme authority. It is God's Word for us. But an
important consequence follows: if this is so, we dare not neglect
it. We must take it seriously.
So to the Bible let us go. What has it to tell us about God?
This information is not scanty --
it is abundant. It commences in the first page of the Bible and is
maintained right through to the last, that is to say, all through
the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets of the Old Testament, and
then through the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament. But
this picture of God is not complicated or confused, for there
emerges one outstanding Personality with His own decisive
character, closely concerned with the career of the human race and
the future of the world. He cannot be relegated to the fringes of
human concerns, nor pushed away "somewhere" in the distant
heavens, to be conveniently ignored. If men and women do that, the
consequences for themselves will be disastrous.
The commonest description in the
Bible of the nature of God is "everlasting". Consider these
"Before the mountains
were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the
world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God"
"Hast thou not known?
Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD,
the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is
weary? there is no searching of his understanding" (Isaiah 40:28).
"The LORD is the true
God; he is the living God, and an everlasting King ... "
Here is a quality of existence
entirely outside our experience. Indeed God indicates so Himself
through His prophet:
"The Egyptians are
men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not
spirit" (Isaiah 31:3).
Here there is an obvious contrast
between "men/flesh" and "God/spirit". God's nature is "Spirit",
and forms therefore an absolute contrast with human nature, which
is limited in mind, weak in character, and perishing in death.
God is Eternal
The most explicit descriptions in the New Testament are from the
"Now unto the King
eternal, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honour and
glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:17, R.V.).
"The blessed and only
Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: who only hath
immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath
seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power eternal. Amen" (1
Timothy 6:16, R.V.).
It is remarkable that in these
descriptions the two most explicit terms about God's nature are
expressed as negatives. He is "incorruptible" (not
corrupting) and "immortal" (not dying). God has a "nature"
the direct opposite of "human flesh". So He is "eternal",
literally "of the ages" (R.V. margin). It is significant that Paul
uses this term three times in one verse: "... to the King eternal
(of the ages) ... be glory for ever and ever" (unto the ages of
the ages -- R.V. margin). How impressed he must have been with the
thought of the everlasting nature of God.
The Greatness of God
The sheer supremacy of God and the glory which should be ascribed
to Him by puny mankind is a constant theme throughout Scripture.
It was well expressed by David, King of Israel:
"Blessed be thou, 0
LORD, the God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever. Thine, 0
LORD, is the greatness: and the power, and the glory, and the
victory, and the majesty, for all that is in the heaven and in the
earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, 0 LORD, and thou art exalted
as head above all" (1 Chronicles 29:10,11).
Greatness ... power ... glory ...
victory ... majesty ... all in heaven and earth ... kingdom ...
exalted ... head over all. We do well to read slowly through these
terms to appreciate David's profound sense of the majestic
supremacy of God. It was shared by the Apostle Paul, as we have
This deep conviction of God's
supreme majesty is shared by all the faithful of Old Testament
times. Now we should not neglect the Old Testament, for in it are
revealed the foundations of the character of God, basic truths
about Him which are confirmed and expanded in the New Testament.
Furthermore it was to Israel that was granted the great revelation
of God's supremacy over all the gods of mankind in the stirring
events of their Exodus from Egypt. The Israelites saw the effects
of the plagues upon the Egyptians and witnessed their own
deliverance at the crossing of the Red Sea. Moses put it very
strikingly 40 years later:
"For ask now of the
days that are past ... whether there hath been any such thing as
this great thing is? ... Did ever people hear the voice of God
speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and
live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the
midst of another nation, by trials (R.V. margin), by signs, and by
wonders ... according to all that the LORD your God did for you in
Egypt before your eyes?" (Deuteronomy 4:32-34).
Upon this open demonstration of His
power and salvation on their behalf, God based His appeal for
their service towards Him:
seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and
how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my
covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar (special) treasure unto me
from among all peoples ... " (Exodus 19:4,5).
Notice particularly here that God's
appeal for faith in Himself was solidly based not upon His moral
excellence (of which He would give plenty of evidence later on),
but upon the demonstration of His supremacy over the greatest
pagan system on earth at the time (the Egyptian). This is
reinforced when God reveals through Moses His Law for Israel, for
the very first clause begins:
"I am the LORD thy
God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house
of bondage" (Exodus 20:2).
Then follow the Ten Commandments,
the kernel of God's Law for them.
The authority comes first; the
moral teaching follows. It is impossible to dispense with this
order. Strikingly, Jesus adopts the same position. The words he
spoke, he said, were not his own, but his Father's. In prayer to
God, he addresses Him as "Father, Lord of heaven and earth"
(Matthew 11:25). Though God was a Father to all who sought Him,
yet He remained "Lord of heaven and earth". Unhappily it has to be
said that these priorities have been widely ignored in our days,
even by many who would regard themselves as followers of Jesus
The Uniqueness of God
From his recital of all God's great works on behalf of His people,
Moses drew the following conclusion:
"Know therefore this
day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in
heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else"
This was a vital affirmation in a
world of a multitude of pagan gods. It remained vital all through
the centuries of Israel's persistent neglect of the God who had
delivered them. In His frequent reminders through the prophets
that it was He who had delivered them from the oppression of
Egypt, He declares that He is God alone:
"I am the Lord, and
there is none else; there is no God beside me" (Isaiah 45:5).
In the New Testament the Apostle
Paul recognises the existence of many cults and pagan gods; yet to
the believers in Christ these idols are nothing:
"We know that an idol
is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
For though there be that are called gods ... yet to us there is
one God, the Father, of whom are all things ... and one Lord,
Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
And in writing to the Ephesians
"There is one body
... one Spirit ... one hope ... one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all ... " (4:4-6).
This is a resounding declaration of
the unity of the various aspects of the Christian faith, all
depending on the "one God".
All that we have considered so far of the greatness, the glory,
and the majesty of the one God, the Creator of the heavens and the
earth, implies that He should receive reverent worship from frail
mankind -- and so He does from the faithful all through the pages
of the Bible.
But what are we to say about the
attitudes towards God today, even among many professed Christians?
Firstly, religious opinions in Western civilisation have greatly
changed through the increase in followers of other cults. It is
now held by many that all religions offer their own way to God and
are all equally "valid". People reject the great claims of
Christianity to be the sole way to "salvation", expressed thus by
the Apostle Peter:
"Neither is there
salvation in any other (than Jesus Christ):for there is none
other name under heaven ... whereby we must be saved" (Acts
It is no wonder that, for modern
man, God as portrayed in the Bible has receded from the centre of
attention and is relegated to the fringes. A casualness and
familiarity at times, even in religious exercises, show that God
is no longer accorded the honour due to His Name. Even terms of
holy significance like "Hallelujah" (which means "Praise the
Lord") are bandied about to evident approval by profane comedians.
To this must be added the humanist
and materialistic spirit which exalts the human mind, and has
little thought for the existence of God or for His worship. Even
these brief reflections upon the state of modern opinion show what
a gulf exists between today's attitudes towards God and that
manifested by Jesus and the apostles.
The Character of God
But this one God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, worthy
of all reverent worship, is not just an impersonal Power. He is a
Personality, with a character of His own. He has eternal moral
principles, which He has made known to mankind through His
commandments and precepts.
The first explicit description of
the character of God occurs in a revelation to Moses about 1400
B.C. Moses had received many communications from God during the
events of the Exodus, but he evidently felt that he did not yet
know God as a Personality, so he makes a request:
"if I have found
grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee
When God agreed to his request,
Moses enlarges on it: "Show me thy glory". Now Moses had on
more than one occasion already witnessed the "physical" glory of
God in the form of great light and demonstrations of power. Here
he wants something more. God is aware of this:
"I will make all
my goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name
of the LORD before thee ..." (Exodus 33:13-19).
The way, the glory, the goodness of
the Lord will all be expressed in His Name and will enable Moses
to "know" Him. This Name is now proclaimed:
"The LORD, the LORD
God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in
goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving
iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means
clear the guilty . . . " (Exodus 34:6,7).
So emerges the great portrait of
the God of the Bible given by Himself. He has a definite moral
character, in which mercy, longsuffering (slow to anger, R.V.),
goodness and forgiveness play a great part, but always consistent
with His "truth". Echoes of this description are frequently found
in the subsequent books of the Old Testament, especially the
Psalms (see Psalm 103, for example) and the prophets.
This portrait of God expresses His
"goodness" and also His "glory" of character. It is this aspect
Jesus has in mind when he declares to the woman of Samaria, "God
is Spirit" (not "a Spirit" which misleads) (John 4:24). The
character of God is described as "Spirit". It forms a great
contrast with the natural character of human flesh expressed in
its thinking and desires, and described by John as "the spirit of
the flesh ... of the world ... of error".
The Holiness of God
It follows from what we have just considered that God in His
nature and character is quite different from man. He dwells in
"light unapproachable", unseen by mortal eyes, says Paul. But His
"thoughts" (a term which always includes His purposes) are greater
than man's, as he said:
"For as the heavens
are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).
So God is "holy": that means He is
"set apart" from mankind. Man cannot blunder heedlessly into His
presence as if God were just another man. On account of their sins
they cannot approach Him at all, except in the way He indicates.
Israel were taught in the Law that approach in worship and
sacrifice could only be through the priests, the sons of Aaron,
whom God had Himself appointed. The aim of the Law was to develop
in the people of Israel that mind and character which were like
His. So He commanded them: "Be ye holy; for I am holy" (Leviticus
11:44); and Peter echoes this in writing to the early believers in
"But as he which
called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of living" (1
Jesus had already said as much to
the woman of Samaria --
"The hour cometh, and
now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in
spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in
spirit and in truth" (John 4:23,24).
The "holiness" which God requires
from true believers is not that ascetic spirit shown in time past
by hermits; nor is it to profess to worship God and to "go through
all the motions", and yet to manifest a spirit of mind which owes
more to human self-indulgence, covetousness and pride than it does
to the Spirit of God. God was not tolerant of such an attitude in
Israel. Nor will Jesus be at the Judgement. There are some to whom
he will say, "I never knew you: depart from me" (Matthew 7:23).
God as Father
"Our Father, which art in heaven This first line from "The Lord's
Prayer" used to be one of the best known in the New Testament.
Today it is much less frequently repeated. But even at the height
of its use, it is to be feared that the term "Father" was used in
a conventional sense without much thought about its implications.
In Old Testament times God had
already revealed Himself as a "Father". "Israel is my son, my
firstborn" (Exodus 4:22) was His declaration to Pharaoh in Egypt.
Through the long centuries of their experience the faithful
appreciated the relationship:
"Like as a father
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For
he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" (Psalm
In the New Testament the supreme
manifestation of God as Father is in the person of His beloved
Son. Jesus constantly refers to God as "my Father" and, when
addressing the disciples, as "your heavenly Father". The infinite
grace of God, so dear to the psalmists and prophets, was shown in
the giving of His Son as the atonement for sin. And so the
faithful are granted a new relationship with God, in which they
are not only "heirs with Christ" but "sons and daughters of God".
"Behold, what manner
of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called
children of God: and such we are" (1 John 3:1, R.V.).
But in these days of casual
familiarity it is easy to slip into the habit of thinking of God,
and indeed even addressing Him, as "one of us". Jesus kept his
priorities clear at all times, and particularly in his prayers. "I
thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (Matthew 11:25)
warns us that although God is truly our Father, He remains "Lord
of heaven and earth" and should be worshipped as such. Twice in
his prayer for the disciples shortly before his crucifixion, he
addresses God direct: "Holy Father ... 0 righteous Father" (John
17:11,25). There is no familiarity here, but a profound
recognition of this "otherness" from man.
Similarly the Apostle Paul, quoting
from the Law and applying the saying to the believers in Corinth,
urges them to "come out" and "be separate" from the idolatrous
worship and practices in Greek society. God promises them, "I will
be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters"; but
Paul does not hesitate to complete the quotation, "saith the
Lord Almighty", and to go on to urge his readers to cleanse
themselves "from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting
holiness in the fear of God", that is, in reverent worship (2
And in the prayer Jesus taught his
disciples he addressed God as: "Our Father, which art in
heaven" (Matthew 6:9). God is indeed a Father to the faithful,
showing all the care and concern that a father would feel for His
children. But those "sons and daughters", while appreciating His
grace and mercy towards them, must never presume to forget the
reverent worship which is His due. This balanced attitude is
severely threatened in our times of freedom of expression and
human rights. The Bible alone enables us to preserve that balance.
The Love of God
Today the most widely held view is that "God is love". Does not
the Apostle John say so in his epistle (1 John 4:1 6), and in his
gospel? "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son" that men and women should live and not die (John 3:1 6). God
is all kindness, it is said, and He would not condemn or reject
anyone. The result of this thinking is an emotional view of God,
formed from human desires. C.S. Lewis once described this as the
view of God as "a kindly grandfather", anxious only to keep His
children happy by gratifying their every wish.
But this is a gross perversion of
the love of God revealed in the Bible. No human father, earnestly
desiring his children's welfare, believes this result can be
achieved by gratifying their every wish. Now God is the Supreme
Father, who created the human race that they might reflect His own
character of truth, mercy and holiness. So "God created man in his
own image" (Genesis 1:27) and gave men and women remarkable powers
of reason, understanding, conscience and will -- all denied in the
same degree to the animals -- so that they might use them to
understand Him and develop characters fit for the eternal destiny
He desired for them.
This attitude towards erring
mankind, showing that He is "not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9), "who will
have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the
truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), is shown in His dealings with the nation
of Israel, described in Scripture as His "son", and also as His
"wife". Understanding these human relationships, and knowing that
essentially their success lies in mutual dependence and
selflessness, helps to explain the qualities of patience and
compassion God exhibits to His individual children.
When Jesus was describing to his
followers God's never-failing interest in His children's welfare,
he told the story of the prodigal son. The Father's pain when his
son demands his portion and his rights echoes God's own hurt when
men and women wish to strike out on their own, heedless of His
ways and His loving care. In the parable, the father's constant
watchfulness mirrors God's, who ever waits to receive repentant
sinners who can be covered by the clothing for sin provided
through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nor is this description of God
found only in the New Testament or in the teaching of the Lord.
The prophet Hosea's personal experiences with a faithless wife
were no different from the treatment God Himself received from the
wayward nation of Israel. Just as Hosea took back his wife, so God
always stretched out His arms to receive Israel again. In doing
so, however, He did not show any approval of what His people had
done: the experiences they endured because of their faithlessness
were intended to teach them about the kind of lives His children
should be living.
So there emerges the great
principle that it is not the personal desires of men and women
which have first place in God's purpose for them, but their
ultimate good. The attitude of God is indeed of mercy, kindness,
grace and forgiveness towards His children, as the New Testament
so abundantly declares; but it is all within the framework of
their ultimate welfare in His purpose.
The Wrath of God
But what if men and women turn their backs on Him, reject His
authority, ignore His commandments and proceed to do their own
will? One thing is clear. Since God is Lord of heaven and earth,
and Creator of mankind, He cannot ignore their rebellion, for that
would be to abdicate His authority in the very world He has
created. He must try to correct the situation, to get people to
change their ways. This He does by bringing pressures to bear upon
them. One of the clearest examples is the case of Israel under the
Judges, after the death of Joshua:
"The children of
Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and forgat the LORD their
God, and served the Baalim and the Asheroth (R.V., pagan gods).
Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he
sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia;
and the children of Israel served him eight years. And when the
children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a
deliverer ... who saved them ... " (Judges 3:7-9).
The lessons are clear. Israel's
abandonment of their God, who had delivered them from Egypt,
aroused His anger. He brings pressure to bear upon them in the
form of foreign invasion and slavery. After a time the pressure
has its effect -- Israel repented. Their repentance was evidently
genuine, for God was quick to respond and bring deliverance.
This pattern is repeated many times
in lsrael's history. About 700 B.C. the Assyrians destroy the
Northern Kingdom based on Samaria; and eventually the Babylonians
overthrow the Southern Kingdom of Judah, about 600 B.C. Why did
God permit these invasions? Because, despite all His efforts in
sending His prophets to appeal to the people and warn them, "They
mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words". The record
ends with this significant comment:
... until the wrath
of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy"
(2 Chronicles 36:16).
When, despite all appeals, people
will not repent, God puts an end to the situation. This is what He
did at the Flood, when the earth was "corrupt" and "filled with
violence ... all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth"
(Genesis 6:11,12). That generation of mankind would not repent;
they could not be reformed. The only solution was to remove them,
in order that the purpose of God could continue in a faithful
Before we come to the New
Testament, two terms used of God in the Old need consideration. In
a few passages God is declared to be "a jealous God". The
term gives offence to modern readers because it is taken in its
popular sense and suggests a certain human pettiness. But this is
to misunderstand its Scriptural meaning. There it is always used
of God in warnings to Israel against forsaking Him and turning
away to idols:
"Ye shall not go
after other gods, of the gods of the peoples which are round about
you; for the LORD thy God ... is a jealous God; lest (his) anger
be kindled against thee, and he destroy thee" (Moses to Israel,
Deuteronomy 6:14-15, R.V.).
Now it is significant that the same
root word is sometimes translated "zeal" and "zealous". God
Himself tells us what He is zealous for:
"I am the LORD; that
is my name: and my glory will I not give to another,
neither my praise to graven images" (Isaiah 42:8).
The Lord God of heaven and earth is
determined that the worship due to Him shall not be given instead
to mere objects of human creation or imagination. This is His
"zeal". It is connected with His wrath, for ultimately He will
judge those who despise His worship.
The second term is "the
vengeance of the Lord". Modern usage suggests a spirit of
revenge, characteristic of human nature but unworthy of God. Again
it is necessary to understand the term in its Biblical sense. The
"vengeance of the Lord" is used of His judgement of sinners. But
the same attribute is used in connection with the saving of the
faithful. Isaiah well expresses this latter aspect:
"Strengthen ye the
weak hands Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong ...
behold your God will come with vengeance, with the
recompense of God (R.V.); he will come and save you"
The vengeance of God is always
righteous retribution. It is a judgement which is deserved because
of persistent sin, the vindication of God's holiness and truth in
the face of human obduracy and pride.
The New Testament and
As the judgement of God came upon the nation of Israel for their
persistent apostasy and sin, so it will come upon our world for
its godlessness and immorality. In a striking passage Jesus
compares "the day when the Son of man is revealed" (i.e. when he
returns to the earth), to the judgements of the Flood and of Sodom
"As it was in the
days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man
... " (Luke 1 7:26-30).
It is the consistent theme of the
New Testament that there is to be a day of judgement for the
world. Paul assures the faithful in Thessalonica that God will
judge 11 at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the
angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them
that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our
Lord Jesus ..." (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 -- the whole passage
should be read).
This is such a forthright
description of judgement that it shocks most modern thinkers. But
Paul is using the language of the Law and the Prophets: the
"vengeance" is that righteous retribution already discussed; those
who "know not God" are not so much the ignorant as those who do
not "acknowledge Him"; and to "obey not" the gospel is really
actively to reject and disobey. Whatever we may feel, there is no
doubt about Paul's message.
But the New Testament also declares
that when Christ returns there will be an individual judgement for
those who have known the gospel. A distinction will be made
between "the righteous", those who have sought to be faithful, and
"the wicked". the unfaithful. As Paul declares:
"We shall all stand
before the judgement seat of Christ ... So then every one of us
shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:10-12).
Judgement, then, is part of the
revelation of the purpose of God, His determination not to
tolerate lasting sin, sometimes called in the Scriptures, "the
wrath of God".
Our God is Real
Enough has been written to show that, far from being vague and
shadowy, the portrait of God in the Bible is full of detail. The
Lord God Almighty is not only eternal in nature and majestic in
power; He is a God who deals in the realities of the world and of
human nature. Having begun by creating the human race to dwell
upon the earth, He has pursued ever since His resolute purpose "to
take out of the nations a people for his name". That purpose is
now approaching its climax when, with the return of His Son to the
earth in times of great perplexity and fear, His Name will be
known from one end of the world to the other in preparation for
the day when
"... the earth shall
be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the
waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).
Meantime, what of us who desire to
be His faithful servants and to wait in patient service for the
revelation of that day? Here are two New Testament statements
which are very enlightening:
"God (is) our
Saviour, who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the
knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3,4).
"God is longsuffering
to us-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
The first striking thought that
emerges is that of the gracious will of God towards mankind. He
desires the welfare of them all, that they should live and not
die. But the second is that He requires some action of them. He
has revealed His saving truth in His Word, the Bible, and He
expects them to get to know what it is. That truth, in the gospel
proclaimed by Christ and the apostles, will inevitably bring them
to recognise their own shortcomings in a "change of mind", which
is what repentance means. And that in turn will bring them into
relationship with the God of heaven, with eventually the great
prize of eternal life for faithful service.
In short, God is so real that He is
proposing to alter the basic reality of our human nature with all
its suffering and death, into another like His own and like that
of His Son. This God cannot be ignored. His Word is waiting to be
opened and read. What are we waiting for?
-- Fred Pearce