The Personality of God

Originally published on Youth Instructor June 6, 1905, pgs. 1, 2


“No man hath seen God at any time.” John 1 : 18. No mortal can see his face and live. Ex. 33: 20. He dwells in light unapproachable. 1 Tim. 6:16. The matchless splendor. the transcendent glory, which surrounds the eternal God no pen can ever portray, nor human mind comprehend. His effulgence is above the brilliancy of the sun. Acts 26: 12, 13 ; Rev. 1: 16. His very throne is like the burning flame. He is the creator and up-holder of the boundless universe. He has filled by his power the fathomless regions of space with worlds, suns, and systems, and fixed by a word their orbit. Before his eternal and incomparable greatness. nations are but a drop in the bucket, and the small dust in the balance. Never by searching can we find out God. Job 11:17; Isa. 4o:28. All effort to fully comprehend. him stuns the imagination, and overwhelms the reason.

But notwithstanding his incomprehensibility, let it never be forgotten that God is a real being, a personality, and dwells in a particular place. The Father is a person; the Son also, though. separate and distinct from his Father. He does not dwell in beasts and birds, in the trees, and in the grass as the Buddhist believes, but he dwells in heaven, between the cherubim. The “Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” Acts 7:48. ” Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high” Ps. 113: 5. ” Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place.” x Kings 8: 39; 2 Chron. 6:3o, 39. ” Give ear, 0 Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.” Ps. 8o: r. In the earthly sanctuary there was a cherubim on either end of the mercy-seat, and the Lord said, ” I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony.” Ex. 25 : 22. This was an example and shadow of heavenly things. It reveals God in a definite locality. Christ ascended to his Father in heaven (John 20: 17), and taught us to pray to our Father in heaven. Matt. 6: 9.

To deny the personality of God is the most arrant unbelief. It is well-nigh blasphemy. It demolishes at a stroke the divinity of God, and virtually abolishes the Deity. It overthrows the foundation of the Christian religion, by substituting the pagan notion of a god who is everywhere equally present, working through nature, dwelling in plants and animals, for the God of Christianity, who has his abode in heaven. The God of the Bible dwells in heaven, has a real throne, surrounded with an innumerable host of real angels, who are sent forth as messengers throughout his endless universe. Of this there is abundance of Bible testimony. Let us study carefully a few texts:—

“And the Father himself, which bath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” John 5: 37. These words of Jesus state as truly that the Father has shape as that he has a voice. It would be as sensible to deny the one as the other. And that which has shape must be material, and be in some particular place more than another. The same thing is stated in Phil. 2: 5, 6. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” This scripture tells us that God has a form, and that Christ bore the image of his Father.

Again we read: ” God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Heb. 1: 1-3, R. V. From this we see that the Father has a “substance.” and that his only begotten Son bears his “very image,” though a distinct and separate being, or, as Rotherham’s translation says, an exact representation of his very being.” In view of this we can readily understand why Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” John 14:9. In form and’ character he was the very image of the Father, and to see him was to see the Father. But both have form and substance, as the texts declare.

In the creation of man in the beginning the Father entered into consultation with his Son. and said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Gen. I : 26. And the record states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Verse 27. Webster defines “image” as “a similitude of any person or thing. sculptured, drawn, or otherwise made perceptible to the sight.” Then as Adam stood in his primeval innocence, as he came from the plastic hand of his Creator, he bore not only his character, but his image in outward form as well. If the language of these scriptures does not convey clearly the fact that God is a real person, it is hard to conceive of any language that would do so.

Furthermore, we read of Moses. Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, who went up in the mount, “and they saw the God of Israel,” and speak of his hands and his feet. Ex. 24:9-1 I. In response to the request of Moses to behold the glory of God, the Lord told him that he could not see his face, “for there shall no man see me. and live.” But the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by. that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” Ex. 33: 18-23. This language is certainly descriptive of a real being. It speaks of his face, feet, hands, and back parts.

Then, wrapped in holy vision, seers of long ago have seen God, and recorded in the Bible the most sublime description of him. “I beheld till the thrones were cast down. and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set. .and the books were opened.” Dan. 7; 9, 10. A similar description is given by John. Rev. 1: 12-18. Both of these are descriptions of a real being before whom angels stand. They speak of his head, hair, eyes. feet. ‘hands, and face. To treat this as figurative is to make the most sublime description of the eternal God ever written by the pen of mortals, meaningless. Another servant of the Lord’ beheld in vision the same glorious image, and has given a similar description. “I saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance, and admired his lovely person. The Father’s person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered him. I asked Jesus if his Father had a form like himself. He said he had, but I could not behold it, for, said he, if you should once behold the glory of his person, you would cease to exist.”—” Early Writings,” page 45.

“The Father was enshrouded with a body of light and glory, so
that his person could not be seen, yet I knew that it was the Father, and that from his person emanated this light and glory. When I saw this body of light and glory rise from the throne, I knew it was because the Father moved. . . . The glory, or excellency, of his form, I never saw; no one could behold it and live; yet the body of light and glory that enshrouded his person, could be seen.”— Id., Supplement, page 8.

How exceedingly precious the promise that while we can not see our Father now because of sin, the day is drawing on apace when we “shall see his face” (Rev. 22 :4), when we shall be changed, and shall “see him as he is.” 1 John 4:2.

G. B. THOMPSON.

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