In two previous posts we looked at the attributes of special revelation (God's Word) and the attributes of general revelation. While it was not an exhaustive discussion, we argued that God's revelation is necessary, authoritative, perspicuous, and sufficient. These attributes make a healthy acronym NAPS.
In this post we want to argue that Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, and the climax of God's revelation to us is also a revelation of God that is necessary, authoritative, perspicuous, and sufficient.
Two verses to begin:
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Necessity of Christ. Once God determined to redeem a people unto Himself and that this redemption would be a revelation of Himself and His character it was necessary for Christ to come. No one has ever seen God, nor will anyone ever see God fully as he is. While we can know God, we will never come to know God has he knows himself. The finite cannot contain the infinite.
Once God determined to reveal himself it was necessary for the Son to come because the Son is the eternal Word (John 1:1). The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's nature. (Heb. 1:3). Or as Col. 1:15 says "the image of the invisible God"--which I take to be referring to the Son's pre-incarnate being not merely his role after the incarnation (although it applies to his incarnation as well).
What we are saying is this: it had to be the Son who came to reveal God the way that he did. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit could not simply draw straws, as it were, or play "einee-minee-minee-moe" to determine which person of the Trinity would become incarnate. No--man was made in the image of God--and only the one who was the eternal image of the Father-- the eternal Son--could condescend into the created image of God, humanity.
If God's revelation was going to come to a climax that would entail a true revelation of His being then it would have to be the Son who came. His revelation is superior and the eschatological 'last days' of God's redemptive history. If history was going to move to this climax, as God planned, then it was necessary that God's self-revelation exceed all prior revelations given in the written Word. The only way for this was for the eternal Word of be made flesh.
Authoritative. The revelation of the Son is authoritative. Jesus says "if you have seen me you have seen the Father" (John 14:9). According to John 5:19-24, 14:10, the Son can do nothing on his own but speaks and acts wit the authority of the Father. He is an absolutely authoritative in his revelation (1) by virtue of his own person, being truly God; (2) by virtue of his communion and union with the Father and (3) by virtue of being the eternal Word.
Perspicuity. Christ's revelation of God is clear. He has truly made God known. Those who reject Christ do not reject him on the basis not having enough evidence, they reject him because their hearts suppress the evidence. Just to give you an idea of how clear the revelation of God is in the Son consider 1 John 1:1-3:
1 John 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
The revelation is clear and coupled with redemption provides a basis for real fellowship and communion with God.
Not only is Jesus clear in and of himself, He is a clear revelation of the Father. The Son has made the Father known (Jn. 1:18).
Moses may had been graced to see the 'back' of God on Mt. Sinai. But the climax of God's revelation is not the 'face of God' because no man can see God and live. However, God condescends in the Son so that there is a complete and completely clear revelation of God in the Son. The Son was seen, touch and heard. To look upon his human face was to look upon the face of God. Even more in his resurrected and exalted state the glory of God shines out through Christ but in a manner that does not eradicate humanity and all creation.
Sufficient. The revelation of Christ is sufficient. It is all we need. The revelation is a true revelation but it is not an exhaustive revelation. As we mentioned, we will never see and know God as God sees and knows himself. This will always be impossible for us to have this complete of a knowledge of God. But we can have real knowledge of God and true knowledge of God.
God stoops to our level and sends the Son to reveal. The revelation is sufficient. We can, in the Son, know what we need to know, although we always know it was creatures.
Other point concerning the sufficiency of the revelation is that there is not ongoing revelations of Christ, at least in this age. We have sufficient knowledge of him. We got what we needed to see Him and worship Him.
Rather than looking for new revelations and ongoing divine speaking, we should rest in what has been giving. It is sufficient and we should rejoice in the clarity of what has been giving. God has so made himself known to us that He gave his Son. More than that the Son died in order to bring people to God so that they could know God.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, uthat they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.