I've just realised I've never really posted on why my blog's called Christ the Truth. That's a bit of an oversight. So let me now begin a series on how Christ is the starting point for all true theology. It's taken from this paper on my website.
Christians believe in revelation.
We know God, not through our efforts and ingenuity, but by the gracious gift of His self-revelation. The question of how God reveals Himself will, therefore, affect every aspect of our theology. If we get this issue wrong - everything else will go awry.
With this in mind let's turn to Matthew 11:25-30 and hear Jesus set us straight on the fundamentals of revelation.
At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
From this, a number of things can be said:
Firstly, revelation is a fact. It is not a possibility. Revelation of the things of God has happened. We must not waste any time wondering about the "possibility of revelation". We know that the infinite can communicate with the finite precisely because it has happened!
How has it happened? Well at first glance we may get the impression that God's revelation is grudging, indistinct or enigmatic. Verse 26 says the Father takes pleasure in hiding the truth from the wise and learned. Verse 27 seems to present an impenetrable union between Father and Son. The Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father. The question is, how can we break into this intimate family secret? Is there a way into a knowledge of God?
Yes there is! The Son chooses to reveal the Father. In verse 27 we see the hiding place which the Father has chosen for all the things of God - all things are hidden in Jesus.
This must be a truth we live by as Christians. God the Father has chosen to mediate all His revelation through Jesus, God the Son. "No-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him." To know God - we must come to Jesus. Jesus is the One to Whom the wise and learned refuse to come. Yet He is the One to whom all the little children can come in dependence and love. And when people come to Him to learn the truth - Jesus liberally reveals the very deepest things of God.
In verse 28, Jesus calls all people to come to Him, the great Revealer, and He presents this coming in terms of entering rest. The implication is clear - to come to true revelation is to come to true salvation. Both are offered freely in the Son.
Jesus makes the link between revelation and salvation even more explicitly in John 17:3. There He says: "This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Coming to know God through Jesus is salvation. Revelation and salvation go together.
The Bible gives us both sides of this truth again and again:
Fallen humanity does not know God
1 Samuel 3:7; Psalm 14; Matthew 7:24-27; 11:25-26; John 1:5; 1:18; 5:37-38; 7:28-29; 8:19; 14:17; 15:21; 17:25-26; Romans 1:18; 3:10-18; 8:7; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2:11-14; 3:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:17-19; Colossians 1:21; 2:6-8
To know God is to be saved by Him
Proverbs 1:7; Matthew 11:25-30; John 1:10-13, 18; 14:6-9; 17:3; Rom 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; Eph 4:17-21; 1 Tim 2:3-4
All that we know about God, we must learn from Jesus. Jesus is the point of contact between God and humanity. God can only be known in the place of His choosing. God chooses this place by committing all things into the hands of Jesus. We must come to Him or we remain without hope and without God in the world.
All Christian truth, all true statements about God, must be built upon, defined by and shaped after Jesus, the Word of the Father, for we have no other presentation of God.
The Apostles John and Paul agree:
John 1:18: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known.
Colossians 1:15: He [Christ] is the Image of the invisible God
Jesus is not an optional extra in our theology - He is the foundation. He is the pole star that guides all our theological enquiries. Anything we want to know about God the Father or indeed God the Trinity, we must arrive at by thinking through 'who is Jesus?' The Father has chosen Jesus as the point of contact between Himself and us, we must always go to Jesus.
This post begins a series on theological method. The other posts are here...