By Frank J. Ewart
“What could be easier than to form a catena of the most philosophical defenders of Christianity, who have exhausted language in declaring the utter impotence of the unassisted intellect, in dealing with the Absolute? ‘Trust your reason,’ we are told, till we are tired of the phrase, ‘and you will become Atheists or Agnostics.’ We take you at your word; we become Agnostics.” -LESLIE STEPHEN.
“I thank Thee, O, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou halt hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes.”—JESUS.
“We speak the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery, which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it they never would have crucified the Lord of the
IN THE second quotation given above, Jesus plainly states that “THESE THINGS” that are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes, are double revelations about the identities of God and His Son: “No man knoweth who the Son is but the Father; likewise knoweth no man who the Father is but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Doctor Weymouth translates, “It” for “Him,” in this passage. (Luke 10:22) 22) The reason is that a mystery is involved: The only being in the world who knew the identity of The Son was The Father; likewise the only being on earth who knew the identity of the Father was the SON. When the question of the identity of the Son came up, a man had to go beyond the limits of “flesh and blood” to get a revelation of the mystery—even to the ONE BEING who knew the secret. “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
This revelation was of tremendous significance, as the Master showed by His statement regarding it: “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter (Greek, Petros—a little rock) and upon this rock (Greek, Petra) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He does not promise to build His Church on Peter, as Roman Catholics claim, but upon Himself, as Divinely revealed, as Peter is careful to tell us afterwards. (I. Peter 2:4-9) In other words, the Church of Christ is built on a revelation from the Father of the identity of the Son. If you wish a revelation of the identity of the Son, go to the Father: for, “no man knoweth who the Son is but the Father.”
When a man was exercised in spirit about the identity of the Father, and interrogated, emphatically: “Show us the Father?” Jesus answered him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phillip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou, then, Shew us the Father?” Then the explanation of the mystery: “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me!” Then the supreme evidence that there was no separate identity between the Father and the Son: “The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
A brief summary of the absolute evidences of no separate identity, therefore, would be—As to sight: “He that seeth me sees the Father.” As to words: “He that hears me don’t hear me, but him that sent me.” As to works: “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Surely Jesus gave Paul this same identical revelation from Heaven; for he claimed to receive a revelation of Jesus Christ, and he tells us, “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And again, “Who is the visible representation of the invisible God.” (Weymouth—Col. 2: 9; I: 15) So here we have the double mystery exemplified: A man sought a revelation of the Son and he got it from the Father, and likewise a man sought a revelation of the Father and he got it from the Son.
Let us elaborate on the startling thought given us in Doctor Weymouth’s translation of Col. 1:15, “Who is the visible representation of the invisible God.” Without adding to the speculative discussion, regarding the logical or scriptural right to use the word, “PERSON” about God, apart from His unveiling in the “Person” of His Son, (it is a settled fact among Bible students that the word “Person” is never used in the original languages as describing God, either in the New or the Old Testaments, apart from His Son) we find the words used by Doctor Weymouth, namely: “Visible and invisible,” seem to clearly indicate that the matchless, invisible loveliness and beauty of the Father’s character was made visible and mentally apprehensible in the Son.
The photographic art was not in use in the day of the Son of Man. In order to preserve a true photo of the inward, invisible beauty of character, displayed in and by the man who was called “God’s Fellow,” (Zech. 13:7) and manifest Him as what He is universally recognized to be—the truest, and wisest, and purest, and noblest and best Being that ever walked on the shores of time—four pictures were made and handed down to future generations. They are all masterpieces, and just as the original Name of God (which was spelled with four Hebrew letters) described God’s character, so these four photos describe the One indivisible, peerless person of the Father and the Son, or the Father in the Son.
Matthew’s picture is painted or drawn from the Jewish viewpoint, specifically, and his slogan is: “Behold the King!” Firstly, His person; secondly, His propaganda; thirdly, His passion. Mark’s picture is drawn from the viewpoint of the Servant, and follows closely Matthew’s outline. Luke’s Gospel has been called, “The analytical picture,” and the masterly diction and technique of the scholar is its distinctive characteristic. John gives us a picture from the viewpoint of His Deity. So the slogans of the wonderful four-fold pictures are: Behold the King! Behold the Servant! Behold the Man! Behold the God!
Now, as has already been indicated in this book, the original Name of God, translated into English in the words, “I AM,” contains the meaning of the Self-existant One, but also, “I WILL BE!” or the One Who will be declared, unveiled or made visible. So Paul declares, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake unto the fathers through the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us through his Son. (Greek, out of a son—Heb. 1: 1-2) Jesus confirmed the fact expressed in this literal rendering, when He declared, “He that heareth me heareth him that sent me.” Is it any wonder, then, that His hearers declared, “Never man spake like this man!” Now, in a very arresting and significant sense, the ministry of Jesus, both in word and deed, was nothing more or less than a “proclamation of the Name of the Lord.” In His ministry the demonstration and the proclamation were one and indivisible. There was absolutely no disparity between profession and practice. His words and acts were harmonious. All discords were eliminated, because God is absolute harmony, and the life and teachings of Jesus may be aptly described as, “God expressing Himself in the terms of a human life.” In this sense God’s person, as displayed or unveiled in Jesus, is inseparable from His Name. Indeed, in God’s revealed mind, this fact has always been predominant: When Moses asked God to shew him His Glory, God answered by promising him that He would pass by, and proclaim the Name of the Lord.
The writers of the New Testament, without a single exception, emphatically agree that Divine Love is the greatest thing in the Christian experience. Paul writes the thirteenth chapter of the First Corinthian letter, and although love was far from being his strong characteristic naturally, after contrasting love with other gifts in the sphere of Christian service, without a moment’s hesitation, his decision falls: “The greatest of these is love.” Peter exhorts, “Above all things, have fervent love in yourselves.” Above all things! is a comparative expression. John wrote the startling statement which gives us the reason why love is the greatest thing in the religious world: “God is Love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.”
Not a few humble, reverent students of God’s Word have been arrested in the spirit and awed into profound reverence and adoration by the above quoted text of Scripture; and then, turning to the first Corinthian letter and thirteenth chapter, that awe and reverence is tremendously intensified. However, if we will observe very closely, we will discover that as Paul is speaking of the pneumatika (spiritual gifts for adequate service in the assembly) and after a citation of nine of these gifts, with their various uses, he ends up with the startling statement, “But covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” The division in chapters here is most unfortunate. There is no break in the thought. The more excellent way of service is by the power of Divine Love. This is greater than any of the gifts of the Spirit, because it is the very essence of God’s nature as revealed in the Word of God.
When the initial body who were forming themselves into a creed, which is now well known as the Presbyterian Church, were deliberating about a true definition of God, they had arrived at an embarrassing part in their deliberations, through no adequate definition being at hand. The Moderator called a halt and asked a humble brother to pray. He reverently began with the statement, “Oh God, Thou art Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in Thy being: wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” This was enough for their purpose, and they at once gripped it and it went down almost as the brother uttered it. This is beautiful indeed, but it is not an adequate definition of God because it only defines God’s attributes. But the text, “God is love,” tells us what He is in Himself. This text reveals His very nature. For instance, in speaking of justice, we know that justice is an attribute of God. But He is not justice; God is love. This fact gives us a revelation of God’s very nature. Since God is love, and we are granted many “great and exceeding precious promises whereby we may become partakers of the divine nature.” It follows, as a logical sequence, that unless Divine Love—which is God’s very nature—dominates the use of the gifts of the Spirit, or even the manifestation of the attributes of God’s nature, such as justice, wisdom, truth, etc., these are manifestly out of order. Paul allows the use of the gift of tongues in the assembly, if it can be interpreted, in order that the members may be edified; but if there is no interpreter present, he enjoins silence on the part of the gifted person. Why? There can be only one reason. Love must rule in a
Divinely regulated assembly, and Love is not ruling when one member is allowed to operate a gift which does not edify the whole assembly. When a preacher of the Word gets out of control of the Spirit of love, which may be called the “emotions of the Deity,” and preaches about God’s truth, he is manifestly out of order, because he is exalting a mere attribute of God, above God’s very nature.
That is why love is treated by Paul and other New Testament writers as a great motive power in the ministry and service of the Lord. This is why the cluster of Divine paradoxes appear in the great love classic, I Cor. 13th chapter. If love were what the majority of Christian people think, then Paul could not say that a man who gave all his goods to feed the poor, his body to be burned at the stake, may not have it. The authorized translators put the inefficient word “charity” into the text, and this is where the majority get their definition of what love is. Charity is inseparably linked up with fleshly accommodation. “Giving all my goods to the poor,” describes clarity, but a man may do this and miss the mark of Divine Love.
This chapter ought to convince the most phlegmatic of one thing, and that is: if a preacher cannot preach his message so that love, which is the very essence of God, dominates and regulates, then either he or his message is manifestly out of the Divine order.
If we make it an invariable rule in our assemblies that Divine Love must predominate, and call a halt when this rule is broken, our assemblies will take on more of the nature of the Apostolic rule and authority. The sick will be healed, every one, and life, vigor, and beauty will prevail throughout the entire body, when Divine Love is at the helm. It is said of Dwight L. Moody, the great Apostle of Love, that whenever he referred to hell, he was visibly affected. This was the proof that he believed in it; and it may be said right here, that the more excellent way to persuade people that there is such a thing as hell torture, is not to cast recklessly about you the thunderbolts of God’s wrath; but to speak of that awful place of torment, with a spirit so overwhelmed with compassion and love for those who are going there, that people will know that there is such a place, and run into God’s city of refuge. If you cannot preach hell with the compassion and love of God in manifestation, in the Name of Jesus do not approach this unspeakable reality until you can. The great reason why the vast majority of people do not accept the theology of a Bible hell is because the preacher can treat the awful reality with the most puzzling levity.
This is not only true of this tremendous truth, but it applies to all. The audience should not be left to speculate about the preacher’s honesty. His every expression should be freighted with Divine Love. People will know that you believe the eternal truths you are preaching, and they will know that you know they believe in your sincerity. This is Love’s sovereign conquest. Since God is love, dear reader, you are obligated to yield your whole being as a vehicle of the Divine Nature. This kind of a ministry will not divide the people into many diverse creeds, but will consolidate them into a many membered body—the Creedless Christ, ever and essentially One.
The apostles—who were delegated and Divinely equipped to perpetuate the demonstration, and the proclamation of the Name of God, in human life and language (John said, “as He is, so are we in this world.”)—received the Christ life in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This equipment constituted them absolute demonstrators of the truth they preached.
They imparted this life to others through their preaching and laying on of their hands, and as soon as that life was received, suitable raiment was created in which to clothe it. The life must come first, for “Life is more than raiment.” This is precisely the reason why so many theological systems are exploded with the incoming of the real Scriptural baptism of the Holy Spirit. That experience connects you up with the source of all life and light and truth. It is vain to try and patch up the old garment with this new material, because the new agreeth not with the old and will be rent asunder. The holy veil, rent by an unseen hand, at the entrance of the Holy of Holies, in the temple, when Jesus died, demonstrated this great truth. The Temple ritual continued for some forty years after that, but it was a minister of death. The veil symbolized the entire system, which was also rent from top to bottom. The mystery of all this is unveiled by Paul in the Hebrew letter: “By the rending of the veil, that is to say His flesh, He opened up a new and living way.” This new and living way is “the more excellent way,” of Corinthians, 13th chapter. Jesus, when asked about the way, answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” His theme was Himself. The Apostles took up the theme that He laid down. They preached Christ. Peter’s theme, on the Day of Pentecost, was a “living resurrected Christ.”
They had unity on that day, and for some time afterwards. They had the languages of the diverse nationalities assembled, and they were transformed into universal linguists. They had kingdom power, and authority to heal all the sick; and they had all things in common. However, every close student of the record can see just when and how that limitless power began to wane. It was quenched by the introduction of the tenets of Judea-ism. They mixed law and grace. They held their meetings in the doomed Temple buildings, and in the deserted synagogues. In short, they tried an experiment which Jesus told them would not work; they put the new wine into old skins and both were destroyed.
Every unit of Christendom has the apparent characteristic of turning the life stream of Calvary into a sectarian channel. They announce, by the introduction of particular and distinctive laws and rules regarding fellowship, their belief that life and power depend on a correct system of doctrine. This is not necessarily so at all. On the other hand, the more intricate doctrine you have the more divided you really are. They had no doctrine at Pentecost, but they had such a unity as the world has never seen since. It is Christ who unites; it is doctrines that divide.
Ask a large congregation of Christians, “What do you believe?” and the answers will be as many and as diverse as the crowd, for no two persons believe exactly alike. Ask the same congregation, “Whom do you trust?” Then you have absolute unity in the answer. Someone has truly said, “If the emphasis in our approach to Christianity is ‘what,’ then it is divisive, but if the emphasis is ‘whom,’ then we are all drawn together at the place of the Central Magnet.” One has the tendency of the centripetal. Christ is the hub that holds together, in Himself, the divided spokes.
Do not misunderstand me; the “what emphasis” is important, and a body of doctrine is bound to grow up around Him. We cannot do without doctrine. But let it be continually held in the white light of His Person, and be maintained under the constant corrective of His Holy Life. Let us remind ourselves that no creed can give life; no doctrinal truth, however ennobling, can save a human soul from death. They must be saved by a Person, only by a Person, and by One Person.
In all reformations since the days of Luther, people have invariably repeated his grave mistake. His slogan was, “Back from the Pope to the Bible.” It should have been, “Back from the Pope to Christ.” The Bible did not produce Christ; Christ produced the Bible. Christ did not come out of the Bible; the Bible came out of Him. It did not create Him; He created it.
If the beauty of Christ’s person, and the power and glory of His Name are to be perpetuated on the earth, and the prophetic fore view of Isaiah fulfilled: “Who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living?” Then, answering his own startling and significant question, the Prophet continues: “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” (Isa. 53: 8-10) Then, out of the “hurly-burly” of our contentious religious life, will have to come a body of Christians—one and indivisible—seeing the same vision, and speaking the same thing. The Living Word will be made flesh once again. The Divine declaration will be repeated in the ears of a startled world: “This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him!” And the people of this earth, with flashing eye and bated breath will testify as His witnesses, saying, “We beheld His glory; the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth.”
“The names of the heathen gods were fables and shadows. But the question concerning the Name of Jesus is of more importance than all things else under heaven. Yet there is this singularity (among a thousand others) to the Christian religion: that human reason, curious as it is, in all other things, abhors to inquire into it.”—JOHN WESLEY.
“O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”—SHAKESPEARE.
The above article, “God’s Name and His Person” was written by Frank J. Ewart. The article was excerpted from chapter nine in Ewart’s book, The Name and the Book.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.