Updated: Jan 10
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”…
“You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-4 NIV
Satan’s lies insinuated the worst about God. God isn’t honest. He’s hiding important knowledge from you! You can’t trust Him!
Sadly, Adam and Eve believed Satan and it destroyed their concept of God . No longer could they see God clearly. Fear and doubt nurtured rebellion in the human heart and the earth quickly became full of evil.
God knew His earth-born children could never be happy without Him so He began to reveal Himself through general revelations of Himself. He surrounded humanity with the beauties of nature, gave them minds to think, and guided the affairs of their lives “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:27.
But God didn’t stop there. He sent prophets to speak His Words and give a clear revelation of Himself. Their written messages became the Bible, God’s Holy Book of 66 books written by 40 authors over 1600 years. The Bible is specific revelation whose divinely inspired messages give us a clear picture of God’s dealings with humanity.
Jesus, The Ultimate Revelation of God
Yet God knew we needed another specific revelation of His character – one wrapped in flesh and blood. Why? Because our sinful nature cannot comprehend God in His majesty. So He veiled His glory and became a human to help us clearly see what God is like.
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:1-3 **
Did you catch that? Jesus is the “express image of His person”. That means Jesus is exactly like God. He perfectly represents the character, love and intentions of God. “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” John 1:18 NLT
“To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, “with healing in His wings.” Malachi 4:2. Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 22.
Do you want to know God? Then look to Jesus, the incarnate Son of God as He is revealed in scripture. (1 John 1:1, John 5:29) The picture doesn’t get any clearer than that.
What is the Incarnation?
What does it mean that Jesus was incarnated? Simply this: Jesus, being fully God, took on human flesh and became fully human. He was fully divine AND fully human.
Let’s break that down.
Jesus, the Living Word, was, and is, fully God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
Jesus is the Creator and the source of all life. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:3-4
Through a miracle of the Holy Spirit’s power, Jesus took on humanity. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will over shadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
Jesus became fully human, experiencing the trials and joys inherent in the human condition. Yet He also remained fully divine so He could reveal God’s character to us. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
What the Incarnation Reveals About God
What does the incarnation have to do with you and I today? What can we learn about God from the specific revelation we find in Jesus’ incarnation?
Here are seven important facets of God’s character that are most clearly revealed through the incarnation:
- God’s glory is His self-sacrificing love. God’s love for you and I compelled Him to come to this earth to live and die for our salvation.“The glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it [is] seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which “seeketh not her own” has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.” Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 19.“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
- God planned ahead for your redemption. The entrance of sin into our world, though terrible in every way, did not take God by surprise. In His omniscience, He foresaw its existence and made provision to rescue you long before sin ever polluted our planet. Jesus’ rescue mission is the “revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began” Romans 16:25. He is the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8.
- God wants to be with you. When God led His people through the wilderness, He invited them to “make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8. But God wanted to do more than live in a tent in the middle of the camp. He longed to be WITH His children. So He “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Jesus still wants to dwell with you. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23.
- God’s law is permanent and unchangeable. God’s law says “the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. If God could have changed His law, as many allege, Jesus would not have had to die for us. The very fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins shows the permanence of God’s law . “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18.
- God is a friend of sinners. “Since Jesus came to dwell with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials, and sympathizes with our griefs. Every son and daughter of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners. In every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine attraction presented in the Saviour’s life on earth, we see “God with us.” Ellen White, Desire of Ages,p. 24. “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but [One who] was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrew 4:15. “I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” John 15:14-15.
- God is committed to your transformation. Sin destroys. That’s why God won’t leave you in your sin. Jesus’ perfect life on earth shows us that we too can overcome sin and live a holy life. We can’t do it alone. But then, neither did Jesus. “He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God. He says, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8 Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 24. God’s promise is that “He who calls you [to be blameless and holy] is faithful, and He also will do it” 1 Thessalonians 5:24.
- God values Scripture. Holy Scripture enabled Jesus to live a holy life. He responded to every temptation of Satan by quoting Old Testament Scriptures (Matthew 4:1-11). Throughout His ministry, He pointed His hearers to the Scriptures as the basis for their faith in Him. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39 “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 24:44-45
Getting to Know Jesus
If Jesus is truly the clearest revelation of God’s character, than it is imperative that you and I get to know Him. Sadly, we can no longer walk and talk with Him as the disciples did. But we can know Him just as well as they did. The apostle John tells us we can have fellowship with Jesus just like he did through the testimonies of the disciples (1 John 1:1-4). The Bible gives you and I more than a front row seat. It gives us opportunity to know Jesus like the disciples did.
In fact, Jesus said it was to our advantage that He go away. How could that be?
Simply this: Jesus’ return to heaven meant He would send us the Holy Spirit to be our helper. “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7
The Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal God to each of us personally. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14.
So how do we get to know Jesus best?
- Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s His job to illuminate your understanding.
- Read the Bible, especially the Gospels. These eye-witness accounts give us a truthful account of His life, death and resurrection. (If you are interested in learning more about the historical veracity of the Gospels, you may want to read Cold Case Christianity.)
- Meditate on the stories of Jesus’ life. Imagine yourself in the scenes and let the stories come to life in your mind and heart.
- Spend time with Jesus talking to Him in prayer. Talk to Him about the things you are reading in the Bible, ask Him questions, listen to Him, and tell Him about your joys and concerns. He is eager to be with you.
You will be immeasurably blessed as you invest time in knowing God through the specific revelation of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. You will discover new beauties in His character, experiences His love, and fall in love with Him.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19.
** All Scriptures taken from New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Note: This article is part of a series on How God Reveals Himself. Articles include:
- Five Ways God Reveals Himself – A quick study on the forms of general and specific revelation God uses.
- God, A Heathen King & You – The story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the role of human experience in revealing God.
- Nature’s Role, God’s Call – The story of Moses at the burning bush and the role of nature in revealing God.
- The Reason for Reason – The story of Job and the role of reason in our relationship with God.
- The Best Book of Magic – The Bible is God’s clearest revelation of Himself in written form.
- Jesus – God’s Perfect Revelation – Jesus was both fully human and fully divine so that He could perfectly reveal God’s character to fallen humanity.