Summary: Study 1 of a major series giving a reply to Jehovah`s Witnesses false teaching - Studies 2-10 also on site
Michael Green, in his book "Man Alive" says, "Jesus made the most shattering claims in the course of His teaching. There is no parallel to them in any of the world`s religions. And it simply will not do to neglect them, as is commonly done by agnostic writers. Yet, if you account them as part of the authentic record about Jesus that has come down to us, then at once, the cosy picture of Jesus as merely a good man and a great teacher disintegrates. As C.S.Lewis, in his book `Miracles` crisply expressed it, `The discrepancy between the depth and sanity, and (let me add) shrewdness of His moral teaching, and the rampant megalomania which lie behind His theological teaching, unless He is indeed God, has never been satisfactorily got over`". The fundamental difference between the Christian Church and the Jehovah`s Witnesses is that the Christian does and the Witnesses don`t accept that Jesus is God. This is the lynch-pin upon which everything else hangs, and I believe that the one who has got it right here has got it right everywhere. Which is why, at the outset I am going to insist that Jesus is God, and that the Bible teaches it quite plainly. In these first few studies I want to show you why I say this.
I suppose that Jehovah`s Witnesses would agree that God is far greater than we are. If that is so, it means that we can understand a little about Him, but not the whole. He is far too big, too vast, for our human minds to grasp. To understand all that there is to know about Him, our minds would have to be as large as His. God knows this. He knows that, when He made us, He would have to reveal Himself in ways that our small minds could grasp and understand. It would be no use trying to explain the Law of Gravity to most five year olds - only a trained scientific mind can understand the reason why an apple falls to the ground. We can only show a five year old that it DOES, and hope that the full understanding will come later. So God reveals Himself to us in ways that we can understand.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews recognised this fact when he said, `In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets`, but then goes on to say, `In these last days He has spoken to us through His Son........ He is the exact likeness of God`s own being, and sustains the Universe with His powerful word`. There he is telling us that God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ in terms that we can understand. However, he is also telling us that God CONCEALED Himself in Jesus Christ.
The reason for this is, that, if we were to face God in all His glory, we would not be able to understand what we were seeing, for He would be too great for our understanding. More than this, we wouldn`t be able to stand what we were seeing, for the utter purity of His blazing glory would reveal the terrible darkness of our sinfulness, and we would want to run from Him in shame. (See Isaiah chapter 6 verses 1-5). At the same time we would not be able to resist Him, and so we would lose that priceless freedom which makes us truly human, freedom of choice. The only way that we could possibly see God fully and remain fully human, would be to be made like Him in character.
The Bible tells us that that is how man was made. He was made in the image of God. So Adam in the Garden could talk face to face with God in the cool of the day. Yet, in the very same chapter we are told that man threw away his inheritance, lost his birthright through disobedience. The result was that he could no longer look God in the face, so he hid himself from Him in shame. Yet God understands - He understands that, for shame, we dare not face Him, so, when He does reveal Himself, He CONCEALS His FULL glory, so that we are not burnt up by the brilliance of it (Isaiah 6 verses 6-8). Yet He does still reveal Himself - He does this because He loves us, so that we might be His friends again!
Why does He do this? What is the aim of this process of reconciliation? So that we might, once more, have a face to face relationship with God, to see Him as He is, and to understand Him in all His fullness, all His holiness. That is what St. John states quite plainly in his first Letter, when he says, `See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God`s children - and, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us - it hasn`t known God. My dear friends, we are now God`s children, but it not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He really is!". We shall be like God! We shall see Him as He is! We shall be able to understand Him, as He now understands us. (See 1 Corinthians chapter 13. 12). What a great inheritance.