Wednesday, 2 September 2009

God's last word

The letter to the Hebrews begins with a contrast which sets the scene for the remainder of the letter. It puts a clear line of division between 'the old days' and 'now'. Or as the text has it... 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; Heb 1:1-2.

It is contrasting the way that God speaks to us. In 'the old days' he spoke at various times and in various ways and the revelation of truth built slowly so that men could begin to get their clear conception of what God was like. Those revelations were true but not the whole truth; they were partial and some older translations use the language of 'parts' and things 'partial'. We then 'fast-forward' from 'time past' to 'these last days'. The writer speaks from the position of the 'last days' which began with the coming of Christ. He says that 'in times past' God spoke by means of prophets; uniquely commissioned spokesmen for God, but in 'these last days' God has spoken, not through spokesmen, but through his own Son.

This is why John's account of the life of Christ describes him as the Word. Not 'a word', that's what the prophets delivered. But Christ is 'the Word', he is the non-partial revelation of God. God has nothing to say that he has not said in the person of Christ; Christ is God's 'last word'. John's gospel account tells us that 'the Word became flesh and lived among us'. John 1:14. John never recovered from this discovery. In Christ he saw God in all his fulness. John 1:16-18. There may well be fragments of truth in other religious traditions, but everything that God wanted us to know about God is 'visible' in Jesus Christ. This is what Christ himself was pointing to when he answered Philip's request to 'see the Father' with such direct clarity; Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9.

And this is why anyone who rejects Christ stands in such great jeopardy. Christ is God's full and final witness, to reject him as 'the Word made flesh' is to turn away from God's last word to the human race. It is also the reason that to think wrongly of Christ is such a foundational folly. We cannot think wrongly of Christ and think right in any other part of our thinking. He is the foundational corner-stone. If that corner-stone is skewed it is impossible to build true in any other part of life. The answer to the question 'what do you think of Christ?' is not religious trivia, it is the difference between light and darkness, life and death.

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