The Gospel and its Ministry - ch 18 - THE GODHOOD OF GOD


It is matter for reflection whether the want of such a word as "Godhood" has not helped to let the thought it signifies die out.
Whether men believe it or not, Jehovah is GOD. This is a fact absolute and certain. But is He my God? The Psalmist could say, "0 God, Thou art my God!" Does this mean no more than that He was God? He was the God of Israel; but if any one imagines that He was the God of Pharaoh, or of the Philistines, or of the kings of Canaan, he must have strange ideas of what it is to have a God. Because He was the God of Israel, He destroyed the power of Pharaoh in order to deliver them. If the sea barred their way, He made a highway through it. If they hungered, the heaven rained bread; if they thirsted, the rock gave forth water in the midst of the desert And the tribes of the wilderness and the nations of the land, as they heard that battle-shout from the puny armies of Israel, "The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge" could have taught the Christians of today what it means to have Jehovah for our God. God was not their God, but He was the God of Israel.

And can any thoughtful man look abroad upon the world, and imagine for a moment that God is a God to creation now? "The whole creation groans." The children of Israel groaned in Egyptian bondage, but when, their deliverance complete, they stood around their glorious king in their glorious city, it was no longer a groan that rose to heaven, but shouts of praise and the worship of full hearts. And when God becomes once again a God to all His creatures, their groans will no more be heard. The creation shall then be " delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Then "shall the Lord rejoice in His works," and from His opened hand the desire of every living thing shall be satisfied. Men delight to speak of the Fatherhood of God, (see App.) because they think it gives them claims on Him. And doubtless they who are indeed His children have real claims upon God in virtue of the tie. Though even here there is need to remember that a relationship cannot be wholly on one side: "If I am a Father, where is mine honour?" God may well demand. But what is usually meant by the Fatherhood of God is really His Godhood. And if God was the God of Israel there were mutual obligations involved in the relationship. And so it must ever be. But men speak as though the fact of their being His creatures gave them claims on God, while they utterly forget that sin is a repudiation of His claims on them - a denial of the very relationship on which they insist so strongly when their own interests are concerned.

Moreover, as we have seen, by the rejection of Christ man forfeits every claim of every kind on God; while, in.the gospel, the grace of God presents Christ as the fulfilment of every blessing which a loving God can bestow. God has far different thoughts toward the "Canaanite" and the "Philistine" of today than were expressed by the sword of Israel. It is not that the human heart is changed, still less the heart of God; but that the work of Christ has enabled God to assume a new attitude toward men. "In Christ He was reconciling the world unto Himself"; "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ" can now become a God to all, because, I repeat once more, RECONCILIATION is accomplished.

But if men reject Christ, and refuse the reconciliation, how can there possibly be mercy for them? In past dispensations man’s sin and failure have always drawn out some better thing from God’s great goodness and wisdom and power; but, now, the climax has been reached. His best gift has been given; His masterwork has been achieved; heaven is flung wide open, and sinful men are called to fellowship with Christ in His glory. Divine love and grace are now exhausted, and the only possible alternative and sequel is VENGEANCE. If men insist on defying God and maintaining the place of adversaries, there can be nothing for them but "judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries."
By Godhood then I mean the relationship existing between God and His creatures in virtue of His Godhead. That relationship was outraged and set aside by sin, and even the lower creation shared the blight which fell upon our world because of it. But "by the blood of the cross" God has reconciled all things to Himself. The enjoyment .of this benefit is postponed for "the creation until the "manifestation of the sons of God," a and it will be lost for ever by impenitent men. But the reconciliation is a fact and a truth for the believer, here and now, and he has access to it, and ought to be in the joy of it. But the Godhood of God toward the believer is. true only to faith. The Christian's God is "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ," for even such a one as He had a God; and yet the Lord Jesus knew what it was to be in want. The universe was His creature, and by a word He could make bread for starving thousands,. or crown the provision for a feast with richest wine; but when it was Himself who hungered or was athirst, He looked up and trusted in His God. He had a God, and yet He had not where to lay His head. And as it was with the Leader of Faith, so has it been, with the sons of Faith in every age. In the 11th chapter of Hebrews we read of some "who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." But we read of others who, none the less through faith, "were tortured, not accepting deliverance," and of others again who "had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented." And to these it is that the divine epitaph belongs, "Of whom the world was not worthy."

The faith that bears and suffers, is greater than the faith that triumphs. How many there are who, through ignorance of this mystery of faith, have made shipwreck of their hopes, and are sunk under trial and disappointment. Faith must be prepared for a refusal. Faith trusts for safety, but never fails when perils come. Faith looks, for food and shelter, but never falters when "hunger, and thirst, and cold, and nakedness" become its portion. The faith that cries with the Psalmist, "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee," is truer and greater than the faith that could bid the sun stand still upon Gibeon; and the sufferings of Paul denote a higher faith than the mightiest acts of Elijah. "In deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I have been in the deep. . . . In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness;"

"A night and a day have I been in the deep!" Paul - the beloved child and saint of God, the faithful and honoured servant, the chosen vessel to bear His name before the world, the foremost of the apostles - clinging to some frail plank upon the wild lone sea hour after hour for a whole sun's round; in hunger, and thirst, and cold; the sport of every wave; lost to earth, and seemingly unknown to heaven; and yet he had a God who could have delivered him by a word! And though deliverance came not, he kept his heart and eye fixed upon unseen realities, and reckoned the present sufferings unworthy to be compared with the coming glory.

Even in the midst of sorrow and trial, happiness is the Christian's lot. Happiness: not the flippant gaiety of a careless heart (for if, even in the world, such happiness is contemptible - the uncoveted monopoly of fools - how utterly unworthy is it of those who have been called to fellowship with the sufferings of Christ!) but happiness in the truer and deeper sense in which alone the Scripture speaks of it. The highest type of existence is not the butterfly, but "The Man of Sorrows " - He of the marred visage and the melted heart.

Such then is the Christian's happiness. Through all circumstances, and in spite of them, he is a prosperous man, a blessed man. He may indeed have care and trial and sorrow; but his is the God who, while He could leave His child to be a solitary and outcast wanderer, with no pillow but a stone, and no companion but a staff, could yet turn that stone into a memorial pillar of thanksgiving and. praise, and make that loneliness the very gate of heaven! "Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help! ". "Happy the people whose God is Jehovah! "

Safe in Jehovah's keeping,
Led by His glorious arm,
God is Himself my refuge,
A present help from harm.
Fears may at times distress me,
Griefs may my soul annoy;
God is my strength and portion,
God my exceeding joy.

Safe in Jehovah's keeping,
Safe in temptation's hour,
Safe in the midst of perils,
Kept by Almighty power.
Safe when the tempest rages,
Safe though the night be long;
E'en when my sky is darkest,
God is my strength and song.

Sure is Jehovah's promise,
Nought can my hope assail;
Here is my soul's sure anchor.
Entered within the veil.
Blest in His love eternal,
What can I want beside!
Safe through the blood that cleanseth
Safe in the Christ that died.