Why We Dare Not Seek God without Christ
Too Much for Us
We believe that thou art a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.
Whoever has seen God and has understood what he saw, has seen nothing.
—Maximus the Confessor, In Epistula Dionysii
The majesty of God is too high to be scaled up to by mortals, who creep like worms on the earth.
—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
The true and living God is too much for us to bear, to handle, to conceive, to adore, to know, to trust, to understand, and to worship. The Incomprehensible One is simply too much for us in every conceivable way.
Christ the Mediator
However, that the Son became flesh makes our human nature appear lovely to God. But he also makes God appear lovely to us.1
We look at God through Christ, who makes the attributes of God more delightful to us.
Take away Christ, the God-man, and we are reprehensible to God and he to us. But in Christ, God is well pleased with us and we with him. We look at God through Christ, who makes the attributes of God more delightful to us. As Thomas Watson says,
Christ clothed himself with our flesh, that the divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ’s humanity we may behold the light of the Deity. Christ being incarnate makes the sight of the Deity not formidable, but delightful to us.2
God so desires that we delight in him that he sent his Son into the world to be like us in every way yet without sin. I want you to pursue this goal: that in Christ, you should have exceeding delight in God. More importantly, I earnestly desire that in Christ, you should worship God, for the aim of any writing on him is to bring us to such a place. And by that I mean not merely a place of private worship but also one of corporate worship, where our knowledge of God becomes clearer, better, and richer. As a result, in our worship as the church gathered, we shall know God better in order to worship God better.
Finding All Good in God . . . through Christ
At the age of twenty-seven, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon in which he told his listeners that the “redeemed have all their objective good in God,” because
God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world.3
We shall have God as our highest good only in Christ: “the sum of all that good which Christ purchased.” We shall see and know God but only in and through Christ. We shall have our reward from God but only from his Son.
This article is adapted from God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God by Mark Jones.
1. Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1970), 194.
2. Watson, Body of Divinity, 194.
3. Jonathan Edwards, “God Glorified in the Work of Redemption, by the Greatness of Man’s Dependence upon Him, in the Whole of It (1731),” in The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, ed. Wilson H. Kimnach, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Douglas A. Sweeney (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 74–75.