‘No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him’, St John tells us. Here is the essential difference between the Old and the New Testaments. In the one God is seen through theophanies, in the other, we see Him Incarnate in the flesh. St John stresses ‘that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ’
Jesus reveals to us all we need to know about God. He reveals to us the ‘Father’ who is His father and our father. He reveals, too, that he is the Son, but that the Son is one with the Father, which some who take no care to pray and study Scripture, interpret as meaning that He is the Father; He is ‘one’ with Him, not Him. In asking how this can be so, we ask what it means to ‘be one’, and in doing that we enter on the road to the understanding that God is One and Three.
Jesus came among us, the Spirit moves among us, and we are guided, through Grace, to be one with God; but that does not mean we will be God – there is not some strange absorption of ourselves into some Borg-like creature; there is an eternal felicity the nature of which is not revealed to us; we are told what is needful for our salvation. So we should be distrustful of any who say to us there is a new revelation. From the coming of the Spirit to the second coming of the Lord, we have been equipped with what is needed for salvation.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed to the crowd, showing them how what was said in the Hebrew Scriptures had come to pass in the Lord Jesus. When they asked what they should do, Peter was clear:
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Those who were ‘saved’ became the church, those called out from among the unbelievers; as it was then, so is it now, and so will it be until He comes again. We have, through Jesus, been given insights into the deep mysteries of the universe – we are told God is One and God is Three, and he who claims to understand the fullness of that would be a brave fellow. We are told God is love, and yet we see the evil of hatred in ourselves, and yet we are made in His image. We see the prospect of salvation and fear the fires of hell. In the tension between these things, we strive, in fear and trembling, to work our salvation with the help of the Spirit and our fellow Christians.