Monday, December 12, 2005

Between God and Man

This is my personal summary of the gospel message by Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong in Singapore Polytechnic Convention Hall on 11th December 2005.

Is there a relationship between God and Man? Is there possibility of communication?

Even between man and man, we realize the difficulty in understanding each other right. Communication is possible when there is interaction between life and life.

At different levels of life, there is very big gap in understanding. A higher level of life can understand a lower life form, but not vice versa. Human beings are the highest created beings as they are made in the image of God. The Scriptures says, “Who can understand man but the spirit within that man?” Applying this principle further, who can understand God but God's Spirit? This is to say that as created human beings, we cannot understand our Creator. Therefore, any understanding of God has to be initiated from God Himself, not from us.

God is God and man is man. God is not man and man is not God. What then is the relationship between God and man?

Kiekargaard once said, “Let God be God and let man be man.” As it is, human beings often think of God as though He is a human being, and think of themselves like God Himself. In history, many errors have been committed as far as this understanding is concerned. When we treat God like a man and treat man like God, our life will be messed up and confused.

Huxley and Spencer, close associates of Charles Darwin who wrote the Origin of Species which developed the theory of evolution, spoke of 3 gaps which could not be crossed. The first one is the gap between non-existence and existence. The second is the gap between non-living existence and living existence. The third one is the gap between living existence (life) and man (human being). They believe that it is impossible from one realm to cross over to the next realm. Hence, even evolutionists doubt their theory as they believe that life must come from life. Another observation they made is all culture has a concept of God. Religious concept is universal for all generation. Therefore they believe that all human beings originated from one pair of parents. Although there are all kinds of theology which shows different level of understanding of God among men, like deism, pantheism, polytheism and monotheism, one common ground is the belief that God exists.

Atheism, if examined from the root, is not really the belief that God does not exist, rather it is the hope that God does not exist and the unwillingness to face His existence so that one can have all his freedom to do whatever he wants. Human beings, including many professed atheists, call on God when they think they are suffering unjustly, because they desire justice.

The existence of God means the existence of justice and accountability. When human suffers, they demand the existence of Justice, in other words, they look for God. Job, an ancient saint in the Scriptures, was one such person who suffered a lot of things he could not understand and he was crying out to find God. Later on, however, he turned around and declared, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” (Job 19:25-26) In this sentence, he has declared God’s existence, the corruption of his physical body (decay and death) and yet he said again in his FLESH he will see God. This implies that there will be a new body, which reveals the reality of bodily resurrection where we will see God face to face someday.

In our visible flesh now, we cannot see God. But the invisible God can see us. How then can we know God? Is there a contact point between the invisible and visible world? Is there an intersection between the eternal and temporal realm? Is there a bridge between the Absolute and the relative? Where is it?

As the Absolute, the eternal and the invisible surpass the relative, the temporal and the visible realm, the possibility of contact can only come from God Himself. Has He willed it? He has indeed.

In God's eternal will, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Eternal Word entered into the temporal world. The perfect and holy God came to the imperfect, sinful world. The highest King of Heaven descended to born in a manger of animals. This is the depth of His love for us. All goodness of humanity must start from this foundation of God-Incarnate.

Yet, God-become-flesh is not the end, but it is a starting point to the Cross. The Cross itself is not the end but is the starting point to the Resurrection. The Resurrection is also not the end but is another starting point which led to the Ascension. And someday He will come back again the second time to judge the world.

What then is the relationship between God and man? It is this way. Man is created in the image of God. God gives different gifts to different people, which is a measure of our accountability towards Him. Sin is a gulf between God and man. Christ has removed that barrier by taking our deserved penalty and imputed His righteousness on us. This temporal world is not our eternal home but Christ will come back and bring us back to the Father.