A recent letter to the editor referred to I John 4:12: “No man hath seen God at any time.” The questioner then mentioned John 14:9: “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” The question is: “Since Jesus was God, how could the apostle John say that no man has seen God?”
God is a Trinity and none of us have a complete understanding of Him. He is Father, Son, and Spirit and these three are one. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” I John 5:7. Jesus Christ is known as the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1, and also it says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Jesus has many other titles. It says of Him, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. Therefore Jesus is called both Father and God.
A good illustration of the Trinity is in the account of the baptism of Jesus. He was baptized; the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and a voice spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. There was God, the Trinity, revealed to the people who attended Jesus’ baptism. Another illustration is in the Old Testament: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:26-27. There we have God the Father speaking to God the Word and God the Holy Spirit. Therefore He was speaking to Himself. He made human beings in his image. He is three in one; each of us is three in one. Each human being is body, soul, and spirit. The apostle Paul put this blessing on the Thessalonians: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:23.
When the apostle John said, “No man hath seen God at any time”, I understand this to mean that no man has seen God the Father. He is called the invisible God in Colossians 1:15. People have seen God the Son and He (Jesus) is one with the Father. God the Father has always lived in heaven, but heaven is not big enough for Him (I Kings 8:27). Jesus said to his disciples, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. Jesus Christ is also now in heaven. He said, “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” John 14:28. God dwells on earth by the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14: 15-17.
We should not think that we understand God completely. The Trinity is a mystery, but the revelation of Him is wonderful, and only Christians can know Him, for they have the Holy Spirit within them. No other people have God living inside of them.