The Bible is not afraid of speaking of God in a startlingly tender and human sort of way. It does so just in passages where the majesty of God is set forth. “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,” says the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, “and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers” (Isaiah 40.22). “All the nations are as nothing before Him. They are accounted, by Him, as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40.17). But what says that same fortieth chapter of Isaiah about this same terrible God? Here is what it says: “He will tend His flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in His arms. He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40.11).
How wonderfully the Bible sets forth the tenderness of God! Is that merely figurative? Are we wrong in thinking of God in such childlike fashion? Many philosophers say so. They will not think of God as a person. Oh, no. That would be dragging Him down too much to our level! So, they make of Him a pale abstraction. The Bible seems childish to them in the warm, personal way in which it speaks of God.
Are those philosophers right or is the Bible right? Thank God, the Bible is right, my friends. The philosophers despise children who think of God as their heavenly Father. But the philosophers are wrong and the children are right. Did not our Lord Jesus say, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children (Matthew 11.25)?
No, God is no pale abstraction. He is a person. That simple truth – precious possession of simple souls – is more profound than all the philosophies of all the ages.
From: The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior by J. Gresham Machen; reprint (Philadelphia: Westminster Seminary Press, 2017), pp. 9-10. This volume is a partial re-publication of The Christian Faith in the Modern World by J. Gresham Machen (New York: Macmillan, 1936). These re-produced chapters are, in both books, transcriptions of radio addresses delivered by Machen in 1935.
John Gresham Machen (1881-1937) was a New Testament scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey (1906-1929), a member of the founding faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1929) and a founding member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1936).