For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2.11).
There’s a problem understanding spiritual things with a mind orientated to thinking in physical terms. After all, we live in a world of matter, time, and decay. How do we describe the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, or the wonder of salvation in physical terms? It seems almost impossible. Yet God, who fully understands our limitations, draws on human experiences and physical reality to describe spiritual things.
The Bible is filled with “spiritual pictures” drawn in language and terms we can understand. By looking at these pictures our spiritual awareness is quickened and our spiritual nature is aroused.
Think of the prodigal son, the pearl of great price, or the tree of life. Each one reveals a facet of great spiritual truth. No single picture reveals it all, but each contributes to the whole revelation until we eventually stand awed by the complete painting.
Some words in the New Testament are pictures themselves – atonement, forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation. Each word draws on examples from the Bible or human experience to shed more light on the wonder of salvation.
Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1.18).
To reveal Himself to us God entered the physical realm through Jesus Christ. He did so visibly, powerfully, and dramatically. In Jesus, God says, “I’ll draw a picture for you so you can see what I’m like” – Immanuel, God with us!