The Blessings of Revelation
An article from SVM Fall 2011
An article from SVM Fall 2011
When Jesus Christ came to live amongst us in the flesh, He came to reveal the Father. The revelation of the Father to mankind is the beginning of eternal life and our experience of the Kingdom of God.
When scripture speaks of revelation, it speaks of not mere explanation or new information. Revelation gives us a new view of God. It transports the mind of a believer willing to receive and strive for it to a new level of understanding of his own existence in relation to the source of all life. When we receive, accept and nurture revelation that comes to us, our thinking expands in ways we have never known. Life takes on new meaning.
We cannot possibly do justice to the whole topic on God’s revelation to mankind. I don’t think the Bible alone can do the subject justice either. Revelation comes to us by experiential awareness. In this article we simply want to bring this fact to our attention, and that the role that faith has in how through faith God reveals Himself and His expectations to us.
The Lord does graciously reveal Himself to those that earnestly seek Him:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).
The value of such revelation far exceeds possible explanations we may get from the above. Revelation of God is power, and of great life value to the believer.
Jesus Reveals the Church
The Church of God can become, particularly in the latter days, difficult to identify entirely in earthly form. We can believe it is an institution, an organism, or a combination of both. Some have defined it in terms of its history. Let’s look at Christ’s own words when He first revealed the building of His Church:
“And I also say unto you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Without a doubt, the Church is His. He defines who is in it, where it goes, its limitations, its destiny, where it might spring up, and where it stops. Also its measure of success is entirely judged by Him.
We have written before in this publication to be careful of how we judge success of the Church (see To the Angel of the Scattered Churches – SVM Winter 2010). When difficulty or differences arise in the Church of God, it is He who will weigh the hearts of those involved. It is at those times and junctures we should not be asking the Lord for an explanation but for revelation. Many are waiting for an explanation of things, but they will be left searching indefinitely. The answer comes not by mere explanation. Men and women of faith have the answers revealed to them that they need, because they always confront problems, and sometimes confronting a problem means struggling with the Lord Himself to find an answer. Those who struggle with God to find answers are the ones that receive the blessing of revelation
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Jesus Christ knew how we as a people would evaluate our success as a Church, but He counters it by the revelation of the desire of the Father. Indeed, during times of doubt what we need is a new view of God. Faith is our role in the process of receiving revelation.
The Just Shall Live by Faith
A study of the prophet Habakkuk can give us some further insight into revelation from God and faith. His book is where we find the words “The just shall live by (his) faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Why is it the just live by faith? That is a fair question to ask I think.
Habakkuk was a tormented man who prayed for the Lord’s intervention to end the perversion of justice and violence that was before him. He agonized why the Lord would tolerate these injustices for so long. Habakkuk’s concerns came deeply within his troubled heart. He was one of those who “sigh and cry” for the iniquities on earth. We need to ask ourselves if we are like the prophet or somewhat disconnected from the violence on the earth just hoping it would stay away from us.
What were Habakkuk’s hopes in what the Lord would do in ending the lawlessness of his time? Perhaps he wanted a religious revival, an explanation from the Lord for His apparent indifference. The answer included no revival, no explanation. His prayer however did not go unanswered:
“Look among the nations and watch—be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told to you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves…. They all come for violence; their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand” (Habakkuk 1:5-9).
This was not the answer Habakkuk wanted! The Lord was going to send a treacherous nation to overwhelm Israel and be the instrument of God’s justice. Moreover, we may believe crime must not go unpunished, but should the righteous of the land also suffer so that the wicked may be punished? According to this prophecy, apparently so!
He certainly did not hear of a solution that brought comfort, nor did he get an explanation for God’s choice of such a drastic measure, in fact, he never does. The Lord is sovereign, and does not need to provide an explanation.
Is there a difficulty in your life for which you are seeking resolution from God, or an explanation? There may be a lesson for you in Habakkuk. The answer may be one that is outside your current understanding, and will be transforming.
Stunned by what the Lord has answered him with, the prophet engages God, questioning Him on the logic of how He, a holy God, would appoint those, who although unrighteous, to be devoured by those who are even more wicked? (1:12- 13). Habakkuk then argues the case of the standpoint on how helpless the people are (1:14-15). The prophet’s third approach: how can God give an already proud and haughty people victory over Judah?
“I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected”(Habakkuk 2:1).
Indeed, fortunately for the prophet, he had the sense to wait for the Lord’s response. Though he questioned the Consort of Israel’s answer, he had enough sense to know he needed correction. Though he may have doubted, he continued to believe for he senses the answer is beyond him.
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Habakkuk 2:3).
The answer will happen, but it cannot be spelled out in words. It cannot be fully discerned until the event happens. It is a vision of redemption, given in the context of the end of days. The Lord has already transported Habakkuk beyond his current paradigm by carrying him well into the future. How can one make sense or use of what the Lord has just responded with? We find it in the next verse: But the just shall live by his faith, (2:4). It is given in opposition to the proud.
The prophet understood that the Lord was eternal, and therefore knew the end from the beginning and cannot be caught by surprise (1:12). We do not have such a capacity to know the beginning and end of things. So there can be, and there will only be one answer: the just shall live by faith.
The fact that the just shall live by faith is in and of itself a great revelation from God, and requires revolutionary thinking about life and salvation for the believer. As stated before, it brings a new view of God. A higher view of God helps us obtain a new way of interpreting all things. It helps us properly frame matters in their proper context.
Habakkuk saw his environment out of control, the answer coming was out of his control, but nothing is out of God’s control. Do we feel our situation is outside the scope of God’s vision and control? I submit to you no! What is called for in times of doubt is a higher view of God, His Sovereign will and better understanding of His righteousness.
The Righteousness of God
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes … For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (a lifetime of faith from beginning to end); as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:16,17).
We are not called for single acts of faith, but a lifetime of faith. God reveals Himself throughout our lifetime by our steadfast belief, experiencing the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives.
Wrestling with challenges is the only way our faith muscles grow. Men and women of faith confront challenges. Avoidance, leaving it to others, settling for half- truths and superficial answers is to remain immature with limited revelation and understanding. Growing in grace and knowledge often requires soul-searching, doing so with the Lord leads to revelation.
Great Revelation is Possible for Us Now
Without question Paul suffered much in his ministry, but he received tremendous revelation as a result. When he wrote to the Ephesians, he prayed that they too would receive such revelation:
… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe … (Ephesians 1:17-19)
Paul is not deferring his hopes of the above to when they become spirit beings, but to the time of the present. Such amazing revelation does not come by man, but comes from Jesus Christ. I believe Paul could pray for it on their behalf, but could not give it to them. Such revelation comes from personal experiential awareness.
We think the Lord would be pleased with Habakkuk. He was a man of faith, who confronted God, and earned his answer. With a greater view of God, the Prophet proclaims:
Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and yields no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The lord is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet and He will make me walk on my high hills. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
This is a beautiful expression of faith by Habakkuk. We too, from a lifetime of faith and experiential awareness of Christ in our hearts, will know joy in the God of our salvation, just as Habakkuk did.
Hope deferred make the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life (Proverbs13:12