I’ve spent the last several years wrestling for adequate language to describe this paradigm shift in my understanding of Christianity because of my various encounters with the Father, which is one of the reasons for this blog. And I know this shift is happening with many others in the body of Christ too.
This struggle to hone what’s in my heart into coherent thought is both a source of frustration and exceeding joy. So, please indulge me as I muddle through this thing called revelation.
And it’s important to muddle so because revelation is foundational to the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself declares this when it’s revealed to Peter that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God:
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah,
for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
but My Father who is in heaven.
And I also say to you that you are Peter,
and on this rock I will build My church,
and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt.16:17-18).
The Greek word “revealed” here is ἀποκαλύπτω (apokalyptō), which means “to uncover.”
Jesus uses a play on words to say that it’s on this “rock” (petra), this “revealing” of Christ and His Kingdom by the Father, will be the foundation stone of His Church. There is also an allusion to Peter (Petros) himself being a foundational “stone” or pillar, if you will, but this is secondary to the main point.
Okay, what is revelation? Let’s start by understanding what it’s not…
Revelation is not information. It cannot be learned.
Revelation cannot not discovered by logic or reason.
Revelation is not data or facts. It cannot be be attained by calculation or uncovered by investigation.
Revelation is not the same thing as faith. Faith is needed when you don’t have revelation.
You won’t find revelation by looking into your own soul.
You won’t receive revelation from man, so it can’t be taught by man. You can’t go to school for it or study to get it. It can only come from God.
“for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
What is revelation then?
It’s the uncovering or unveiling of Christ and His Kingdom by the Holy Spirit to our human spirit. The eyes of our heart are suddenly opened as we encounter God, and this changes everything.
It’s a nontransferable “knowing.” We must receive it directly from God for ourselves. A couple examples of experiential knowledge will help us here.
I could study all about my wife, talk to her family and friends, know her whole history forward and backwards, do a word study on everything she has ever said, study her genealogy, go to school to learn everything she’s ever written, study pictures and videos of her….and still not know her. I will only know her when I meet her myself and talk to her. You could say, I’ve “encountered” her in over 33 years of marriage. 🙂
In this sense, revelation is intimate experiential knowledge.
Another example, one my brothers is a Vietnam War veteran. He can tell me all about being there on the hellish battlefields. I could even become an expert in Vietnam War history…but I still would not know what I’m talking about because I wasn’t there. He has experiential revelation; I only have information.
Revelation, in this light, cannot be obtained second-hand.
But these are still poor examples because spiritual revelation doesn’t come through our natural senses at all but from within our human spirit by the Holy Spirit.
A revelation from God is like peering into a crack in this space-time continuum, suddenly perceiving something that we haven’t seen with our natural eyes yet it will forever change how we will ever see things again.
You just “know” a thing and no one can talk you out of it, even though you might not have words to explain it yet.
The Pharisees studied commentary; Jesus knew His Father. That’s revelation.
For the things that transform us are the things that the Spirit reveals to us. You can be talked out of information you’ve learned about God, but you can’t be talked out of experiential revelation you’ve received from Him.
You cannot be argued into revelation, and you can’t be argued out of it. For whatever is revealed to you belongs to you forever (Deut.29:29).
And the funny thing about revelation is, it’s first perfectly received, then later…sometimes much later…poorly articulated. It’s comes in a flash, faster than the speed of thought, but often takes a lifetime to unpack and comprehend.
And this is my glorious dilemma. God is turning my world upside-down and inside-out, and all I can do is use these poor words. But, oh, the joy inside! So I will continue trying to articulate something clear in my heart that seems to defy description in my mind.
Next time I will look how we know if our revelation is from God. For now, I will end this impossible post with Paul’s awesome prayer for us…
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,
so that you will know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance
in the saints.” (Eph.1:18)