I. "HOW THAT BY REVELATION HE MADE KNOWN TO ME."
A. Paul claimed that the gospel that he received was by Divine revelation.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called [me] by his grace,
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
B. It would seem that on several occasions the Lord visited with Paul to reveal to him the mystery of God's grace to the Gentiles.
1. We of course are familiar with his Damascus road experience. When Paul related this experience Agrippa he referred to it as a heavenly vision.
2. After his experience he returned to Jerusalem for the purpose of sharing the gospel with his former colleagues. He tells us,
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
3. When Paul had come to Corinth you might expect him to have some hesitancy in sharing the gospel, he had been stoned and thought dead in Lystra, beaten in Philippi, there was a riot in Thessalonica from which he escaped under the cover of darkness, so by the time he got to Corinth an extremely wicked city I can imagine that he could have been doubting his call to the ministry, but he tells us,
Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
4. After Paul's disastrous experience of trying to witness to his former colleagues from the porch of the Antonio Fortress, as he was sitting in the prison cell Luke tells us,
And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
5. As Paul wrote to Timothy concerning his first appearance before Nero, he said that all men forsook him, however the Lord stood with him and strengthened him.
C. Paul speaks of visions, trances and revelations.
1. Revelations has to do with the revealing of spiritual truth. It can be a new insight into a scripture, it can be a special revelation of God's love for you. God gives us new insights into His already revealed truth. He continues to reveal Himself to us in special and loving ways. But He does not give to us that which can be called divinely inspired scripture. Any true revelation from God would never contradict the already revealed truth that we have in the scriptures. Paul said if he or an angel from heaven would preach any other gospel, than that which they had received, let him be accursed.
2. Visions are something different. So often they were guided in their Christian service by visions.
a. The Old Testament prophets often referred to visions. The first recorded vision from God was given to Abraham.
b. Throughout the New Testament in the early church they received direct guidance by visions. The last vision recorded in the New Testament was given to John.
c. When did God quit speaking to man by visions?
d. Did God choose to cease to use visions to guide and direct His servants?
e. Could it be that God would still give visions to those who were in a right frame of mind to receive them?
f. As I understand the prophecy of Joel, it was in the last days that God was going to pour out His Spirit on all flesh and our sons and daughters would prophesy, and the old men would dream dreams, and the young men would see visions.
g. I believe that these are the last days. Is it possible that if we were walking more in the Spirit, that God would reveal His will to our lives through visions?
h. I do not want to be guilty as were the children of Israel of limiting the holy One of Israel by my unbelief.
i. I believe that there is little likelihood of anyone receiving a vision who does not believe that God ever speaks to a person by visions any more.
j. Again this is one of the areas where I want to be open to God, and should He so desire to speak to me by a vision I want to be ready to receive.
k. I believe that in a vision a person moves into the spiritual world, where I see and communicate with the spirit world.
l. In this realm, I move out of time into the eternal, so that it is possible to see things that to us in the time continuum are still future. Thus many of the prophecies came through visions. John in the book of Revelation said that he was in the Spirit unto the day of the Lord.
m. The spirit world is very real, some live totally oblivious to it, while others are very conscious of it.
n. The more you walk in the flesh and are bound by the things of the flesh the less you are aware of the things of the spirit.
o. Conversely, the more you walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit the more you become aware of the spiritual world.
p. Though I may have never seen the world of the spirit, I know it is there.
II. IT WAS BY REVELATION THAT GOD MADE KNOWN UNTO PAUL THE MYSTERY OF GOD'S GRACE THAT WAS TO BE EXTENDED TO THE GENTILES.
A. Paul mentions that he had already spoken to them about this mystery.
1. In 1:9 Paul speaks of God having made known unto us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He had purposed in Himself.