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Don Stewart :: What Is the Doctrine of Revelation?

Don Stewart

We will now consider the subject of God revealing Himself to humanity-the doctrine of revelation. Revelation can be defined as "God's supernatural disclosure to human beings of truth they would not otherwise know and are incapable of discovering on their own." This communication may be either oral or written. Revelation is usually understood as God's written communication to humankind.

Revelation Consists Of Both Words And Deeds

God's revelation of Himself has been given to humanity by both deeds and words. It consists of God progressively unfolding His character, mighty acts, and purposes in history. The revelation may occur in a single, instantaneous act, or it may extend over a long period of time.

The Definition Of Revelation

The term "revelation" comes from the Greek word apokalupsis, which means "a disclosure" or "an unveiling." The word was used in other contexts to describe the unveiling of a statute upon its completion. It has the idea of disclosing something that was previously unknown.

It Is The Reverse Of Human Reasoning

Revelation is the opposite of scientific research or human reasoning. The knowledge that God has revealed about Himself to humankind could never be attained through any type of scientific experiment or logical reasoning. It is entirely a supernatural disclosure from God.

It Consists Of Truths Revealed By God Alone

Only God reveals the truths of revelation. He alone is the source of knowledge about Himself and His plan. Revelation is, therefore, an act of God. Jesus said.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (Matthew 11:27).

The Identity Of Jesus Christ Can Only Be Known Through Divine Revelation

After Simon Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus said to him.

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven (Matthew 16:12).

The fact that Jesus Christ is God the Son can only be known through divine revelation - it could not be attained through any human means.

Divine Revelation Is A Work Of The Holy Spirit

God reveals these truths through the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote.

These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Peter spoke of divine revelation in this manner.

First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20,21).

Therefore divine revelation is a work of God alone.

God Reveals Himself Through The Prophets

God chose a select group of people to be the human channel of revelation. They are known as the prophets. In the Book of Amos we read.

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).

The Bible often records God giving His revelation to the prophets. For example, He revealed Himself to Samuel.

The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD (1 Samuel 3:21).

Paul Received Divine Revelation

The Apostle Paul wrote of God giving truth to him by divine revelation.

That is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:3-5).

The Act Of Revelation Described

The act of revelation is described in Scripture. In Ezekiel we read.

As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me (Ezekiel 2:2).

Ezekiel also wrote.

He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood (Ezekiel 8:3).

Revelation Gives Humanity Sufficient Truth About God

The doctrine of revelation holds that God has revealed sufficient truths about Himself. The Bible is complete in the sense that it reveals everything necessary for humanity to know God. Scripture has been completely written. Nothing needs to be added. However in another sense, revelation is only partial because it does not tell us everything about Him. In fact, Scripture itself speaks of things that God revealed but humans were prevented from recording. Paul wrote.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows - was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak (2 Corinthians 12:4).

In the Book of Revelation we read.

And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down" (Revelation 10:4).

Not Everything That Was Revealed Was Recorded

In these instances God supernaturally revealed truth to humans but did not permit them to record it in Scripture. Therefore it would be correct to say that the Bible is both partial and complete revelation. Many things about God have been hidden and unrevealed. Scripture is as complete as it needs to be.

There Is More Than One Method Of Revelation

God has chosen more than one method to reveal Himself to humankind. The writer to the Hebrews said.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe (Hebrews 1:1,2).

The Bible Speaks Of Secrets Hidden That Are Now Revealed

According to the New Testament, divine revelation also consists of revealing secrets that had been hidden for long ages that are now disclosed. Paul wrote.

Now to the One who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith (Romans 16:25,26).

Paul also wrote.

The mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26,27).

Divine revelation is the key that unlocks these hidden secrets.

Summary

When God reveals to humanity truth that we would not otherwise know it is called "revelation." Human reason or intuition could never know these truths - they can only be revealed by God Himself. The purpose for our existence, and the plan of God for our salvation, can only be known through divine revelation.

To bring this Word to humankind, the Lord chose a group of people to be the ones through whom He would speak. They were known as the prophets. The prophets revealed God's truth to humanity over a long period of time in a number of different ways. The revelation given in Scripture tells humanity everything that it needs to know about God and his plan. God's Word to humankind is therefore both sufficient and complete.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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