Article of the month of June 2010
The Doctrine of Revelation
by Rev. Dr. John Williams
The God of the Bible is one who reveals Himself to His creation. God creating man with mental and spiritual faculties indicates His intention that man know Him. However, since the fall of man, these mental and spiritual faculties have been dulled and he cannot of himself discover God. Thus God, in grace and love, has taken the initiative by giving a progressive revelation of Himself consummating in the Lord Jesus Christ. Man can only personally know God through Christ.
1. THE DEFINITION OF REVELATION
The Greek word “Apokalupsis” is defined as “an uncovering, to uncover or un-evil”. It best represents what is meant by “revelation”. Most dictionaries define revelation as a disclosure or unveiling; to make known something hidden or secret. It is used in this sense in Scripture. (Ephesians 1:17; 3:3-5; Revelation 1:1; Galatians 3:23; I Peter 1:5; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 1:12). In theology revelation refers to God unveiling Himself to man, and communicating truth to the mind of man which he could not discover in any other way. It is imparted truth which could not be discovered by natural reasoning alone.
Matthew 11:27- “No man knoweth the Son save the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him”.
Matthew 16:17- “Blessed art thou Simon Barjona for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee but My Father which is in heaven”.
I Corinthians 2:10 - “… but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit”.
(Read also Amos 3:7; I Samuel 3:21; Daniel 2:19-03, 47; Deuteronomy 29:29; I Peter 4:13; Luke 2:26)
2. THE NECESSITY OF REVELATION
Man being made in the image and likeness of God has within himself certain faculties, which enable him to receive revelation from God. These faculties set man apart from the irrational creatures made by God. Man is superior to animals, in that he is endowed with a will, intelligence, conscience and a spirit, which can know and worship God.
However, when man fell so did these faculties. Though he partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he fell into a state of spiritual ignorance and darkness. In the Fall, man became totally depraved in spirit, soul and body.
His mind, reason and understanding became darkened. He was alienated from the life of God and became an enemy of God in his mind by wicked works (Ephesians 4:17-18; Colossians 1:21 with Genesis 3:1-6).
The fact that man is created but a fallen being indicates his need of a revelation of God. Unless God takes the initiative and reveals Himself to man, it is impossible for man to discover or know God. Zophar said to Job, “Canst thou by searching find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7).
Paul declared that the world with all its wisdom could not know God,
(I Corinthians 1:21) and that no man could know the things of God without the Spirit of God revealing it to him. (I Corinthians 2:11-16).
3. PROGRESSIVE REVELATION
A. General Revelation:
General revelation includes that which God has revealed of Himself to all mankind.
i) The Revelation of God in Nature
Creation itself suggests that there is a Creator. The existence of an intelligent design in nature proves the existence of an intelligent designer. The design, beauty, law and order and numerical structure stamped upon all created things point to an intelligent being, above beyond and greater than all created things. This being is God.
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and earth”.
Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork”. (Read Psalm 19:1-6; Genesis 1:1-5; Romans 10:17, 18 and John 1:1-5)
ii) The Revelation of God in Conscience
Conscience is defined as “a knowing with oneself”. It is an awareness of right and wrong, with a compulsion to the right. When God created man in His own image and likeness, He placed within man a conscience. This faculty was somewhat inoperative until the Fall of Man, when the violation of the one commandment given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:17) set the hide from God when He sought them.
iii) The Revelation of God in History
God has always been involved in human history. Following are some illustrations of God’s involvement in the nations existing in Bible days.
a. God’s dealings are seen in the histroy of the nations of Egypt
(Exodus 9:12; Romans 9:17; Jeremiah 46:14-26; Ezekiel 29:30).
b. God caused the Assyrian Empire to fall (Isaiah 10:12-19; Ezekiel 31;
c. God judged the Babylonian kingdom according to his prophetic word.
The drying up of the river Euphrates and the leaving open of the two
leaved gates by which the Medo-Persian soldiers entered the city on the
night of her fall, attest to the sovereignty of God (Daniel 1-5;
Jeremiah 50-51;Isaiah 47-48; 45:1-5).
d. The Medo-Persian Empire came under the judgment of God in due time
(Isaiah 44:24-25; 1-7; Daniel 2; Daniel 7).
e. The Grecian Empire collapsed in God’s ordered time (Daniel 8:1-25;
f. God foretold through Daniel the rise of the Roman Empire. It also fell at
the appointed time. (Daniel 7:7, 23; 9:24-27)
B. Special Revelation
General revelation is that which is available to all nations of the earth. All mankind has the general revelation of God in nature, conscience and history. Special revelation refers to those acts of God whereby He reveals Himself and His will to specific persons.
i) The Revelation of God in Miracles
A miracle is a supernatural intervention into the laws of nature. There are genuine miracles wrought by God and there are counterfeit miracles wrought by the power of Satan. Throughout human history God has revealed His power and presence in true miracles.
a. The plagues in Egypt were miracles (Exodus 4-12).
b. The miracles of the magicians were Satanic counterfeits (Exodus 7:12, 22).
c. The opening of the Red Sea and Jordan were miracles (Exodus 14-15; Joshua 4-5).
d. The manna from heaven and water from the rock were miracles (Exodus 16-17; I Corinthians 10:1-6).
e. The Gospels and
the Acts record numerous miracles; spiritually, physically and materially in the
ministry of Christ and
His apostles (Matthew 8, Acts 3-4, etc.)
f. The Antichrist
will perform miracles to deceive the peoples of earth (Matthew 24:24; II
Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation
13:13; Acts 9:9-11)
ii) The Revelation of God in Prophecy
There are two types of prophecy; preaching and prediction. Though both are inspired and reveal the Word of God, the prediction of future events is the easiest to illustrate.
a. The fall of nations were foretold by the prophets and came to pass years after their utterance with amazing accuracy.
1. The fall of Assyria was prophesied in Ezekiel 31
2. The fall of Babylon was foretold in Jeremiah 50-51 and Isaiah 47-48
3. The fall of Egypt was predicted in Ezekiel 30-31
4. The fall of Grecian Empire was prophesied in Daniel 8
b. The coming of Christ was foretold by the prophets. There were about three hundred prophecies to be fulfilled within the short life time of Christ and most of these had to find fulfillment in the last few hours of His life. These prophecies had been foretold over a thousand years by different writers. They seemed to be impossible to be fulfilled. Yet God in Christ fulfilled them in great detail.
1. Christ was to be the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:20-23).
2. Christ was to be the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 1:1).
3. Christ was to be of the Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Hebrews 7:14).
4. Christ was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2;Matthew 2:6).
5. Christ was to be anointed by the Spirit (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-20).
6. Christ was to minister life and healing (Isaiah 35; Matthew 8).
7. Christ was to ride into Jerusalem upon an ass (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-5).
8. Christ was to be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:15).
9. Christ was to suffer the crucifixion (psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Matthew 27).
Christ was to rise from the dead, ascend to heaven and sit at the
Father’s right hand in King-Priestly ministry
(Psalm 16; Psalm 110;Matthew 22:43-45).
Just as miracles are
a revelation of God’s power, so is the fulfillment of prophecy a revelation of
God’s infinite knowledge.
iii) The Revelation of God in Christ
The general revelations of God in nature, conscience and history are insufficient in that they do not reveal God’s person. The special revelations of God in miracles and prophecy are also insufficient in that they only reveal certain of His attributes but not His entire person-hood. With all this, there still existed the need for a more personal revelation of God. This need God has met in Christ. Christ is the sum total of the revelation of God including His will, His nature, His person and character. To look at Christ is to look at God, for Christ is the expressed revelation of God in human form.
John 1:1, 14-“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…”
John 1:18-“No man hath seen God at anytime; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him.”
Colossians 1:15-“Who is the image of the invisible God”
Hebrews 1:1-3- “God… hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son…. the express image of His person.”
iv) The Revelation of God in Scripture
The revelation of God
in Christ is the revelation of the Living Word-the Word made flesh. The
revelation of God in Scripture is that of the written Word-the Word inspired and
recorded. Because of the various means of revelation, especially in the realm
of miracles, spoken prophecy, and Jesus Christ Himself, there was need of a
written revelation as a universal expression, which would be available to all
mankind. There was need of some revelation that could be given to all the
nations, which would correspond exactly with the Christ of God. This revelation
is contained in the Bible. The Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit and
thus in them we have an infallible revelation of the nature, being and will of
v) The Revelation of God in Personal Experience
a. In the Old Testament
1. Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:21-24)
2. Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9, 13)
3. God revealed Himself to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)
4. Isaac knew God (Genesis 26:24)
5. Jacob had personal dealing with God (Genesis 28:13; 35:1)
6. The beloved son Joseph had the revelation of God (Genesis 37;5-11)
7. God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-5)
8. Joshua met the Lord as the Captain of the Host (Joshua 1:1; 5:13-15)
9. Gideon had a visitation from God (Judges 6:25)
10. The Lord revealed Himself to Samuel through a vision (I Samuel 3:2-4)
11. David had a personal experience with the Lord (I Samuel 23:9-12)
12. Elijah knew God in a still small voice (I Kings 17:2- 4)
13. Isaiah had a revelation of the holiness of God (Isaiah 6:8)
b. In the New Testament
1. The 12 apostles received a personal experience of God in Christ (Matthew 10:10)
2. Jesus is the revelation of God to man personally (Matthew 11:27;16:17,18)
2. Paul had a personal revelation of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:4-6; 18:9)
4. The beloved apostle John knew Jesus experientially (John 13:23-25; I John 4:7-11; Revelation 1:1-12)
- THE END -