Big Christian Words: Revelation
Do you want to know God? Then you'll need a revelation.
Have you ever been in a conversation when someone drops a big 'Christian' word and you have no idea what they are talking about? Maybe it was something like 'propitiation' or 'exegesis' or 'supralapsarianism' - okay, maybe not the last one (and yes, that is a real word!).
It’s what has come to be known by some people as 'Christian-ese' - that special language that only Christians use because of the Bible and the unique things it teaches us about God.
Now, this isn’t to say that big words like propitiation aren’t important – because they are. What I am saying is that sometimes Christians use words that people, even other Christians, aren’t sure about – and it’s unhelpful.
The word 'revelation' is one of these big words and knowing what it means will help us all to get to know them (and God) a little better.
What does revelation mean in the Bible?
The word revelation is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. The main way it is used is: when God reveals or unveils something that was hidden or secret - things like himself, his character, the nature of his kingdom and even the gospel.
Because of our sin, we need God to reveal himself to us. For without him, we wouldn’t know he is there! God reveals himself to us in two important ways:
1. God reveals himself through the world He has made
God reminds us in Romans 1:20 that:
Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
As we look at the world we can know God however, as Romans 1:21 says:
... although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”
This means that although God has revealed himself in creation, everyone ignores God and worships creation rather than the creator. Therefore, because of our sin, we can't see God properly in creation.
It’s like someone taking their reading glasses off and trying to read – it’s messy!
This brings us to the next way that God reveals himself ...
2. God reveals himself through Jesus and the Bible
In John’s gospel we learn that Jesus was "with God" and "was God" (John 1:1-2). When Jesus became a man and walked on the earth, he revealed God's glory and character to people.
In John 14:9 Jesus says that:
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
Jesus teaches us that he truly reveals God the Father to us in his words and actions.
The Bible or the 'scriptures' (another word for the books of the Bible) continue this testimony to us today for it reminds us of the gospel. As 1 Corinthians 15:2-3 says:
That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.
In fact, this is true about all scripture. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, all scripture is:
God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This means that unlike creation, Jesus and the Bible truly reveal God to us. In fact - to use the reading glasses example again - when we put our 'scripture glasses' on, we can actually see God in creation again and worship him as we should.
God's revelation to you
So do you want to know God?
What you need to do is: stop, look and listen.
Stop trying to discover God by your own thoughts, dreams or feelings. Our knowledge of God comes to us through Jesus and his word.
Look at what God has revealed; his 'revelation' of himself. The Bible is the window through which you may look and see what God is like. In fact, Jesus is the centre of the Bible, he truly reveals God.
Listen to what the Bible tells you about Jesus and about your need for him. The Bible reveals him to you. This is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6:
God … made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.