Reason (the use of the mind) and Revelation (a divine disclosure of truth) are not Biblical matters I have spent much time thinking about until recently when I read more of Thomas Aquinas’ writings. He lived from 1225-1274. I now realise that ‘revelation’ in particular has shaped my ministry more than I realised. ‘Reason’ takes us so far but experiencing ‘Revelation’ has the possibility of taking us a giant step forward in effective ministry. Many excel in the first (by even doing a degree in theology) but less perhaps in the latter. Without belittling the importance of ‘reason’ I think it is ‘revelation’ which generally transforms a life. Outstanding examples would be Saul/ Paul on the Damascus Rd and Ananias. Revelation told Ananias to go to Paul but his reason screamed to him to stay away. A lesser example would be a sudden reversal of a deeply held belief. The use of reason may lead to revelation but without the work of the Holy Spirit, will not do so.
For years as a youngster I invited Jesus into my life, never quite sure whether He was there or not. Then after hearing about the crucifixion once again and Jesus’ love for me, at home I quietly prayed my usual prayer of inviting Jesus into my life and although there was no emotion I KNEW without a doubt that He was with me. Revelation made the difference.
I suggest a mind turned toward Jesus plus revelation will keep you obedient on the long journey of faith. Let me explain that further.
Some cultures are more mind orientated particularly those which highly esteem academic achievements, while others are more spiritually perceptive. Surely we need a balance.
Paul had a great mind. He may even have had the equivalent of a doctorate in theology. He argued with philosophers in Athens and was able to keep up with the best of them (Acts 17:16ff). He also had many revelations.
The blessings of Reason (The use of the mind)
- The word ‘mind’ occurs 127 times in Scripture emphasising its importance.
- ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (Col 3:2).
- ‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2).
- ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth’ (2 Tim 2:15).
- Psalm 119 gives great prominence to the importance of the ‘Word’ as it draws us to the Lord.
- Post grad studies can be good but do them for the right reasons. After receiving a prophetic word in India once, I gave up doing a Masters degree (not that I consider myself a scholar) as I felt my motives for doing it were wrong. I was after personal significance rather than being caught up with God’s will for my life. Revelation touched my heart and changed my direction.
- ‘The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers’ (2 Cor 4:4). So as Believers we must have a different mindset.
- Mahatma Gandhi once said to a group of missionaries, “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.” A sad comment. Paul says, ‘For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk (word) but of power’ (1 Cor 4:20)
The blessings of Revelation:
‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better’ (Eph 1:17)
‘I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ’ (Gal 1:12)
‘The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John’ (Rev 1:1)
Revelation’s basic meaning is the act of ‘revealing or communicating divine truth in an enlightening way’.
- C. S. Lewis, one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century considered himself to be an atheist at one stage of his life. However he writes, “I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I did not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion.” * That is revelation. It takes us from one state to another.
- Revelation may come through prophetic words, dreams, visions, intuition and especially the Word.
- “Preach out of revelation not reaction” was good advice given to us at Bible College by a man who was used to bring revival in the early ‘70’s in the Solomon Islands. Reacting to a negative situation by giving a corrective message may be destructive but a word received by revelation from God and preached is likely to bring positive insights to the listeners.
- Expecting, receiving and imparting a revelation of Jesus in His glory enables our ministry and preaching to remain life giving.
- When Pam and I pray for people we pray that God would give them a revelation of their need and have a revelation of Jesus reaching out to them. Again revelation is what changes lives.
- Revelations can come from God for encouragement, conviction, warning and guidance.
- By all means ask for revelation, but with all your heart seek Jesus for Himself not simply what He gives.
- Where are the Bible schools that help us develop an understanding of the need for gaining revelation?
- Revelation never contradicts Scripture. That is the benchmark.
- From my experience revelation may sometimes come when you least expect it.
- Fear may deter you seeking revelation, in case you might be led astray. Have confidence in the work of the Holy Spirit. It is said “What you receive in the light, believe in the dark”.
‘60 People who Shaped the Church’ by Alton Gansky
The Bible – Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32).