Handling God’s Revelation
“To me, the least significant of all the saints, this grace was given to declare to the nations the incomprehensible riches of Christ and to give light for all of the plan of the mystery hidden from the ages in God who created all things, in order that the manifold wisdom of God through the church may now also be made known to the authorities in heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom the boldness and freedom to enter with confidence through faith in him.”
“Light” is a common word picture used in the Bible to describe truth. Light illuminates, it makes things visible, and it highlights truth from error. It reveals the dark lies and half-truths of the enemies for what they are. Such is the case with truth. So, here, when Paul refers to himself as being given the charge of giving “light for all of the plan of the mystery hidden from the ages in God,” this is that of which he speaks. Truth revealed into the darkness o unbelieving lives.
But, from where did Paul get this truth? In Paul’s case, he received it from direct revelation from God (Galatians 1:15-17). It raises, then the matter of revelation. The reason that Paul is revealing truth is not because Paul has discovered some insight; it is because God revealed that insight to him. Further, the reason that this insight was truth is not because Paul had some great personal understanding of God’s plan; it is because God revealed this plan to Paul so that it could be made known.
In today’s culture, revelation tends to be undervalued. The Bible, which is the record of God’s revelation to man, is treated as a mere book that can be edited, interpreted, and re-interpreted according to cultural bases and personal preferences. Further, it is assumed by many that the Bible exists for man’s purposes, allowing people to pick and choose sections that they prefer and to utterly ignore others. rose yet, people assume that it was written by the church to create a power base by which they can control the culture. They treat it more as a book of philosophy to be debated than as a composite of God’s words to us.
Yet, from beginning to end, the Bible presents itself not as the works of men but as the Word of God. Even here, Paul is writing that God has given him this light to reveal to the nations — light that at one point had been hidden in the mind of God. Truth is hidden in God’s mind, it can only be God who reveals it. Further, as God is perfect, that which he reveals is also perfect. If God is incapable of error, so is his revealed Word. And as such, the Bible must be treated differently than we would treat the work of the ancients; it is the revealed Word of God itself. Further yet, as it is Truth, it is not for us to evaluate its relevance or truthfulness; it is for us to submit to that which is revealed.
Let us take it one more step. If you wrote a letter to me and if in my response, I totally misinterpreted your words, how would you feel? Frustrated? Irritated? Angry? If I intentionally misinterpreted your words to suit my interests, now how would you feel? If I totally ignored sections of that letter, what then? Would you be downright mad? Maybe I even denied that you wrote the letter in the first place and suggested that the mailman had written it as a hoax. Then what? Were it me, I would be very upset — no, I would be downright angry. What then do you think is God’s attitude toward those who deliberately distort the Word of God for their own ends? What do you think is God’s disposition toward those who ignore sections or treat them as cultural anomalies? What do you think is God’s disposition toward whole bodies and groups who reject his word (or parts of it) because it does not fit into their paradigm or their agenda for ministry? Beloved, judgment is coming. Let us not be guilty of mishandling the Word of God but let us strive to be workmen able to rightly handle the word of Truth.