Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Christian Life: "Revelation"

“Revelation†is the topic of discussion for this week's lesson. The lesson presents five ways God speaks to us. These are nature, conscience, prophets, Scripture, and Christ Jesus. Nature, Scripture, and Christ are books in God’s library that tell us about God. Nature’s narrative reveals the creative power of God. Scripture reveals more about God than does nature, but it is not the full revelation of God. The fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus (Col. 2:9). Jesus reveals the personality of God and His character. Each of these three volumes is communication from God.

Creation is a manifestation of the word of God. As God spoke, an ordered nature came into being which in turn declares His goodness as well as His power (Psalm 33:5-9; Rom. 1:20). Although sin distorted the message of God’s goodness in nature it illustrates the power that re-creates us in the image of God. And it is by the energy in His word that He upholds all things, including man (Heb. 1:3). But a greater revelation was needed, and this revelation is in the Bible.

The goodness of God is more fully revealed in Scripture than in nature. Scripture is the word of God, in human language. God took human language used by sinful people for sinful purposes and condescended to put His thoughts into this language in order to lift our thoughts to Himself and thus to change us. The Bible tells many things about God through His prophets, not just in predictions, although they did come to pass. At times He gave instructions to a prophet to go directly to certain a person with a message of hope or of warning, depending on what was needed in a specific case. His word expressed the thoughts of His mind. Both creation and Scripture declare “unto man what is his thought†(Amos 4:13). But neither of these give us a full description of God. So He sent Jesus.

Jesus is the greatest revelation of God (and from God) to us. Jesus reveals the personality, as well as the character, of God. Jesus said, “he who has seen Me has seen the Father†(John 14:9). He is “the Word of God†--God’s thought made audible and visible. Jesus “the Word of God†was made flesh (John 1:14). God took human nature, used by sinful people for sinful purposes, and condescended to put His thought into this nature in order to condemn sin so that His righteousness might be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:3, 4), thus lifting our thoughts away from ourselves to Himself and thereby changing us.

The two books in God’s library (creation and Scripture) are inseparable from God’s third volume--Christ. Both point to Jesus as Creator and Redeemer. It takes nothing less than creative energy to redeem us. The power by which Jesus saves us from sin is the power by which He created the worlds. And the power of the cross of redemption is the power of creation. The cross, Christ, and creation are inseparable. The preaching of the word of the cross is the preaching of the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18-24, 30). This is the “everlasting gospel†--the power of God unto salvation, illustrated in nature and testified by Scripture (Rom. 1:16,17, 20). The first angel’s message of Revelation 14 joins creation to the “everlasting gospel†of redemption (vss. 6, 7). Rightly understood, creation declares the glorious gospel of God by letting its light shine (Psalm 19:1-4; Rom.10:16-18).

These are the things that Jones and Waggoner presented in sermon and in writing. They pointed to Christ as Creator and Redeemer and to the power of the cross, thus bringing conviction to the conscience, where God’s law functions in a specified manner (Rom. 2:14-24). The prophetess testified of the Minneapolis messengers and message in the following words:

“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure†(Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91-92).

In closing this lesson we come to the following application question: “Are you studying in God’s library?†It is open to the public.

—Gerald L. Finneman