Faith: The Fountain of Revelation
There is an invisible, spiritual, supranatural realm from which this visible, physical natural realm was created.
"By faith we understand that the universe was formed at Gods command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Heb. 11:3.
Supranatural vs. Supernatural
The realm of spirit is above and beyond the natural and physical, and existed earlier than the visible universe. The things of spirit are outside the observation, understanding, and limitations of the material creation. We cannot know or attain spiritual realities merely through the use of our minds and our five senses. Spiritual truths are OTHER THAN natural truth. Therefore, the realm of spirit is supranatural rather than supernatural.
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...For indeed-Jews ask for miraculous signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, -to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles -foolishness, but to those who are -the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ -the power of God and -the wisdom of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24 (New American Standard Version)
A good illustration of the difference between these two concepts of "supra" and "super" is the attributes of the fictional character Supermanä . Supermanä is a natural man (that is, he possesses a physical mind and body and exists in the physical universe), with some rather unique and astounding abilities due to his extraterrestrial heritage. For instance, he has unequalled strength with any other earth-born creature. Hes faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. These skills, although they surpass the abilities of normal human beings, are nevertheless natural abilities shared by both Supermanä and other people. The difference is the degree to which Superman ä possesses these natural abilities greater than ordinary men. Since these attributes are common to both Supermanä and "normal" people, they are referred to as supernatural.
In addition to these super-natural abilities there are some abilities Supermanä has exhibited in the comics, cartoons, and movies that are totally outside the realm of possibility for human beings. For example, Supermanä has been known to fly at extremely high altitudes, even outside the atmosphere of earth with no ill effects and without the aid of mechanical devices. He seems to be able to withstand all sorts of radiation with no protection, with the exception of kryptonite, of course. Bullets bounce off his chest, he has X-Ray vision (except through lead), and he is able to tunnel through the earth with his own body and endure temperatures of thousands of degrees. This is not simply an extension of natural abilities; it is outside the parameters of what ordinary mortals can do. It is supra-natural.
The spiritual realm is not just a souped-up version of the natural realm. It is totally different and outside of the natural realm and cannot be perceived merely through the intellect and the five senses or other natural means. It must be perceived through revelation. Revelation, according to Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words, is "an uncovering" and "is used in the New Testament of (c) the communication of the knowledge of God to the soul." Easton's Bible Dictionary states that revelation is "an uncovering, a bringing to light of that which had been previously wholly hidden or only obscurely seen"
"Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are -mature; a wisdom, however, not of -this age nor of the rulers of -this age, who are -passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a -mystery, the hidden wisdom which God -predestined before the -ages to our glory; the wisdom -which none of the rulers of -this age has understood; for it they had understood it they would not have crucified -the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, -THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.
-For to us God revealed them -through the Spirit; 1Corinthians 2:6-10 (New American Standard Version)
"...But a -natural man -does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are -foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." 1 Corinthians 2:14. (NASB)
Revelation is a FUNCTION of faith.
"... and without faith it is impossible to please God, for anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists, and that he rewards those who diligently seek Him." Heb. 11:6.
Revelation, Faith and The Knowledge of God
Revelation results from an exercise of faith in God. The individual believes that God exists (without any natural, verifiable support) and God rewards the faith of the individual with a revelation of Himself. Faith is an unchanging trust and total reliance on God that results in obedience to His commands and conformity to His character.
Faith and revelation are dynamic processes, not static events. The first expression of faith results in the first revelation of God. Additional expressions of faith are required to receive additional revelations from God. These expressions of faith and revelation are cumulative (as are their opposites: unbelief and concealment) and meant to grow. Revelation grows through the exercise of faith.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Ps. 25:14
Faith and Revelation work together to produce the knowledge of God. It is the knowledge of God, or the lack thereof, that separates the righteous from the wicked, the saved from the lost, and the blessed from the damned. There is no possession of greater value than the intimate, life giving, knowledge of God. And this knowledge of God only comes through the life of faith. Romans 1:18-32 describes the results of a life devoid of the knowledge of God.
For 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. Rom. 1:21.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. Rom. 1:28.
But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. 2 Cor. 2:14-16.
God wants to communicate with us from the invisible, spiritual, supranatural realm but this communication can only come through spiritual revelation, and spiritual revelation only comes through living and active faith. The foundation for living a Spirit-filled or more accurately, a Spirit-controlled life is to be a man or woman of faith. To become a man or woman of faith requires hearing and believing the Word of God.
So then faith cometh by hearing,
and hearing by the word of God.
Rom. 10: 17.
The Word of God: The Wellspring of Faith
The Word of God is the source from which faith is brought into existence. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without revelation it is impossible to know God. God has provided His Word so that faith can be established.
The term "Word of God", is often used interchangeably and synonymously with the writings (scriptures) of the Holy Bible. However, the Bible itself indicates that the Word of God (or Word of the Lord) is much more than the Scriptures, predates them, and indeed, actually predates the entire Creation.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1.
For since the creation of the world Gods 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. Rom. 1:20.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4.
The Word of God is the expression or communication of God from Himself to us. We communicate with one another through words or through symbols and objects that can be represented by words. In a similar way, God communicates with us through His Word. Sometimes that Word is expressed in various forms, but the end result is that God expresses Himself to us so that we can perceive Him. By giving us His Word God provides a foundation from which faith can be launched, revelation can reciprocate and the knowledge of God can generate.
Since the Word of God is the expression of God Himself to us, it is proper to refer to the Word of God as "He" rather than "it". Therefore, He speaks through creation. He also speaks to us directly Spirit to spirit. The Holy Scriptures are the written records of what God has spoken in the past and how man has responded to Him. The manifestations of the Holy Spirit (as recorded in 1 Corinthians 12 and commonly called "gifts" of the Spirit) are God speaking to us today. Gods ultimate expression of Himself to us is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed One (Christ or Messiah), and the only begotten Son of God.
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, who he appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of Gods glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. Heb. 1:1-3.
When we discuss God we are dealing with the invisible, spiritual, supranatural realm. Perception of that realm comes only through revelation. Revelation comes through Gods response to expressions of faith. Faith comes by hearing (in contradistinction to listening to) the Word of God. It is important for us to discern the Word of God and the Spirit of God from all other words and spirits. This is accomplished through pure devotion to what God has already said, in the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures (or the Bible) are the written record of what God has said in the past, mans response to His communication, and Gods response to mans response. God is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him. The reward God gives to those who seek Him is further revelation of Himself. The writers of the Bible and many of the personalities discussed therein, were men and women who exercised faith and diligently sought God. As a result, they received revelation of God and revelation from God. They, in essence, became Gods spokespersons on earth. That is the meaning of the word prophet, someone who speaks forth the mind and will of God.
The Scriptures enable us to discern the Word of God. By hearing the Scriptures, with our heart as well as our ears, faith is produced in our lives. As we learn to hear God through the Scriptures we can develop the faith to receive revelation to hear Gods voice in our daily lives. We can begin the process of growing in our knowledge of God without fear of deception. Thus is the ultimate goal of the Spirit-controlled life: Hearing God and walking in obedience to His commands.
The Holy Scriptures: The Reservoir of Revelation
Since we are dealing with an invisible, spiritual, supranatural realm that can only be perceived through revelation, it is important to have a reliable standard to authenticate the identity of the spiritual entities and communication we receive from that realm.
God has provided such a standard through the writings of the Bible. In the Bible, God has recorded His communication with humanity over the centuries. The Bible is the reliable source for validating or invalidating our encounters with the invisible, spiritual, supranatural realm.
Knowledge of God comes through revelation.
Revelation comes through faith.
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
The Word of God is Gods communication of Himself to us.
The Bible is the written record of Gods previous revelations and communications of Himself to men.
The Bible (or Holy Scriptures) is the Word of God, but the Word of God is more than the Bible!
For the Word of God is 1iving and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12.
The paper and ink that are used to print the Scriptures are not living and active. It is the message and the Message Sender that the written text reveals that is the living and active Word of God. Two different persons, one exercising faith and the other not, can read the same words and the results will vary tremendously. The one who reads with faith will receive a revelation of God. The one who reads without faith will only receive an increase of natural knowledge at best or confusion and misunderstanding at worst. The Bible is the reservoir of the revelation of God but only those with living faith can drink its living water.
Jesus demonstrated the difference between the Word of God and the Scriptures when he reprimanded the Jews for their unbelief:
And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does His Word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one He sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:36-40.
The Jews were entrusted with the very words of God in the Holy Scriptures. Yet many did not approach the Scriptures in faith, and they failed to recognize Gods ultimate communication of Himself when it came in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. It is vitally important that we approach the Bible with faith in order to benefit from its wealth of revelation of God.
... How from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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. 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21.
A proper attitude and response to the Holy Scriptures opens the door to faith and revelation. When the Scriptures are regarded as the Word of God the possibility for faith to rise in the heart is attained. The next step is hearing what the Scriptures are saying by t the message and acknowledging the authority of the Message Sender.
What follows is an appropriate action in response to the message.
This subsequent action in response to the message is an act of faith. Active faith results in a revelation of God. God responds to faith and the individual perceives it internally and on occasion observes it externally.
The Scriptures are the foundation for faith and revelation of God. By examining what God has already revealed in the Bible, we have a standard by which to judge all other manifestations from the invisible, spiritual, supranatural realm. God wants to communicate with us by His Spirit through the Scriptures and by other means, but He does not want us to be deceived, misled, manipulated or exploited by false messages or messengers.
... Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:3.
Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the Lord. "Is not my word like fire," declares the Lord, "and like a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces? There fore, I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me." Jeremiah 23:28-30.
For receiving revelation and living a Spirit-controlled life, the Bible is our point of beginning. We need to feed on and digest the principles and commands of Scripture in order to safeguard ourselves from deception, manipulation and exploitation.