Posted on 10/24/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice
EVEN THE MOUNTAINS
We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high
Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
in Jesus' name
I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above
JESUS I ADORE YOU
Father, I adore you
Lay my life before you
How I love you
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
The title of today's message was going to be "Vision." And the first two quotes from Scripture we're going to look at are often used to talk about some sort of "vision" that revolves around us. Hopefully by time we're done, we will get just a glimpse into the mind of God concerning the matter of Vision.
And today's first verse is from Proverbs 29:18 (KMV), which says this:
Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he who keeps the law, happy is he.
The New King James version puts it this way:
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.
Some people change that word "vision" or "revelation" to "dream." But that word "vision" or "revelation" comes from a Hebrew word which means "prophecy or divine communication."
Without this vision, this revelation, this communication from God, we perish -- we cast off good and Godly restraints.
Generally we think of a restraint as a bad thing. But what does Proverbs 8:29 say? It says that God "assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command..."
God has set up restraints. Not just for the seas, not just for the rivers, not just for our planet's atmosphere, not just for the fire that keeps us warm at night, but also for our spirit, body, and soul. Life is possible because of these guidelines. When we cast off those restraints, destruction always follows.
Another place the Bible speaks about vision is in Habakkuk 2:2 (KMV), which says this:
2 And the LORD answered me, and said, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run who reads it.
Here again, is this talking about a dream? Or a goal? Or a human vision? This time the New King James translates the word, instead of "revelation," it uses "vision." So you'd think they are two different words.
But they are not. The Hebrew word for "vision" is the exact same word used in Proverbs for "revelation." It's the Hebrew word "chazown," (ha zon' - "a" as in "ah", "zon" as in "zone") which means "vision, oracle, or propecy, specifically as divine communication."
Without a divine word from God, we cast off Godly restraints and we perish. And if the divine communications from God are written plainly, all who read it can run.
But what does that mean for us today? Let's spend the next few minutes pondering that question. And the title of today's message is "Divine Revelation."
First of all, let's talk about restraints... Godly restraints.
That guilty feeling about telling a lie is a Godly restraint, and is put there to keep us honest.
The officers of the law who will take you to jail are Godly restraints, helping us think twice before stealing.
And sometimes a Godly vision is also a Godly restraint. For example, when Jesus' said "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me," that was a divine communication, a Godly vision, a revelation of truth from God. When the Gospel writer wrote those words, he did so so that we could read that vision and run with it.
When we are approached with the idea that ALL roads lead to God, and Jesus is only one of many ways, then the "vision" or "revelation" that was written in Scripture acts as a restraint, keeping us from falling into deception and being destroyed.
True, many people see the Bible as a book full of restraints, and they see that as a bad thing. Even considering taking the Bible seriously means, in their minds, that they will be tied up and restrained from enjoy life, or partaking of the sins they love.
But this is the letter of the law, which is the only thing the carnal mind can see. 2nd Corinthians 3:6 says that "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
And what IS the Spirit of the Law of God? It is LOVE, for as John 4:8 says, "God IS love."
An angry, demanding God would write commands out of a desire to control us. And they would not necessarily be for our good, and could even hurt us, or, at the very least, steal our joy.
But a God of Love, a God who IS Love, would write commands out of a desire to save us from destruction. And they would ALL be for our good, to help us, and to give us joy.
The Letter of the Law is not in the Law itself, but in our perception of the Law. The legalist isn't reading a different Bible. He or she isn't reading different words, or different commands. The Letter of the Law is their perception of and response to the Law.
In the same way, the Spirit of the Law is not in the Law itself, but, once again, it is in our perception of the Law. The man or woman walking in the Spirit of God isn't reading a different Bible. He or she isn't reading different words, or different commands. So the Spirit of the Law is THEIR perception of and response to the Law.
One sees the Law of God as a list of restraints, and for them, it is death. Without a vision, a revelation, a divine communication that reveals the Law of God as a letter of Love, Peace, and Joy for all those who walk in it, they throw off restraint, and they perish.
So we can see that divine revelation is vital. Without divine revelation of Jesus, we cannot come to the cross; and without divine revelation of the Law of God, we can only either live by the Letter of the Law, or demote the Law to a set of suggestions which we can follow or ignore as we please.
Divine revelation is so vital that Jesus said He was going to build His church on it.
We read this in Matthew 16:17-18 (NKJV)
17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Jesus pointed out that Peter had just received divine revelation.
Up until that point, Peter's name was Simon. But in verse 18, Jesus declares two things.
First, Jesus gives Simon a new name. Jesus named Simon after what Simon had just received -- a rock, something firm and solid. The name "Peter" means "a rock." Jesus could have just as well said, "And I also say to you that your name is 'Divine Revelation,' and on this Divine Revelation I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."
The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
You might have heard the saying that "a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument." But a divine revelation goes even beyond a mere experience.
When God speaks, those who are listening will have no doubt that what He says is true.
Now don't get me wrong. We frequently have no doubt that something is true, but that something we're so convinced about is NOT a divine revelation.
Think about it. The Muslims have no doubt that Allah is God, and that the Quo'ran in true. They have no doubt that if they strap bombs to themselves and walk into a daycare center packed with toddlers and blow themselves up, Allah will escort them to a giant bedroom full of virgins.
But we know this is NOT divine revelation.
Divine revelation goes beyond a simple knowing. It has other very important characteristics we must carefully observe.
First of all, it will always agree with previous divine revelation. That's how we know the Quo'ran is NOT true -- because it is in serious contradiction to the Holy Scriptures. It disagrees with previous divine revelation, and even disagrees with itself.
Throughout the Old Testament are numerous prophecies speaking of the coming Messiah, how he would live, how he would die, and that he would rise again from the dead.
The Quo'ran states that Jesus did not even die at all, but that God saved him from death, and put someone else in his place. That is a slap in the face of all the Old Testament prophecies concerning how God would redeem mankind to himself, and the whole purpose for Jesus' coming to earth, which was to be put to death as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins.
It is ALSO another Gospel. Another way to God. The Bible says that if anyone, even an angel, comes preaching another gospel, let him be cursed.
Galatians 1:8, 11-12 (NKJV)
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
"Upon this rock I will build my church."
And then comes Mohamed. Declaring that Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God who was sent to die for our sins, did not die at all. And instead of our reconciliation to God coming through the blood of Jesus Christ, it instead comes through our good works.
But Paul said in verse 12, "I neither received the gospel from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."
That's one thing Mohamed did not have -- a revelation of Jesus Christ. And without that revelation, the Law is a list of rules which must be obeyed by pain of torment and death, and Jesus is nothing more than a prophet. And, then, came all the supposedly divine revelations, which disagree with what God had already revealed. They had already been written, so that those who read may run.
Has God revealed Jesus to you? That question brings us to another characteristic of divine revelation: Divine revelation transcends knowledge.
There are many people in hell right now who knew more about Jesus than any of us here. Their heads were full of knowledge about Jesus. But they did not have a divine revelation of who he was and what he came to do.
Who is Jesus? I'm sure everyone here can answer that question. "He was a prophet." "He was a healer." "He was a great teacher." "He was the Messiah." "He was the Son of God." "He was God."
But do you have a divine revelation of Jesus which goes beyond what you know about him?
I'm sure there are people in my wife's side of the family who could write down things about her I don't know. I could write down everything I know about her, add that to what others have written, and send you a copy.
You could read that, study it, memorize it, and end up knowing more about my wife than I do.
But that doesn't mean you KNOW her. Unless she is somehow revealed to you in ways that go beyond mere knowledge, you can never really know her.
Just like you can never really know Jesus just by reading about him. He must be revealed to you with a revelation that goes deeper than knowledge.
If you pray only one thing in your life, pray that God would reveal Jesus to you. For that one divine revelation will change everything.
So divine revelation is always in full agreement with previous divine revelation, and it goes beyond knowledge.
And there's one more think I'd like for us to consider about divine revelation, or Godly vision, and then we'll close.
And that third characteristic of divine revelation is this: It is consistent with the fruit of the Spirit -- the nature of God.
James 3:17-18 (NKJV) says this:
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Verse 17 almost sounds like the fruit of the Spirit, doesn't it? Pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
We can hear wisdom without receiving divine revelation, but the wisdom that comes from God is a doorway to revelation for those who are seeking after it with their whole heart.
It bears the fruit of righteousness, and it is sown in peace.
Have you ever known someone who sows strife wherever they go? If they tell you something, even if it's supposed to be a word from God, they tell it as a verbal attack. It most certainly isn't sown in peace.
Now that's not to say God can't use that. After all, God works ALL things together for the good of those who love him. Even attacks formed from fleshly wisdom.
But it is not willing to yield. It is not full of mercy... FULL of mercy. The wisdom from above, and therefore divine revelation, is FULL of mercy.
Just as it is willing to yield. That doesn't mean that what God said is good and what he said is evil can change. But within even the divine revelation of Scripture, there is a yielding -- yielding to our inability to understand, and to accept and obey. That's why God gives us divine revelation and His Holy Spirit.
Just compare that with Islam -- you either find a way to make yourself obey, or suffer the consequences. There is no remission of sins, only a chance of possibly earning heavenly favors by obeying the letter of the law.
Or compare that with new age teachings -- you don't have to obey God's law, and you can cast aside the sacrifice of his Son, and you'll still be okay. That's not just a willingness to yield... that's a schizophrenic "play in the street if you want to" pile of worm-infested donkey droppings.
Let's just call it like it is!
A true communication from God, a Godly vision, a divine revelation, will be completely consistent with the fruit of the Spirit and the nature of God.
And it will glorify God, not you. Not some person. Not some man-made system of belief. Not some ritual. Not some great force. But God. And him alone.
Have you receive divine revelation from God? Has he revealed Jesus to you, or do you just know about him? Has he revealed the Word of God to you? Or do you just see it as either a list of rules or a mystical text full of obsurely hidden meanings?
I'd like to open this altar for a time of prayer and ministry. And if you have believed revelations which were not of God, or if you want to ask God to reveal more of himself to you, then you're invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front.
*** listen to the audio for closing ***