How God’s Revelation Should Impact Me
Have you ever considered how the meaning of a sentence changes depending on which word a person emphasizes? Let’s look at the title of this article and see how that works.
How God’s revelation should impact me. This part of the Banner is taken up with the answer to this “how” question. At the very least, we should be deeply humbled and thankful that we even have His revelation. The Bible is, in essence, the perfect revelation of the one only, true, and living God. How many people only know Him through the dim light of creation! How many more have conceptions of God that are not as He revealed Himself in His Word!
How God’s revelation should impact me. God is infinite in every way — infinite love, infinite wisdom, infinite holiness, His presence overflows all creation, etc. To know this God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, is eternal life itself (John 17:3). Knowing God by faith, by grace, by His Word and Spirit — this changes everything, our entire perspective on ourselves, our life, all around us.
How God’s revelation should impact me. Sometimes we hear people pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to them. The answer to their prayer is the Word of God. Jesus said so. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). And what clearer revelation of God could we ever have than the Son of God Himself? Christ was and is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3).
How God’s revelation should impact me. It should, but does it? Knowing what we do about the Lord, how can we dare, why would we want to, live for anything else than Him? Who else is so worthy of our love and devotion? Who is so kind as He is? When we say a person is kind or loving or generous, it’s understood we are speaking generally and acknowledge that he might not be that way all the time. That’s not the case with God. He is always so and that in total, consistent perfection across the board. How His revelation of Himself should impact me! My choices, my preferences, my desires, my companions, my motivation, my goals — all should be impacted by His revelation of Himself.
How God’s revelation should impact me. In this context, “impact” would be understood to mean effect or impression. But a dear friend of our daughter is, as of this writing, hovering between life and eternity because of a brain aneurism and subsequent head-on collision. The impact of this will likely change her life immeasurably if she survives or transport her to glory, as a believer, if she does not. Does God’s revelation of Himself impact me in that way? Has it immeasurably changed my life, never to be the same again?
Will it bring me to glory if I should die today? Or is the impact slight to nothing — perhaps an emotional response every now and then but nothing lasting that truly impacts the way I think, speak, or live? The difference is incalculable, both with respect to God’s glory now and our eternal abode hereafter.
How God’s revelation should impact me. Regretfully, relativistic thinking doesn’t stop at the church door. As we see our culture sliding further and further away from scriptural norms, most people in church tend to keep their distance somewhere behind this declension. Yet keeping our distance isn’t enough. Consider this simple illustration:
| C → W →
The “W” stands for the world, the “C” for the church, and the vertical line for God’s standards as revealed in Scripture. Is the church of today where the world of yesterday was? Will the church of tomorrow be where the world is today? Looking at the distance between us and the world might make us feel safe. But looking at the distance between us and God’s immoveable standards might, and perhaps should, make us feel horrified. After all, we’re considering how God’s revelation should impact me. The world will always be the world. It’s easy to point to the world with disdain, even with condescension: We’re not like that! But what about me? True Christians hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness. They want to live in light of God’s revelation. They want to promote it. That’s what happens when God’s revelation impacts me.
Having completed our little exercise emphasizing each word separately, let’s now take a look at this thought as a whole — how God’s revelation should impact me.
First, it is hardly imaginable that God’s revelation will impact us in any substantive way if we seldom access it. Yes, general revelation (creation) may “inspire” us to think about God in a general sort of way, but He gives us His Word as that unique point of access to all that can be known of Him in this life. Even if we are completely illiterate, there are means by which we can hear God’s Word read to us. And if ever there was an era replete with means to help us understand Scripture, it is certainly now. Yes, discernment will be needed to weed through all that’s available, but that is one of the reasons God puts mature, godly mentors and office bearers in our lives. They can help sort things out for us. Take up God’s Word.
Second, for God’s revelation to impact our lives in a meaningful way, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Yes, that means prayer. We might be able, with sheer intelligence, to muscle the basic meaning out of a passage. But if we want God’s Word to impact us in lasting, meaningful ways, that is the work of God’s Spirit. We need not become mechanical in prayer if we ask the Lord to help us every time we interact with Scripture — whether that be reading, hearing the preached Word, or listening by some other means. Let us pray.
Third, Scripture can only help us in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of our lives if it is near at hand. That doesn’t necessarily mean we should carry a Bible everywhere we go. But if you are reading frequently and praying diligently, you may be surprised how much Scripture lodges in your mind and will be accessible to you at any given moment. Memorization can help. But just a daily, prayerful, thoughtful interaction with Scripture will be so helpful. So as you read, think about what the passage is saying. Ask questions. Why did God say this? Why did He include this history in His Word? How is the Son of God reflected in what is happening here? What principles are here that I can apply to my daily-life situations? Think, pause, meditate.
Fourth, believe. You hear communication of one kind or another all day long; some of what you hear, you believe, and some you do not. But Scripture is God speaking. Why would we differentiate between believing what people say and what God says, as if believing Him is something mysterious and unreachable? I find one of the greatest problems we face is not that what God says is unbelievable. Instead, when we struggle to believe, it’s because we don’t like what we’re reading or hearing. That is our sinful nature at work. Our Lord said that we are to repent, we are to believe (Matt. 4:17, John 14:11). What do we say? “I can’t do that. It has to be given. It seems too easy.” But Jesus points us in a different direction as to the reason we do not believe. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Simply put, by nature we love our sins and hate God. That’s why we don’t believe. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Believe what you read and hear from His Word.
Fifth, do. The final part of the Sermon on the Mount has been misapplied more times than one might imagine. What was wise about the wise man who built his house upon the rock? Jesus Himself tells us. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” The foolish man? “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man” (Matt. 7:24, 25). This was James’s point when he wrote, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20). Reading, hearing, even being moved by what we’ve discovered — all of this is insufficient if it doesn’t translate into godly living. Good works are very important to God. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). This requires the guidance of God’s Word, the power of the Spirit, and self-denial by us. Having heard, having read, do.
Finally, praise. You might think praise is off-topic. But the Lord loves to receive the praise of thankful people who believe and do what He says. Do you thank the Lord for His Word? Do you thank Him for revealing Himself by it and, in that Word, through the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you thank Him for being willing to save lost sinners like we are? For the Savior coming to earth to do that mighty work of salvation? Do you thank Him for the riches found in the Scriptures? The strength derived from it? The hope? The love therein revealed? Psalm 92:1 says, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD.” Give thanks.