A man can only receive what is given him from heaven. Jn 3:27
When Peter declared, "you are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus replied, "this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven," (Matt 16:16-17). Paul prayed for the Ephesian church that they would, "know the love that surpasses knowledge," (Eph 3:19).
Two Kinds of Knowledge
There are two kinds of knowledge: worldly knowledge which is learned by our senses through teaching and experience; and spiritual knowledge which we can only acquire as God reveals it to us. There is a danger for Christians who listen to many sermons, read many books, and study their Bible diligently, that their spiritual knowledge does not match up to what they have learned with their minds. They may have heard many talks about the love of God, they may have read volumes of material on the subject and learned to quote relevant verses of scripture. But observation of their lives shows they have not truly understood that the Lord loves them. They are still anxious and fearful about the circumstances of their lives, they haven't fully shaken off the sense of guilt for past sin, they do not enjoy the presence of God.
We cannot simply learn kingdom truths with our mind. Many heard the teaching of Jesus, saw His miracles and witnessed His lifestyle, but they did not recognise who he was. Peter received a revelation - the Father opened the eyes of his spiritual understanding so that he received a revelation that Jesus was the Messiah.
When I became I Christian, I first accepted, intellectually, the truth of the Gospel but it was some time before the Lord knocked at the door of my heart, I invited Him in and received my first revelation of Him. It was the most intensely real experience I had had up to that point in my life.
But revelation isn't supposed to stop at conversion. It should be an ongoing experience. We can have too many sermons, read too many books, so that we begin to think we know a lot when, in reality, very little of it has become real in our lives.
I remember a little over two years ago when I received a revelation about forgiveness. I must have heard dozens of sermons on the subject, I had a theology of forgiveness, but I didn't have a knowledge of forgiveness that affected my life. Then, one morning, when I was helping out at a children's club, the leader spoke to the children about forgiveness and suddenly a light went on in my spirit. I had such a revelation of forgiveness that I was able to forgive people I had not been able to forgive for 35 years! I had received a revelation.
If we can only truly know things through revelation, what can we do about it? Are we stuck with just waiting to receive what God deigns to give us?
On the contrary, we have an active part to play. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). He also tells us that the word of God "penetrates even to the dividing of soul and spirit," (Heb 4:12). It is in the mind, part of the soul, where worldly knowledge accumulates, but it is with the spirit that we receive revelation.
The word of God, the Bible is essential to us receiving spiritual understanding. This is why Bible centred preaching is essential, and the public reading of Scripture even more so. But most vital of all is personal devotional reading of God's word which opens us up to the still small voice of the Spirit. If you need a revelation about something, study the scriptures on the matter, meditate on those passages which speak about the subject which concerns you.
The other important aspect is, of course, prayer. Not the kind of prayer that is seeking answers to requests, but that which seeks to lay hold of God Himself. Jesus commanded us to abide in Him (Jn 15:4), He prayed that we might know God (Jn 17:3). When our heart is devoted to knowing God, rather than knowing about Him, He will increasingly reveal Himself to us.
Sadhu Sundar Singha Sikh convert to Christ, said, "prayer is a breathing in of the Holy Spirit," (At the Feet of the Master). Those who have discovered this aspect of contemplative prayer will understand precisely what is meant. Prayer was never intended to be a vending machine where we put our requests in the slot and God dispenses His answers. Rather, it is the means of fellowship, a sharing of intimacy, with our beloved Lord Jesus.
When Paul told the Ephesians that the relationship between husband and wife was a picture of of Christ's relationship with His bride, he gave us a beautiful image which not only sanctifies the act of marriage, but reveals to us the intensity of intimacy it is possible to have with Jesus. But only for those who will submit themselves to Him, abiding in Him, & taking the time to spend alone with Him in prayer.
Prayer College Assignment
Do you need a revelation of how much God loves you, His hatred of sin, or His passion for the lost? Whatever is lacking in your spiritual knowledge, spend time in Scripture seeking God's word on the matter and seek His face for a revelation.