By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
The Bible is a revelation of God. It intends to convey divine truth to man so that the will of God is understood and the actions of God are made known throughout redemptive history. The Bible is not a book of enigmatic riddles and secret codes. As a divine revelation, the Bible seeks to unveil many things of which were hidden in times past and to illuminate that which God has already made known. However, it is important to recognize that the revelation of Jesus Christ, the divine Son of the Father was the culmination and pinnacle of God’s special revelation laid down in holy scripture. As the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures and the types and shadows of the Old Testament find their meaning and manifestation in him. The revelation that is in Jesus Christ as laid out for us in the Bible is to be accepted and acknowledged as God’s final word until Jesus Christ comes again to fulfill that which even the New Testament points forward to.
In light of the fact that we currently have the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), there is no further revelation being given to the church. It is an inappropriate endeavor to seek out new revelations from God. God has spoken, and he has spoken in his Word. The Word of God is sufficient for believers such that he or she need not run about searching for new revelations. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Notice that 2 Timothy 3:17 teaches that the scriptures are sufficient to make the man of God complete, and to equip him for every good work. Believers are not to confront scriptures with the mind set that it is somehow lacking and requires further revelation. It is for this reason that I seek to focus in on the important difference between revelation and illumination.
It is common place within certain theological and denominational church circles to engage in the practice of claiming revelation from God. “The Lord told me” is a phrase that is used far too loosely in the church and this is dangerous. Often times when the Lord apparently tells folks things, it is usually either directly or indirectly heretical or unbiblical. It is for this reason that the believers need to “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) against the Word of God. When we study scripture we should not pray that God grants “revelation”, but rather, our prayer should be for illumination. God does not provide us with new revelation along side the scriptures, but he most definitely illuminates what is already in the scriptures. Without being an alarmist, it is a fact that there are many false prophets running around claiming new revelation from God and the church must respond in a biblical yet firm fashion.
Let us not forget that apologetics is not merely a tool to use against atheists and skeptics, but we are to also defend from error from within the household of God. The need for this sort of internal in-house apologetic is laid forth clearly in the book of Jude: “Although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:3-4). Likewise, when people within the church claim new revelation, we as believers should take this very seriously and apply biblical truth and correction to anything that challenges the sufficiency of scripture.