Are you ready for revelation? (1 Cor 2:9,10)

They didn’t like Paul at Corinth. His preaching was not wise enough, nor eloquent enough: - nor was it sustained by miracles. To all which the Apostle was content to reply, “You are incompetent to judge!” The clever might judge in a matter of politics: the readers were qualified to pronounce on a point of literary taste: the judges might weigh the evidence. But in matters spiritual, they were unfit to judge. It’s as if I insisted to you that though the world seems to stand still, yet it moves with lightning speed. The judgment of your senses is worth nothing in such matters. You have to study science. For every kind of truth a special capacity or preparation is indispensable.

 For a revelation of spiritual facts two things are needed: - First, a Divine Truth; second, a spirit which can receive it.

Therefore the Apostle’s whole defense resolved itself into this: The natural man receives not the things which are of the Spirit of God. The world by wisdom knew not God. And his vindication of his teaching was: These Revealed Truths can not be seen by the eye, heard by the ear, nor guessed by the heart: they are visible, audible, imaginable, only to the spirit. By the spiritually prepared, they are recognized as beautiful, though they seem crazy to all the world .

 

 So are YOU ready for revelation?

·        Eye has not seen

Eternal truth is not perceived through sensation. “Eye has not seen the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.”

Now there are many beautiful things in the world. Now, the Corinthians could appreciate this. Theirs was the land of beauty. They read the Apostle’s letter, surrounded by the purest conceptions of Art. In the orders of architecture, the most richly graceful of all columnar forms receives its name from Corinth. And yet it was to these men, living, in the very midst of the beautiful, upon whom the Apostle emphatically urged - “Eye has not seen the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.”

Of course, I’m not depreciating the wonder of nature: forests, rivers, mountains, animals, sea. But all this is bounded. The eye can only reach the finite Beautiful. Again, even all this is perishable. It only goes so far.

And so, when Jesus came, eye beheld no beauty in him, either.  

Notice “the things prepared” is not a future but a present revelation. Something already shown, only not to eye nor ear. The distinction lies between a kingdom which is appreciable by the senses, and another whose facts and truths are seen and heard only by the spirit. Never yet has the eye seen the Truths of God - but then never shall it see them. In heaven this shall be as true as now. Shape and color give them not. God will never be visible - nor will His blessedness. He has no form. The pure in heart will see Him, but never with the eye; only in the same way, but in a different degree, that they see Him now. In the anticipated vision of the Eternal, what do you expect to see? A shape? Hues? You will never behold God. Eye has not seen, and never shall see in finite form, the Infinite One, nor the Infinite of feeling or of Truth.

Again - no scientific analysis can discover the truths of God. You can’t figure him out! Science can not give a Revelation. Science proceeds upon observation. It submits every thing to the experience of the senses. Its law, expounded by its great lawgiver, is, that if you would ascertain its truth you must see, feel, taste. Experiment is the test of truth. Now, you can not, by searching, find out the Almighty to perfection, nor a single one of the blessed Truths He has to communicate. God has much to say: Eye has not seen the truths which are clear enough to Love and to the Spirit.

 

·         Ear has not heard

 Eternal truth is not reached by hearsay - “Ear has not heard the things which God has prepared or them that love Him.”

No revelation can be adequately given by the address of man to man, whether by writing or orally, even if he be put in possession of the Truth itself. For all such revelation must be made through words: and words are but counters - the coins of intellectual exchange. There is as little resemblance between the silver coin and the bread it purchases, as between the word and the thing it stands for. Speak of ice to an inhabitant of the Sahara, the word does not give him an idea, or if it does, it must be a false one. Talk of blueness to someone colour-blind, what use is that? Similarly in matters spiritual, no verbal revelation can give a single simple idea. For instance, what means justice to the unjust - or purity to the man whose heart is steeped in sin?. Each one in this congregation has a God before him at this moment, who is, according to his own attainment in goodness, more or less limited and imperfect. The sensual man hears of God, and understands one thing. The pure man hears, and conceives another thing. Whether you speak in metaphysical or metaphorical language, in the purest words of inspiration, or the grossest images of materialism, the conceptions conveyed by the same word are essentially different, according to the soul which receives them.

So that apostles themselves, and prophets, speaking to the ear, can not reveal truth to the soul. A verbal revelation is only a revelation to the ear.

Now see what a hearsay religion is. There are men who believe on authority. Their minister believes all this Christianity true: therefore so do they, He calls this doctrine essential: they say OK. You cannot believe on my say-so. Are you ready for revelation?

·        Nor can the heart imagine

And third, profoundly, truth is not discoverable by the heart - “neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” The heart - two things we refer to this source: the power of imagining, and the power of loving. Creative imagination! Now imagination is a power of the heart. Great thoughts originate from a large heart: a man must have a heart, or he never could create. It is a grand thing, when in the stillness of the soul thought bursts into flame, and the intuitive vision comes like an inspiration;

8. There is more in the heart of man - it has the power of affection. The highest moment known on earth by the merely natural, is that in which the mysterious union of heart with heart is felt. Call it friendship - love - what you will, that mystic blending of two souls in one, when self is lost and found again in the being of another, when, as it were, moving about in the darkness and loneliness of existence, we suddenly come in contact with something, and we find that spirit has touched spirit It’s wonderful to be in love.

This has entered into the heart of man, yet this is of the lower still. It attains not to the things prepared by God, it dimly shadows them. Human love is only the shadow of that surpassing blessedness which belongs to those who love God.

 ·     So are you ready for revelation?.

First, Revelation is made by a Spirit to a spirit - “God has revealed them to us by His Spirit.” Christ is the voice of God without the man - the Spirit is the voice of God within the man. The highest revelation is not made by Christ, but comes directly from the universal Mind to our minds Therefore, Christ said Himself, “ He, the Spirit, shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.” And therefore it is written here - “The Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Now the Spirit of God lies touching, as it were, the soul of man - ever around and near. On the outside of earth man stands with the boundless heaven above him: nothing between him and space - space around him and above him - the confines of the sky touching him. So is the spirit of man to the Spirit of the Ever Near. They mingle. In every man this is true. The spiritual in him, by which be might become a recipient of God, may be dulled, deadened by a life of sense, but in this world never lost. All men are not spiritual men, but all have spiritual sensibilities which might awake. All that is wanted is to become conscious of the nearness of God. God has placed men here to feel after Him if haply they may find Him, albeit He is not far from any one of them. Our souls float in the immeasurable ocean of Spirit. God lies around us: at any moment we might be conscious of the contact.

 

·        Love is the language of revelation

 The condition upon which this self-revelation of the Spirit is made to man is love. These things are “prepared for them that love Him,” or, which is the same thing, revealed to those who have the mind of Christ.

Let us look into this word love. Love to man may mean several things. It may mean love to his person, which is very different from himself, or it may mean simply pity. Love to God can only mean one thing: God is a Character. To love God is to love His character. For instance - God is Purity. And to be pure in thought and look; to turn away from dirty talk, turn off the smutty films, to be open to being self-critical of the moment in which we have not been pure, that’s loving God.

God is love - and to love men till private attachments have expanded into a generosity which embraces all - at last even the evil and enemies, with compassion - that is to love God. God is truth. To be true, to hate every form of falsehood, to live a brave, true, real life, that is to love God. Feed the hungry with this!

And love always shows itself in obedience “He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me.” Now here can be no mistake. Nothing can be love to God which does not shape itself into obedience. So with God: strong feelings, warm expressions, varied internal experience co-existing with disobedience, God counts not as love. Mere weak feeling may not usurp that name.

To this love, adoring and obedient, God reveals His truth - for such as love it is prepared: or rather such are prepared for it. Love is the condition without which revelation does not take place. As in the natural, so in the spiritual world: By compliance with the laws of the universe, we put ourselves in possession of its blessings. Obey the laws of health, and you obtain health: temperance, sufficiency of light and air, and exercise, these are the conditions of health. Arm yourselves with the laws of nature, and you may call down the lightning from the sky: surround yourself with glass, and the lightning may play innocuously a few inches from you; it can not touch you; you may defy it; you have obeyed the conditions of nature, and nature is on your side against it.

In the same way, there are conditions in the world of Spirit, by compliance with which God’s Spirit comes into the soul with all its revelations: such conditions as these: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” “No man has seen God at any time.” “If we love one another, God dwells in us.” “With this man I will dwell, even with him that is of a meek and contrite spirit.” “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine” - reverence, love, meekness, contrition, obedience - these conditions having taken place, God enters into the soul, whispers, His secret becomes visible, imparts knowledge and conviction.

Now these laws are invariable: if you put your hand in fire you will be burnt; - similarly, if you are proud, or critical then you will not know peace; you cannot be lazy spiritually and hear from God; you cannot be unloving and cold  and yet see and hear and feel the things which God has prepared for them that love Him,

 So why did Paul insist on “Nothing but the cross”? Because the cross is the revelation of God. The Cross is humbleness, love, self-surrender - these the apostle preached. To conquer the world by loving it - to be blest by ceasing the pursuit of happiness, and sacrificing life instead of finding it - to make a hard lot easy by submitting to it: this was his divine philosophy of life. And the princes of this world, amidst scoffs and laughter, replied, Is that all? Nothing to dazzle - nothing to captivate. But the disciples of the inward life recognized the Divine Truth which this doctrine of the Cross contained The humble, of heart and the loving felt that in this lay the mystery of life, of themselves, and of God, all revealed and plain. It was God’s own wisdom, felt by those who had the mind of Christ.

The application of all this is very easy: Love God, and He will dwell with you. Obey God, and he will reveal the truths of His deepest teaching to your soul. Not perhaps: - as surely as the laws of the spiritual world are irreversible, are these things prepared for obedient love. An inspiration as true, as real, and as certain as that which ever prophet or apostle reached, is yours, if you will have it so.

If you see it you cannot forget it. If you see him, then every sight would be resplendent with beauty, and every sound would echo harmony; things common would become transfigured. The human would become divine, Life - even the meanest - noble. In the colours of every wayside flower there would be a glimpse of Divine affections and a dream of Heaven, The bush would blaze with God as it did for Moses. The creations of genius would breathe less of earth and more of Heaven. Human love itself would burn with a clearer flame, rising from the altar of self-sacrifice.

With God, the future is so bright I need sunglasses...

These are “the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” Are you ready for revelation?

 


Teaching Notes
Webpage icon Looking at Romans (Session 2)
Webpage icon Looking at Romans (Session 1)
Webpage icon Looking at Romans (Session 3)
Webpage icon Looking at Romans (Session 4)
Webpage icon Looking at Romans (Session 5)
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