Sunday, December 29, 2013

Revealed from Heaven

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 01:18-19, NKJV).

While in this context what is “revealed from Heaven” is God's wrath, the concepts of Heaven and divine revelation are worthy of discussions in and of themselves, and much could be said about both.

First, our full knowledge of God is dependent upon His revelation of Himself. While it is true that Creation, in all of its immense and microscopic complexity, speaks of His power and intelligence and glory, it says little about His innate character.

Many ancient, so-called primitive cultures recognized that power and glory by observing the world and sky around them, but their conception of the Being (or beings) behind it all was limited by their own feeble imagination. They guessed, but could not know, and in their guessing they devised fantastic and nonsensical tales that attempted to explain everything they observed and experienced.

Interestingly, every culture throughout human history has at least two mythologies in common: Creation; and at least one instance of global destruction. Even naturalists recognize a beginning of things, and call it the Big Bang, and admit to evidence that geological catastrophe occurred in the past on a more or less global scale. Usually, this devastation is attributed to a “natural” event, as in a meteoric collision.

The Bible's explanation of these two events is the only ancient account that is ordered and logical. Creation being explained by four immensely profound words, “In the beginning God...”, and the global devastation by the catastrophic flood which God caused to occur during Noah's time.

Both these explanations have lost favor during our lifetimes, but that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. The point is that we could not know what happened with any precision without Someone providing an eyewitness report. For us, that eyewitness is God Himself, who inspired His Word to be recorded and preserved for mankind throughout the ages.

Which brings us to a very important subtext (underlying theme) of divine revelation, called Inspiration.

Ask yourself this question, if an all-powerful God exists, could He cause information to be known about Him in any way He chose? The obvious answer is, yes.

Given that, if this same Being ordained that faith is the vehicle by which His fallen creatures could return to Him, then how could that information come about that would both inform, and not invalidate that required faith?

While it is true that God could declare His existence unequivocally by ripping open the fabric of the Universe and stepping into Causality unmistakably at any time, (something He has promised to do in the future - Ro 14:11; Php 2:10), that act would absolutely negate faith. It is impossible to have faith in what is actually seen (Ro 8:24,25).

So then, what method of communication meets the requirements of accuracy without negating the opportunity for belief? The answer is the written word penned by holy men of God empowered (inspired) by the Holy Spirit.

The written word is objective and persistent. It is there for all to see throughout time and not subject to the vagaries (unexpected change) and miscommunication of the spoken word. The fact that these “oracles of God” were men does not in anyway detract from the claim that their writings were of supernatural origin; that they were, in fact, words “revealed from Heaven”.

God inspired these men to record exactly what He desired recorded.

Now this “inspiration” is not at all similar to what occurs in occult practices where a human claims to be “channeling” a non-material entity. When such happens in reality, and it undoubtedly does, what is taking place is not inspiration, but a type of possession.

That is not how God works at all. When the prophets who wrote our Bible operated under God's inspiration, these men were not possessed, but directed. They retained their own consciousness and identity, and wrote as God instructed of their own free will. They in no way became God, nor were they any less themselves, but instead faithfully recorded the words or visions God gave them.

Now can we prove that this happened? No, not in the scientific sense, but we can in an evidentiary sense in that much of what was given was history recorded beforehand (prophecy), so that the authenticity and origin of the information would be confirmed.

In fact, the Bible, by some reckoning, is more than two-thirds prophecy, and all of these that have been so far fulfilled have come to pass literally, just as foretold. The most verifiable among these are those 300 or so directly related to the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, all detailed centuries before taking place in time and space exactly as predicted. No other holy writings come close to such a track record, and no other writing stakes its claim to authenticity and its reputation on such prophecy. And given the accuracy of the events already fulfilled, there is no reason to conclude that the remaining, as yet unfulfilled, prophecies will come about in anything other than an equally literal sense.

One final point to make here is that this inspired revelation, like God's wrath, originates from Heaven.

Heaven is discussed at some length in Scripture, not perhaps as exhaustively as we would like, but with enough details to provide us with the following:

  1. It is the abode of God.
  2. It is a real location somehow apart from our four-dimensional reality of time and space, at least for the here and now.
  3. Between here and there is a separation impossible to cross in a physical sense, and requires either physical death or an explicit translation by God.
  4. At some future date, Heaven will emerge into our reality, and what has been separated, likely since the Fall of Man, will once again be reunited.
  5. It is a place where evil cannot abide.
  6. It is where a believer's true citizenship resides.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind from the above list is this: Heaven is where God is, and is therefore the Source from which our own reality emerges. All that we see and experience in this life is but a pale shadow of what there is in Heaven.

Whatever beauty exists here comes from there. Whatever joy and satisfaction we may encounter here is but an echo of the joy and satisfaction we will experience there, if we believe in Christ.

Remember, Dear One, we are finite creatures who live on the edge of the Infinite. God has provided us from Heaven all that we need to know of Him now so that we can choose to believe in Him and abide with Him eternally.

Is it possible to understand fully what all that means? No, but it is enough to exercise our God-given reason to understand enough of Him to evoke rational faith sufficient to bring us into His presence forever more.