1383. The Authority of Revelation

Discover the best method of determining the truth about anything.

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING

The Authority of Revelation

It’s a sad fact that critical thinking has become scarce in today’s culture. People tout their opinion or belief as though it’s true just because they believe it. This is especially true when discussing God. Mention God’s judgment and they will say something like, “God isn’t like that. He’s a loving God and wouldn’t punish anyone.” To deal effectively with comments like these we need to appeal to authority. We must find a reliable source who is clearly an expert in the area under discussion. (This applies to every controversial claim.)

The question we need to ask is, “How do you know what you have claimed is true?” This is a question that needs to be asked often until we get a satisfactory answer. To see the bigger picture here, we must take a brief look at two branches of philosophy that lie at the heart of every discussion. The first is ontology, which is the science or study of being. The ontological question is, “What is it?” We are dealing in ontology when we ask questions like, “What is man?” or “What is truth?”

Once we have reached an answer, it’s time to engage in the study of epistemology which is all about knowing. The epistemological question is. “How do you Know?” In our case, we are asking how we can know with the greatest certainty that a claim is true. How can we know what God is really like? Is judgment part of who He is, or not?

So, how do we proceed from here? How can we best discover the truth? One way is through rationalism. We become like Rodin’s Thinker and meditate on God until we have come up with some conclusion. The problem with this method is that we are limited by our own understanding, and if our understanding is insufficient or faulty, we’ll never reach an accurate conclusion. This approach has led mankind down some bizarre paths.

AS I SEE IT

The better method to discover the truth is through revelation. Let’s say that we were engaged in a discussion about what the surface of the moon is really like. We could speculate all we want, but why not ask someone who has been there? Neil Armstrong made the guesswork irrelevant. He was there. He answered our questions. He revealed the truth to us.

While rationalism has serious limitations, revelation has none. It is the absolute best way to reach the truth on any matter. This is especially true when discussion topics like God or heaven. God revealed Himself through the Scriptures and preeminently through His Son. It doesn’t matter what we or anyone else thinks. We simply need to see what God has said in the Bible and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Much of what the apostle Paul teaches us in the New Testament came from a revelation from God. For example, in Ephesians 3, he states that God revealed to him the “mystery” that Gentiles were fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph. 3:3, 6). He didn’t figure this out on his own. God revealed it to him.

Next week we’ll look at how this principle applies to our ministries or our churches.

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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

Long ago, the Hawaiian king ordered a new throne for his palatial hut, and stored the old throne upstairs. One day while ruling, the old throne proved too heavy and came crashing down on the king, killing him proving that people who live in grass houses shouldn’t sto’ thrones.

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