Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Prerequisite for Revelation (John 14:22-24)

A young man sat in my office not too long ago. He was deeply troubled by questions and doubts about his relationship with God. He longed for God to be "real" in his life, but he feared yielding his life unreservedly to God for His total control.

I suggested two options to the young man: (1) Spend time reading Francis Schaeffer's The God Who is There and/or Escape from Reason. These works profoundly influenced my thinking as a late teenager, and I think they still contain a valuable message to those searching for God. My only warning was that he remember that God will not be found by the intellect alone. Without faith it is impossible to please God (or find Him). (2) The second option I suggested was that he simply yield himself totally to God and pursue relationship with Him, despite unanswered questions and unresolved doubts.

We prayed together and he left intending, I think, to pursue option 1. ...

This morning I sat on a porch swing and read John 14:22-24, which says,
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?"
23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.

Another one of Jesus' non-sequiturs! And then again, maybe it isn't. Judas asked why Jesus was not revealing himself to the world. Jesus replied that that the Father and Son make their abode with those who love Jesus and keep His word.

In other words, Jesus was revealing Himself to the disciples because they loved Him and were keeping His word. He was not revealing Himself to the world because they didnot love Him and were not keeping His word.

Is there a broader principle behind Jesus' statement?: Revelation hinges on loving obedience. If I want Christ to reveal Himself more fully to me, I must be in full obedience to all that He has already revealed. John 7:17 implies this, but this truth hit me anew in this passage.

Perhaps I gave that young man the wrong advice. Given Jesus' response to Judas, I should have said "God generally reveals Himself to those who love Him and are living in obedience to His Word. If you want God to be "real" to you, you have to be willing to trust Him enough to surrender fully to His control. Only when you are in that position of humility are you positioned to receive the grace of greater revelation."

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