Today we look at the Gift of Revelation. For many Christians, when we hear the word revelation, we think of the last book in the Bible. But the word revelation simply means something is revealed. This week we look how God has revealed Himself, and why so many still miss Him.
John 1:1-5; 14-18; Hebrews 1:1-4
This is the fourth week of our Advent Sermon Series titled, The Gifts of Christmas. This is the time of the year when we spend a lot of time thinking about what gifts we might want for Christmas, and carefully considering what gifts we will give to others, so we’re taking some time on Sunday mornings to think about what gifts God wants to give to us.
The first week, if you remember, we looked at The Gift of Anticipation. We remembered Jesus’ coming, and we anticipate His coming again. And this anticipation is a gift, because it gives us a chance to make sure we’re ready. Then we looked at The Gift of Patience. And we saw that maybe God defines patience a little different than we do. Instead of waiting for us to get our act together, He is steadfastly determined to help us, and God’s patience is shown in His promise to never leave us, to always be with us, to always provide for us, to always sustain us, to always lead and guide us so we may truly live and move and have our being in Him.
Last week, we looked at The Gift of Hope. Peter tells us that our hope is found in Jesus. And we saw how we can have new birth, we can be safe and secure for all eternity, starting as soon as we accept Him as our Lord, we receive a joy that our troubles can’t take away, and that hope is an incredible gift God gives us through Jesus.
This week we look at The Gift of Revelation. By revelation, I mean that God reveals himself to us. He has to reveal Himself to us, because we can’t know God on our own. John 1:10-11 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” And honestly, there are three very good reasons why they didn’t receive Him. And these are each valid reasons why so many don’t receive Him today.
The first reason is sin. We are born into the sinful nature. Paul writes a lot about the sinful nature, we are born with a sinful nature that can only be overcome through Christ. David wrote in Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” So we’re born into sin, this is what they mean in the doctrine of Original Sin, that we are all born sinners. And Paul spells this out for us in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”
Paul went on to say that our hope is in Jesus, in verse 19 he says, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man the many will be made righteous.” So because of Adam’s sin, we’re all made sinners, because of Jesus’ obedience, we can all be made righteousness.
But we’ve all sinned, we’re all sinful creatures, and Isaiah tells us that because of that, God is hidden from our view. In 59:2, he wrote, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” So because of our sin, we are separated from God, separated to the point he will not even hear us. Most people today are happy living in their sin, they’re separated from God, but they don’t know any better. Which brings me to the second reason…
We don’t receive God because of our ignorance of God and of Spiritual things. In the book of Acts, Peter is visiting Athens, and as he was strolling through the city, there were idols everywhere. I think the people of Athens wanted to be righteous, they just didn’t know how. In Acts 17:22-23, Paul is meeting with the Areopagus, which was apparently a judicial court that heard complaints in all matters, including religious matters.
He told them, “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown God.’ Now what you worship as unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” They wanted to be righteous; they wanted to cover all the bases, so much so they even had an idol to an unknown God just in case they missed something. They just didn’t know Him, they were ignorant of God. When Moses appeared to Pharaoh to the get the Israelites released, Pharaoh kept saying, “who is this Lord, that I should obey His voice. I do not know the Lord” (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh was ignorant of God, he just didn’t know Him. And most people today don’t know Him.
The third reason we don’t always receive God is because we can’t know Him without Him. We need His help to break through our sin and our ignorance. In Matthew 11:25-27, Jesus was praying, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” You see, it doesn’t matter how much you know, you won’t know enough to go to God until He reveals himself to you.
So if you know God, if you are righteous, if you are a believer, it’s because God has revealed Himself to you in a way that you could see Him. There are a lot of ways God reveals Himself. Here are some of the major ways God chooses to reveal Himself to us…
So there are a lot of ways that God might reveal himself to us, but the most common way, the clearest way yet, is through His Son Jesus, the baby who was born in the stable, placed in the manger, the baby we celebrate at Christmas.
God is revealed best in His Son Jesus. In our reading in Hebrews 1:1-2, we heard, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” In John 12:49, Jesus says, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”
In John 14 Jesus is telling His disciples He’s going to be leaving them, and He tries to comfort them by telling Him about His Father’s house, and that there is a room there for them, I’m going to prepare that room and then I’ll be back for you. But Thomas is confused. And in verse 7, Jesus tells Thomas, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” And in verse 10, He says, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. The words I say to you are not just my own…”
We’ve all sinned; we’ve all been separated from God because of that sin. The Gift of Christmas is that in Jesus, God has revealed Himself to us, so that we can be made right with Him again. If we want to know what God is like, we can study Jesus, Ephesians 1:3 says Jesus is “the exact representation of his being.”
God loves you. He wants you to be right with Him. That means He wants you to be righteous, to be holy, and to be constantly growing closer to Him. And through Jesus, He has opened the door for us to know Him. In Jesus, He has revealed all we need to know about Himself.
That’s one of the gifts we unwrap and celebrate at Christmas, Emmanuel, God with us, revealing Himself to us, that we may know Him and be forgiven by Him, and be made righteous through Him.