Thursday, September 8, 2011

Christian Believer: Week Two {Revelation}

** I did want to pop in and post my thoughts on our Christian Believer study this week. I guess I'm kind of breaking my "vow of silence", but I know if I don't record it now I'll forget it and it seemed sneaky to write the draft and autopublish it later! By the way, this week has been WONDERFUL.  It has been hard, I'm not gonna lie, but I've also accomplished a lot and felt such a nice peace!**

Jumping back to last week, quickly, first.  I forgot to include a sentence that I really loved from the reading on "Belief"-- "The creedal words we sometimes speak in routine fashion were developed out of the strong convictions of persons whose confessions of faith often to led to suffering and even death."  The paragraph preceding this sentence had been about the meeting of the Council of Nicaea.  The council included many members who were persecuted under the tyrannical emperor, Diocletian.  Of the thirty members, ten were blind, their eyes gouged out by Diocletian's soldiers. ALL of them had visible evidence of years of persecution.  Reading all that really gave me a new respect for the creeds.  I know they have their place, but this is, in part, why they are important. 

This week's topic was that of "Revelation" (The Self Revealing God).  I love that one of the first sentences in our workbook said "Let us confess, before we go any further, that revelation is a difficult doctrine.  Let us also confess that it is an absolutely essential one."

The reading went on to  talk about how the hiddeness of God has more to do with our tentativeness than with "divine reluctance", which I think is so true!

The book also said that "nothing we humans can know is beyond refutaion".  We know things four ways- our sense experience, reason (or logic), authority (what trusted people say) and revelation.  Yes, revelation requires faith, but so does each of these other means. It also made clear that we cannot fully understand God, because if we could, he would cease to be God.

In our group discussion, we talked about the different types of revelation.  There is general revelation, which is "revelation given to all". Nature is the perfect example.  All men in all cultures can catch a glimpse of God just through seeing the sun rise.  This is what Romans 1 talks about when it says men are "without excuse" because God's invisible qualities can be "clearly seen".  It seems like such a contradiction that something invisible could be "clearly seen".  I never picked up on that before, and am only now seeking to really understand it.  I think it means that, through  God's general revelation, we area able to get an idea of his nature (no pun intended).  However, general revelation is, as the study said, at best, ambiguous.

This leads us to special revelation.  This is a particular revelation to a particular people at a particular time.  The children of Israel in the Old Testament is a great example, but, of course, the ultimate special revelation came through Christ. As a side note, in another Bible study I am in, we were talking about the "intertestamental period" between the Old and New Testaments.  For four hundred years, God did not speak.  According to that study (i.e. Beth Moore) God sent this famine of His word in order to make his people hunger for him again.  And in "the fullness of time", he sent his Son (Galation 4:4).  I think that ties in so much with God's self-revealing nature. 

We also talked about how people of all cultures have a fundamental sense of right and wrong and how that was revelation and that we would not be able to discern these things if we didn't, in some degree, reflect the divine.  This lead us to discussing how, in the act of creating us in His image, God orchestrated this and how that act of making us in His image, was itself another form of revelation.

We went on to talk about other ways beside nature and creation that we see God reflected.  We listed art and I particularly focused on music and literature.  We have a woman in our group who went to medical school and she shared how, to her, biological functions reveal God's existence.  I think it's neat because it shows how PERSONAL revelation is.  I find revelation in words and music because I love those things; she finds it in science because that is what interests her.  Peyton went on to talk about there being something that is the "pinnacle of beauty", something that defines beauty, and that "something" is God.

Since we are on the subject of how I feel God reveals Himself to me often in the written word, I thought I'd share a few things. I feel like God does this through both divinely inspired Scripture as well as other things.  I am a firm believer that God can speak through secular writings and music, but as the study pointed out in relation to dreams and visions, this too MUST be "brought under the discipline of the Scriptures, tradition, and reason".  Anyway, here are three of my favorites passages from the reading:

"Without public and historical revelation the private experience of God would remain poorly defined and subject to caprice.  Without the private revelation of God, the public and historical revleation would not gain credence". - Reinhold Niebuhr

" [Where were you] When I said, 'this far you may come and not farther, here is where you proud waves halt? Have you given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn it's place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?'" -Job 38:11-13

"Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God out of abundance of His love speaks to men as friends and lives among them so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself." Second Vatican Council. 

One other important thing we discussed was our testimonies.  I feel like it is a shame when some people ask about your testimony they are only referring to the specific instance when you came to know Christ.  OF COURSE my testimony includes that and of course, it's the foundation for everything else, but that would be an incomplete testimony for anyone living past that day, in my opinion.  I think it's so important that we acknowledge God's continual revelation in our lives.  Several people shared how they were sometimes made to feel guilty about not having a specific "ah ha!" moment when they got saved.  I think that's unfortuant, too.  It got me thinking that I really need to do something I've been thinking about for awhile- do a series of blog posts about important points in my walk with the Lord, i.e. my testimony.

This paragraph was at the close of the reading and I loved it.  "To a world that groped toward God sometimes anxiously, often erratically, intermittently, and uncertainly, God graciously revealed the fullness of his person by visiting us in the Son, Jesus Christ.  As a result of his coming, humans never again need wonder what God is like, nor indeed, what God will do to overcome the sin that separates us from God.  These most fundamental of questions are answered forever by a Baby born in Bethlehem and years later put to death outside the city of Jerusalem- and we must add, raised from the dead on the third day." That paragraph just gives me chills!

I feel like I am learning so much from this study and am blessed by it throughout my weeks!

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