We know God has laid out His plans for the Gospel and Eternity, but does He still speak to us, personally? Does He care about us as an individual who needs a personal "word" from the Holy Spirit? We're still looking at Saul/Paul's conversion and how he heard God speak to him.
Galatians 1: 11-17
11. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but [I received it] through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13. For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it; 14. and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15. But when He who had set me apart, [even] from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased 16. to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17. nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
In verse 11 there is a key phrase I want to look at. "received through a revelation of Jesus Christ". We know Paul aka "Saul" of Tarsus, was a zealous persecutor of Christians. He was a young rabbi taught under the tutelage of Gamaliel, a famous Jewish teacher in the first century. As I mentioned last week, Saul was fast making a name for himself that was causing him to rise up in the Jewish leadership. He was the "hands on" man for persecuting and killing Christians.
The word "revelation" in the Greek is apokalypto which means to disclose, unveil, uncover. And has the sense of restoring or curing. We are familiar with the word, "apokalypse" which comes from this Greek word, referring in our culture today as end time events or something of cataclysmic change and importance.
Saul had been on a mission to kill Christians in the city of Damascus, Syria, which is north of Israel and Jerusalem. For an in depth personal account of his experience read Acts 9 :1-19. Paul makes it clear that he did not receive his revelation from any man; not from the Jews, and not from the Christians. The Jews were trying to wipe out the Christians, and the Christians were afraid of Saul so they had nothing to do with him. His revelation came from Jesus Christ himself.
And what is this "revelation" that Paul is talking about? Something that had been hidden, a "mystery" not understood or yet uncovered for the Jews to know. Plain and simple, the message of Jesus Christ; that salvation was not just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles, (everyone else). That revelation rocked the world of the Jewish people and they did not, nor have they yet, received it. Throughout the Old Testament there are indicators and prophecies of the "Savior" who would be coming. But the Jews had a concept of who they wanted that savior to be, and he didn't look anything like Jesus of Nazareth.
Do we feel like "revelation" is just for the OT and the early New Testament times? Well, some denominations would believe and say so. But God is still God, and even though there might not be the same type of revelations, we all still need to have Jesus "reveal" Himself to us personally. Maybe we haven't led a life as counter-productive to the cause of Christ that Saul had lived, but we all need salvation and to know our Savior on a personal one-on-one way.
In verse 15 of Galatians, chapter 1, Paul talks about God setting him apart from birth, and calling him by His Grace. In Jeremiah 1: 5-10 the OT prophet Jeremiah recalls his own calling, evidently at a young age. Take time to read this passage sometime this week. You will be blessed by it and maybe feel a tug at your own heart.
I remember about 11 years ago, (not well read in the Bible, or having studied alot) I came across these words in Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..." I remember it clearly because I was on a quest for personal revelation from God. I needed to hear from Him, personally. I was setting at the kitchen table, Bible on my lap. I read those words and an electric spark went through me. God was speaking. He was talking to me. insignificant me. Those words touched me so powerfully. I had heard them before...for many years. They had lived in a hidden place in my soul and spirit. A place that sometimes seems unreachable, yet we know it's there. A place where our spirit communicates with the Holy Spirit. Those words had been hidden there, until that moment when God "revealed" Himself to me personally for my own life.
There are many many people in the world today, that believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and Savior, yet they have not had a "personal revelation" of who He is. I'm encouraging you and me both, to seek personal revelation from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, the Bible. (they need to go hand in hand) He will send it to you. Do you have problems in your daily life?...children, spouse, health, relationships, finances, unsaved loved ones? God is waiting to personally reveal Himself to you in these areas. It's something I need to remember too; seeking Jesus for personal revelation of His will for my life. Trust Him. He's ready to communicate.
This is where I will strongly reiterate the need for daily Bible study. When we put ourselves before God; Bible open, He sees our willingness and availability to hear from Him. If you aren't reading your Bible it's harder to get to that place. Not impossible, because people find Jesus everyday that have never picked up a Bible. But to receive instruction and personal guidance from God we need to be in His Word.
Paul is a huge example of how "suddenly" God can step in and change our lives...and our destiny. Don't give up on the possibility of "suddenlies" in your spiritual life.
love in Jesus,