Glory – May 22, 2016

Psalm 8 John 16:12-15

John made it clear that for Jesus the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring God’s truth to humans. The name we give to this truth-bringing is revelation. John’s report on Jesus’ words to his disciples tell us about that revelation.
Revelation is not a one time thing. Revelation is a process. Many things that Jesus knew he could not tell his disciples at that moment. He wasn’t hiding anything. They were just not able to understand what he might tell them. You can’t tell a person more than that person can understand.
We don’t attempt to teach calculus to a person who doesn’t understand algebra. We work up to it. We don’t start with novels in a foreign language before we teach some basic vocabulary.
God’s revelation to humans is like that. God teaches humans what they are able to learn.
This helps explain some parts of the Old Testament…parts that worry some Christians and turn away some non-believers. What we read in the Old Testament was all that the people of the day could grasp. There are passages in the Old Testament that call for the wiping out of men, women and children when an enemy city is taken. Backing up those passages is the thought that Israel must not risk being tainted by any heathen or lower religion. To avoid that risk the instructions were to destroy those who didn’t worship the true God. The Jews of that day had the idea that the only way to guard the purity of their religion was to destroy those considered heathen. Killing is still done today in the name of religion, based on this incorrect ancient belief. When Jesus came people realized that the way to preserve that purity was to convert the heathen. The people of the Old Testament understood a truth…but only part of it. Revelation is that way. God can reveal only as much as humans can understand.
There is no end to God’s revelation. One of the mistakes that humans make is to identify God’s revelation only with the Bible. If that were true it would be like saying that since about 120 A.D….when the last book of the New Testament was written…that God has ceased to speak to us.
But…God’s spirit is always active…always revealing himself. It is true that his greatest revelation came in Jesus…but Jesus is not just a figure in a book. He is a living being and in him God’s revelation continues. God is still leading us into greater realization of what Jesus means. He is not a God who spoke until 120 A.D. and is now silent. He is still revealing his truth to humans.
God’s revelation of truth to humans is a revelation of all truth. It is wrong to think of God’s truth as only what we might call theological or religious truth. The theologian and the preacher aren’t the only people inspired by God. When a poet writes a great message for humans…a message that lasts beyond the poet’s lifetime…that poet was inspired. When H. F. Lyte wrote the words of the great hymn, Abide With Me, he had no feeling that he was writing them…they just came to him. When he wrote the HallelujahChorus, Handel said, “I saw the heavens opened, and the Great White Cloud sitting on the throne.” When a scientist discovers something which will help the world in its toil and make life better for humans….when a surgeon discovers a new technique that saves lives and eases pain…when someone discovers a new treatment which will bring life and hope to suffering humanity…that is revelation from God. All truth is God’s truth and the revelation of all truth is the work of the Holy Spirit.
All that is revealed comes from God. God is at the same time…the possessor of all truth…and the giver of all truth. Truth is not something that humans discover…it is God’s gift. It is not something we create…it is something waiting to be discovered. God is behind all truth.
Revelation is the taking of the things of Jesus…and revealing their significance to us. Part of the greatness of Jesus is that we don’t know and never will know the full extent of him. No person has ever grasped all that he came to say. No person has completely worked out all the significance of his teaching for life and for belief…for the individual and for the world…for society and for the nation. Revelation is a continuous opening up of the meaning of Jesus.
We are here today because of revelation…that took place 178 years ago. It was May 24, 1738. This is the entry that John Wesley made in his journal.
“In the evening I went unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Wesley was the highly educated son of a preacher. Wesley was a deacon. He was struggling with his faith and religion in general when the Spirit gave him this revelation.
There you have the truth of revelation. Revelation comes to us not from any specific book…nor from a single creed. It comes to us from a living being. The nearer we live to Jesus…the better we will know him. The more we become like him…the more he will be able to tell us. To enjoy his revelation…we must accept him as our master.
Just as happened with John Wesley…the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. We will grow as the Spirit further shows the meaning of the Scripture to us. That does not mean we will have all knowledge regarding the sciences…but we will be taken deeper and deeper into the essential truth about God and Christ and eternal life and our souls. The expression “all truth” suggests growing liberation…for the truth indeed sets us free. We will increasingly be given the mind of Christ as the Spirit takes what belongs to Christ and discloses it to us.
For this gift we give Christ the glory.
With this gift we will better share the glory of Christ with others…in peace and love.

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