In my first year of theological study a key text book was 'The Idea of Revelation in Recent Thought' written by Dr John Baillie in 1956. His work begins with the suggestion that hitherto many would say that Revelation means, "God giving us information we could not get anywhere else... more than our 'unaided reason' could reach." Baillie's work canvasses the work and ideas of early 20th Century theologians who challenge the identification of Christian revelation with the whole body of Scripture, among other things. I won't go into that, nor do I agree with that. But, at the end of his book, Baillie offers his own experiential understanding of Revelation. He discovered that God is trying to speak to us all the time, he has done all he can to make his will known to us; only we are “conveniently deaf toward God.” We may not hear because we are not prepared to hear. Divine guidance on how to attain our ambitions - yes, we would welcome that; but God does not oblige. We are prepared to listen only if listening involves no readjustments . . . and so we do not hear at all. In another figure, we need not complain that the light is dim; “it is enough to see to do our work by.” concludes Bailie.
This Sunday's worship service readings are: Isaiah 49:1-7 • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 • John 1:29-42. The idea of Revelation is very much a part of these readings.
Psalm 49:6 The Lord says my God has become my strength - he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Here Isaiah the prophet speaks of Christ the Messiah who would continue and increase the ministry and mission of the Prophet. He would be a light to the nations; just as Isaiah was strengthening Judah and Israel to be in his day. God's mission which he shares with the Church is to be a light to the nations. Empowered by the Spirit of Christ our mission is to reveal to all people that salvation is in and through Christ and we will proclaim that in word and in deed, in an impactful way.
1Corinthians 1:4-9 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
St Paul in 1 Corinthians is calling and reminding the Church that we have the gifts because we have Christ. That being the case, Christ is being revealed to those around us. It is for the revelation of Christ to those who do not know Him that we have been gifted spiritually. We honour God by moving in and with the gifts of God as we thankfully and prayerfully wait on God.
John 1:30-34 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."
John the Baptist's mission was to reveal (introduce) Christ to Israel in his time. He did this by baptising Jesus, albeit reluctantly, whereupon the Spirit descended on Jesus and confirmed that He was the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and is therefore the Son of God or Messiah! Our task which was begun by John is to introduce Jesus to those around us. Thus John introduces Andrew to Jesus; and Andrew introduces his brother Simon to Jesus. Jesus says to Simon you will be Cephas which is translated Peter or Petros - the Rock on which I will build my Church. So the work continues. On the Day of Pentecost Peter stands up in the Spirit and multitudes say yes, Jesus is Lord.
So, our readings for Sunday unify around the theme that Christ is revealed as the Holy One - Messiah - of Israel and that He leads us through the Holy Spirit to REVEAL HIM to the world - the nations.
We Christians are a people of the Revelation. How are we revealing Christ to the world? After all, again to quote Baillie, "God is trying to speak to us (and I would suggest others) all the time, he has done all he can to make his will known to us." God please speak to us and through us that the world may know that Jesus is Lord!
P.S. You may be a regular Christian worshipper or maybe, worship is an unfamiliar activity for you. Either way, having read the words above that talk about the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Nations I invite you to find God's blessing through Him. Allow the song words to wash over you listening to them and the sentiments they express. As you learn the tune you may choose to join in singing them allowing God to call you into worship... and into relationship with Jesus.
Members of the Porirua Anglican Communities