—A Discourse On The Importance Of Revelational Knowledge To Understanding The Mysteries Of God—
“And they shall be all taught of God.”(John 6:45)
In the rise of many systems of belief and trampled old ways and values of life, we must try to see how things are in truth. Not every thing that is widely accepted is true, and not everything that is trendy is good.
We see today, there are many publishers who write about God. People also see it as spiritual to just keep getting books and reading them. This is helpful but may not be absolutely expedient and studying the nature of God may be more foolish than people think it is wise.
We know that the amount of theologians we have has increased in recent years. People say they want to start their own church to enable them teach people about God. But a lot of absurdity has been involved. I wish to speak on something based on what God laid in my heart as I reasoned in my self one day, after a moment of an informal debate over an injunction of the Bible.
Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians was to chide them for the factions that had started to be in their midst. Some said they are Paul’s followers, others, Peter’s or Apollos’, and still others said they were Christ’s. Paul therefore condemned these actions accounting himself as nothing but a labourer whose labour is in vain without God. He condemned also everything called the wisdom and strength of men saying that all the wisdom of men is vanity and profitless and that our strength can’t achieve anything for us. Nothing that is of man is profitable. He also clearly stated that nothing can be known about God by us. He said no man know the mind of God except the Spirit of God. So all our studying is vanity. Paul condemned everything about his knowledge except his doctrine, only because they were revealed to him by God. Therefore revelational knowledge is key to understanding the mysteries of God.
—The Absurdity Of Theology—
“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” (Job 11:7 – 8)
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
“All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)
Theology is defined as “the study of the nature of God.” Now is that not absurd? We could take a frog to the lab and apply some chemical on it to preserve the body, and enable us study its nature, and we call that biology. So some people also think that it were possible to take God into a lab and study his nature and we call that theology. Very absurd. I think Jesus made the absurdity of such a belief clear in his statement above. He says no body knows God except the son, so how can you study the nature of the God you don’t know? And Jesus said “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18). Since we haven’t seen God, to say we are studying him is to be self deceived. The god you seek the way you know how is nothing but the idol of your imaginations. The God you seek the way he ordains in the scriptures is the Almighty who reigns in the kingdom of men.
“Can creatures to perfection find
Th’ eternal, uncreated Mind?
Or can the largest stretch of thought
Measure and search His nature out?”
There is a popular belief that you can study the nature of God through the Bible. The truth is however that though you read, you can have no tangible knowledge of God except the Holy Ghost opens your eyes. That is why it is written in 1 Corinthians 2:11 “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” So it is not that by studying the pages of the Bible you can understand the nature of God, but you begin to know God when the Holy Ghost begins to open your eyes to understand truly the things written in the Bible. However not every man can come to this knowledge of God, but every man can be a theologian, quite sadly. For it is written in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” It takes the spiritual man to be taught of God and not a Doctor of theology.
—The Profundity Of Mysticism—
“And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11)
Mysticism is “the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect being attained through loving God above all else, outright obedience to him, contemplation of him, prayer, study of the Bible, which all can be summarised as self surrender to God.” It is not seeking to know God by taking him to the lab and getting to understand him by means of the intellect. It is not a quest for knowledge in the reading of many books. It is surrendering the self to be taught of the Spirit of God. Since we haven’t seen God, mysticism is our bid to approach Christ to reveal him to us. It is the drawing near to the Holy Ghost to open your eyes.
Unlike theology, it is not we striving to know God by doing things such as reading books by every author, but we striving, not to know God, but to surrender the self so that we can be taught of him. To know him I surrender myself and strive to mortify the flesh so as to be pure that I might see him. This is the path to the true knowledge of God, that is why Jesus said “And they shall be all taught of God.”(John 6:45), not they shall be taught about God, for revelations come to them who surrender themselves to God. He went on to say in the same verse “Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:45). For this reason, we know that God himself teaches us. Job 32:8 also says “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” If we must know him, we must learn of him. Therefore we know that theology (man’s attempt to know God) has little or nothing to do with salvation, but being taught of God is how we come to Jesus.
It is written in 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So we understand that it is not possible for a carnal man to be taught of God though he reads all the books by every preacher. It is not a thing we can say is hard but a thing that is impossible. Engaging in what is hard is heroic, but engaging in what is impossible is futility, and such is the endeavour of theology. Not even the apostles attributed their knowledge of God to being taught of men. As it is written, those things which they know are thought of the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere, Paul further confirmed this truth when he said in 1 Corinthians 4:4 “For I know nothing by myself.” He also wrote in Galatians 1:11-12 “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” They received the knowledge of God freely and not after they had paid money to an institution and completed a course and graduated. It was free. Neither was it given to them by virtue of paying much sacrifice through much study. In this respect too, it was free. So where does that leave all your theologians and seminarians? For we are not Christians for the amount of doctrines we accept, or the extent a local church accepts us, for it is written “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14).
Mysticism is about just making the self teachable so as to receive tutorship from God himself. To be teachable is to be be outrightly obedient to Jesus as a result of loving him above all things else, that is why he said “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21). He will manifest himself to those who love him and who keep his commandments. It is not a gamble. It is a sure bargain. Love me and I will manifest myself to you, love me not and you’ll have none of me. Love me, and you’ll keep my commandments, love me not and you won’t. Simple.
The reason why many know so little about God is lack of obedience. Had they obeyed the blessed Lord, he would have manifested himself to them. They should have known the beauty of the knowledge of God, the awesomeness of his mysteries and have been in the realms of divine fellowship with the Holy One. So should they have been guided into ALL truth. But the love of this world has kept all these from them. They insist on clinging to the selfish desires which posses a barrier between us and our teachableness. But mysticism which is the surrendering of the self teaches us to throw all these hinderances away.
Understanding this way of knowing God, à Kempis Thomas (1380-1471), said, “He who is made learned by the gift of grace and taught wisdom by the stroke of the withdrawal thereof, will not dare to claim any good thing for himself, but will rather confess that he is poor and needy.” So not only does such way of knowing God gives a clearer understanding of God but it also makes us humble. Knowledge from the laboratory no doubt puffs up. It puffs people up so much that they who embark on getting it wish to dress and look differently from the rest of the people they ought to call brethren. He went on to say “Great is the difference between a godly man, illuminated with wisdom, and a scholar learned in knowledge and given to books. Far nobler is that doctrine which floweth down from the divine fulness above, than that which is acquired laboriously by human study.”
Martin Luther, the reformer, (1483–1546), also agreeing with us said “We have therefore need to pray that God will lead us and make us taught of God, that is, ready to learn from God; and will Himself, as He has promised, write His law in our hearts; otherwise there is no hope for us.” There is no hope for laboratory theologians, neither is there hope for they who rely on them.
There is no way we can know God if he is not willing to teach us himself. No amount of studies, or seminars attended, or sermons listened to, can make us know God that is why we read, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27). Only whomsoever the Son “WILL” reveal him. It’s all about the will of him who is able to reveal him. Outside revelation, no one can know God. And no one can have the revelation of God without surrendering the self. You must not love the world.
—Why The Teachers If Mysticism?—
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)
The question now is why then, if we can be taught of God, do we need teachers? The glaring truth is that the Bible emphasises the role of teachers, people who are to teach others, so much that we can’t be reasonable without acknowledging the importance of teachers. But why did it say “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord.” (Hebrews 8:11). We read all through the Bible about the duty of teaching others. We can hear Paul giving several instructions to Timothy and to Titus about how they ought to teach others. By doing this, he himself was teaching them, and he was teaching them to teach others about how to teach yet others. Then why these teachers if mysticism?
The answer to this is found in the portion of the Bible where it says “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11). There is the answer. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. Meaning teachers are to be just a mouth piece of God. Not saying things they got out of the laboratory, or mere opinions (no matter how intellectual it sounds), but speaking because God has spoken. I believe, that in the absence of God’s speaking voice, there ought to be a pen-drop silence in the churches. Too much of men speaking in the church today, it is time to observe silence that God may begin to speak. Also he says, “if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.” Still emphasising that we should not teach things we deduced from the laboratory to others but teach things God gives to us to teach. This way we are mere instruments and not teachers as it is understood in the world. We are not those who will go make research and come up with a thesis to deliver a speech on their findings, but we are, or should be they who surrender the self wholly to God so as to be taught of him and in turn we teach others.
Hebrews 5:12 says, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” The teachings of the apostles was referred here as the teachings of the oracles of God. Not because they intimidated the church with this big name, “oracles of God,” but being they who were wholly surrendered to God, they were truly oracles, and it such that Peter says in his epistle should be the nature of them who teach. “Let him speak as the oracles of God.”
The psalmist wrote in Psalms 119:18 “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” That is why I love that lady Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879). She being a mystic always spoke and sang of complete surrender to God. Two verses I got from her hymn “Lord Speak To Me” goes:
“Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone;
As Thou hast sought, so let me seek
Thy erring children lost and lone…
O teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.”
That is the right understanding of the duty of a teacher. I never read of her ever standing before a congregation to preach (for she must have known her boundary as a woman,) but those who came across her were really edified. I have been greatly edified by her works and writings too.
So we know that teaching is good, for that reason, studying also is good. Let us strive to be given to studies. But what should we study? Just as we should be taught by teachers who teach what they have been taught of God, so also we should read books of people who write things they have been taught of God. Not reading books of laboratory theologians.
—What Shall The Teachers Do?—
“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
The thing which a teacher should strive to do, above all things else, is to push people to their God, and his word, and not to drag them to the self or to any other man. To push them to have a knowledge with ever increasing depth by self surrender, loving God above all things else, contemplation of him, studying the scriptures, prayer, and outright obedience to God. Paul said he commends the people to God and to the word of his grace. Simple.
Acts 11:22-23 says “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” (Acts 11:22 – 23). “Cleave to the Lord,” not “cleave to Barnabas” was his exhortation. In 2 Corinthians 4:5 Paul also says “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus ‘sake.”
Never ever say, in the cause of evangelism or anything else, “come join my church.” That is selfishly evil. Paul said “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace.” This is what we ought to do also, emphasising that men ought to draw close to God to learn of him too in the reading of his word and not to emphasise a denomination, or a teacher. For no man may better teach a man than God himself. Our devotion is always marred by our frailties and weaknesses, and our faults also make others shy away from the truth when they have their eyes fixed on us. But when they have their eyes fixed on God who has no faults, weaknesses, or frailties, but only perfection in all things, they shall not miss the mark but walk steadily heavenward.
When we’ve done these, God will fulfil in us what he fulfilled in Paul who said “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Let us both now and always cease to speak as men but as oracles of God.
So, my brethren, here is the summary of the matter; “God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). God bless you as you surrender yourself wholly to God so that he may teach you.
Prayer: Father, help us abandon all our ideas and opinions, and surrender the whole of the self to you, soaring into the depths of your mysteries as your Spirit bears us up. Teach us by yourself always O God, and if we must teach others, then teach us what to teach others in Jesus’ name. Amen.