How Does Revelation Come? – For the Curious

How does revelation come?

Divine revelation is one of the chief sources used to create Christian theology.

It is for this reason, then, that students of the religion may want to learn about its source.

And the idea that one might be able to do something which would be rewarded with a revelation from God also piques some interest in the topic.

And this brings us to the question:

How does revelation come?

If we want to hear God’s voice and see God’s actions of self-revelation in the world, we must purify our minds and hearts from everything that is wicked and false. We must strive to love the truth, to love one another, and to love everything in God’s good creation.

This is the answer that the esteemed Orthodox theologian, Fr. Thomas Hopko, gave before his passing in 2015.

And in practice, it basically means that we need to stop telling ourselves what we want to hear and start contemplating God.

Now let’s delve into the topic of divine revelation and learn what it’s all about.

The Psalms Affirm Divine Revelation

Proper Christian liturgy accepts the validity of the Psalms.

And Psalm 118 : 26-27 states:

“God is the Lord and has revealed Himself unto us; blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”

So here we have a clear assertion that God delivers revelations to his followers. This does not mean that he has revealed everything which could be revealed to us; that would be impossible. But a portion of his desires for us has been made known via revelation.

Jesus Was a Type of Divine Revelation

Jesus was God, and he lived among men so that he could be seen by those who needed to see him. He was God’s self-revelation to the world.

Everything Christ said, did, spoke, and was belongs to the category of divine revelation. Through his being, the image and will of God were made manifest in the greatest sort of divine revelation which men could receive.

Jesus himself affirms this in John 12:44-50.

He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me sees Him who sent me. I have come as light into the world . . . for I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to speak. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.

So Christ’s words were a type of divine revelation.

Christ’s Existence Was a Revelation

Christ’s being was also a revelation. As the Gospel of John begins,

In the beginning was the Word [Logos] and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father.

And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

So Christ, merely by existing among men and without need for speech or action, was a revelation.

Revelation & Doctrine

Jesus came to men and was a revelation. He spoke words which were other revelations. He performed actions which were revelations as well.

Then he ordered his chosen apostles to travel the world and bring news of his revelation about. They were also tasked with the maintenance of His church during His physical absence.

And these apostles and their successors constructed church doctrines out fo their understanding of the revelation which had been delivered in Christ and by Him.

During this time, certain questions arose regarding the proper significance of Christ as a divine revelation relative to other things which had been revealed.

During these disputes, the fathers agreed that other revelations were of value, but they occupied a secondary place next to the revelation of Jesus Christ. This was because the other revelations were meant to prepare men for Christ, while Christ was justified.

In other words, the path was of lesser importance than the goal, and prior revelations were meant to reveal the path to Christ, who was the goal.

It is for this reason that divine revelations have appeared less frequently in the years after Christ than they did during the time before Him.

And this understanding of Christ’s pre-eminence as a revelation serves an important role in Christians’ interactions with members of other faiths.

The pre-eminence of Christ means that teachings from other philosophies and religions may be considered valid so long as they do not bring one away from Christ.

Moreover, it allows for the possibility that pre-Christian pagans such as Socrates, Zoroaster, and Lao Tzu had received divine revelation as well.

And this acceptance of the limited validity of certain belief systems is the reason why people who follow sound Christian doctrine may live harmoniously with people from certain non-Christian cultures.

Fr. Hopko’s Full Statement

So, the coming of Christ has greatly reduced the need for divine revelation to be given to men.

But that does not mean that none will be forthcoming.

Nor doe sit mean that people have not received revelation after Christ.

Certain peoples have obtained revelations of some sort or other, and they have passed on their knowledge of how they acquired it.

The statement of how a person may prepare themselves to receive divine revelation given at the beginning of this post is from a writing by Fr. Thomas Hopko, whose influence in the American Orthodox Church has been quite large.

The full text of Fr. Hopko’s statement, from which the excerpt presented above was taken, is shown here:

If we want to hear God’s voice and see God’s actions of self-revelation in the world, we must purify our minds and hearts from everything that is wicked and false. We must strive to love the truth, to love one another, and to love everything in God’s good creation. According to the Orthodox faith, purification from falsehood and sin is the way to the knowledge of God. If we open ourselves to divine grace and purify ourselves from all evils, then it is certain that we will be able to interpret the scriptures properly and come into living communion with the true and living God who has revealed Himself and continues to reveal Himself to those who love Him.

How to Improve Your Chances to Receive an Insight

You’re probably never going to receive a revelation.

And you’ll probably never know anyone who receives it either.

And some people will pretend to have seen revelation in order to make themselves feel special.

This is the reason why some people claim to have seen the image of Jesus in a piece of toast or a Dorito. They’re trying to make themselves feel unique.

However…

There are certain things which you can do to increase the likelihood that God will reveal something to you.

Here are five changes you can make in your life to increase your chances of receiving divine revelation:

Suggestions for Receiving Inspiration

  1. Stop talking. Most people spend too much time talking and not enough time thinking. The effect this has is to drown out your thoughts with your own noise. To talk too much is a form of self-sabotage. Give yourself thirty minutes each day to be quiet.
  2. Find your lies. You probably tell yourself a lot of lies. The lies you tell yourself are ones which either stroke your ego, help you avoid uncomfortable truths, or justify your contempt for people whom you dislike. Recognize the lies you tell yourself for what they are, and resolve to stop telling them.
  3. Get away from people. As an extension of the first point, most of the people around you probably like to spend lots of time engaged in foolish talks. They will try to drag you into their idle conversation so that they feel less awkward about talking to themselves. It is a waste of time to argue with them or to convince them to change.

    Just walk away.
  4. Fast. One of the most common themes across the various religions is their encouragement of fasting. And this is because fasting places one in a mood that is sensitive to religious experiences. You can increase the likelihood you will receive a divine revelation if you enter this mood.
  5. Pray. If you want God to talk to you, then try talking to Him first.



Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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