Chapter Three “Revelation” from “Back to Bethlehem” book by Ed Miller

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The Indispensable Principle

As we come to look in the word there is a principle of Bible study that is absolutely indispensable.  If we substitute what is helpful for what is indispensable God will not use it anymore.  Only God can reveal God.  So, we come as little children and we say, “Show me Jesus.”  John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.’” Jesus said, “Anyone who is taught of God, who has heard from the Father, comes to Jesus.”  How do you know if what you hear is from God?  You know it’s from God if it leads to Jesus.  Everyone who is taught of God comes to Jesus.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit.  You put a Bible Teacher in our heart.  We pray that You would unveil Jesus to our hearts.  We thank You, Lord, for every part of Your word.  In a special way tonight we thank You for John chapter one.  Show us Christ in a living way.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

We are looking at the great fundamentals of our faith and I think one of the greatest fundamentals is revelation.  Another way to say that is, “How can we see Jesus when we study the Bible?”  We believe that Jesus is the theme of the Bible.  Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”  That was on the road to Emmaus.  He opened the Scriptures and showed things concerning Himself.  John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures, because, you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.”  They searched the Scriptures but they didn’t come to Jesus.  John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they all shall be taught of God.’  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”

I hope the Lord has begun to teach you that you never study the Bible to know the Bible.  God didn’t give us the Bible to know the Bible.  You study Genesis to know Jesus.  You study Joshua to know Jesus.  You study Psalms to know Jesus.  Every book in the Bible reveals the Lord in a different way.  The only way to know Him personally is to see Him in the word of God. 

Jesus gave a great word to Peter in Matthew 16:16-17, “And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”  And there He gave the secret to Peter, “You didn’t give it; My Father gave it to you.”  Paul prayed for Christians in Ephesians 1:17-18, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”  When we read the Bible we must ask the Lord to open our eyes.

I would like to set this truth of revelation before your heart by looking at Jesus as the Word of God.  We know He is the Living Word and we know this is the written word.  We study the written word to see the Living Word.  Let me spend a few minutes talking about the word.  After we do that I want to take you to Peter’s testimony just before he died.  Peter looked back over his thirty years of life and he said, “I remember this.”  Let me begin with Jesus as the word.

What is God communicating when He says, “The word?”  The prologue, the beginning, the introduction of John 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.”  It begins with verse 1 and ends in verse 18, “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father.  He has explained Him.”

Words are for communication.  John 1:1 says that He is the Word and John 1:18 says that God has explained Him.  I want to start very simply with what is a word?  It’s a sound that has a meaning and you can’t understand it apart from its context.  I can think a word in my mind but you won’t know what I’m thinking.  You might say, “I can tell by the look on your face; you are surprised or you are angry or you are discouraged or you are sad or you are happy or you are hungry.”  But unless I speak a word, you don’t know what I’m thinking.  Sometimes one word is not enough.  Sometimes you need a sentence.  Sometimes you need a paragraph. 

We have an expression, “In other words.”   So, when Lillian wants me to really know what she is saying, she will give me her command and then she’ll say, “In other words,” and she’ll restate the same command.  Sometimes when the house is on fire and someone says, “Jump!” you understand one word.  If a missile is flying toward your head and someone says, “Duck!” you understand one word. 

I used to golf but I don’t anymore.  I hit a lady in the head with a golf ball and she sued me and I yelled one word, “Fore!”  She didn’t duck.  It’s her fault!  It was a good shot.  It went over the pin, over the fence and into the parking lot where she was putting groceries in her car.  So, that was a good shot! 

One word sometimes can communicate an idea but let’s say the word is “person”.  I am thinking of a person.  Who am I thinking of?  You don’t know if it’s a girl, a boy, a child or an athlete or a political person or a character in the Bible.  You need more words.  You’ll say, “I need more than ‘person’.”  “I’m thinking of an animal.  What is it?”  You don’t know.  One word is not enough.  “I’m thinking of a plant.  I’m thinking of a food.”  You might say, “That’s not enough.  I need more words.”  What if the word is bigger, like “planet”.  And I say, “Tell me everything about a planet.”  You would say, “Which one?” 

Here’s a word; universe.   I say, “Tell me everything about the universe.”  Or I say, “Tell me everything about the galaxy.”  It’s one word and it’s too big.  Even “earth”, you would say, “I need to know about weather and about rocks and about plants.”  So, one word is not enough. 

John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Explain God.  It’s too big.  It’s bigger than “galaxy”.  It’s bigger than the universe.  So, we come to the Lord and say, “The Word is God.  Help us.  That’s too big.”  So God says, “I’ll help you.”  John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  The Word became flesh.  He says, “Now you have extra help.  Now you have Jesus on earth.  If you want to know the Word, the Word became flesh; look at Jesus.”  So, we look in the gospels and we see His love, His mercy and His compassion.  We see His justice and His holiness and His goodness. 

The Bible says that the Word “tabernacled” among us.  You know the Old Testament tabernacle.  It was a tent made out of skin that God wanted to fill with His glory.  You are a tent made out of skin that God wants to fill with His glory.  We said, “Lord, I want to know You but the word “God” is too big.”  In His love He said, “Alright, the Word became flesh and lived among us.” 

So, we begin to study the life of Jesus.  Thirty three and a half years He lived on earth.  We study His miracles and study His teachings and we study His discourses with different people and when we are all done, in our hearts we say, “I still don’t know you.  God, You’ve got to help me.  You need to bring it down.  I need more words.  The word ‘God’ is too big; ‘the Word became flesh’ is too much.”

He says, “You want words?  I’ll give you words.  I’ll give you 1,189 chapters.  Is that enough words?  I’ll give you 81,173 verses.  Is that enough words?  I’ll give you 3,000,000 letters.  Is that enough?”  I say, “Thank You, Lord.  Now I have the Bible.”   I begin to study the history of the Bible and I study the prophecies and I study the poetry and I study the gospels and I study all of the redemptive history and I study the titles and names of God and I say, “Thank You, Lord.  You gave me the word but it’s too much.  ‘The Word became flesh.’  That helps but it’s too much.  Now I have a whole Bible.  Thank You but I still don’t know the Lord.  I end up with theology.  I end up with creeds.  I end up with philosophy.  And we end up with denominations that all come from the Bible.”

I have a library with three thousand books, all based on the Bible.  Some people study the Bible and they end up in a cult.   I say, “Lord, like Abraham, don’t be angry.  Let me ask You one more time.  I appreciate that You took the Word and the Word became flesh.  I appreciate that You took the Word and turned it into words and I have it on paper; more than 3,000,000 words.  Thank You.  But Lord, I still don’t know You.  Can you help me one more time?  I’m ashes and flesh.  Please, don’t get angry.” 

God says, “Alright.  I took the Word and the Word became flesh.  I took the Word of God and turned it into the word of God.”  John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, he will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”  So, God says, “Here’s what I’ll do.  I’ll put My Spirit in your heart and He will take the words from this book and He will explain that the Word became flesh and you will know that the Word is God.”  Do you see God’s provision?  We have the Holy Spirit to come to the book to show us the Living Word. 

1 Corinthians 2:11-12, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  Even so, the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.”  I have thoughts in my mind.  None of you know those thoughts.  But the spirit that is in me, Ed Miller, knows what I’m thinking.  No man knows; only the spirit of the man that is in him.  How can I know God’s thoughts?  I need His Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him?  But we have the mind of Christ.”  Do you see it?  We have His Spirit, so we have His mind.  This is God’s provision and we’re calling it “revelation”.  The Holy Spirit in our hearts takes the written word and we behold the Living Word, Christ, so that we might know God.  The Word was God.  He wants us to know Him intimately.  That was His provision. 

With that as the background, I want to give you Peter’s testimony.  In his early life, as we read in the verse before in Matthew 16:16-17, “Flesh and blood didn’t reveal it.  You got that from My Father.”  But you know Peter.  He sometimes forgot what he learned.  Thirty years go by.  The last book he ever wrote was 2 Peter, and the last words he ever wrote were, “That you might grow in the knowledge of Christ.”  So, as he writes the last letter he ever wrote just before he died, he said, “I want to show you how to see Jesus in the Bible.”

If you were Peter and you looked back over your life, and you had to choose only one event, what would you choose?  Would you think about when your brother introduced you to Jesus?  Would you think about the miracle of the coin lodged in the fish’s gill?  Would you think about Lazarus being raised from the dead?  You are ready to die.  Would you tell them how you one time walked on water?  Would you tell them about Gethsemane and about your failure?  Would you tell them about the resurrection or about the ascension?  You were there when you saw Him rise.  Would you tell them about Pentecost when He came in the Person of the Holy Spirit?  Would you tell them how an angel set you free and you got out of prison? 

There were so many events in Peter’s life and as he’s ready to die he looks back and he says, “Of all of those events, there is one I want you to know about.”  He chose the transfiguration.  To him that was what the people needed to hear about before he died.

I just want to review the facts about the transfiguration and then we’ll look at the principle.  This record is written in Matthew, Mark and Luke.   Listen to Matthew 16:28, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom”  The event begins with this strange promise.  He said that there were some standing there who would not die until He came back.  Many refer to this as the second coming of Christ.  But Christ still hasn’t come back.  What did he mean, “Some of you standing here will not die until you see the Son of Man coming in His glory?”

Many commentators believe that the answer is the transfiguration.  One week after Jesus gave that promise, the disciples – Peter, James and John – went up with Him on the mountain.  Some say that is like the second coming in a picture because Christ is in the middle and the three disciples, representing the Jews, are there and the world is at the base and He’s being glorified.  So, they say that maybe that is what He meant.

I’m going to let Matthew tell the story, Matthew 17:1-8, “And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John, his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves.  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  And Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’  And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid.  And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’  And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone.”

Mark tells pretty much the same story, only he makes this addition in Mark 9:3, “And His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”  Even His garments were radiant.  Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus went on the mountain but only Luke tells us why.  Luke 9:28, “And some eight days after these sayings, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray.”  He went up to pray. 

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that Elijah and Moses suddenly appeared.  Luke 9:31, “…who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”  They began to talk about the death that he was going to accomplish. 

Matthew and Mark tell us that Peter wanted to build three tabernacles.  Mark 9:6 tells us why Peter said that.  “For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified.”  He didn’t know what to say.  When you don’t know what is going on, you want to build something and when people are not seeing the Lord they want to start a ministry. 

Only Luke tells us, in this great scene, that the disciples fell asleep.  Luke 9:32, “Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him.”  Luke also tells us that the glory cloud came down and enveloped them; covered them. 

Those are the facts.  Listen as Peter interprets the facts.  I’m putting words in Peter’s mouth but here’s what he said, “I’m ready to die but I had an experience once that I didn’t understand.  Now it’s thirty years later and I finally get it.  I want to explain it to you.  I want to tell you what it meant.  I didn’t know at the time but God was teaching me how to see Jesus in the Bible.”

As he looked back at that transfiguration, God opened his heart to what it meant to see Jesus in the Bible.  Peter said that He had a prophetic word and the prophetic word was, “You are not going to die before I come.”  That was a true word.  It couldn’t be any truer.  If anyone went to Peter and asked his testimony, during that week between the prophesy and the vision, “Do you believe some people standing here will not die before He comes?”  Peter would say “Of course, it’s a true word.  It came out of the mouth of Jesus.  I believe it.  He said it.  I have no reason to doubt it.”  But a week later he had another experience.  He already had a true word but he is about to have a revelation of Jesus.  He had the true word but when Jesus showed up in all His glory he never put that together.

Listen as he explains it in 2 Peter 1:16-19, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’ – and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.  And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

Peter had a prophetic word.  He couldn’t make it more true.  But he said that, “Now we have a prophetic word more sure.  It can’t be more true but now something happened that made something true more certain.”  And Peter identifies what that was.  He said, “One day I had a prophetic word.  A week later I had a revelation of Jesus and now I understand how to study the Bible.  I have the word and the revelation.” 

2 Peter 1:19 also gives another word for the Bible.  He calls it “a lamp shining in a dark place”.  He says, “You have the prophetic word, you have the Bible and you have the lamp but is it more sure?  Is it more sure because now you have a revelation of Jesus?”  In verse 19 he says, “Pay attention to the lamp,” until what?  “Until the day star arises in your heart.” 

Do you understand what the day star is?  Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”  Jesus calls Himself  “the morning star”.  Jesus is the Day Star.  The day star is the last star and it says, “Goodbye night; hello day!”  It closes the night and it opens the day.  Peter says, “Pay attention to this book until the day star arises in your heart and that will become a new day for you.”  Many people only have the prophetic word.  It can’t be more true.  So, they study the prophetic word and they have good doctrine and they teach that Jesus is coming back and they teach that Jesus is God and they teach the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection.  They have the prophetic word but they aren’t seeing Jesus.  They have no revelation. 

Jesus said, “Pay attention to this book until the day star rises in your heart.”  Brothers and sisters in Christ, are you seeing Christ in the Bible?  The indwelling Holy Spirit takes the written word and unveils the Living Word.  And the Living Word reveals God.  God has called us to know Him and He has made every provision to make this Bible live.  If you just study the Bible to know the Bible, you are going to become more proud because knowledge puffs up.  You study the Bible to know Jesus through the indispensable principle.  You trust the Holy Spirit to show you Christ. 

Just before Peter died he looked back thirty years and said, “I’ve learned the secret.  It’s not only the prophetic word but the prophetic word made sure in a present revelation.”  That’s a foundation, just like faith is a foundation.  We need to see Jesus by God’s revelation.  Don’t go around judging those who just have the lamp, the prophetic word.  But you get alone with the Lord and pay attention until you see Christ.  That will be a transfiguration for you.

Our Father, thank You that You gave us the Holy Spirit to unveil the Lord Jesus through the Bible, that we might know You.  Help us, Lord, to pay attention to that book until the Day Star rises in our heart.  Make the prophetic word more sure by a present revelation of our dear Lord Jesus.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen