Few writers of the Bible have been confronted with personal revelation so deep and, at first blush, seemingly so contradictory to the status quo of prior scripture, as Saul of Tarsus – Paul the apostle.
Here’s Paul the rabbi, so entrenched in Jewish teaching, so convinced of the correctness of his Jewish Pharisaical faith, that he put legs to his convictions and actively went about terrorizing all he encountered, who had encountered Jesus (before Jesus encountered him). Then comes the Damascus road revelation, when he gets confronted by our Lord, and everything changes. This personally “revelated” man is the one who penned most of the New Testament.
His revelation by God was remarkably sovereign. He ended up separated from the fledgling church as well as from his Jewish rabbinical peers. Eventually he could recognize, in humility, that the revelations of God to him were in fact in perfect alignment with the Scriptures, and at that time he was equipped to bring to the world most of the letters (epistles) of the New Testament of Jesus Christ.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,
16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
(THREE YEARS IN DAMASCUS!)
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.
19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)
21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.
23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
24 And they glorified God in me.
1 Then after FOURTEEN YEARS I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.
No one would be more inclined to appreciate the true glory of true sovereign revelation. No one would be more zealous to maintain as sacred, and as sovereign, the very concept of new and fresh revelation from God. And what does he write – in an epistle that rebukes the saints for religiosity and lifts up all of the new freedoms of life in Christ? Does he throw open all doors for unchecked, or misaligned, or untested new doctrinal revelations? To the contrary:
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Paul’s revelation from God came to a man trained and equipped in historical biblical truth. His foundation was firm. His disconnect had been his religiosity and zeal, minus relationship with God. But the Damascus road was on God’s calendar, and that was the chosen time for God Himself to shift gears in the world OF Paul, and THROUGH Paul. So God chose a man who would be able to process and compute the “revolutionary revelations” and also eventually recognize that all of those new revelation aligned perfectly with all of the scriptures of God. THAT is key to the acceptance of new revelation. It will never contradict the fullness of scripture.
Peter, unlike Paul, was a blue-collar Jew. A fisherman. He walked in his own special relationship with our God, but he was not the rabbinical scholar, as was Paul. And what did Peter say – immediately after penning his own revelation and understanding of yet-to-be-fulfilled end-times truths (seemingly inarguable upcoming events, that some of the church, in our own time, would like to deny – but that is another bad-doctrine tangent):
2 Pet 3:10-18
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
PETER’S CONCLUSION – BASED UPON THIS REVELATION OF THE IMPENDING DESTRUCTION OF MUCH OF THE WORLD, UPON THE RETURN OF OUR LORD, SAYS…
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
15 and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation– as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
OH MY – “HARD TO UNDERSTAND” THINGS WRITTEN BY PAUL…..
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
The positive conclusion, by non-rabbi Peter, is that we can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, and that grace and knowledge will be our safeguard and our assurance of success in this gospel. But prior to that positive conclusion is Peter’s warning that “unlearned and unstable people (will) twist (biblical writings) to their own destruction, AS THEY DO ALSO THE REST OF THE SCRIPTURES”.
Here’s that two-edged sword of the gospel, again. Sharp, incisive, purposely dangerous. God forged it that way, so that only the careful, only the ones who would tremble at His entire word, would be safe handling it. Others will cut themselves, and others.
This is a good word for us.
As the Lord pours His Spirit out in these last days, we must expect an outpouring of noise from satan, the deceiver, who would not only plan lying signs and wonders to deceive IF POSSIBLE even the elect (Mark 13:22), but would also plan to spew out his mouth, and out of the mouth of many, “new revelations” that cannot and will never withstand the scrutiny of, nor comparison to, all of the scriptures.
THAT is the litmus test for “new doctrine” and “new revelation”. Thankfully, there will always be fresh revelation from the Father, because He remains the Creator. At the same time there will always be false revelations that will sound good, and entice, and deceive. Some of these false revelations will last a season, and fade away. Others will stick around, and deceive many.
There are so many warnings against false prophesy in scripture, and indeed so many examples of false prophesy and false teachings, you’d almost wish our Lord, the Father of truth, would immediately judge and silence those mouths. It would sure make our Christian walks a lot easier. But this was not intended to be an easy walk. It was designed by God to try us, test us, refine us, craft in us a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.
1 Cor 11:18-19
18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.
19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
Peter, in describing false prophets, points to the false freedoms they would offer the saints, even eventually causing some who were walking upright to stumble back into bondage:
2 Pet 2:17-19
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
Jude, our Lord’s brother, likewise warns of (a) doctrines not from God, and (b) the ones who would fellowship with the saints (“in their love feasts”) and yet eventually bring upon themselves eventual judgment:
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,
15 “to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
Jeremiah had a run-in with most all of the prophets of his time. Jeremiah was surely a party pooper. Likely he was referred to as a doomsday preacher. His “theater” ministry had him fabricating and wearing a yoke to visually illustrate the soon-coming bondage of the rebellious people of God. Not popular. He was violently withstood, by the popular prophets proclaiming God to be in a good mood, no matter how His people might behave:
9 “As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent.”
10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck and broke it.
11 And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.'” And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
12 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
13 “Go and tell Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made in their place yokes of iron.”
14 ‘For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also.”‘”
15 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie.
16 “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.'”
17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
Oh my. What a great and jealous God. Jealous over us. Jealous for His plans and His purposes, only.
1 Pet 1:25
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Go deep into God. Establish a prayer life that is based upon intimacy with the Lord. Let His Word be deep in you. Weigh new revelations. No matter how good, or how tough they may sound, if they align with the Word of God, embrace it. If it does not align, discard it. There is an active work, by God, to bring fresh truth to the body of Christ, and fresh truth will never contradict established truth.
2 Tim 2:15-21
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.
21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
14 The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.
All scripture NKJV