Do we need faith or deeds?… Should I go to work or love my wife?… Should a person repent or be baptized?
These questions are all similar to the question I posed in my last post. I asked, “Do people need more information about God or more revelation from God?”
I’m about to say something really radical, so brace yourself….
We need both.
The answer to all of the above questions is YES.
Paul prayed that the Ephesian church saying, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Eph. 1:17-19) We need God to do a supernatural work in our hearts both to initially repent and turn to God, (John 6:44) and then later as Christ-followers to be able to know God more intimately. We absolutely need revelation! I pray this Ephesians 1:17 prayer regularly for myself and for those I minister to.
But this is not to say that we need no information. In fact long before writing his letter to the Ephesians (quoted above) Paul went to Ephesus and preached the Gospel to them. (information). Acts 19:8-10 says “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. [information]. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the hall of Tyrannus [more information]. This went on for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. [a lot more information].”
Why didn’t Paul just skip all the preaching and just pray for the Ephesians to receive a revelation? Because they needed information.
Why don’t we just stop having church services with preaching, foundations classes, small groups and Bible schools? Because people still need life-giving information about God. If all people needed was revelation and no information, we might as well not do any of these things.
If we value the Biblical teaching and example, we will value both.
Information about God and revelation from God are both essential and work together, just as preaching the word to people and praying for people go together. They are not in opposition to each other, and we don’t have to choose between them. This either-or-mentality is often promoted by the way the issue is framed-with statements like, “We don’t need theology, we just need a spirit of revelation from God!”
Really? That may sound good, and get people spiritually hype and, yes, we do need revelation, but why put down theology in the process? We should not disregard one and exalt the other. But sadly this is exactly what happens, and from people of both preferences. Either revelation or information gets kicked to the curb and the other treated as the whole solution for humanity. Hyper-charismatics exalt revelation and disdain theology while other Evangelicals practically ignore the power of prayer and the supernatural work of God in opening up hearts through revelation.
Both are forms of a false antagonism between the heart and mind.
So, “Do people need more information about God or more revelation from God?”