To Whom God Reveals Himself

Ephesians

To Whom God Reveals Himself

January 26th, 1964 @ 10:50 AM

Ephesians 1:15-19

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
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TO WHOM GOD REVEALS HIMSELF

Dr. W.A. Criswell

Ephesians 1:15-19

1-26-64     10:50 a.m.

 

 

On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the 11 o’clock morning message entitled To Whom God Reveals Himself.  You could also entitle it The True and Ultimate Knowledge.  You could also entitle it Seeing the Invisible.  It is a sermon that has to do with the self-disclosure of truth of God to us.

If you would like to follow the message in the Bible, it is an exposition of two verses in the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians.  The context is Ephesians 1:15 through 19, and I read the passage, Ephesians 1:15:

 

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers

– and this is what he prays for us who look to Jesus –

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.

[Ephesians 1:15-19]

 

Now the text; he is praying that God shall give unto us the spirit of sophia, of apokalupsis, of epignosis, ophthalmos dianoias, that "the eyes of your" – the King James Version says "understanding"; the Revised Version translates it "heart" [Ephesians 1:17-18].  "The eyes of your heart being enlightened," illuminated, that ye may know then all of the riches that God reveals to us in the self-disclosure of Himself; the ultimate truth, and knowledge, and glory, and life, and promise, and wisdom, everything; everything that makes God, God, and a true man, man.  So we’re to speak this morning on the one to whom God reveals Himself, these who come into the ultimate and final and true knowledge. 

First: for one to know God, to come into that ultimate, and final, and sublime, and celestial truth, he must have the spirit of sophia, an inner intuition, a wisdom that goes beyond the substance and the fact of what we might see in the life around us – an inner understanding, the whole mind’s capability of knowing, not just a materiality, not just a factual acknowledgement, but an inner understanding, an intuition, a sophia, translated here "wisdom" [Ephesians 1:17]. 

Socrates one time said to a youth passing by, "Lysias, come here and sit by me."  So Lysias sat down by Socrates, and Socrates asked him, "Lysias, do you know what’s right and what’s wrong?"

"Why, certainly, Socrates."

"Let’s get a piece of paper here and draw a line down the middle of it, and you tell me everything you think is wrong, and I’ll put it on this side.  Then everything you think is bad, let’s list it on this side."

So Lysias began, and he listed the things that were bad, and Socrates wrote them down on this side.  Then Lysias, the young man, listed the things he thought were good, and Socrates wrote them down on that side.

Then Socrates began with the first one: "Lysias, you have over here on the things that are bad, you have murder."

"Yes," says Lysias, "I think murder is bad."

"Well, Lysias," said Socrates, "suppose our country was being invaded and our queenly city of Athens being threatened, and in order to defend your country, you took a sword in hand, and you went out to do battle, and you slew your enemies and murdered them right and left.  Would that be good or bad?"

"Well," Lysias says, "I think that would be good."

"Fine," says Socrates, "let’s take murder then and put it over here on the side that’s good.  Now, Lysias, the second one you have down here is lying."

"Yes," says Lysias, "Lying is bad."

"Well," said Socrates, "suppose one of those foreign invaders with his sword was slaughtering all of the babes in the city, and he came to house where you were, and on the inside of that house was a little infant child.  And the big soldier with the sword in his hand says, ‘Is there a baby in this house?’ and you say, ‘No, sir,’ in order to save the life of the infant.  What do you think, Lysias?  Would that be good or that’d be bad?"

"Well," says Lysias, "I think that’d be good."

"Well, let’s take lying then and put it over here on the good side.  Now, Lysias, the third one you’ve down here is stealing."

"Yes," says Lysias, "I think stealing is bad."

"Well," says Socrates, "Lysias, suppose you had a dear and a personal friend, and in a fit of depression you saw him about to commit suicide, and you crept into the room and stole the dagger from off of the table.  Would that be good or would that be bad?"

"Well," said Lysias, "I think that’d be good."

"Well, fine," says Socrates, "lets take stealing then and put it over here on the good side."  And he went through the whole list, and everything that Lysias said was bad, Socrates transferred it over there on the good side.  And everything that Lysias said was good, he transferred it over there on the bad side.

And Lysias says, "Socrates, I tell you truly, I don’t know what’s good and I don’t know what’s bad."

Factual acknowledgment, whatever it is – I have chosen that one because it’s in the realm of the spirit – factual acknowledgment is one thing, but an altogether different thing is intuitive understanding, sophia, the wisdom of the soul [Ephesians 1:17].  Logic and reason in themselves cannot explain anything, nor give meaning to anything. 

There’s a book entitled Outlines to Greek Philosophy, written by a man named Zeller.  And in that book, that man describes Gorgias, the sophist, who can show metaphysically that nothing can exist, and that if anything does exist, it can’t be known, and whatever is known cannot be imported to others.  And one of the illustrations those philosophers used is the fact that nothing can move, nothing.  First, if it moves then it’s not in the place.  So nothing can move in a place.  If it moves, it’s not there in the place.  So nothing can move in a place.  But nothing can move in a place where it isn’t.  Now, the places that are and the places that are not are the only places there are.  Therefore, nothing can move. 

The most illogical people in this world are those who depend entirely on logic.  The most unreasonable people in the world are those that depend solely on reason.  In the exaltation of knowledge and logic and reason, they make the whole world illogical and irrational.

Beyond our acknowledgment of fact, of substance and form, there is a great godly endowment, enduement, that God has give to a man in His own image.  And that is the gift of sophia [Ephesians 1:17], of an understanding, of an inward enlightenment and intuition [that] goes far beyond the material fact of substance and form and weight. 

A hen that has hatched ducklings walks with her little brood to the edge of the water and she stops.  Then she is amazed to see those little ducklings go right on into the pool.  Reason can go so far; logic can only go so far; then it stops.  Then the intuitive ability and capabilities and faculties of a man’s soul can go beyond and beyond and beyond, and soar to the very heavens themselves!  Reason and logic are the feet on which we stand in the earth, but faith and intuitive understanding and perception are the wings upon which we fly in the proper element of the invisible. 

That’s what the author of the Book of Hebrews meant when in the eleventh chapter and the [third] verse he says, "Through faith we understand" [Hebrews 11:3].  Through faith we know, and without faith there is no knowing and no understanding.  In order to know God therefore we must have the spirit of sophia, an inner intuition and understanding.

Second: Paul says we must have the spirit of apokalupsis, "revelation, uncovering, unveiling," ophthalmos dianoias, the "eyes," ophthalmos, of our dianoias, translated here "understanding" [Ephesians 1:17-18].  The Revised Version translates it "heart"; the eyes of our heart, of our understanding, of our souls being opened.  You know, that’s an unusual phrase.  It’s the only time in the Bible you’ll find it, but every once in a while you’ll meet it in Greek literature. 

For example, Plato will refer to the eyes of the soul.  And here is a description of Pythagoras written by Ovid, who was an early contemporary of the Lord Jesus.  He said of Pythagoras, "With his mind he approached the gods though far removed in heaven, and what nature denied to human sight, he drew forth with the eyes of his heart."  Pythagoras, the incomparable Greek philosopher who lived five hundred years before Christ, Ovid said, could see with the eyes of his heart; ophthalmos dianoias, the eyes of the soul.  Ah, what a gift to see with your soul, with your heart, with your mind, with the highest faculties with which God hath endowed us. 

A woman one time was watching Titian paint one of his gorgeous sunsets, and as he painted and she watched, she said, "I never see sunsets like that."

And Titian replied, "Ah, but don’t you wish you could?"

The artist saw with his soul, with his heart, and the sight of the mind of the heart of the soul is finally and actually all that has meaning in the earth.  Nothing else does.  Nothing else does.  The architect can see with his mind, and before any building rises to the glory of man or of God, he sees it in his mind, with his soul.  An engineer sees a great bridge in his mind, in his soul, with the eyes of his understanding of his heart.  And without that spiritual perception, all of the facts in this world, its substance, its form, is meaningless.

When I was a little boy, once in a while I’d go down and look at our print shop where the little weekly paper was printed.  All those trays and trays and trays of type letters, very real, very real – could measure them, weigh them, see them – but absolutely meaningless until first there was an idea.  And the idea gathered together all of those little realities, little facts there, and presented them in whatever a man would be able to write; a great masterpiece on Greek philosophy, or a page in the Word of God, or a magnificent incomparable poem, but the meaningful thing is the idea, seeing with the soul.

Scattered brick, and timber, and glass, and pipe are nothing until a man with an idea sees the house and constructs it out of these real and individual and substantial units.  If you went through a dissecting room and here are legs, and arms, and trunks, and heads, these things are – they are impertinent.  They’re ghastly.  They are meaningless until God is able to frame them into a living man.

I am trying to say it is not the fact, it is not the substance, it is not the weight that has any pertinency at all.  It is the idea that is able to assemble them and correlate them and give them meaning. 

That’s apokalupsis, the eyes of the soul seeing, and the pursuit of truth is none other thing than just the pursuit of that meaning.  What lies back of the substantive materialities that I see, the facts of life; what are their meaning?  And to see that meaning is the apokalupsis, the gift of God.  You have it described here in the life of Moses: "He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible."  What a remarkable thing.  That’s a contradiction in terms.  Hebrews 11:27: "Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible."  If a thing is invisible, then it can’t be seen.  If it’s seen, then it’s not invisible.  But you can’t say truth without avowing it in contradictory terms.  Seeing the invisible: that is, you see with your heart, with your soul, with your mind, with the highest faculties God has bestowed upon you. 

Now, we not only have the spirit of sophia, that intuitive wisdom, of apokalupsis, seeing the invisible with the eyes of the soul, but we must also possess epignosis, an experiential knowledge of God [Ephesians 1:17-18].  All of the theory, all of the formulae that a man could gather together on sound in this earth could not demonstrate music.  You could read it, you could study it forever, but you have to have a musical ear, and you must listen to know what music is. 

You could categorize wavelengths of color, weight, measurement, texture, but you’d never know what an orange was like until you taste it.  All the logic in the earth could not demonstrate the beauty of a sunset.  You have to look at it, and like Titian, with the eyes of the soul.  All of the logic and reason in the earth could not demonstrate the beauty of a noble and godly character.  You’d have to see one, meet a man like that, come in contact with a noble and a beautiful life.  That is the gift God must bestow upon us if we would know Him: epignosis [Ephesians 1:17-18]. 

Here in the Psalm, the thirty-fourth Psalm I had you read, "O taste and see that the Lord is good" [Psalm 34:8].  A man could declaim about it forever, he could philosophize about it forever, he could preach about it forever, sing about it forever, and as long as it is something in him – he says it, or in him he avows it, or in somebody else, you heard about it – it has no meaning to you!  "O taste and see that the Lord is good."  Look yourself, try it yourself; epignosis, an experiential knowledge. 

The Lord said that to the two disciples when John the Baptist pointed out the Lamb of God, and there followed the Lord, down the banks of the Jordan River, there followed the Lord Andrew and John.  And the Lord turned around and embarrassed them, and confused.  "Why," He asked them, "why do you seem confused?" 

They said, "Uh, Lord, where do You live?  Where do You stay?" 

And the Lord Jesus said, "Come and see.  Come and see" [John 1:38-39].

The Samaritan woman from the well of Sychar went into her village, and testifying of the Lord Jesus, they were astonished at what she said.  And finally she gave that same invitation, "Come and see!  Come and see" [John 4:29].  Try it.  Taste and see.  Look and see.  You’ll never know God by listening to somebody’s reason or somebody else’s experience.  It has to be yours, "I saw Him.  With the eyes of my soul, I looked upon Him, and with the feelings of my heart, I met Him"; epignosis; an experiential knowledge.  "I prayed and Somebody listened.  I was in despair and Somebody lifted me up.  I confessed my sins and had a feeling of forgiveness, of being cleaned and washed"; epignosis

Now these three things that he lists to know God; sophia, an intuitive wisdom; apokalupsis, to see the invisible; epignosis, to taste, to look, to see, an experiential knowledge [Ephesians 1:17-18].  How are these bestowed upon us?

"Ah, preacher, you don’t know how sympathetic I am as I listen to you declaim on that passage.  I would love to know God, to see God, to have experience with God, to have God.  I’d give my soul and life – all I have, and am, and possess – if I might have God.  How am I given sophia, apokalupsis, epignosis?   How?"  Through two ways.  One: through a holy affection for God.  It is the regenerated heart.  It is the committed spirit to whom God reveals Himself.  Listen to the Word of the Lord, Psalm 25:14: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, reverence Him."  Listen to John 3:3: "Jesus answered and said to this leader and teacher of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, ‘Truly, truly, amen, amen, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born, anothen, again from above he cannot see, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’"

When you divorce a man’s heart and a man’s soul from his intellect, he cannot know God.  He cannot!  Intellect says, "I don’t know God," and intellect is correct.  The Scriptures affirm and avow that same affirmation.  First Corinthians 2:14: "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."  A man in his finite, circumscribed earthly reason and logic and thinking could never, never, never, ever, ever know God; never.  "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." 

And when I hear a man declaiming about all of the atheistic interpretations and the infidel characterizations that he sees in life, and he doesn’t believe and he doesn’t see and he doesn’t know, what do you do?  Argue with him?  Try to convince him?  Enter a debate with him?  The man is blind! 

Here is a blind man and he’s never seen color.  What is color to a blind man?  What would you say to a blind man what color is?  Color, color; you’ve got to see it.  So it is with God.  A man in his natural understanding can never know God.  These things are foolishness unto him.  But a man who is spiritually enlightened, his heart is regenerated, his soul is committed; ah, the fullness of the revelation of God to him! 

The second: how does God reveal to us the spirit of sophia, of an intuitive understanding?  Of apokalupsis, seeing with the eyes of the soul?  Of an epignosis, an experience?  How?  First: in the commitment of our lives, in the regeneration of our spirits.  Second: in the illumination of the Holy Spirit.  In your text in the King James Version, you will notice spirit is spelled with a little "s" as though it were like the spirit of a man or the spirit of conquest [Ephesians 1:17].  There are many, many scholars who will capitalize that, a capital "S," referring to the Holy Spirit of God, which would mean that the gift of sophia, apokalupsis, epignosis, is a work of the Holy Spirit of God.

As the Lord onetime said, "No man can come unto Me except the Spirit draw him," except God draw him, except the Father draw him [John 6:44].  These are the operations and the works and the manifestations of the presence of the Spirit of God: the gift of sophia, of apokalupsis, of epignosis [Ephesians 1:17-18].  These are the gifts of God to a mortal man made in image of the great Creator.  And when God bestows upon us these gifts, the inner enlightenment, the ability to see, then there are mysteries of God that are revealed to us that intellectually inexplicable; can’t explain them, cannot intellectually defend them, but they are as real as life itself! 

One time in the office of the dean of a state college, he took a book off of his desk written by a world famed scientist.  He put it in my hands, and he said, "I want you to read this," pointed out the last page.  And in the last page of that book that scientist had said, "Though I was reared by devout parents, I’ve been an atheist all my life.  I haven’t believed in the immortality of the soul, much less the resurrection of the dead."  But he said, "Lately, recently, my mother died and my father died."  Then he added, "Though I cannot explain it and intellectually I cannot defend it, yet, I have come to believe that somewhere my mother lives, my father lives, and that I shall see them again someday, though it means the resurrection from the dead."

I have that same soul persuasion.  I never stand by the side of an open grave and see these whom we’ve loved and we’ve lost for awhile laid to rest in the heart of the earth but that I have that same conviction.  Out of the dust of the ground, out of the bowels of the earth, yea even from the depths of the sea, will God raise from the dead these whom we have loved and lost for awhile?

But just how would you intellectually defend it?  How would you intellectually explain it?  It is a revelation of the Spirit of God.  It is an illumination of the soul; the truth of God.  In the truth of God, a man can see and feel his own highest and noblest reason.  Plato said it in one of the most beautiful turns of sentence that I think ever was written.  Plato said it like this: "In the truth of God, a man by instinct can recognize the revelation as akin to himself, though he cannot intellectually account for it." 

I may not be able logically to explain, I may not be able intellectually to make an account, but these things of the revelation of God I see with my soul, I experience in my heart.  And they are as real as stone, or substance, or weight, or materiality.

There is a knowledge that is earthly; there is also a knowledge that is heavenly.  There is a knowledge that is corporeal; there is also a knowledge that is spiritual.  There is a fact that I can weigh and test and hold in my hand; there is also a reality that I can only see with the eyes of my soul and feel in the affection of my heart.

It is the Holy Spirit that fathoms the deep mysteries of God, and it is only the Holy Spirit that can make me apprehend them.  As the Holy Spirit of God thinks God’s thoughts after Him, that same Holy Spirit of God can reveal them to me in their place, and in their order, and in their time.  And what otherwise is meaningless and inexplicable, the fortunes of life, all of the turns and vicissitudes that overwhelm us, that to me may be inexplicable, and unreasonable, and illogical, and without meaning, yet in the hands of the Holy Spirit of God, they have a place.  They have a reason.  They have a purpose.  And if I will let God teach me, I shall learn of the truth of the invisible reason that lies back of what I experience in this life.

As the builders of Solomon’s temple took the hewn stones and placed them as the great architect had so designed, and finally it grew unto God that marvelous temple without the sound of a hammer, without the swinging of an axe [1 Kings 6:7], following the mind and purpose of the great architect, so does the Spirit of God take the things of God and reveal in their place, in their time, in their purpose.  And someday, though now my knowledge is through a glass darkly, someday the whole master plan of the purpose of God for my life will be clear and beautiful, seeing face to face; this is the revelation of the ultimate and final truth [1 Corinthians 13:12].  This is the illumination of the Spirit of God. 

 

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hand the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

 

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit, Spirit divine!

["Open My Eyes, That I May See," Clara H. Scott]

 

May we bow our heads?  Martha Branham will sing that song of spiritual enlightenment, "Open My Eyes, That I May See."

 

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hand the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

 

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

 

The second stanza with our heads bowed; Open my ears, O Spirit divine.  Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth.  Open my ears:

 

Open my ears that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

 

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

 

O God, grant to us the vision beatific.  Worms of the dust though we are, may we look up into the very face of God and with the enlightened eyes of the soul see Him who is invisible.  And, our Lord, in the quietness of this holy hour, if someone has heard God speak, if someone has seen the heavenly vision, may this precious moment be that holy hour of decision when they openly, publicly avow that commitment of soul.  Some by confession of faith, "Here I am"; some placing their lives in the fellowship of God’s congregation; some giving their lives in a new way to Thee; as God shall speak, as we shall hear, Lord, send us in Thy name.  Amen.  And while we sing this invitation hymn, somebody you, give your heart to Jesus.  A family you, put your life in the fellowship of the church, answering a call from God; however the Spirit shall say, make it now.  From that topmost balcony, down one of these stairways; the throng of people on this lower floor, into the aisle and to the front: "Here I am, pastor.  Here I come," while we stand and while we sing.