The Apostle Paul received many Divine revelations during his active life; to three of them I would draw your attention. Let us consider, first:
The Revelation Of The Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4):
In the Epistle to the Galations, the Apostle states that the gospel which he preached was not after man, for he neither received it from man, nor was he taught it by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12).
The occasion and the character of the revelation of Jesus Christ to his soul is recorded for us in The Book of Acts, chapter 9. Paul, who at that time was called Saul, was breathing out threatenings against the disciples of the Lord, and, having received letters from the high priest, he went to Damascus in search of any Christians, whether they were men or women, that he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. As he journeyed, and as he came near to Damascus, suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven, and he heard One saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” “Who art Thou, Lord?” he cried in surprise, and the Lord answered, “I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest.”
What a revelation that was to Saul! In making reference to it, he says, “God called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen (among the Gentiles)” (Gal. 1:15-16). From that moment Saul’s attitude was seen in his question, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” His life was completely changed, for Christ had been revealed to him in order that Christ might be revealed through him. He says to the Corinthians, “I delivered unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received,” the gospel that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
Now, the reception of the gospel brings with it a new nature. Each believer becomes a partaker of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and each has the Holy Spirit indwelling him (Eph. 1:12). While all receive the new nature upon the acceptance of Christ as Saviour, the old nature still abides, and only as each allows the Spirit of God to have His way can he overcome that old nature. With the new nature, and with the Spirit of God within us, we are able to enjoy communion with the Lord, for we are called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We also are fellow-citizens with the saints, and are of the household of God. As partakers of the Divine nature, we enjoy the Word of God, and as new-born babes we desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby. The Word of God is the food of the soul, the comfort of the heart, and the source of true strength to make us strong in the Lord; it is the power to protect us from the wiles of the devil. Job, long ago said, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Oh, that we likewise might thus value them! David said, “By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer” (Psa. 17:4). In a similar tone, Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). The Word of God in the Christian will build him up, and check him up along his pilgrim pathway. The child of God finds in the Scriptures all that he needs, all that pertains to life and godliness. May it be the subject of our meditation day and night!
The revelation of the gospel to the soul brings with it a new standing before God, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (or a new creation)” (2 Cor. 5:17). Our old standing in Adam is gone; we are now in Christ, made accepted in the Beloved. Moreover, we are brought into a new society, for we are members of His mystical body, we are of His flesh and of His bone (Eph. 5:30). We are also members one of another. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). We also have a new Master to serve, and our attitude must ever be, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” The Thessalonians “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:9-10). Therefore, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;… for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).
Christ is the very best of masters; may we give Him the very best of service. May we not be ashamed of the revelation of the gospel, for it is still the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).
The Revelation Of The Lord’s Supper ( 1 Cor. 11:23-24):
Paul, several years after it was instituted, received by revelation from the Lord the fullest account we have of the Lord’s supper. He was not saved when first the Lord instituted this feast of love, and, contrary to what we might expect, he did not get the account of that supper from the other Apostles, but from the Lord Himself. On the night of His betrayal, the Lord took the bread and gave thanks and brake it, and said, “Take, eat: this is My body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.”
Paul declared to the Corinthians, “I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you.” This feast brings before us the wonderful love and the earnest solicitude of the Saviour for His own. In the supper, a Divine Person says, “‘Remember Me.” In so doing we proclaim the Lord’s death till He come; consequently, we must constantly bear in mind the warning, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). In view of gathering together to eat the Lord’s supper, this is a most important excercise of soul.
Now, what characterizes the Lord’s supper is surely the spirit of thankfulness. Our blessed Lord, that night in which He was betrayed, took the bread and gave thanks in the full knowledge of all that it meant to Him. His body was soon to be broken, wounded, and bruised for us on the cross. “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men” (Isa. 52:14).
He knew what Gethsemane with its unparalleled sorrow meant, its blood-like sweat, and its bitterness, and yet He gave thanks. He knew what Golgotha meant, the abandonment of His soul in which He would cry out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Notwithstanding all, He gave thanks. He looked beyond it all to the glorious accomplishments; for them He gave thanks.
What thanksgiving and praise should fill our hearts as we gather on the first day of the week to remember Him, His glorious person, and His wonderful love to us. The Son of God loved us, and He gave Himself for us. Our hearts should respond and say, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” ( 2 Cor. 9:15).
“O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psa. 107:1-2). Let us join with the Psalmist who declares, “‘I will praise the Name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs” (Psa. 69:30-31).
“By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name” (Heb. 13:15). May the Lord enable us to be a praising and a thanksgiving people as we journey along the pilgrim pathway to that Better Land.
The Revelation Of The Lord’s Coming (1 Thess. 4:13-18):
The Apostle Paul in this passage says, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord… the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout.” He also declares, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52). The most of the details of the Lord’s coming for His people, His Church, were given to this Apostle to the Gentiles.
The coming of the Lord is the blessed hope of the Church, and also of Israel, but we are not dealing with their aspect of the subject. Our blessed Lord, in the Gospel of John, spoke to His disciples about His going away and His coming back again, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (14:3). Here is something most definite; He intimated that He was going away, and that He would return, but He did not give any of the details of that return. To His disciples at that time He made only the plain statement, “I will come again.” The doctrine of the coming of the Lord is given to us progressively throughout the Scriptures.
As we have said, in John’s Gospel the Lord makes only the bare statement, but in the Book of The Acts we have additional information. After Christ’s ascension two angels appeared to the disciples saying, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (1:11).
He went away literally and personally; He will come back in the same manner. In 1 Cor. 15:51, we read, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” From this passage we learn, that when the Lord comes all shall be changed, the dead and the living in Christ. What a blessed change! In writing to the Philippians, the Apostle asserts, “We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (3:21). We shall all be like Him.
Let us consider another passage, 1 Thess. 4:17, for here we have the added statement, “Caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Every born-again Christian, no matter what his religious connection may be, will rise to meet the Lord in the air, “Caught up together” with all other saints.
The coming of the Lord to the air for His own will close the day of grace, for the Mystical Body of Christ will be complete, the Church for whom He gave Himself, and when this is accomplished, God’s purposes in this age will have been completed.
The coming of the Lord should be a very great incentive to all believers in their service for the Lord. It should also be an encouragement to them in suffering, trial, and difficulty. “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37). What a comfort to know that we sorrow not as others who have no hope! Paul assured the Thessalonians that their loved ones which had fallen asleep in Jesus would not miss that great event as some had told them. The Apostle states that we which are alive and remain shall not prevent (go before) them which are asleep.
The coming of the Lord is most imminent; may we, therefore, seek to love Him more, to live for Him better, and to labour more devotedly until we see Him face to face.
The revelation of the gospel gives us a new nature to begin the Christian life; the revelation of the Lord’s supper gives us a new character with which to pursue the Christian pathway; and, the revelation of the Lord’s coming reveals a new body with which to enter our heavenly home. When eventually we are translated into the place that the Lord is preparing for us, we shall be completely new in every respect; consequently, we shall sing that new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou was slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10).
Hudson Taylor said, “We must be careful what we do with the Lord’s money. If we do the right thing the riches of earth will receive compound interest from the Bank of Heaven, and He who sits over against the Treasury and watches will smile His approval. The smile of Jesus is worth more than all the millions and pleasure promoters of earth.