A Hierarchy of Revelation
I love this concept of a “peak” of revelation. There are a little over 31,000 verses in the Bible and the fact that there’s a highest peak to the divine revelation indicates that not all revelations are on the same level.
The Bible is an astounding amalgamation of divinely inspired stories, letters, proverbs, poetry, history, and theology that captures concretely God’s revelation to man. Out of so many words has emerged THE word. Out of so many books, THE book (Bible). Pulling from over 40 different authors over a time span of 1500 years and encompassing a wide range of topics, the Bible has been appealed to by numerous causes- religious, scientific, economic, revolutionary. I talked to a guy once who thought that Genesis 4 was about the agricultural revolution. Maybe, but is that the peak of revelation in that chapter? Definitely not. So there are many revelations contained between Genesis 1 and Revelation 22, but within the 31,000 verses there is a peak.
The View up Top
And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. –Revelation 21:10
From the peak you see things differently. You see things you’ve never seen before. The highest peak of divine revelation is where all the rays of divine revelation converge. From the peak you can see both horizons, the curvature of the earth, and the shape of continents. All of a sudden new relationships can be discerned. You see the majesty of a composite whole that is bigger than your struggles across the contours of daily life. Something that was always there, but never known. The peak elevates you beyond indifference and moves you deeply. Zooming out over Ephesians has this effect.
The Mountain in Matthew and Revelation
You can see how important the concept of the peak is by surveying the Gospel of Matthew. Four times Jesus brought his disciples to a mountain peak– chapters 5-7, 17, 24-25, 28. These verses are related to the peak revelation in Matthew. On the mountain Jesus’ ministry had dispensational value as opposed to immediate value. The perspective shifted from man’s need to God’s need.
In Revelation, the apostle John was brought to a high mountain to see the New Jerusalem. This is the highest peak in the Bible. This is the summit of revelation.
Redemption for Union
God’s ultimate purpose is not redemption as such but the praise of His glorious name through redemption.
–ESV Study Bible, Note on Ephesians 1:6
The “praise of the glory of God’s grace” means that there will be universal praise for the expression of God (glory) worked out by the grace of God in the sons of God.
The peak of revelation in the Bible is not redemption per se, but the issue it brings. Redemption, as awesome as it is, is a procedure and a process, but not the goal as such. It clears away the obstacles on the way to the peak. The highest peak of Romans is not justification in chapter 3 or 4. That is a significant ascent, but there is more terrain to climb. Romans doesn’t end with justification. It steadily rises to sanctification, glorification, the Body of Christ, and the practical expression of the Body in local churches characterized by vital relationships.
The gospel of God in Romans culminates in the concrete realization of God’s stated purpose in Genesis 1:26- image (16:27) and dominion (16:20).
Luther and Deification
We may not reduce Luther’s entire theology to this one “discovery” [justification by faith]. In the years 1513 to 1519 he made a whole series of theological breakthroughs.
–David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 240
Luther himself climbed higher. In Christ Present in Faith: Luther’s View of Justification, Tuomo Mannermaa argues that Luther’s view of justification is analogous to the Eastern Orthodox view of theosis (deification). Luther says:
Just as the word of God became flesh, so it is certainly also necessary that the flesh become word. For the word becomes flesh precisely so that the flesh may become word. In other words: God becomes man so that man may become God. Thus power becomes powerless so that weakness may become powerful.
–Weimar Aufgabe 1:28, 25-32
From Vision to Practice
What I love about the New Testament ministry is that it shows us the peak, but also shows us how this high revelation (union with Christ) interfaces with our day to day life. Most of Paul’s epistles take this shape- theological revelation followed by practical admonition. So in Ephesians we go from the economy of the Divine Trinity in chapter 1 to, “He who steals should steal no more” in chapter 4.
At the supermarket, at school, at work we can remain on the peak while seemingly on the most mundane of plains. If we are living out the highest peak of the divine revelation, if Galatians 2:20 is more than a slogan to us, there can be nothing higher. Yet this mountain will be manifested in our Monday-through-Friday routine, right in the situation of life that God has called us in (1 Cor. 7:24), whether it’s making good tables or rocking baby cradles. This is attainable.