In 1620, just before the Pilgrims set sail for the new world on the Mayflower, John Robinson, a pastor of the separatist group, gave a farewell speech in which he said, “I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from His holy word.” This line has been memorialized in the famous hymn by George Rawson, We Limit Not the Truth of God. Light has continually broken forth from the Lord’s word throughout church history because the Bible is a brilliant book and embodies the speaking of God who is light.
Watchman Nee has an excellent few paragraphs on how this phenomenon works:
If we have never heard the word God spoke in the past, we cannot receive any revelation now. Revelation begets revelation; they are not independent of each other. God’s revelation is first contained in the Word. When His Spirit shines through the Word, more revelation is produced, and more light is seen. The glow becomes brighter. This is the way revelation comes to us. God does not give us revelation from nothing. He does not do such a thing. He always brings light out of some existing word, and then expands on this light. Time after time when this light is revealed, it becomes brighter and brighter. This is the way God’s revelation works. If we have no past revelations from God, His light will not have the means to shine to us.
Today God does not grant revelation to men in the way He did to the first men. This is a fundamental governing principle. When God first revealed Himself to man, He spoke without any previous words as His basis. But today all of God’s progressive words and progressive revelations are based upon His spoken words and revealed revelations. He adds by building upon the foundation. Anyone who is not familiar with God’s spoken word is not qualified to be His minister of the word. Without such a basis, God cannot give us any light…
The basic principle to remember is that God’s light is contained in His Word… We cannot be lazy in our knowledge of the Bible. In order to know the Bible, there is the need for spiritual familiarization. It is not enough just to memorize or read through the Bible. We must read it before the Lord. We need the light, and it must become a shining book to us. We have to study the words contained in this book in the presence of God, and we have to allow these previously spoken words to speak to us once again. If a man has never touched God’s word in the Bible, he can never touch God’s light. The present-day word is contained in the New Testament words, just as the New Testament words are contained in the Old Testament words. We have to realize that just as Paul and the other apostles derived their speakings from Moses and the prophets, we also derive our speaking from Paul and the apostles. We have to learn to receive a further word through receiving the apostles’ words. All the revelations we have today represent further light upon previously spoken words…
Today’s principle is the principle of begetting. Revelation begets revelation, light begets light, and word begets word.
1. Watchman Nee, CWWN, Vol. 53: The Ministry of God’s Word, pp. 71-76