The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation
By Timothy McCulfor
"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..." (Eph. 1:17-19).
The Continual Need of Fresh Insight. In order to expound anything eternally profitable it is necessary to have a fresh taste of the spirit of wisdom and revelation. All previous study, all former knowledge, all prior insight is clouded over and shrouded in the dust of time’s wake. Much of the information is still there and can be recited but the freshness of revelation dawning upon the soul in all of its brightness and glory has faded. The manna was for yesterday.
As the glory of God reflected in Moses’ face faded when he was among the people, insight from face to face fellowship with God also wanes. Previous revelation was for a time. It filled and sustained and thrilled us. But now we must gather fresh manna. It is time to return to the mount. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us and we receive fresh insight into His Word; insight which is alive and dynamic to us.
That is God’s gift of wisdom and revelation. We could not fabricate it nor could another teach it to us. It is spiritual discernment which is given by God and that the natural man cannot receive. This makes intimate fellowship with God indispensible and explains why some have no understanding of God’s word. Let us ask of the One who gives “to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (Jas. 1:5) that He would give the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Himself.
Wisdom and Revelation of Scripture. From the context we know that the spirit of wisdom and revelation is not referring to extra-Biblical revelation. Rather it opens our eyes and allows us to see the significance and beauty of basic scriptural truth. The revelation referred to here does not have to do with new information but with a comprehension of the hidden manna of the written word of God. It occurs when Jesus opens our "understanding, that" we "might understand the Scriptures" (Lk. 24:45). We experience it when we take heed unto the more sure word of prophesy (Scripture) and the day dawns, and the day star arises in our hearts" (II Pet. 1:19).
The Gift of Wisdom and Revelation. John the baptist said, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (Jn. 3:27). How true and yet how little recognized this is. Paul agrees with this when he said, "But 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" (I Cor. 2:14). The spiritual discernment or understanding of the Word of God is a gift. So Paul said to Timothy, "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things" (II Tim. 2:7). And John declares, "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true" (I Jn. 5:20). Jesus immediately recognized Peter’s direct interaction with the Father when Peter declared, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt. 16:16). This "revelation" came not from flesh and blood but directly from the Father. The wisdom we speak is hidden to the world and revealed to the saints (I Cor. 2:7). Jesus’ disciples did not understand as He spoke with them about the things which were to be fulfilled from Moses and the prophets and the psalms concerning Himself (Lk. 24:44), but after He opened their understanding there was no more dullness. The most profound words ever written came from these "unlearned and ignorant" (cf. Acts 4:13) men as they were given the spirit of wisdom and revelation.
The Necessity of Our Effort. Since the spirit of wisdom and revelation is a gift, it is evident that understanding of God’s Word is not the wages of intellectual toil. Intellectual effort, however, is necessary. Since the spirit of wisdom and revelation is a divine opening of the words "which the Holy Spirit teacheth", the Spirit must have the information with which to work. Therefore, we must "study" to show ourselves approved and hide God’s Word in our hearts. This, in fact, is a notable trait of all faithful saints. Paul’s diligence in intellectual study was so apparent to Festus that he raised his voice and cried, "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad" (Acts 26:24).
Our study, then, provides the material with which the Holy Spirit can work to arouse our understanding and appreciation of the reality of His truth. I wonder what the Spirit would accomplish in us if He had more material with which to work. The limit to our comprehension of truth is not on the part of God’s willingness or ability to give but on our ability to receive. When we are lacking in understanding it is not that we have exhausted the resources of heaven but that we have brought too small and few vessels. "Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few" (II Kgs. 4:3).
In the Knowledge of God. The wisdom and revelation God gives is a direct result of our knowing Him. Since God is the "God of truth" (Isa. 65:16) and "the only true God" (Jn. 17:3), the measure of our association and interaction with Him determines the degree of our understanding of truth. Conversely, since the devil is "a liar, and the father of it" (Jn. 8:44), interaction with him (which really is just unbelief) causes the minds of men to be blinded (cf. II Cor. 4:4). Let us then heed the admonition, "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col. 1:10). "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (Jn. 17:3).
Eyes Opened to the Greatness of Salvation. Paul goes on to explain for what purpose the spirit of wisdom and revelation will be given. It will open our eyes to realize the personal significance of spiritual truth. The prayer was not for the Ephesians to know about God’s calling or to know about His inheritance or to know about His power. It would seem likely that they would already have known the facts in the case. The prayer’s urgent and pointed purpose was that they would know the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of His power. It was a prayer not for information but for their realization of the significance of the information already given to them personally in the Scriptures.
It is possible to know about His calling without knowing the hope of it. Without the realization of our personal involvement in this calling, experiencing the deliverance and assurance of hope is impossible. It is possible to know about His inheritance without seeing the riches of the glory of it. Only when we comprehend that the inheritance is "kept in heaven" for us does the riches of the glory of it dawn upon us. We may read about His power but until our eyes are opened we do not grasp the exceeding greatness of it. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and us is that God would give us the ability to experience the overwhelming reality of spiritual truth. That we would recognize and therefore better appreciate the awe-inspiring nature of our salvation.
This is something that seems to be overlooked in the Bible colleges. It is thought that depositing the information in the students prepares them adequately for spiritual ministry. The products of this system are filling the pulpits across the land: Ministers who know some of the facts, but have no spiritual understanding of the information’s significance! Pastors who passed the exams, but do not know the hope, or the riches of the glory, or the exceeding greatness. What we deeply need is for the people of God to receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him!
The Object of Enlightened Sight. It should be a gravely salient fact that the subject of Paul’s unceasing prayer was not for what the modern church calls "practical", "down to earth" things of this life! The prayer was focused on the peoples’ comprehension of fundamental doctrine! Why are people bored with basic biblical doctrine, preferring rather to focus on tenuous issues of the day?