Mapping Out the Land
Now that we have unloaded as much baggage as we can bear to part with at the present time, let’s leave Booth #2 behind and make our way on over to Booth #3—still here at the Welcome Center of the Word—where we will find maps of the land we are preparing to visit. As will any map for any traveler venturing into any new territory, these maps will prove to be great aids to us as we continue on our journey through the world of the Word. That’s because, through their clear delineation of boundaries, we will be able to determine the extent of, or the limitations imposed upon, the knowledge that will actually be made available to us on this visit to the land of the Bible.
The need for such limitations will become obvious to us once we stop to consider the entire scope of existence presented to us within the context of the Bible. That is, if we take into account all of the activity that has taken and will take place from eternity past to eternity future, as well as all of the activity that has occurred throughout the various realms of existence—from the deepest depths in the underworld to the highest reaches of the heavenly places—it shouldn’t be difficult for us to see that the overall knowledge produced as a result of all of this activity would be so staggering that, when given the limits imposed upon us by our finite minds and fallen natures, it would be way beyond our abilities to take it all in.
Fortunately for us, though—and because He is so keenly aware of the frailties imposed upon us by our humanity—when God crafted His plans for the Bible, He very wisely and graciously chose to limit the knowledge that would be presented in it to the revelation of Himself and of His redemptive purposes for mankind. And, as for how this knowledge was to be revealed to us, once again, God very wisely and graciously chose not to hit us with it all at once, but to present it incrementally, through the gradual and progressive unfolding of it over time. Since God considered this revelation knowledge to be important enough to make it the message of His Word, then it stands to reason that the acquisition of this knowledge must be the primary goal of this and every other trip through this land.
As far as we are concerned, then, the Bible will be regarded as the Land of Revelation Knowledge; a vast and often challenging land through which to travel, and yet a land that is filled with the richest of all treasures, just waiting to be discovered by us—the Revelation Knowledge of God. Before we can venture any further into its heartland, though, we will need to pause for a brief but careful study of its map. This map, through its outline of the borders which have been fixed upon God’s Revelation Knowledge, will help us determine just how far we can travel in any direction. Even a quick glance at the map will let us know that:
- To the North, we will only be able to go as far as the Purposes of God have ordained;
- To the East, we will only be able to go as far as our Positions in Christ empower us;
- To the South, we can only go as far as our Personal Purity will permit; and,
- To the West, we can only go as far as our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God will take us.
Here, then, is a section by section breakdown of this map.
Our Northern Border—The Purposes of God
True North Must Be Determined First
When beginning an analysis of any map, the most logical place to start is in the north. That’s because, before any real mapping of an area can be undertaken, its position relative to “true north” must be established; then, once that has been done, each of the other directions will naturally fall into place. Our “true north” is none other than God Himself, and upon our recognition of Him as such, we will discover that the northern border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been laid out nicely in accordance with His redemptive purposes for man. These purposes have been spelled out quite clearly for us in Ephesians 1:3-11:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who…chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…In him, we have redemption through his blood…according to his purpose…In him, we have obtained an inheritance…according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.
From this brief passage, it should be easy enough for us to see that:
- God had a purpose in our creation—that is, before the foundation of the earth, God’s purpose was to have a family, and it was for this purpose that we were created;
- God had a purpose in our redemption—that is, in order for us to be adopted His sons and daughters, we would first have to be redeemed—or “bought back” from our lives of slavery to sin—by the blood sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; and,
- God had a purpose in our glorification—that is, once redeemed, and for His glory, we would become the children of God, and the heirs of all His riches, just like Jesus.
And, it was through these purposes that the orientation for the rest of our map has been determined.
Our Eastern Border—Our Positions in Christ
With our northern border thus established by the redemptive purposes of God, our eastern border immediately becomes visible by its provision of the gateway to redemption that was called for by those very same purposes of God. This gateway is the salvation that was made available to us by Christ’s death on the Cross, and it is this doorway that we must enter by faith, if we are to move into our new positions as the sons and daughters of God.
However, just moving into these positions is not the “be-all and end-all” of God’s purposes for us. That’s because, at this point in the process, our mindsets, characters, and behaviors are still those of children born originally as slaves to sin. Since God’s purposes also call for us to be transformed from these sin-saturated children into the sanctified children of God, it is here that that a Helper—the Holy Spirit of God Himself—comes along side of us and becomes our tutor—teaching us how to think, speak, and act like children of God—and the source of divine power that we will need if we are to overcome the power of sin in our lives.
In John 14:15-16 and John 16:8, 13-14, Jesus gives us some insights into the work of this wonderful Helper when He says:
If you love me and keep my commandments, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive…And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but …He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
And, as a result of His faithful ministry on our behalf, we will learn what it means to…
“…walk by the Spirit, and [you will] not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Gal. 5:16-17”
Our Southern Border—Our Personal Purity
This work of empowerment by the Holy Spirit—made available to us through our positions in Christ—and our successful appropriation of this power is what now leads us to the identification of our Southern Border; for, this is the border that is formed as a result of, or in response to, the level of Personal Purity that we choose to maintain in our lives.
In Ephesians 4:30, we are told, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” and, in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” You see, if and when we tolerate sin in our lives, we will actually be grieving, or hurting the heart of the Holy Spirit who is living within us, and quenching, or extinguishing through our disobedience and questionable practices, the work that the Spirit desires to do through us. Once that happens, our minds will become darkened and unreceptive to the Revelation Knowledge that God desires to share with us.
According to Colossians 3:1-10, as the sons and daughters of God who should be growing in the Revelation Knowledge of their Father, we are to:
…seek the things that are above…set your minds on things that are above, not on things which are on the earth…put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these things, the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Our Western Border—Our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God
So far in this little map study, we have learned that:
- The Northern Border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been fixed in accordance with the Purposes of God;
- The Eastern Border has been fixed in accordance with the Positions in Christ provided for us by His redemption; and,
- The Southern Border has been fixed in accordance with the degree of Personal Purity that we maintain in our lives through the Ministry of the Holy Spirit.
This, then, leaves us with one border—the Western one—that remains to be defined. But this is a hard thing for us to do right now because, unlike the other three borders–which were firmly fixed and are constantly being monitored by God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit–this fourth border is one which we will have to define for ourselves. That’s because, this border will be determined by our Passionate Pursuit of the Revelation Knowledge of God, demonstrated through a dedicated and disciplined study of His Word. In other words, the limitations created for this border will be directly proportional to the hunger we have in our hearts for the knowledge revealed in God’s Word, and to our diligent efforts to obtain it.
This principle is clearly set forth for us in Proverbs 2: 3-6 and 9-10, where we read:
…If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God… for the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding…then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
So, given that the definition of this Western Border is entirely up to us, let’s make a commitment here and now to extend it as far west as we possibly can—by dedicating ourselves to seek as much Revelation Knowledge as possible during our upcoming tour through the Bible.
As Secret Garden reminds us in “Grace,” it is only through God’s grace that our trip to this land has been made possible.