Revelation is a major theme in the Bible.
The truth of revelation is not something we arrive at through logic or discovery, through the power or determination of our intellects. Revelation comes, rather, at God’s initiative alone. And God’s revelation may stand in quite sharp contrast to our own ideas about God.
For the longest time, Christians held that God was revealed mainly through wrath.
In medieval Western Europe it was commonly believed that God was essentially interested in disciplining and punishing sinners, that the god of judgment expected contrition, and lots of it. But how much was enough?
As a young Augustinian monk, Martin Luther believed that the worse he felt about himself the better. But no amount of contrition for and confession of his sins seemed enough to appease the divine judge. Luther would soon discover how wrong he was about God when the truth of the gospel was revealed to him. Yes, the wrath of God is a reality, but God does not want to punish or exercise wrath — quite the opposite.
When we read the Bible we will discover that God’s love is the foundational, central revelation of scripture — both in the New and Old Testament. This is truly good news!
But in recent history, there has been a move far in the opposite direction from that of the Middle Ages. The god of wrath has given way to the god whose job it is to make me happy, and even rich!
The prosperity gospel abounds, and the preachers of it tirelessly proclaim that if your faith is strong enough, you will have over-flowing abundance coming your way. This is also a mischaracterization. Nowhere does scripture reveal that faith in Jesus spares a person from suffering or guarantees earthly wealth. Jesus suffered on the cross. It was, in fact, through his suffering, death, and resurrection that true abundance, God’s forgiveness and mercy, and promise of eternal life — has been revealed and gifted to us.
God has not waited for us to make the grand discovery that God loves us beyond measure. God has come right out and told us!