How can I receive that initial revelation from the Father?
That was how I ended last week, and it opens the start of a series about how to receive revelation.
Illumination - Revelation
Hebrews 6:4-6 is about the maturity level required for someone to knowingly reject the Lord, and the author begins at the initial level of faith and ends with 'the powers of the age to come' (the gifts of the Spirit.) But that first part says this: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift..."
Clearly, 'tasted the heavenly gift' is being born again believing on Jesus as Lord. But before that it mentions the person being 'enlightened.' Nearly every translation translates that word as 'enlightened.' What is it and why does it happen before 'tasting the heavenly gift'?
'Enlightenment' is where hope is born. It is the initial contact with, and revelation from the Father a person receives, whether for being born again, or later, receiving a promise from Him. It is the Greek word 'photizo' from 'phos' meaning 'light.' It means to illuminate, to give light, and to shine.
Think back to the time before you were born again. How long was it between the time you first started thinking about Jesus and the time you were born again? That process you went through is enlightenment. You had to go through that before you could 'taste the heavenly gift' of being born again.
There was this fisherman...
John 1:35-42 tells us Andrew Peter's brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist. One day Andrew and another disciple were with him, when he saw Jesus walking and exclaimed, "Look, the lamb of God!”
Andrew left John to follow Jesus, and then went to go get his brother Peter, reporting: "We have found the Messiah!” and he brought him to Jesus. Verse 42 tells us that as Jesus met Peter He said, "You are Simon the son of Jona, but you will one day be called Cephas." (Greek 'Petros', a small stone, or in English, Peter.)
That was their whole meeting the first time, nothing else. Andrew had made the claim Jesus was the Messiah, but there was no proof for Peter, just something to think about.
The next time we see Jesus and Peter is in Luke 5:1-11. Jesus borrows Peter's boat to speak from. When He is done speaking, being a man of integrity, He wants to pay for using the boat, and tells Peter and his business partners James and John, to launch into deeper water and let down nets. Every English translation I have looked at, 6 of them, says 'nets'. Yet Peter let down a single net.
The catch was according to Jesus' command - for at least 2 nets. Yet because they didn't obey nor believe they used only 1 net, and v7 tells us the catch very nearly sunk the boats.
That is an interesting 'rabbit trail.' When the Lord gives a command and then we disobey or change how we obey, heaven doesn't change to fit our disobedience. In this case, Jesus still gave them 'nets' worth of fish and it wasn't His responsibility that they only used one net and were overloaded.
So often people want to edit the Lord's instructions to them, and then face unexpected complications at the least, and at the worst a genuine catastrophe. Jesus just stood by while two or more boats were in danger of sinking. Their equipment, the net was damaged because of the size of the catch. He wasn't responsible then for their unbelief and disobedience, and being unchanging. He isn't responsible now in our lives when we do something equally stupid. Heaven makes plans according to the command; if we change how we obey we suffer the consequences and have only ourselves to blame.
Back to Peter and Enlightenment
Of course upon seeing the miracle, Peter falls on his knees in repentance, and this time, instead of calling Jesus 'master' as he did in verse 5 when he reluctantly and half obeyed with 1 net, here he calls Him "Lord."
What was going on in Peter's mind and heart between the time Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus with the claim He was Messiah, and this miracle? That was period of enlightenment. Peter had to consider the claim his brother had made. We don't know how long that time was. But for me, it was several months.
German class, 10th grade, Northwestern High School, Kokomo, Indiana
German class was an easy A for me, and I often finished my work early. That's when Janny became my best friend. She was a Spirit-filled Roman Catholic who claimed she knew the God behind the Liturgy. She told me about Jesus after we had finished our class work in German. I was Episcopalian, which used the same Liturgy, so I was intrigued. When she started talking about Jesus to me, the period of enlightenment began in me. I was faced with who I believed Jesus to be, and then what was I going to do about what I believed.
A year or so after Peter first called Jesus 'Lord' and walked away from fishing, Jesus is asking his disciples who people are saying He is. The conversation is recorded in Matthew 16:13-20, and they report people are saying Jesus is a reincarnated John the Baptist or Jeremiah or another prophet. Then Jesus asks "But who do you say I am?" and Peter blurts out: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"
Jesus tells him in verse 17 "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."
Flesh and blood refers to man's reasoning. I was doing the same thing Peter had to do, and the same thing you did as well if you are born again. You listened to what 'flesh and blood' said about Jesus, maybe your path took you into other religions, philosophies or exploring the world of sin. But the Holy Spirit was actually guiding you, revealing Jesus to you, drawing you to the Father by revelation and illumination.
Father Supplies Proof
I watched Janny and her boyfriend, Vic, receive answered prayer after answered prayer, and that was the proof I needed that supported her claims. There were 7 times in a row their prayers were answered, beyond statistical odds I reasoned, and I gave my heart to the Father and Lord Jesus, believing on the Lord.
My reasoning was that if Jesus truly has the last word on the last day, and I was going to stand before Him and give an account of my life, then I knew He would set the record straight. Even if people laughed at me now, or even killed me, He would have the last word. On that basis I was born again.
An Eyewitness Account that is Truth
In Acts 5:32, Peter and the apostles had been brought before the religious leaders and commanded not to teach or preach in the name of Jesus. After Peter tells them they had killed the Lord and hung Him on a tree, but the Father raised Him from the dead, he makes this statement: "And we are witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit." Notice the Holy Spirit was an eyewitness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Peter had heard the claims of his brother, but now with the miracle of the fish, he fell to his feet in repentance and faith. Neither he nor I, nor you, believed on Jesus without proof. We, being mere men, require evidence before convicting a person of a crime. How much more will the Father provide evidence of the claims of Jesus because eternity is involved?
When Janny told me about Jesus, something stirred inside me. The Eyewitness to Jesus' life was dealing with me. My attention was drawn down inside me, and inside my deepest thoughts.
And that enlightenment is where hope is created. An image of what can be. The Father through the Holy Spirit, shows us Jesus, deals with our hearts, turns us from cynical and unbelieving into hopeful and expectant people, and we act on that hope, that grace, and faith is the result.
Next week, more about this process and the amazing scriptures where Jesus teaches about it...so how long were you in a time of enlightenment - how long was the Father working on you, showing you, revealing to you, who Jesus is and what proof in addition to the eyewitness account of the Holy Spirit did He provide?