When Truth Contradicts Belief
But when [God]… was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. (Galatians 1:15-18 ESV)
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. (Galatians 2:1 ESV)
Paul, originally known as Saul, was one of the most educated and respected Jewish men of his day. He had the ideal pedigree, the best instructors, and the greatest potential.
So when he turned from the traditions of his ancestors and was converted to what was then considered by many to be a “cult” of believers who proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, Paul found himself, on one hand, no longer accepted by family and friends who believed he had gone off the deep end; and, on the other hand, not yet embraced by Jesus’ followers who feared that he was feigning his conversion to lure them into a deadly trap.
But Jesus was there.
Jesus drew Paul to Himself and began to reveal Himself to Paul. For three years Paul downloaded divine revelation from Jesus Christ, discovering the Person of Jesus hidden within the very Law he had studied for his entire life.
Paul had knowledge.
What he needed was revelation.
Knowledge is our search, our quest for understanding. It is both admirable and biblical to “seek” and “search” for understanding, but knowledge alone is not sufficient. In fact, knowledge “puffs us up” and leads to pride – we end up thinking we have things figured out.
Paul, for years of his life, sincerely believed that he was a faithful, loyal servant of God – yet he was persecuting the very God he longed to honor.
What Paul needed, and what will truly set us free, is revelation from God. If knowledge is our searching and seeking for truth, revelation is the unveiling of truth to us. It is the “lightbulb” moment, when we suddenly “get it!”
Many people are convinced of their beliefs. So much so that no one can tell them otherwise. No one except Jesus.
Jesus has a way of opening our eyes to see what previously we have been blinded to. We must come to the point of laying down our beliefs in order to embrace the truth. Out beliefs will not bring us freedom; but when we know the truth, we will be set free.
I believe that revelation comes to those who diligently seek to know the Truth – that is, Jesus, who is The Truth. Certainly we have the responsibility of seeking and searching for understanding; but more than that, we must depend on the Holy Spirit to reveal the Truth of Jesus to us, the truth we would never otherwise recognize.
Some may view this season of Paul’s life and mistakenly conclude that we don’t need other people at all, that the church is unnecessary as long as you have Jesus. Paul was not a renegade. In fact, the word clearly tells us of Paul’s honor of, and submission to the spiritual authority found within the body of Christ.
Still, we cannot solely depend on human relationships to provide what only God can give.
When it comes to truth, knowledge whets the appetite; but revelation satisfies the hunger.
Paul’s learning curve – his discipleship process – took time. Three years… then another fourteen years. Some of it “alone with God” and some of it serving in the local church. All of it was valuable.
Today I seek for truth. I search for wisdom. I commit myself to the diligent discipline that I must exercise; but I know that truth is hidden in the Person of Jesus Christ. So I ask for divine revelation.
I lay down my beliefs in order to brace Your Truth!
Show me things I do not yet know.
Reveal Yourself to me.
In Jesus’ name.