NIV - 27 All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
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This question cuts to the heart of the gospel message. No one can know God outside of Jesus Christ. Neither good works, karma, ascetic living, nor worshiping other gods can bring one to God. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 It is impossible for any human to come to know God outside of Christ. To 'know' God in Matt 11:27 and Luke 10:22 is not mere head knowledge or knowing about God. It is not even the knowledge of the gospel and the way to God. Rather, it is 'epignosis' - true knowledge that comes through personal relationship. (II Pet 1:3-11, Col 3:9-10) We only have true knowledge of God once we have put on the new self (Col 3:10) through faith in Christ and are reconciled to God by the imputation of Christ's righteousness on our behalf (II Cor 5:16-21, Rom 5:9-21). This true knowledge allows us to grow in fruitful relationship with God (II Pet 1:3-11, Col 1:9-11). It is only in Jesus that this knowledge is 'hidden' (Col 2:1-3), and so only in Christ can it be revealed. 'Reveal' here, in the Greek, is 'apokalupsai', to uncover or reveal. The term is where we get the English 'Apocalypse' or 'Revelation'. There are various levels at which God reveals Himself to man. God and His general laws of morality are revealed by creation and conscience (Rom 2:15, Rom 1:19-20). The prophets revealed God's words and even future events. Jesus's works reveal the authenticity of His claim as Messiah (John 15:23-24). Jesus came to be a light to all men Jn 1:4) - indeed the very effulgence of God's glory and image of God's substance, revealing God much as sun-rays reveal the sun or the face on a coin reveals the coin's nature. God revealed Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, to be received by faith (Rom 3:25-26). Yet those revelations were to all men, but here Jesus says that personal knowledge of God is only available to those Jesus is willing to give it. So, who are these people that Jesus is willing to reveal the Father to? Christ answers that in His prayer: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30 And, "you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." Jesus is willing that any who are weary and burdened, and any who come humble like a child, come to Him! That is why the knowledge of God was hidden from the 'wise and learned' - those, who despite all the miracles Christ performed, did not seek salvation for they were wise in their own eyes. They were arrogant, seeking their own way. "Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matt 18:3 Only a humble person will acknowledge his sin and helplessness and turn to a Savior. A proud person will not, for he will either dismiss his sin or try to work himself to overcome it. To place faith in Christ, one must humbly acknowledge his own sin and inability to save himself. This is why Jesus is only willing that the humble, not the proud, might find the true knowledge of God the Father through faith. Jesus then gives the righteousness of God to all who believe. (Rom 3:22) "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." James 4:6 Jesus came to save sinners, not the self-righteous. He came to seek the lost, not the found. (Mk 2:17, I Tim 1:15, Lk 19:20) So then, Jesus is only willing that those who come humbly, like children, might place their faith in Him that they might enter the presence of God (Eph 3:12).
To me, what Jesus is indicating in this verse is that there must be some characteristic of an individual that serves as a criterion for Jesus being either willing or unwilling to reveal the Father to that person. In my opinion, that attribute is humility -- an appreciation of one's own position in relation to God, which indicates a readiness to be taught and to admit that one does not have all the answers. Conversely, it is pride in the presence of God that would make Jesus unwilling to reveal the Father. I view Jesus as expressing basically the the same idea here as when He said that the person who did not receive the kingdom of God in the manner of a little child would not enter into it (Mark 10:15).
When I first read your question, I immediately thought of the precious gift we have of John 17 of Jesus' prayer to His Father before He goes to His death, burial and resurrection. Though I agree with Jennifer, I feel like this Scripture is important for further clarification. The first part of the verse you site is important. Where the NIV uses all things committed, other versions use delivered unto, handed over to, entrusted with and given to Jesus from the Father. John 17 explains who Jesus was talking about. Eternal life is initiated by God. 2 For you (Father) have given him (Jesus) authority over everyone. He (the Father) gives eternal life to each one you have given him (Jesus). 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to KNOW you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared BEFORE the world began. Then Jesus goes on to say how He revealed the Father to those given to Him by the Father-- 6 “I have REVEALED you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have GIVEN me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have GIVEN them to me, so they bring me glory We, Christ followers living today, were even included in the prayer. 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be IN US so that the world will believe you sent me. 26 I have REVEALED you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.” God the Father initiates salvation. He gives us ears to hear--Proverbs 20:12, Isaiah 32:3, Matthew 13:15, Luke 8:8, softened/humble hearts--Ezekiel 36:25-27, Hebrews 3:6-8, and causes us to seek Him. No one does this on their own- Romans 3:10-12. That is why no one can boast in being born again and receiving repentance, salvation and forgiveness. We did nothing to earn it. Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created IN Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 1 also explains God's plan for His followers before the world was even created. Just an example-- 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Read the rest of Ephesians 1. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 also explains this-- 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The relationship becomes so personal that we hear His voice in our spirit through the indwelling Holy Spirit- John 10 He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know His voice. For me, He started speaking to me 9 months before I came to total surrender, repentance and trusting in Christ alone. I was 45 though I had been in church all my life. Praise God, He has called me by name. We share the gospel with others, not only because we are commanded, but because we don't know who else God has given ears to hear and believe!
The real issue is FAITH. If you have seen God, then faith is not an issue, you've seen Him. Jesus was the example that God his father sent him to reveal to make faith the salvation factor. No one has absolute proof of God, but we sure do have examples that you can not explain unless there is a God. Among these is sentient organic life, which we have. Note that all matter has atoms but we have LIFE. Where did that come from? We can not explain gravity-where did that come from? Jesus gave the examples which we can not explain except by FAITH in his Father.
If the Holy Spirit allows it, we can have dreams and visions of Christ, but Christ also "dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has even seen or can see" (1 Tim 6:16) while on earth. These dreams and visions do not constitute full knowledge of Christ. On earth we can know God only in part (1 Cor 13:12) but in heaven we will see Christ and also the Father face to face if Christ allows it.This has been termed "the beatific vision of God" by certain theologians and the highest possible experience of God for Christians, but only after death.This full vision of God is also included in the beatitudes (Matt 5:8). "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." It is perhaps understandable that the highest possible experience of God would be reserved for those who deserve it according to the judgment of Christ.
Being created in the Lords image we're given that privilege. If we do as He commands us, God will never leave our side. He will guide you in His presence. All we have to do is keep Jesus in our hearts and minds and the rest will be History. Thank you Father.
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