Also known as Progressive Redemption
Progressive revelation is the teaching that the Lord has revealed Himself and His will, with an ever- increasing clarity in successive stages through out history, coming to its’ fullest and complete revelation by the end of scripture (Jude 3) with the focus being on the New Covenant in Christ.
Augustine (354-430 ) Understood this pattern of revelation when he wrote in the 4th century:
The New is in the Old concealed, The Old is in the New revealed
(Isa 28:9,10) “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
(Romans 16:25-26 ) “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith”
“And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus” (Acts 13:32-33).
(Gal 4:4 ) “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law”
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
What it is not….
- It is not a correction of previous revelation from the Bible
- It is not an evolution of religion and doctrine
- It is never contradictory of earlier revelations
- It is not a mystical interpretation or interpretation without reason
- It does not mean earlier scriptures are inferior, or are not as inspired as latter scripture
What it is …
- A continual revealing of Jesus Christ
- A development of Covenant of Grace through history
- A revealing of the attributes and Holiness of God including the Trinity
- A revealing of a full understanding of the extent of the body of Christ, the church
- A development of the fulfillment of the blessing of “God’s People”
Examples of The Progressive Nature of Revelation
1. The Covenants of Grace and Redemption
From the garden comes the picture and promise of the means of grace.The predicted Messiah was shown to be from the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15) who would defeat Satan.That man will only approach God through blood which God would provide and not through the works of man. (Genesis 3:7,21) He would be the sacrificial lamb and the lamb that is without blemish, the prophecies of a suffering servant etc. The 5 covenants build consecutively one upon the other, adding more details and more aspects of the New Covenant which Christ was to establish.
- The Moral Nature of God
The teachings of Jesus illustrate the concept of progression; He said that the people had been told it was wrong to commit murder but He said it was also wrong to harbour anger (Matt. 5:21-22); they had been told it was wrong to commit adultery but He said it was also wrong to look with lust (Matt. 5:27-28; also see: vs. 31, 33, 38, 43). Concepts were given and then enlarged; information was given and then additions were made to clarify and expand the information; moral guidelines were stated and expounded to inform of the full implications of the particular ethical principle through additional revelations.Truth was added to Truth.
- The Revealing of the Unique Nature of God’s People, the Church.
Throughout the Old Testament the concept of “God’s People” was usually reserved for people born of the Jewish nation, regardless of their obedience, love for God, or spiritual state.Yet since the Abrahamic covenant was given to a Gentile (Abram from Ur of the Chaledeans) and periodically included other non-jews such as Rahab and Jezebel there was a continual hope that the true children of Abraham were those of faith, not nationality.These would be the “true Israel” the remnant “Children of God” by faith (John 1:12; Galatians 3:16, Romans 9:6, Ephesians 2:11-13
“For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)
- The Focus of the Old Testament was on the Coming Messiah and the Work of the Atonement.
The basic covenant expressed perhaps best in Genesis 17:7 “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you through out their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.” is progressively repeated in the history of God’s dealings with man: Adam (Genesis 3:15), Noah (Genesis 9), Abraham (Genesis 17), at Sinai (Exodus 19 & 20), with Levi (Num 25:12,13) and David (II Sam 7) and is in essence the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, cf. Hebrews 8, cf. Matt 26:28, Luke 22:20) and the Covenant of Peace (Ezekiel 16:60, 34:25). The Scripture comes to its climax in Revelations 21:3 with the fulfillment of that covenant:“Behold the tabernacle of God is among men and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be his peoples, and God Himself will be among them.” The relationship man was created to have, though lost through the fall, is restored in Christ, and will be brought to fulfillment in the New Heavens and earth.The ceremonial rituals (“shadow”) of the Old Testament were only fully understood when reviewed later from the perspective of the work of Christ (“substance”) found in the New Testament (Colossians 2:16-17).The writer of Hebrews speaks of “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” that anticipated the “more excellent ministry” and the “better covenant” ( Hebrews 8:5-6) in Christ.
- The Rule, Formation and Structure of the New Testament Church.
The church is the composition of all of the redeemed, and the local church and the government andpractices of the local church were being increasingly revealed through the epistles.The concept of “church” or the assembly of believers was evident in the Old Testament, and taught prior to Pentecost. “I will build my church” Matthew 16:18 “Take it to the church” Matthew 18:17
• Moses spoke the words . . . in the ears of all the assembly of Israel. Deuteronomy 31:30
• David the king said to all the assembly. I Chronicles 29:1; cf. v. 10, 20
• ‘There was not a word off that Moses commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel’ (Joshua 8:35).|
• ‘Then all the people of Israel came out . . . and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord . . . the assembly of the people of God..’ Judges 20:1, 2; cf. 21:8
• ‘And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord.’ II Chronicles 20:5; cf. 18:16; 31:21
• ‘All the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord.’ Nehemiah 5:13
- The Revealing of the Nature of God and the Trinity
The Lord was introduced as a plural in the “Let us” in Genesis 1:26 and also in the name Elohim which is a plural name for God. Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8 .Yet, a clear understanding of the Trinity was revealed through the introduction of terms such as Angel of the Lord and more clearly intheNewTestament.Genesis18:1,2; TheNewTestamentintroducestheTrinityattheBaptismof Jesus and then continues to reveal the identity of Christ as the God of Creation. Colossians 1:16
Acts 2:17-21 Romans 11:27 Romans 11:26,27 Galatians 3:16
2 Corinthians 6:16 Romans 9:25 Romans 11:27 Acts 15:16,17 Matthew 2:15 Acts 13:34
Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 24:7
Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27 Hosea 2:23