Knowledge and Revelation –
How to Recognize the Difference
by Zach Burandt
The average young person attends between 12 to 14 years of classroom education before graduating from high school. A typical student will go to school nine months a year, five days a week and seven hours a day. If you start school at the age of five and finish at the age of 18, you will spend approximately 17,640 hours in the classroom where the primary source of your education is knowledge.
I would like to suggest when we read the Scriptures, it is natural to read them with a predisposed lens of knowledge that we acquired from our education. This isn’t right or wrong. There was a time where I believed knowledge was the enemy. I’ve come to discover knowledge to be a strong bridge but a poor destination. I’ve discovered when I come to God and connect with Him primarily through the exchange of information, I lack the quality of real interaction and depth. I would like to suggest that knowledge is the start to connecting with God, not the end. This is why I would like to introduce you to the big brother of knowledge: revelation.
If we were to measure your knowledge level versus your experience level of God on a scale from 1 to 10, most of us in the West would have a knowledge scale that would read a 7 or 8 and an experience scale that would read much lower. Revelation is the element of the Christian life that takes the knowledge in your mind and translates it into an experience in your spirit.
REVELATION IS EASY TO REMEMBER
For example, I remember watching the Discovery Channel and they were documenting a large glacier collapsing into the ocean (it’s called calving). As the television narrator described what was happening, I received knowledge concerning the glacier’s collapse, why it’s collapsing, how it affects the world, etc. It was good information, but it was very easy to forget. This tends to be my experience with knowledge. It’s easy to forget.
However, a few years ago, my family and I went on an Alaskan vacation where we boarded a cruise ship that took us along the Alaskan coastline. At a particular stopping point on the cruise, the captain parked the ship approximately one fourth of a mile away from the Hubbard Glacier (4-5 miles wide, 400-500 feet tall). We sat on the balcony of the cruise ship with the glacier standing in front of us. After a couple minutes passed by, the glacier began calving. Three hundred to four hundred foot pieces of ice would break off the glacier shelf and bob up and down the the water. This would create a large wave that could potentially flip a small boat. The calving sounded like dynamite going off. I was now experiencing what I had previous knowledge of. The smell, the sound, the power and the sight left me in awe. It is not hard for me to remember that day. This has been my experience with revelation. It is not difficult to remember.
It’s awesome to have the knowledge of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. It’s a life changing event to experience Him taking it personally away.
Revelation is Knowledge Experienced and Shared
Here is another example: For most of us, we have received the knowledge of Galatians 2:20 that says "we have been crucified with Christ." However, I remember with distinct detail the day I received the revelation. I was in between classes in the cafeteria of a public community college in Alabama during the Fall of 2009 when I reached into my book bag and grabbed a book. This particular book went into detail about the cross and our relationship to it. As I began reading the book, I started to experience my inner-man getting flooded with light about the cross. What I had previously known as knowledge was now being translated into an internal experience where I knew I was in Christ. Some would describe it as “the words were jumping off the page." But this went even deeper. Directly following that experience, I went to my car and began to text my closest friends because I wanted to tell them about the cross. You know you have a revelation when you have something that you need and want to share with others. When you see Him for who He truly is, you can’t help but share Him with others because He is so good.
Here are a few differences that have helped me discern between knowledge and revelation:
Knowledge causes you to think; Revelation causes you to see.
Knowledge teaches the mind; Revelation changes the heart.
Knowledge is easy to forget; Revelation is easy to remember.
Knowledge is informational; Revelation is experiential.
I am not writing this to diminish knowledge, but I am writing to uncover and elevate revelation.
Here are five keys that helped me discover true revelation:
- The question to ask isn’t, “How much can you read?” It’s, “How much internal impact and depth is happening when you read?”
- More important than any of the books you read, is the internal condition with which you read them.
- You know you have a revelation when you want to share with others what you’ve received from Him.
- The best way to steward revelation is to give yours away to others.
- When it comes to revelation, it is more beneficial to read one verse and process it than to read one chapter without processing at all.
Zach was born and raised in Michigan, but he calls Alabama his home. He is a gifted teacher and deep thinker who has moved extensively geographically, as well as within different streams in the Body of Christ. He brings people into encounter with Jesus through wisdom and revelation. Zach serves on the greater Backlund team this year as a travel intern for Melissa Amato.