There are three important words that a person needs to understand if they want to have a correct understanding of the Christian faith. These words are revelation, faith, and reason. Lets look briefly at each one.
Revelation. The first important word is revelation. Christianity is a living breathing relationship with the living God who reveals Himself and His will. In fact God delights in revealing His purpose for all things. This means that He unveils and makes known by disclosing what was previously unknown by man about man and the universe. St. Paul explains this adequately in Ephesians 1:9 where he writes that God “has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ.” Jesus Christ is the center point of reconciliation of all things to the Father; so through Christ and aided by grace and love any person might have access to the Father and come to share in God’s divine Nature eternally. See 2 Peter 1:4.
This divine gift of revelation is realized in both the natural order and in the supernatural order.
Natural revelation: St. Paul explains how God is truly discernible in the natural order. He writes, “Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (Rom 1:19 RSV) The natural order and its laws of being are intimately linked to the Creator through the Son. By reflecting on creation using human reason man can come to know of God in the beauty, order and the laws that govern the natural world. “For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.” (Wis 13:5 RSV) Natural revelation is accessible to all people at all times.
Supernatural revelation: This is everything God makes known about Himself and His purpose and will that is unknowable and unattainable by human reason alone. Most natural revelation will eventually led to a supernatural origin. Truths of a supernatural origin cannot be perceived in creation as a whole but must be revealed in measured amounts, incrementally developing over a great amount of time. Supernatural revelation is incremental and consequently is cumulative in that in what is being currently revealed in linked and builds upon what has been revealed in an intrinsic way. Beginning with Adam and culminating in Christ, God and His love has been fully definitively disclosed in history. “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; 2 but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.” (Heb 1:1 RSV)
Faith. The second important word is faith. Faith is both God’s actions towards us and our response towards Him. This relationship of faith builds up trust and confidence. An example of our need to develop faith in God is found in Matthew 6:30, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?” (Mat 6:30 RSV) Jesus is explaining that faith is openness to God’s providence… it is being fully transparent to God. Faith draws us into deeper understanding of God and develops in us hope and charity. As we grow in faith we grow in maturity in the pattern of Jesus Christ. Paul explains in 2nd Corinthians 13:5. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2Co 13:5 RSV)
Reason. It has been said that faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. God is truth. We need faith and reason working in partnership for us to receive the gifts of natural and supernatural revelation. We have a huge advantage because God has placed in our heart a desire to know the truth, which means we have an innate desire to know Him. As we come to know God so we grow to love Him and choose to live as best we can within His plan and purpose. The closer we come to Christ the more we come to realize and accept the truth about our selves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2). Faith and reason work hand-in-hand to reveal God to us. Jesus wants each of us to “reason things out.” So He says: “If any one has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mar 4:23 RSV).
In summary, mystics and martyrs have joined Christians in every age as witnesses to how revelation, faith, and reason when working in partnership even in frail human nature enables men and women everywhere to rise to great heights and achievements.