What Does Manifest Mean, and How Does It Help Us See God More Clearly?
I’m married, but how do I make that truth manifest to others? I could carry my marriage certificate around with me, but that would be cumbersome and well, silly. When my husband and I married, we exchanged rings. The rings are a symbol of our union, and when others see the “perfect circles,” it is clear to them we are married to one another.
Bloggers manifest their beliefs and causes through what they write online. Musicians manifest their songs by recording them. Christians manifest their faith in many different ways, which we will examine within this article.
What Does "Manifest" Mean?
As a part of speech, manifest is sometimes an adjective, therefore it modifies an object (e.g., she had a manifest lack of belief). Synonyms are apparent, evident, clear, and visible. As a verb, an example is, “They chose to manifest their dissatisfaction with authority.” Other verbs which may be used for manifest include demonstrate, display, reveal, and show, certify. Used as a noun, a manifest might be a list of passengers.
What Does Scripture Have to Say about Manifesting?
When we read about how God manifests Himself in the Scriptures, we see it is a revelation of His glory (Ezekiel 28:22), and His holiness (Exodus 20:41). The first time the word manifest is used in the ESV is as a verb (Exodus 20:40-41), where God tells the house of Israel they will serve Him in the land He is giving them. He said He’d accept them as He gathers them from where they have been scattered. He said, “And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations.” God will reveal His holiness among them so all the other nations can see it.
As used in the Ezekiel passage, the Lord is speaking a judgment against Sidon through His prophet, Ezekiel. The Lord God said, “I will manifest My glory in your midst.” The purpose was so they would know He is the Lord.
Regarding Jesus Christ
John’s fourteenth chapter is a wellspring of learning about how Jesus did and will manifest Himself. In John 14:21, Jesus said whoever knows His commandments and obeys them loves Him. He followed that by saying the Father will love whoever loves Jesus, as will Jesus, who will “manifest Myself to him.” As with the Father, Jesus reveals Himself (1) because He is God, (2) because He is worthy of all worship, and (3) to give us the way to manifest Him through our lives.
Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus in John 14:22 how He would manifest Himself to the disciples and not to the world. But Jesus, in answering Him, indicated the Father’s words, presence, and peace would fill them with the coming of the Holy Spirit. He closes the conversation by telling His disciples He does what the Father commands Him “so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). His manifestation in this sense is a revelation to the world both through His atoning work and through His disciples (see also John 17).
Regarding the Holy Spirit
Jesus, in John 14:26, told Judas the Holy Spirit will come in His name (as sent by the Father). The Holy Spirit would manifest Christ to them by teaching and helping them remember all Jesus said to them.
John Piper describes manifestation using 1 Corinthians 12:1-13, “…that's the connection between you and God. God is manifested in your life. God, the Spirit, becomes visible through you. You are to show the Spirit. Professor Don Carson of Trinity Seminary wrote a whole book on just these three chapters (12–14) and he titled the whole book on the basis of this one verse: Showing the Spirit. To him that is what the whole section is about. I would say that is what the whole Bible and all of life is about — showing God, making God as seen as an invisible God can be seen.”
How Does the World Know God?
As of now and until Jesus comes in glory, the world (that is, the moral world) is veiled (hidden) to His glory. 2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us, “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” We who belong to Christ are privileged to the unveiling of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We are able to behold the Lord’s glory as He transforms us from one degree of glory to another. “This comes from the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
But Romans 1:18-32 states men have no excuse, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” God has made Himself manifest to the world by His general revelation. Psalm 19 also tells us how God makes manifests Himself to His creation.
How Do We Reveal Ourselves as Christians?
Christians are to walk with Christ, manifesting His presence through our actions (every human communicable attribute). Through the Spirit’s presence and work in us (John 15:26, Ephesians 1:13-14), we are able to provide unbelievers (and believers, too) with a visible manifestation of Christianity. When we display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we reveal His work in us. Christ’s love has been made manifest in us (1 John 4:9). 1 Corinthians 3:13 tells us God will reveal our works by fire, and the fire test discloses everything.
Can We Manifest Things through Faith?
A contemporary heretical belief says if we are positive enough in our thinking, anything is possible. Such a belief is all about self and has nothing to do with glorifying God as we are commanded to do.
Revealing God’s glory as He works in and through believers is what we mean when we speak of manifesting things through faith. It is not anything we do. It’s all God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and it’s all for His glory.
When we pray for someone, we have faith God will act in some way, whether His answer is yes, no, or wait, He still acts. We wait on Him, not on ourselves. What we have is not an expectation He will do what we ask. Instead, we have a confident expectancy He will act according to His character and in His time.
Proverbs 15:29 says God hears the prayers of the righteous (believers). James 5:16 tells us the prayer of a righteous person “has great power as it is working.” A righteous person is someone who seeks God’s glory first and foremost.
1 Peter 3:12 is very comforting to believers. “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
All this being said, we can do nothing, but God, if He so chooses, can do anything.
How Should We Pray When We Want Something, or Are Hopeful for Something?
Psalm 37:4 is a great look at our heart attitudes when praying. The first thing we are to do is delight in the Lord. Delighting in Him means we study our Bibles and get to know the Author in all the ways He manifests Himself through His Word. The Scriptures are our go-to resource for how to pray. When we couch every prayer in seeking God’s glory, we will pray according to His will and not out of selfish motives.
- Confess your sins, repent, and come to God with a clean heart (1 John 1:9).
- Don’t be afraid to speak your heart. One look at David’s psalms will show you it’s okay to cry out to God (Psalm 51).
- Rejoice in God, knowing He hears you and wants the best for you (Romans 8:28).
- The freedom that comes from time before the Lord is a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
You will then rest in Him. Whatever comes will be because He ordains it or allows it.
As believers, trusting God manifests His goodness to those who surround us.
The greatest manifestation of the Spirit within us involves the Great Commission. We are, as Christ-followers, to share the Gospel, for by doing so, we are manifesting Jesus to the world. We are used of God Himself as His ambassadors. The Bible says “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). That fact should excite us and spur us to action as we share God’s goodness with this lost and dying world. It should also scare us a little if we have been complacent about speaking the truth to people we love.
The Bible also tells us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Making much of Jesus is manifesting Him to others. The Apostle Paul follows the above verse with this treasure, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Remember, we can do all things through Christ. It’s not our power; it’s His power working in and through us. That’s some good news!
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ipopba
Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody (End Game Press – Feb. 2022). She writes fiction and nonfiction and her current works-in-progress include a children’s picture book to accompany Someplace to be Somebody (co-written with Michelle Medlock Adams). Lisa is also writing a Christmas story anthology and she and her husband are writing a Christian living book. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of AWSA, the Serious Writers’ Group, and BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis.