Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You Are Not Like Them!

I wonder if people understand that there is a difference between a witness from two thousand years ago and someone who is talking about something that happened two thousand years ago? In speaking to people about the authority of the Bible they often speak as if these writers were from today writing about something that happened two thousand years ago, instead of understanding they are people who wrote about something they witnessed two thousand years ago. Just because an eye witness report is two thousand years old does not mean it is invalid. In fact, it is far more valid then some "experts" who is forming an opinion two thousand years after the fact. The apostle John wrote:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

"We have seen" he states. What a wonder this is that the Word of God became flesh and John knew him and loved him. He was taught by "the Word made flesh", ate with him, leaned against him, loved him. "We have seen his glory" states John, and he was "full of grace and truth". This is John's testimony, his eye witness account of what he experienced, having experienced Jesus Christ. It is breathtaking to read if you hold on to the fact that Jesus was no ordinary man; this was "the Word made flesh", God himself walking among his creation.

John tells us exactly the purpose for his writing of what he experienced. He states:

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:16-18)

John is going to reveal to us the many blessings that we have received through Jesus and he is going to reveal the heart of the Father that Jesus made known to the world. Pretty awesome and no armchair theologian or opinionated atheist can take away the fact that this is what John experienced.

In fact, I would take it another step further. No armchair theologian or opinionated atheist can take away the fact that this is what I have experienced. I did not have the privilege of living with Jesus in the flesh for three years but I have had the privilege of living with him in the Spirit for 27 years. I know Jesus is exactly who John testifies about because I have met him and have lived in him and he in me for all these years. When I was 19 years of age Jesus intervened in my runaway life. He simply showed up in my bedroom and said one word, "Enough". And it was enough. I was on my face in an instant because his presence overwhelmed me by his holiness and love. His holiness made me aware of what an ugly person I was and his love filled me with a hope that he could make something better out of me.

Just as no one can deny John's experience, no one can deny mine. No one can deny Peter's experience or Paul's. No one can refute anyone's life changing experience in encountering Jesus. It is not just an intellectual or an emotional experience. It is a total transforming experience where we are changed into a new creation. How can we expect someone who has never experienced an encounter with Jesus to understand that? We can't. So neither should we be discouraged by what these people have to say because we can only feel pity for them, that they have never encountered the beauty, the wonder, the power, the glory and grace of Jesus.

They may ask you and me if we have seen Jesus in the flesh and we have to answer no. Only the disciples got to testify about that. Even Paul only encountered Jesus as a light and voice but look at how that changed him and the world. I encountered his glory as he filled my bedroom with his presence. That is all I needed to experience to have my life completely changed around. It was enough for me to fall in love and devote my life to him and the mission. But it didn't rest on that one experience because through my re-birth I became alive in him and he took up his dwelling in me. His presence testifies to me every single day that Jesus Christ is all John declared him to be. Even if every Bible, every testimony, every book ever written about him were to disappear, I would still know because his Spirit testifies to my spirit who he is.

How could we ever lose heart when we are fully possessed by Jesus Christ? Even if we did not have the privilege of John's testimony we would still have the testimony of the Spirit in us. The apostle Paul wrote:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Amen? Yes, of course Amen! That is our experience every day, and if it is not then you need to be searching your heart to see where you are in your relationship with Jesus. Aside from salvation, his presence is one of the greatest blessings we have received. It enables us to face anything so that we can testify with Paul:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

His presence enables us to state along with Paul:

That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

Do not let this world get you down. The further in time the world moves away from the cross the further into darkness it descends. We cannot expect anyone who has not experienced Jesus to believe the testimony of men like John and Paul. For these people, time makes the testimony invalid, as if they know better because of their vantage point in time. However, you are not like them because you have encountered Jesus, you have experienced and have been overwhelmed by his glory. Nobody can rob you of that testimony and in the days to come you may need to lean only upon that experience. Remember, what we see is temporary but what is unseen is eternal. Hold on to the eternal and let the temporary things fall away.

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