PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: A VITAL VISION FOR THE CHURCH-ONE NEEDED FOR REVIVAL?
By: Ron Woodrum
A.W. Tozer wrote several years ago “If we, (who belong to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ), are ever going to bring back spiritual power to our lives-we must SEE God and Jesus AS THEY REALLY ARE!”. We are told in First Peter that “having not seen Jesus, we love Him”. (I Peter 1:8). We are also told that we serve a God who is invisible and “dwells in unapproachable light” (I Tim. 6:16). In Colossians 1:15 we are told that “Jesus Christ is the express image of that invisible God”. We are also told in Hebrews 11:27 Moses “endured as seeing Him who is invisible”. The question to be answered is then “how do we see Jesus Christ AS HE REALLY IS?” One the very early reformers, Desiderius Erasmus, wrote a very interesting preface to his Greek New Testament. He wrote, “The Bible will give you Christ…in an intimacy so close that He would be less visible if he stood before your eyes”. I believe that is true. But I think that we have lost clear perception of the Christ that is revealed in Scripture. Dr. Peter Kuzmic, President of the Evangelical Seminary in Osijek, Yugoslavia speaks to this issue. He tells his students, “We must renew the credibility of the Christian Mission. Missions and Evangelism are not primarily a question of Methodology, Money, and Management…but a question of authenticity, credibility, and spiritual power. In going out to evangelize in Yugoslavia I frequently tell our seminary students that our main task may be to simply ‘wash the face of Jesus’ for it has been dirtied and distorted by the compromises of the institutional Christianity through the centuries and the angagonistic propaganda of athiestic communism in recent decades”. That is not only true of Europe. Even in America our perspective of the Jesus of Scripture has been dirtied and distorted by our failure to preach and teach the “truth about Him as presented in the Bible!” Someone has written, “More than 1900 years ago there was a man born contrary to the laws of nature. He lived in poverty and raised in obscurity. He did not travel exclusively. The only time He crossed the borders of His country was when He ventured into Egypt-as a child-fleeing Herod the Great. His relatives were inconspicuous. He had neither training nor formal education. Yet in His Infancy-He startled a King. in His childhood-He confused the Scholars; In His manhood He ruled the course of nature; He walked on the billows of the sea as if it was paved sidewalk; He put the raging sea to sleep by His own lullabies; He healed the multitudes and did not charge them for His services; He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries in this country could not hold the volumes written about Him. He never wrote a song-yet He has inspired more songs than anyone in history. He never founded a college-yet all the schools of all time, cannot boast of more students than the multitudes that have been discipled at His feet. He never marshalled an army, nor drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun, yet no leader has ever had that many followers follow Him, and been under His marching orders, then all the armies of the world, and men and women have surrendered to Him without Him firing a shot. He never practiced psychiatry-yet He has brought healing and stability to more people than all the counselors in the world combined! He stands on the highest pinnacle of Heaven’s glory. Proclaimed by God-Acknowledged by Angels-Adored by Saints-Feared by Demons! The Living Lord Jesus Christ-Lord and Savior!”
H.G. Wells, the great historian, and not a Christian historian I might add, said that “historians give a test of greatness to men of history. The big question is-what did they leave behind? Did he start men to thinking in fresh lines? Stimulate new vigor-followed after him? You judge the size of the ship by the size of the wake it leaves behind”. What kind of wake did Jesus leave behind? Bishop Stephen Neill, in his Interpretation of the New Testament, writes, “What kind of stone could it be that, once thrown into the pool of human existence could set in motion ripples that would go on spreading until the utmost rim of the world had been reached?” (p.19). That is what Jesus did! But have we lost that vision? Do we still feel the awe and impact after these centuries? William Blake in his poem on The Vision of Christ doesn’t think so.
He wrote: “The Vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision’s worst enemy.
Thine has a great hooked nose like thine
Mine a snubbed nose like mine!
Both of us read the Bible day and night-
You read it black, I read it white!”
Dorothy Sayers agrees with our distortion. She says that the Church today has tamed the Biblical Christ. She wrote: “The Church has very efficiently clipped the claws of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah…and certified Him as a safe household pet for pale curates and old ladies!” H.A. Ironside said that it is dangerous for Christians to traffic in unfelt truth. In other words, we may know Jesus…without really KNOWING the Jesus of the New Testament in the fulness that we need! IN OTHER WORDS, THERE MAY BE A GAP BETWEEN OUR VISION AND OUR VENTURE-BETWEEN OUR DOCTRINE AND OUR DUTY-BETWEEN OUR POSITION AND OUR PRACTICE-BETWEEN OUR PERSPECTIVE AND OUR PERFORMANCE! When the Apostle John, banished to the Isle of Patmos, saw a vision of Christ, he was so awe-struck that he shared a transforming message to the Churches. Perhaps we need to get a glimpse of that glory again. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade of Christ had such a life transforming vision. He visited Scotland in 1947. He spent time with the great N.T. scholar James Stewart. Stewart told him-“Bill if we can show the world that being committed to Jesus Christ is not tame, humdrum, sheltered monotony-but instead the most exciting thrilling adventure a human spirit can ever know. Those standing outside the Church looking in-wondering who Jesus is-will instead come in-crown Him King-pay allegiance to Him-and we will see the greatest revival THIS SIDE OF PENTECOST!” That can still be true for us today. We need a renewed and refreshed vision of Our Lord.