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Joined: 2005/11/26
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 Apostolic Perception: Eternity

Seeing the Unseen

God’s provision for bearing the things that must come in this life is looking upon the things that are eternal, unseen and invisible. The issue of seeing is crucial, and I know it is going to take a conscious and concerted effort to bring us to this kind of seeing. Everything presently conspires against it. The world wants to fill our eyes with all of its voluptuous images. Everything is clamoring for the attention of our senses. We are continually bidden to look down upon things. It takes an apostolic determination to break that, to close out the things that are visible, and to focus and dwell upon the things that are invisible and eternal. It will produce a remarkable thing in us, namely, a growing indifference to the things that are of the world. Paul did not look at the things that are seen. He wrested his eyeballs away from the visible, sensual things that would have been a gratification for his soulish, physical life. By his insistence not to see the things that were visible, God gave him to see the things that were invisible and eternal.

To be called to this kind of seeing is another name for suffering. The things that are seen give us assurance and confidence, but to turn our eyes onto the things that are invisible and eternal will produce a wrench in us. It is going to require an exertion and a moral energy to divert our eyes from the sensual things that are ever and always before us, and to learn to direct and fix them on the things which are invisible and eternal. To make that the basis for all our seeing is at the heart of apostolic! Do we see this world as under judgment? Do we see it as soon to pass away? Or are we overwhelmed and intimidated by the things that are visible?

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1–4)...

We have not impressed the world or communicated to it the sense of the urgency of that which lies beyond death. In fact, we cannot begin to do it if we ourselves are not presently in that dimension. We can, therefore, only communicate eternity as a technical and theological truth. We know that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one and the father of lies. Lying is everywhere about us and in the very air that we breathe, and the greatest lie is the renunciation and rejection of eternity. Even the thought of it does not come into the consciousness of men. Men are living their lives in the world as if this life is the total purpose for being, and we have allowed them to get away with it. If we as believers subscribe to eternity by giving assent to the doctrine of eternity, the reality of which comes to us after death, then we have given ourselves over to the lie. Church is church when its very existence, presence and character are a refutation of the lie, because it shows that the issue of eternity and the things that are ultimate and that pertain to God are in fact the true questions of life. Church is church when it lives as if it believes that.

We need to come to the world as people who are presently in that dimension, where the things that are eternal are brought into our daily, mundane and ordinary considerations. When we do, then those things no longer become mundane and ordinary. Everything becomes charged with that which is eternal. When you stand before a people, it is not just a delivery of a message, but an issue of life or death. Things are hanging in the balance that will affect both time and eternity. The consequences, therefore, are momentous. Everything is charged with a meaning beyond that which one can define. Eternity has been brought into the now, and it is the whole dimension in which God Himself dwells. That is why Paul can speak about the eternal weight of glory, because that is where the realm of glory is to be glimpsed and sensed.

The whole world is calculated to conform us to its values. So long as we are in the realm that is temporal and earthly, we shall be its victims. If we only gaze at the things that are seen, and do not fix our eyes on the things that are invisible and eternal, we shall be swept into things that pertain to fashion and fads. If we dress ourselves in the fashionable, impressive and colorful, we have a body consciousness. No one will ever fault us, but it will rob us of a consciousness of God in the realm that is eternal. To be absent from the body, even in our attention and consciousness, to that degree, is to be present with the Lord. It is an apostolic principle against which the world is fighting like a mad dog to keep us from.

To live, move and have our effectual being in eternity will make us become strange and somewhat peculiar to all those who are outside of us. We are somehow continually looking upward, seeing things that do not occupy their attention. We will find ourselves becoming increasingly ‘pilgrims’ and ‘sojourners’ in the world, looking for a City not made with hands. This is not biblical poetry, but the normative intention of God for all true saints and foundational to the faith. We are those who are always looking for something that is not in view, but our very anticipation of it actually brings it to pass.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (2 Peter 3:11–12)

The Apostolic Task

Why do we not speak with that same simplicity, that same urgency and that same absoluteness? Perhaps we do not believe it as absolutely as Paul did, nor do we live as if we believe it. We are simply not that occupied with the things that are eternal, and therefore we are unable to persuade men. We need to press mankind to come to terms with eternity, even though they will accuse us of being dogmatic, narrow-minded and intolerant, and yet that will be enough to intimidate many of us to silence. There is nothing more embarrassing and intimidating to the modern Christian than to be considered narrow and dogmatic. It did not, however, intimidate Paul. Eternity is not a narrow concept, and the world needs to be disturbed by people who cannot contain themselves, who are beyond the issue of taste, politeness and good manners, who burn with the reality of eternity, and who take every opportunity to express the things that are Divine.

Our absoluteness is the very height of offense to a world that is relativistic and pluralistic. They do not want to be told that there is anything that is absolute, that there are only two eternal alternatives, but they need to be told, not by people who bring the correct doctrine, but by those who come with a burning conviction. Do we really believe God has fixed a Day in which He will judge the world in righteousness? Our apostolic task is to bring an unwanted and unwelcome message to an indifferent world, and it is a message we can only bring in the same proportion that we can demonstrate it. It is not enough to be ‘correct.’ We have to come to them, as it were, from the eternal place.

Eternity needs to be brought into time, and the church is the only agency on earth given by God through whom that can happen. But it is an apostolic church that lives, and moves, and has its being in the eternal dimension, and who abides in Him, who inhabits eternity. Our problem is that we secretly covet the world’s admiration. We want to succeed on the world’s terms, if not academically, then theologically. We find ways to be polite, and to address our Christian convictions in a manner by which the world can receive them. We have lost the apostolic view, which was intended to confront the world in its entire framework of thought, for the whole of non-Christian thought is a lie, for it has not reckoned on eternity. It has not brought the invisible things into its consideration, and therefore all of its other considerations are amiss.

The world needs to be confronted by the things that are eternal. Paul himself demonstrated this on Mars Hill. He struck at the very heart of the world and its lies. It is remarkable that he came down that hill alive, when he could just as easily have been the object of men stopping their ears and rushing upon him with teeth gnashing. Are we eager to preach Christ and Him crucified, Him risen, the soon coming King and Judge? We cannot divide these realities. Paul was determined not to know anything but Christ and Him crucified¾and it takes a determination! Everything in the world, the flesh, and the Devil conspires against it. It wants to diminish this truth, and put it in mere religious and doctrinal categories, but we are enjoined to preach this gospel to every creature, namely,

...He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

Eternity as Resurrection Life

There is an entry into the eternal dimension through the reality of resurrection life. Merely approving the doctrine is not enough, we need to live and move and have our being in Jesus Christ, or our words about an imminent judgment are without value. There can be no preaching of the resurrection, or of eternal judgment unless the entire framework of our life is changed. Do we really want to see all men everywhere repent? They need to see the eternity that is already in us, and they shall be eternally condemned except that they receive Him in whose Name we come.

We are moving to a final and ultimate confrontation with the philosophical spirit of the world. Something timeless and eternal must be presented to men by an apostolic church, a people who have laid hold of that which is eternal, and are not just awaiting some future state. They are already appropriating it, and bringing it into their present consideration. The issue of the resurrection in us is the issue of eternity for them. God is desirous of an apostolic mind-set, for these are the foundations of the church¾not the issues of the mechanics of church government, however important that might be in itself. A church without the eternal dimension, however correct it may be in every other form, is not an apostolic or authentic church.

This is a position far beyond correct doctrine. Something must come again into the atmosphere of God’s corporate people, a sense of urgency that we ourselves cannot calculate or establish. We must be purveyors of a sense of imminence, and of the things that shall shortly come to pass. We must bring the eternal sense of things, and the eternal stakes of heaven or hell, because we have already sensed the eternal weight of glory as being so presently real to us now. The rejection, the abuse, the reproach, and the persecution that will come to us for bearing an unwelcome word to a world that does not want to hear, is for us, only a momentary and light affliction. But it will be true only to the degree we see that which is invisible.

this is a really long teaching so i cut and pasted only some of it. if, you like to read the rest, here's the link. God bless.

By Art Katz


 2006/12/6 17:58Profile

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