On our monthly Panel sessions, we have exhaustively tried to explain the importance of the Person of Jesus Christ, who He is and what it is He come to do (to us). It is far more important than many of us realise. Coming to grips with Jesus Christ and the reality of His whole life’s atoning work levels out the theological playing field. Maintaining the significance of who this man truly is in His relationship to the Father gives us a clear understanding of the All-powerful love of the Godhead towards the whole world. If we fail to let this wash over life in general, then we may be open to manipulation and abuse by those who feel they are superior in the knowledge of the Gospel. Indeed, there are some who may know more and are very articulate in conveying what it is that the truth of Jesus Christ conveys and what it means to us. However, pressing the all important significance of the Person and work of Jesus Christ, presents a safe touchstone by which all knowledge of God and its implications can ultimately be tested.
As I endeavour to diligently study the Scriptures, the fathers, the original Greek and make myself aware of my own fallibility as I do so, I find I am not able to keep what is revealed to me to myself. What I try to do is to declare these revelations along with the resources that have led me to my conclusions. Paul uses the same strategy in Ephesians 3 where he lays out the truth of the gospel in the previous discourse up to chapter 3:13. He then pleads with his readers to be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ who can do so much more than what anyone one or even all of us can teach. I admire such humility in Paul that he lays it all out in plain view and then puts himself on the line by appealing to the knowledge of Christ Himself to vindicate all he says. He desires the Ephesians come to the knowledge of the gospel for themselves through the very same Spirit of Christ in whom God has given to all.
This is a good lesson for all of us whose passion is in the depths of the mysteries of the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the mystery of God revealed not to a select few, but in plain sight like a shining beacon on a hilltop that is so high, the whole world can see. We can draw out the fact of the Incarnation of God almighty from the wider context of the Scriptures. In addition, we can draw on the fathers close to the time of the Apostles to help us understand where some people go wrong and why they go wrong where, like Paul, they appeal to Scripture along with the appeal to the witness of the Spirit of Christ as a vindication to all they said. It is not as if we are pointing to the fathers themselves. We point to the very same Person they are pointing to for the very same reasons. Jesus is the Source for all the ways and works of God who came to us as Man.
In our endeavour to convey this beautiful truth, we do not teach in such a way that we expect people to heed and submit to us. Every single person we share the gospel with is in the very same boat as we are. We all have our blind-spots. Jesus Christ is the only Source for the church for which it derives its very life. The rest of humanity is in second place. Jesus Christ is the only Human Being who does not suffer the blind-spots of fallen humanity. Though we may spend years and years of study gaining accreditation upon accreditation to try and gain some authority on the gospel, we still end up in the very same place as the rest of humanity as second place to Jesus Christ. There is always the danger of even the most qualified to have an agenda that might misrepresent the true meaning of Jesus Christ. Gaining the highest of qualifications does not in anyway remove the blind-spot. At the end of whatever conversation we have regarding the gospel, Jesus Christ ultimately must be our conclusion and the corrective touchstone for whatever it is we say. We must direct people back to the One who has no blind-spot. He is the only one who can see the Father with such clarity, the rest of us see through blurred glasses.
The academic field can be a gruelling environment to put ideas to the test, reframe our way of thinking and take in new ways of seeing and knowing that we might not have considered before. It goes someway in helping us to see more but it will not remove our blind-spot. Yet, there are many people, if not most Christians, who have never entered into the rigorous discipline of theological study at such a high level. Their unity to Christ and the knowledge available to them is the very same knowledge that has been drawn from the highest levels of study. There are some amazing people in the church who have such crystal clear insights into the things of God and are driven to do such amazing work in the field who have never stepped into any course of any nature. What they know is what the Spirit has revealed to them outside the campuses, the very same Spirit that reveals to us the gold nuggets we strike in our quest for the truth. However, we find there are many people who have found the very same nuggets outside the campuses, ie 24 carat inside the campus and 24 carat outside the campus. The revelation outside of a campus is of equal value to the revelation inside the campus.
There are some who have undertaken intense tertiary study following a particular tradition and have been accredited on their insights into their traditions. After many years in the field they have encountered the Gospel of Christ where everything they have been taught is now under question. This is the very nature of the Person of Christ. When we allow His light of truth to shine on us, we find He is the One who presses us with perplexing questions. We often have to let what we thought go and start all over again. This can be an earth shattering and enormously painful thing for us to go through but necessary.
The Spirit has been poured out on all flesh. Thus we have the Spirit singing the song of the Trinity deep within the being of every single person on this planet. What we endeavour to do is to sing in tune and in time with the Spirit who points us to the Person of Christ. As we grow and learn from Christ we start to recognise the distinct rhythm of truth. We find as we communicate the truth of Christ, others start to recognise this rhythm and tune and want to join in on this song. Others might recognise the tune but are wary of joining in because it questions the very foundation of what they are holding onto. This fear often drowns out the music of the Spirit and the response is less than favourable.
Bruce Wauchope is often at pains to ask people to put what he shares to the test by listening to what the heart is telling them. However, he also warns that it will do a demolition job on the mind. This is also the approach of Perichoresis in general both here and the USA. We believe this approach is undergirded by the New Covenant outlined In Jeremiah 31 and in Hebrews 8:10-12;
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
“And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
“For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is the place where our being and His being unite and become one. It is where the heart and the mind are unified with the heart and mind of the Father, Son and Spirit. This was planned before the foundation of the world that God would make Himself known as the Man Jesus Christ and this knowledge made available to every single human being. We all should be very mindful of verse 11, ‘And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ For all will know Me, From the least to the greatest of them,’ giving us equal honour, regardless of how much we know other than the Person of Jesus Christ. The bottom line is if we know Him and know that we are known by Him, we need not know more than this.
Those like myself who choose to study in greater depth must be reminded of how the New Covenant applies to all people, ‘For all will know Me, From the least to the greatest of them‘, and consider that regardless of how well qualified we are, it is not up to us to dictate how the Lord will be known. Most of my colleagues and myself are acutely aware that even though we collectively have very high qualifications and decades of study, we still have our blind spots. At best anyone of us can only try to get in rhythm of the Spirit and sing His song of all-powerful love and trust that He is the One who will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf so that their heart will hear the very beauty of what we hear.