Victoria Park Christian Centre
Suite 1, 342 Albany Highway, Victoria Park 6100, Western Australia
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” (Psalm 27:8)
As Christians we begin with an incomplete knowledge of the Lord. As we continue through life, we learn more about the divine nature of God. This knowing of God is called our testimony; the account that each of us makes of our knowledge of the Lord. Just as the disciples wrote accounts of their knowing of Jesus, and shared them with others, each time we tell something we have learned about the Lord we are sharing a testimony.
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:1-4
We begin to know the Lord in several ways. Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”(John 14:9). Through learning about the life of Jesus, who himself embodied “the fullness of the godhead,” we can see by what He did and said, what is the nature of God. His words and deeds are detailed in the Gospels, and throughout the New Testament by other authors who shared what they knew and understood of Jesus. Many of the things Jesus said were completely new understandings about God.
When Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” he was communicating two pieces of information that until then had not been clearly understood. First, he was saying that God’s oneness is capable of including a Father and a Son. Later he explained to his disciples about a third member of the godhead, the Holy Spirit. Until then, this knowledge had not been revealed.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Though they were told many times in the writings of the Old Testament that God is a Father, the Jews did not understand the Father part of the godhead. For an example, see Isaiah 63:16. When they read in the scriptures that “the Lord is One,” they had no concept to understand that a One could include Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each time Jesus mentioned some aspect of the divine nature that included Father and Son oneness, the Jews wanted to kill him! Though they had received teaching to prepare them to understand the mystery of God’s nature, they rejected it.
This teaching of Jesus brought important revelation to us. It allows us to be led by God, to understand and receive from God, and to understand our relationship to God, in ways that had been impossible before. Over time we should be growing more in our understanding of the Divine Nature of God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and also to understand more clearly the many qualities of God. It’s similar to the way an artist builds up a sketch for a portrait into a full painting. It starts with an incomplete picture, that contains truth (correct details). Over time, layers of shading and colour complete the portrait. As Paul said, we see through a glass darkly, but eventually we will see God face to face, and then we will know Him in the same depth as He now knows us (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Our testimony is our statement of what we have seen of the Lord. At the beginning of our Christian walk our testimony centers on how we became a Christian. What an astonishing thing it is to be given new life by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross! As we proceed through life we can add to our testimony the many things we have seen of the Lord: his loving relationship with us and others, insights received in prayer and in studying the Bible, and also things we have learned from fellow Christians. Anything we receive in our spirit that is given us by the Holy Spirit is adding to our testimony, and creating a portrait of the Lord and our relationship to Him.
When artists create a painting or sculpture of a person they use knowledge of the human form and manipulate it to emphasise different things. This is how a painting can convey a clear message. For example, in Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David, he made David’s hands and head appear larger, because he wanted to create a monumental feeling of strength. When we are creating our testimony, which is a portrait of the Lord, the picture might at first be distorted. In the early days we will perhaps be central in the picture. This is the case in the famous painting “Forgiven,” by Thomas Blackshear. In this picture the sinner is in the centre, filling the scene. It’s the suffering we are led to concentrate on. It represents the moment of realising that we are forgiven while we are yet sinners. As Christians we must move beyond this understanding to seek a full representation that includes an understanding of the fullness of the godhead. Otherwise we tend to be earth-centered, human-centered, and not God-centered.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2)
To know God in all fullness, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is to be changed, to love as God loves. This is what Jesus prayed about in his last night on earth:
“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:25)
It is in the nature of God to include others, to draw others into oneness with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a great mystery how the Holy Spirit directs us to Jesus, and Jesus directs us to the Father, and all the other ways God inter-relates with us. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring that revelation to each of us, as we seek to know the Lord in our walk with Him.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:12-15)
As we seek to see the Lord more clearly we will be blessed to gaze on the truly beautiful: God in all his glory.
This post is an excerpt from a sermon given at the Perth Healing Ministries Chapel on 9 April 2016. For more information on our services or ministry, please use the contact form below.