Part 1 – The Heavenly Vision
This article is inspired by the upcoming ebook with the same title… look for it soon!
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Eph 1:18)
“So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision,” (Act 26:19)
Have you noticed lately how popular movies in 3-D have become? You would have to be living in a cave to have missed it. It seems that almost every action movie now comes in two formats: 2-D and 3-D. The 3-D movies are more expensive to watch and you have to wear those funky 3-D glasses. I don’t like those glasses because they usually hurt my eyes and give me a headache! But at any rate, it’s interesting that 3-D is now all the rage. Why do you think that is?
Because we all want to see things with more depth!
Let’s admit it. We live in an age when life carries very little meaning and very little depth. People and activities are very shallow and most are willing to settle for the quick “fix” and feeling good for the moment. Relationships are a joke, a mere means to the end of feeling good. Sex is a sport. Community life has all but crumbled and very few take marriage seriously any more.
But what about what GOD wants?
A Shallow Christ
The Spirit of God is moving upon His people to cause them to hunger for a deeper revelation and experience of Jesus Christ. All over the world people are searching for something deeper, wider, and higher of Him and His Church. They are realizing that they have had a very shallow vision of Christ. A Christ who is only one dimensional. A Christ who looks good on paper!
And yet God wants us to see and experience a Christ who is many splendored, many sided, and multi-dimensional. A Christ who is without limits and without borders. A Christ who is without a horizon! A Christ who has more depth than we can ever imagine! Why can’t we see this Christ? What is hindering us from seeing and experiencing this all encompassing Christ?
Filters and Agendas
There are mainly two things that get in way from us seeing Him clearly. I have written on “filters” in more detail elsewhere. Filters are the spectacles that we wear when we are a part of an agenda. An “agenda” is an emphasis that comes from a specific movement or religious system. It can be any religious system. These filters and agendas can be good things, even godly things, but they cause us to lose our focus on the whole Person and Life of Jesus Christ. When we take a “slice” of Christ and blow it up out of proportion, that is an agenda and resulting filter. It will then cause us to miss seeing all that Christ is because we are “majoring in minors”. We get lost in the trees and lose sight of the Forrest, who is Christ. Then, it becomes about “things” and “its” instead of Christ Himself.
“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” (Col 1:18)
God will begin stripping away all of these filters and agendas that will get in the way of our full vision of His eternal purpose. Of course, we must cooperate with this work. We see a good example of this in the life of Peter when he walked with Jesus.
“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Mat 16:21-25)
This is a good example of an agenda causing “tunnel vision” through a filter. Peter had the messianic agenda which was that the Messiah was coming to defeat the Romans and setup Israel as a physical/political kingdom. But Jesus told him that he was only interested in man’s agenda and not God’s. He called this satanic!
Apprehended by the Heavenly Vision
When Paul appeared before King Agrippa he told the king his story of his first encounter of the crucified, resurrected, ascended and glorified Christ. He then makes a startling statement:
“So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision,”
He declares to the king that this heavenly vision was the governing factor throughout his whole life! It was a vision that demanded obedience. And boy did he ever pay a high cost to obey this all encompassing vision! But what is this vision and how does it affect all of us?
“And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (Act 26:15)
What an incredible Q&A session! Saul asks for the identity of this Lord who just knocked him down and struck him blind. And He answers with “I am the One you are persecuting!” If this isn’t a statement of the oneness of Christ and His Church then I don’t know what is! This is how Jesus introduces Himself to Saul. This is the very beginning of his revelation of Christ. Who is this Christ? He is a Person who is the Head of a corporate Body.
To further this revelation God sends a brother by the name of Ananias to Paul as he waits for the Lord in Damascus. Have you ever wondered why God did it this way? He could have just healed Paul directly without human involvement. But that would not further the heavenly vision of God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 1&3). So instead he sends a man to lay his hands on Paul to receive his sight. And the first thing that Paul sees when he once again opens his eyes is a BROTHER! A member of the Body of Christ! That is absolutely stunning to me.
“But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you” (Act 26:16)
This refers to the further progress of the vision and revelation of Christ. God was going to reveal even more to Paul about His Son and His eternal purpose. This would include his time in Arabia and Antioch. And we get to read some of that revelation in the letters of Paul to the churches!
“rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” (Act 26:17-18)
Interesting that God says that He would rescue Paul from both the Jews AND the Gentiles! This is referring to the new race, the one new man, the body of Christ that Paul so incredibly shares in Ephesians chapter two.
This heavenly vision is also a calling for Paul to be sent to all men to open their eyes. So that others might receive the heavenly vision! So that we all might enter into the very same vision that Paul received. A vision that governed his whole life and cost him everything. A vision so awesome and glorious that it knocked him down and blinded him to all else. A vision that caused him to count everything else as loss for the sake of gaining this Christ.
The heavenly vision is nothing less than God’s eternal purpose that Paul writes about in Ephesians and Colossians. It is that this all-encompassing, all-inclusive, full bodied, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, many splendored corporate Christ (Head and Body) would be fully expressed in and to all realms!
May we all be fully invested in such a heavenly vision as this!