DUPLICATED with Beholding
beheld the Lord always before my face" (Acts 2:25).
The last part of that quotation
could rightly define the nature and object of the ministry of
this little paper.
Not to propagate a teaching as
such; not to constitute a new community; not to support a
particular 'movement'; but truly and solely to bring and keep the
Lord Jesus in view in ever-growing fulness: that is its object.
It seeks to be occupied with the far-reaching purpose of God
concerning His Son, Jesus our Lord.
In this connection, and
according to the above quotation from David, it is impressive and
instructive to note what a great influence on life the matter of
seeing, or beholding, has.
It can be truly said that a
great deal of what we are, and therefore of the effect that we
have in this world, is the result of our seeing. There is much
truth in the saying that we become like that upon which our eyes
are mainly focused. This can be seen in national characteristics.
The arid, austere, hard, cold, and colourless regions of the
world produce a hard, austere and matter-of-fact type of people.
The colourful, verdant, soft, warm and fertile realms, where
nature has not to be coerced but only guided, produce colourful
and easygoing people with more artistic and sentimental natures.
Small and restricted surroundings produce small minds, with
limited interests and understanding. The dwellers in the spheres
of far distances and massive dimensions are venturesome, bold,
and generous, with enterprise almost audacious. This is a general
rule with occasional and particular modifications or variations.
It points to the effect on an individual or a community,
consciously or unconsciously, of that which is continually before
The Bible takes much account of
this fact and carries it over to all its parallels in the
spiritual life. Indeed, it puts every stage and phase of the
Christian life upon the basis of seeing.
The initiation or beginning of
the Christian life is the result of 'beholding the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world' (John 1:29).
There were various objects of
sacrifice in the great typological system in Israel, but the lamb
was the centre of all. Their history as a nation began with the
Passover lamb. They were ever and always reminded of that
beginning by the yearly Passover. They looked upon the lamb as
bearing their sin and judgment, although itself 'without spot or
blemish', and knew that it was God's lamb pointed out and
provided for them to look upon.
The New Testament brings the
Lamb of God into view and calls for beholding. That word means
more than 'take a look', 'glance your eyes toward Him'. It means,
'fasten your gaze upon Him'. It is the gaze of need, of a quest;
of desperation, if you will.
me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 45:22).
Then the Bible
places upon the same basis the whole matter of our progressive
we are changed into the same image" (2 Cor. 3:18).
It is not an effort to form
some mental picture of Jesus. In the Apostolic writings He is
presented to us, and for us, from various vital standpoints, by
the One who knows Him best and most fully.
In 'Romans', for instance, He
is comprehensively presented as the essential righteousness of
God provided where none can be found otherwise, but without which
there is no hope at all for man or creation.
This is not an introduction to
the books of the New Testament, but a pointer to Him and an
indication as to how, as we are found looking at Him -
not at the writers - an influence upon our character toward His
likeness will follow.
What is true in principle
regarding the beginning and the progress of the Christian life is
also shown to be related to its consummation.
"Beloved, now are we
children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall
be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like
him; for we shall see him even as he is" (1 John 3:2).
There is more that shows that
that final 'beholding' will have a consummating effect in putting
the final touches to the work of 'conforming to His image'. So,
from first to last, our salvation, transformation, and
glorification are vitally related to our eyes, our spiritual
seeing. 'The pure in heart shall see God' (Matt. 5:8).
But, when I set out to pen
these lines, I had other things also in mind. Our eyes are so
much confronted with conditions that are contrary to Christ, and
this constitutes such a battle-ground for our eyes.
The Bible contains much that
shows the deplorable results of the wrong use of the eyes. Think
of Eve, of David, of the ten spies at Kadesh-barnea, of Samson
(who saw a woman to his spiritual undoing, and eventually lost
his physical eyes), and so on.
May it not be that much of that
which is to be deplored in evangelical Christianity is due to
this wrong use of the eyes? Our religious bookshops are
furnished with the sour and bitter fruits of time and energy
spent searching out and 'exposing' the weaknesses, flaws, or
faults of so much that is otherwise of true value. This can
become a predisposition, an obsession, a mania, and a menace.
We look at men, at people. We
look at ministries. We look at Christian work, and in all we mark
the human, and faulty aspects. These become our foci, and the
result is that the really valuable, and - perhaps - much fuller
value, is eclipsed for us by the spot that has become everything
Nothing has escaped this
blighting use of the eyes, even that which has been most of God.
We have known greatly used servants of God having their ministry
cut off from thousands of believers just because of the focusing
upon a deviation - or imagined deviation - in some comparatively
small point, from common acceptance. The decline of ministry in
some of our great conventions can be traced to this very thing.
None would be more jealous for the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth, than we are, but we are equally jealous
that the standard of judgment should be - not tradition, or rigid
systems of men, but - the measure of Christ.
Christ is the criterion, from
first to last; not the judgments of men. Do I - or rather can I -
see the Lord, if I am really looking for Him? If so, that must be
my focal point. If He is there, there is hope for the rest, and I
must leave that with Him.
How easy it is to sing glibly:
'Turn your eyes upon Jesus', and forget that it is always from
'the things of earth'.
"I beheld the Lord always
before my face."
For the sake of everything
precious to Him, may this be true of us!
First published as an Editorial in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, Sep-Oct 1959, Vol 37-5