Blog – ChristNOW https://christnow.com My WordPress Blog Thu, 14 Oct 2021 10:13:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.9 “Christophobia” or “Christ-Utopia”? https://christnow.com/christophobia-or-christ-utopia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=christophobia-or-christ-utopia https://christnow.com/christophobia-or-christ-utopia/#respond Wed, 13 Oct 2021 02:00:40 +0000 http://christnow.com/?p=8349 Why is it that so many in American churches flee from intimacy with their Lord and Savior. David Bryant offers a compelling alternative perspective.

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“Christophobia”
or
“Christ-Utopia”?

[Editor’s Note: In today’s blog, David Bryant confronts a curious paradox: why so many in American churches flee from intimacy with their Lord and Savior. Could the busyness of your Christian walk (all the activities, events, even Bible studies) be providing you with an excuse for avoiding increased intimacy with the Lord of heaven and earth you claim to serve? Join David as he offers a compelling perspective.] 

At January’s 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Bishop Vincent Matthews, leader of a predominantly African-American denomination, told tens of thousands standing before him: “There are a lot of Christophobic people in this nation. Christophobic people who fight against the Gospel.”

After hearing that word, “Christophobic,” I consulted my dictionary where I found “Phobia: A persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.”

I wondered: Might there be a measure of “Christophobia” not only in our nation but also inside our churches?

What came to my mind next was the research conducted by one of America’s largest evangelical, Bible-teaching congregations. To their dismay, they learned that 80% of their 20,000 members regarded intimacy with Christ as their greatest fear in the Christian life!

Afraid of intimacy with Christ! We could call that “Christophobia.”

Unfortunately, in my years of travel into many streams of the Church, I have found far too many of God’s people struggling with a “persistent, irrational fear” of God’s Son that “leads to a compelling desire to avoid” getting too deeply involved with him.

Are you wrestling in any way with Christophobia? How consistently and intimately engaged are you with the King of Glory as the King of Glory? Are you holding back and avoiding going deeper with him?

How about the company of Christians where you worship every Sunday?

Maybe we need to explore this phenomenon a little more closely.

Utopia Instead of Phobia

The reason this issue is so important is that Paul characterizes a healthy, vibrant church (or individual Christian) as one that is lovingly, boldly, unconditionally, unhesitatingly absorbed with Jesus and going further with him as a way of life. It’s portrayed like this in Ephesians 4:

. . . in the unity of the common faith and common knowledge of the Son of God, we arrive at real maturity—that measure of development which is meant by the “fullness of Christ” . . . we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head. For it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love (PHILLIPS).

What Paul writes about in this passage is what I call “Christ-Utopia.” These verses describe what it looks like when Jesus has full sway in and among his people. This everyday “utopia” was defined by one early church father like this:

When we’re living in Jesus, all the way to heaven is heaven!

That’s the kind of utopia promised to every believer and every Body of Christ.

Thus, a choice is set before Christians and congregations alike: “Christophobia” or “Christ-Utopia”?

In other words, either we find ways to avoid or neglect getting more intimate with Christ (because we know so little of his greatness and glory that we are not enticed to draw near to him), or we choose the utopia that can be ours right now as we:

. . . have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3, NIV).

Utopia Now!

What I call a Christ-Utopia isn’t some distant dream. It is already at hand, waiting for us to experience it. It is found in the person of Christ himself, inhabiting his people:

. . . the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come (Colossians 1, PHILLIPS).

Christ within us assures us of Heaven’s full provision, whatever our situation or condition. Whatever more we might seek from the Father is already within reach through the Son who reigns among us. Always in the midst of his people, he offers resurrection victory to supply the needs of his people and fulfill the mission of his people. Utopia now.

Jesus never comes among our churches casually. He comes upon us to revive us, empower us, and redeploy us in his kingdom purposes. Utopia now.

Take note of this as well:

The Savior who operates among us today by his Spirit is the same Cosmic Ruler who currently is flooding the universe with his glory (Ephesians 4) while simultaneously filling his Church with his supremacy (Ephesians 1).

Furthermore, the foretold unending revelation of his majestic splendor, which one day we will witness at the grand climax of history, is being previewed here and now among God’s people in all kinds of preliminary expressions. Utopia now.

To say it another way: We may not yet experience the quantity of the Consummation, but today he unleashes within us the quality of it. That’s why, for example, we say that having already cleansed us from the guilt of sin, Jesus now works among us to deliver us, day by day, from the power of sin (1 John 2) until the hour he comes back to forever eliminate the presence of sin (1 John 3).

Not only is Christ-Utopia our destiny but also a significant foretaste of it awaits this generation. This will become the clearest indication that a Christ Awakening movement is unfolding in our churches—the revival for which multitudes are praying at this very hour.

Christophobic No More

Sadly, many in our nation, including in our churches, remain Christophobic. However, there are also pockets of believers starting to wake up to Christ for all he is—refusing to hold back from him anymore, but rather determined to go after a greater intimacy with him. With renewed passion, they are eagerly heeding the call of Scripture:

Pursue the things over which Christ presides . . .
Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ . . .
Your old life is dead.
Your new life, which is your real life . . . is with Christ in God.

He is your life. 
(Colossians 3, The Message)

NOTE: This blog post was originally posted on March 15, 2017. But its focus and content are more relevant now than when it was first published.

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.


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Puppet Master or Chess Master? https://christnow.com/puppet-master-or-chess-master/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=puppet-master-or-chess-master https://christnow.com/puppet-master-or-chess-master/#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2021 02:00:57 +0000 https://christnow.com/?p=15108 Puppet Master or Chess Master? How Does King Jesus Reveal His Reign in Your Life?   Like Christians everywhere, I’m sure you find great comfort in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ when you read these words of promise about Jesus in Romans 14 (emphasis added): To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for […]

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Puppet Master or Chess Master?

How Does King Jesus Reveal His Reign in Your Life?

 

Like Christians everywhere, I’m sure you find great comfort in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ when you read these words of promise about Jesus in Romans 14 (emphasis added):

To their own master, servants stand or fall.
And they will stand,
for the master is able to make them stand.

Clearly, for all of us who have been brought out of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13), Jesus is our “master”—in fact, he’s the one and only true “Master of the Universe.” Now and forever.

What’s more, Christians agree a day is coming when every knee in all of creation will bow before Jesus, as every tongue in heaven and earth declares him to be Lord of all (Philippians 2:9-11).

Redeemed by the Lamb of God, the Church confesses that both this day and on that glorious day, we have

but one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things came
and through whom we live.
(1 Corinthians 8, emphasis added)

However, there is one facet concerning the lordship of Christ about which there remains considerable debate—and even serious division—among believers. It concerns this question:

HOW FULLY does Jesus exercise his supremacy
in all of life?

Even more specifically, we might ask this:

HOW FULLY does he display his reign
and involve himself in my daily life with him?

Stated more broadly: How much of the history of the world has been determined by the decisions and actions of the human race and how much has been determined by God’s decisive, dominant discharging of his sovereign plan for the ages through the person, work, and reign of his Son, Christ Jesus?

Stated more narrowly: How much of my life is determined by my own choices and responses? On the other hand, how much is shaped by the way God takes charge of my life to advance through Christ his prior purposes for my life that were set in place ages ago?

Essentially, such questions suggest two options to choose from—two perspectives over which the Church has debated for centuries and, unfortunately, sometimes split apart. Sometimes violently.

However, as we go forward into more of Christ, we each must decide. Every person must render a verdict that brings significant implications for how one loves Jesus, trusts him, follows him, serves him, and proclaims him.

My goal in this blog post is to simplify these two options for you by exploring them as two metaphors: PUPPET MASTER vs. CHESS MASTER.

As I do, ask yourself: Which one comes closest to how I currently view and value the supremacy of Christ in my own walk with him?

OPTION #1

The reigning Son of God acts as your

PUPPET MASTER

Throughout Church history, one camp of sincere Christians has held to the conclusion that Jesus displays his supremacy most fully in the lives of his followers—and in the course of the entire world—by an approach that most resembles a puppeteer.

This metaphor pictures the reign of King Jesus as comprehensively engaged with, in command of, and dominate over every detail of every facet of every bit of human existence and experience. He is thoroughly in charge. Nothing lies outside what he wills.

One passage, among many, that leans toward this image is Ephesians 1:20-23, which says:

God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (emphasis added).

That is to say, God has chosen to display the absolute nature of his power by appointing his Son to be sovereign Lord, given all authority in heaven and earth. The Son embodies and invokes God’s final say, demonstrating divine omnipotence as his reign overrules and overrides everything and everyone.

In other words, unbounded in grace and mercy, with superior wisdom and insight, claiming unmitigated omnipotence and unyielding righteous resolve—in keeping with God’s redemptive purposes sealed from all eternity—Jesus continually “pulls the strings” (as it were) in terms of how we and all earth’s peoples live and move and have our beings—past, present, and future.

Therefore, whatever unfolds in my life and yours—including every decision, every action, every word out of our mouths, and every direction and outcome of our daily journeys—comes to pass under his sweeping jurisdiction, his undistracted supervision, and his unabated control.

Despite how “free” we may think we are, Jesus rules from his throne every minute, ordaining and orchestrating in innumerable ways, most of which we are unaware.

Option #1 suggests that the best image to capture this phenomenon is to envision a puppet on a stage. The little guy seems to be acting on its own. But what the audience doesn’t see are the strings that an invisible puppeteer behind the curtain is tugging to make the figurine look alive.

In somewhat the same style, our Lord Jesus Christ fulfills his kingly role as a master decider, composer, and conductor of whatever is going on anywhere at any time with anyone—including what is transpiring around me as well as inside me.

Just as he does throughout the whole earth, the Son of God exercises his supremacy in my sphere of existence so fully that nothing happens to me or with me except by his desire, his design, his decree, and with his direct, “hands-on” involvement.

Moment by moment, all peoples and nations, all the animations in creation, all events large and small in human enterprises, the flow of history as well as its culmination—ALL THINGS, whether personal or cosmic in nature—take their cue from a divinely predetermined, predesigned, and preordained script written with our Redeemer as the main theme and the central character.

Many would point to these verses in Colossians 1 to back up that conclusion:

We look at this Son and see . . . God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment . . . He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. (Colossians 1:15-18, The Message, emphasis added).

In other words, the entire storyline was laid out by the triune God before anything was ever made. Now, in time and space, God’s program is being implemented perfectly and unrelentingly under the sovereign sway of the Son of God—page by page, word for word, according to the sacred, ages-old playbook.

Reflective of the way a puppet master can make a marionette dance a particular jig by how he raises and lowers the strings attached to its limbs, even so, Jesus, as the Lord of your life, is the real explanation for how you end up “dancing before the Lord.”

The Puppet Master in Scripture

Let’s look at some additional biblical support. Paul confessed to the Corinthians:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10, emphasis added).

In Ephesians 2, Paul writes this about all of us:

God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved . . . and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (vs. 4-9, emphasis added).

Or again, in Romans 8:28-32 (Phillips, emphasis added), it says:

Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons. In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The show of all-inclusive sovereignty expressed in these passages seems to be the kind Jesus frequently highlights in the book of Revelation—such as his sweeping claim to operate currently and actively as the ruler of all the kings of the earth (1:5) or when he wraps up the drama of the consummation of history by saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (22:13). He’s there at the start, he’s there at the finish line, and he’s there to ensure the outcome by managing every moment in between.

As Jesus informed his disciples in the upper room, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis added). That appears to be an indisputable word on the subject, doesn’t it?

Scores of other such passages in the Old and New Testaments suggest a similar interpretation of how God displays his sovereignty through the lordship of Jesus—verses that cause some to liken Jesus’ reign to something akin to a puppet master.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “puppet master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

On the other hand, you might want to consider this:

OPTION #2

The reigning Son of God acts as your

Chess Master

Other Christians choose to live out their walk with Jesus in the security of trusting him to be for them a chess master rather than a puppet master.

In other words, for many Jesus followers, the reality of his supremacy is revealed for them most often by how he is able to combine a measure of their own freedom of choice and action with his ultimate claim to hold unswerving sway in all things, assuring that his intended outcome for all peoples will prevail in the end.

When our lives or our world starts to get off track, they are sure Jesus knows how to “recalculate” an alternative, like your car’s GPS does for you all the time, in order to get life back on the road so that all things end up at their ordained destination—set at his feet for final disposal.

They believe that as Lord of all, Jesus is perfectly able to anticipate and then strategically engage for his own glory every action we take. In fact, in his supremacy, he has the inexhaustible capacity to do so in the face of the countless motives and moves made by people worldwide minute by minute.

Those who hold to Option #2 envision Jesus taking charge across the earth the way a world champion chess master takes charge of a chess game—and gradually takes mastery over his opponent in the process and defeats him.

It is a known fact that a world-class chess player reaches his or her superior level of expertise over many years as they become more and more proficient in the ability to foresee and then outfox their opponent’s game plan—incredibly within the opening gambits of the match.

Furthermore, most champions can predict their opponent’s intended moves as far as ten moves or more past where the game rests at any given moment. This is due to the champ’s incisive intelligence plus decades of study, preparation, and experience.

A chess master comes to the game confident that before long he will be able to compel the other player to move his chessman precisely where the champ intended them to wind up from the beginning—even though his opponent was free to place his pieces where he thought best all along the way.

If such an extraordinary talent can be achieved by frail, finite human minds, consider this:

  • How much more should this be true for the Son of God who is exalted to the throne of heaven, given all authority in heaven and on earth, in whom everything finds its ultimate place in his forcefully advancing kingdom?
  • How much more is our Lord Jesus supremely capable of foreknowing and preplanning and outmaneuvering everything and everyone at every moment, in order to achieve a perfect outcome of every good plan and purpose God established in his Son from eternity past—never threatened in the least by the liberty he gives us to make choices and take actions for a time?
  • How much more will the King of kings gain the victory, in matters large or small, simply by foreseeing and outwitting every real and potential action and reaction in the universe—including all desires of every heart, all decisions of every will, and all actions of every being?
  • How much more, in his infinite, omnipotent wisdom, should the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” established on his cosmic throne, be able to stay ahead of and on top of the combined sum of every desire, decision, and deed in every part of the earth—doing so while simultaneously outthinking, outflanking, and outsmarting every “play” from the other side thus causing creation and history—and me!—to keep flowing toward the fulfillment of his everlasting blueprint?

Don’t miss this core assumption about the “chess master” view of Jesus’ lordship: Those who hold to Option #2 believe all of his non-negotiable engagements with us are going on while at the same time God allows those made in his image—believers and unbelievers alike, sinners that we all are—to retain a measure of freedom to think, choose, and act according to the dictates of our hearts and consciences.

Of course, I state this with the caveat that “everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34)—which means our fallen human race has only a measure of “freedom”—no more than the limited prerogatives any slave has who must ultimately give an account to their owner at the end of the day.

The Chess Master in Scripture

Again, there are scores of passages to buttress this position. Let’s look at two Old Testament passages that the New Testament quotes as fulfilled in the reign of Christ today. They seem to point to the “chess master” metaphor.

In Psalm 2, we read about rulers and nations “freely” choosing to rebel against God’s sovereignty. But God laughs at their efforts because he knows he has other “moves” up his sleeves (so to speak) that will outmaneuver these sinners and finalize things just as he wants them to be under the reign of his Son—the Chess Master. Here’s a portion (emphasis added):

The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs . . .
saying, “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain” . . .
I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron . . .
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction . . .
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Notice the combination: There’s a measure of free choice—to rebel or to return—on one side of the “chessboard” combined with the confidence in heaven that finally everything will come out exactly as God has intended through and for his Son.

Or, look at Psalm 110, the most frequently quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It says in part (emphasis added):

The LORD says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
The LORD will extend your mighty
scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.

Here we see the balance between Jesus’ sovereignty (as the one God has set at his right hand to reign, which began with Jesus’ ascension) and the ability of others to make choices on their own—whether to resist the king or to “willingly” join his army.

Notice, at the same time, how competently and confidently the King prevails. There’s a process in motion that ultimately will make his enemies fully submit (footstool). Until that process has worked its way through, our Lord Jesus sustains its forward movement every day, not by dominating or manipulating the multitude of moves by the opposition but rather by carrying out his kingdom’s purpose “in the midst” of an active revolt that he allows to freely continue for a season.

Finally, observe that those who see the winning side of the battle, rally to the king, freely choosing to sign up and get involved with him—the Chess Master.

As with Option #1, there are many other passages that would seem to suggest that Option #2, the metaphor of a chess master, provides a credible biblical view of the supremacy of Christ worth carefully weighing. Here’s one more, found in Philippians 3:12-15 (emphasis added):

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . . . I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus . . . And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “chess master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

Would you like to know
which option I chose and why?

For sure, these two perspectives create genuine tension for Jesus followers. Eventually, here’s how I resolved that tension for myself.

As best as I can determine—after carefully weighing the wealth of Bible passages for both options—for me, it comes down to one major issue:

Which view of the supremacy of Christ
appears from my perspective to bring
the GREATEST POSSIBLE GLORY to God’s Son?

Is it that Jesus can and does control everything in unchallenged totality—with nothing transpiring over which he does not retain the final say every day, over which he is not in absolute, unimpeded, all-encompassing control—in order to activate and complete God’s eternal purposes, down to every last detail?

Or does Jesus gain even greater glory because

  • In exercising the full extent of his supremacy, our Lord Jesus can and does outthink, outwit, outmaneuver, and outplay the actions and even the secret intentions of every resident in heaven and on earth?
  • He does this while at the same time honoring the dignity of those created in God’s image by allowing them to fully and freely express themselves to whatever limits fallen sinners can as well as to whatever limits redeemed believers are permitted?
  • Ultimately, he prevails simply by creatively pursuing and achieving every single desire and design and decree of God’s heart, securing every triumph of his kingdom-focused purposes, prophecies, and promises—while also honoring those created in God’s image to exercise a level of freedom (dead in sin as we are) that expresses some of the wonders of that image that remain?
  • He does all of this not only for the whole of creation but also, in fullest measure, for every facet of a believer’s life and destiny in him?

Many years ago, given that alternate outlook, I concluded that Option #2—Jesus as our chess master—brings the GREATEST GLORY to him.

The very thought of that image fills me with wholehearted praise to the living God! I’m called to adore and serve an awesomely majestic, yet unconditionally compassionate Savior, who takes me (and all humankind) so seriously that he refuses to regard our relationship as something “robotic”!

Instead, he chooses a relationship to us where he works for us and with us—and at times around us and ahead of us, and even, as needed, against us.

Freely he engages with us each day with an eye to where the “chess match” will come out for the whole creation (Revelation 21-22). Just as it will be in the Consummation, he wants his interactions with us even now to exhibit a significant measure of respect, reciprocity, cordiality, cooperation, collaboration, and community.

Yet, through it all, we must never forget: At no time, then or now, will the Lord Jesus Christ forfeit one inch of his permanent position as supreme redeemer, heir, and ruler of all things, who never ceases to execute universal authority over a dominion of which there will be no end (Isaiah 9).

So now, it’s over to YOU!

Have you made a choice yet?  #1 or #2? Puppet master or chess master?

To be candid, I have dear Christian friends who would choose Option #1 and do so because they believe that conclusion is the one that will bring the greatest glory to Jesus. Maybe you are one of them. If so, please know that I honor and value that conclusion as well.

Yet, for all of us, let me restate the truth I expressed earlier:

In the end, in order to go forward into more of Christ, each of us must render a verdict. The fact is that how you define the way Christ exercises his supremacy in all things carries significant, lifelong ramifications for how you respond to him day by day—for how you go about loving him, trusting him, following him, serving him, and sharing him with others.

Happily, both “camps” do agree about one major response we can share in together: We always can unite to exult in and praise our glorious Savior King while we work hand in hand to exalt his name and spread his fame throughout a world that desperately needs to submit to his redeeming reign—today more than ever.

As you weigh the options for yourself, take a look at this 11-minute video clip from The Christ Institutes here, where I share my thoughts on “What does the supremacy of Christ really involve?”

In this short video clip, I define a high view of Jesus in fresh ways that I’m certain every Jesus follower—whichever option they choose—will want to celebrate. Together let’s shout “Hallelujah!” to our reigning King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and surrender our lives daily to him!

NOTE: This blog post was originally posted on August 04, 2020. But its focus and content are more relevant now than when it was first published.

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.


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Amazing Free Book Offer: Christ Is All! https://christnow.com/free-book-offer-christ-is-all/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=free-book-offer-christ-is-all https://christnow.com/free-book-offer-christ-is-all/#comments Sun, 26 Sep 2021 05:36:37 +0000 https://christnow.com/fully-alive-to-the-glory-of-christ-copy/ An offer from Salvatore Anthony Luiso Dear friends, if you are a regular visitor to ChristNow.com, you may know that this website is a product of David Bryant and his ministry PROCLAIM HOPE! (You can learn about him and his ministry HERE.) However, you may not know that David has written several books. (You can learn about them HERE.) One […]

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An offer from Salvatore Anthony Luiso

Dear friends, if you are a regular visitor to ChristNow.com, you may know that this website is a product of David Bryant and his ministry PROCLAIM HOPE! (You can learn about him and his ministry HERE.)

However, you may not know that David has written several books. (You can learn about them HERE.)

One of his books is entitled Christ Is All! Its title is a quotation from Colossians 3:11 with an added exclamation point.

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:11, NIV, emphasis added)

The original hardback version of this book has the subtitle A Joyful Manifesto on the Supremacy of God’s Son. It is 476 pages long and is now available for free in a pdf file HERE. Sections of it are available for free in an audio format (mp3) HERE.

The revised paperback version of Christ Is All! has the subtitle Join in the Joyful Awakening to the Supremacy of God’s Son. It is a condensation of the original and only 176 pages long. Unlike the original, it is not available in an electronic format.

You can learn more about the revised version and download free resources related to its focus—such as a discussion guide for small groups—HERE.

In his ministryand especially in this bookDavid seeks to awaken others to “ALL” of who Christ is.

I believe so strongly in the importance of his mission that I have purchased and am giving copies of the revised version of Christ Is All! as gifts to people who tell me they would read it if they had one.

Would you like to read it?

Will you read it if I give you a copy as a gift in the name of Jesus?

If so,

you are welcome to request one from me

by sending a message to

crosspurposed@yahoo.com.

Please provide your name and a mailing address,
and mention that you learned of this offer from
the ChristNow blog.

(Your mailing address will not be used for any other purpose.)

I charge neither for the book nor its shipping. I want nothing in return for them.

I want Christ and his church to be blessed through Christ Is All! He is worthy! Amen!

At present, I have a few dozen copies of the revised version available. Although I prefer to ship domestically (within the United States), I am willing to consider shipping internationally.

If you would like to get an idea of the unique ways this book looks at Jesus, I suggest you examine a few of David’s articles published on the ChristNow blog (where you are reading this article). He wrote Christ Is All! to be a book to which all Christians can heartily say, “Amen!” 

David and I hope that through the feast found in Christ Is All!, readers will gain a greater, grander, and more wondrous vision of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thereby be informed, inspired, and invigorated to live lovingly, faithfully, and reverently in, through, and for him every day!

It is a book about hope and joy in Jesus!


About the Author

Salvatore Anthony Luiso is a servant of Christ and a research assistant for David Bryant and the ChristNow team. He resides and serves in Williamsburg, Virginia. He has blogs on both Pray.Network and Discipleship.Network at The #ReimagineFORUM. The first version of this article was published there.


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What Does Victory in Jesus Over Cancer Ultimately Look Like? https://christnow.com/what-does-victory-in-jesus-over-cancer-ultimately-look-like/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-does-victory-in-jesus-over-cancer-ultimately-look-like https://christnow.com/what-does-victory-in-jesus-over-cancer-ultimately-look-like/#respond Fri, 24 Sep 2021 02:00:30 +0000 https://christnow.com/fully-alive-to-the-glory-of-christ-copy-copy/ What Does Victory in Jesus Over Cancer Ultimately Look Like? David Bryant This blog post is unlike any I’ve ever written. It is more personal, more intimate. I want to share my “conversation” with a lifelong Christian leader who has battled cancer for many months this year. Her name is Nancy Wilson. This past Sunday morning, she went ahead of […]

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What Does Victory in Jesus
Over Cancer Ultimately Look Like?

David Bryant

This blog post is unlike any I’ve ever written.

It is more personal, more intimate. I want to share my “conversation” with a lifelong Christian leader who has battled cancer for many months this year.

Her name is Nancy Wilson. This past Sunday morning, she went ahead of us to join with a multitude of saints who already surround the throne of the Lamb.

However, just a few weeks ago, she wrote a special letter to me (and to hundreds of other friends) that I now want to pass along to you—along with some reflections I wrote back to her. In a sense, this blog post is a “conversation” between the two of us.

Are you perhaps wrestling with cancer right now—or with any other kind of life-defying challenges? Then come. Listen in on my exchange with Nancy. You’ll find it offers encouragement and hope to any believer anywhere who is suffering.

First of all, you need to meet Nancy Wilson.

I’ve known Nancy Wilson for decades. We often served Jesus together—such as the years long ago when we co-led Concerts of Prayer rallies full of high school students.

Over most of those years, Nancy traveled the globe as an “International Ambassador” for the worldwide student ministry, CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). She also served on the National Editorial Board for ChristNow.com.

Quite honestly, I’ve never known anyone with such a remarkable gift for evangelism. Nancy won thousands to Christ—literally—as she traveled to scores of nations across the earth, sharing Christ everywhere, even among Muslims and Hindus.

Sometime today, take just three minutes to meet her face-to-face with this dynamic video clip she created for us HERE.

You can learn more about her ministry HERE.

During her months-long ordeal with the viciousness of cancer, she kept all of us posted with reports that exploded with the glory of Christ. They were overflowing with her love for him, her commitment to him, her total trust in him, her convictions about his healing power, her complete surrender to his purposes. Reading one of her emails was, in itself, a “worship event” for all of us.

In this post, I want to share what has become her final report—to give you a flavor of her heart and spirit. (This is who she still is!)

That will be followed by two emails that I sent back to my precious friend. In them, you’ll see how I sought to affirm and encourage her in Jesus.

May this exchange bring YOU into a deeper relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ for ALL he is for you and me and Nancy right now.

Nancy’s Final Letter to All of Us

August 28

My beloved friends, family, and precious partners in prayer,

Words cannot express my love and thanksgiving to God for you!!! I have been so blessed by cards, calls, emails, and visits from beloved family and friends—beyond what I can keep up with.

Forgive me for not being able to write personally to you! I have a stack of thank you cards addressed and waiting to write…but mostly, I want you to know YOU ARE A GIFT from God to me!!!

“May they who love you be like the sun
when it rises in its strength.”
(Judges 5:31)

This verse has captured my heart! He gives us strength when we love HIM!!! What a gift from our almighty God and our beloved Jesus!!! I have felt his strength each step of the way, as I have needed HIM in new ways…sometimes needing perseverance or even strength to breathe and walk…but HE has been with me!

Here is an update on how to pray:

  1. Keep my heart fixed on Jesus. He is my strength and song in the midst of the growing symptoms of pain and difficulty!
  2. I had my appointment with Dr. Holloway, who has been such a blessing in my life! He is very honest with me with the progression of the illness (until that is, that Jesus steps in to heal me!!!) This is my main request! He has healed me by His stripes (Isaiah 53:4-5).

    “He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree,
    that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness;
    by whose stripes you were healed.”
    (1 Peter 2:24)

  3. Pray I will continue to pray with believing faith for HIS miracle-working Blood that has accomplished our healing, in whatever way HE plans. I am fixing my eyes on JESUS, the author and perfector of our faith! I’m so glad He is my intimate partner in this faith journey!!! I truly love HIM more now than ever, as I cling to HIM for everything. And HE IS FAITHFUL!!!
  4. My breathing is difficult these days since the cancer has spread to my lungs. Pray with me boldly to command this cancer to leave in JESUS’ Name! It has no place in my body, so I am proclaiming HIS Word over my mind, heart, and body—to keep in faith for HIS miracle healing! (like Lazarus…at the perfect time!)

Finally, here is a poem I wrote that expresses my heart during this time.

My New Season with YOU
How could I have known
All that would be shown?
Your will is a mystery,
Calling out my destiny.
Like Apostle Paul, I am unsure,
Your presence is my allure.
More of YOU, My Beloved KING—
This is what makes me sing!
Today I surrender to Your will
As I wait and remain still.
For who am I to know your plan,
I only know I’m in YOUR hand!
What peace and joy is given me
As I wait on tiptoes, soon to see…

—————————————————–

My reflections back to Nancy the next day
about her suffering

August 29

Dear precious Nancy, 

As I read your stirring poem just now—as well as all that you shared today—what struck me so strongly was this:

I’ve never known anyone in my many decades on this earth—anywhere I’ve traveled throughout the world—who has magnified our Lord Jesus as you have during your long journey with cancer. 

And no more so than in what you wrote today—what you poured out to us and into us today.

That’s why I say that the life-giving, triumphant, all-healing, all-transforming, all-consuming, all-loving power of Jesus Christ is being dynamically magnified in you. 

In fact, it is more than that. So much more.

The PERSON of our living Redeemer himself, the victorious Son of God, is being magnified through you in this hour in ways I have never experienced personally from anyone—until now.

“Magnified” means enlarged, exalted, ennobled, expanded, amplified, intensified, glorified.

That’s what Paul is talking about when he writes this from a Roman dungeon:

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as always
Christ will be magnified in my body,
whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
(Philippians 1:20-21, emphasis mine)

The reality of our reigning King in his capacity to fully heal and restore the entire universe is being displayed through your weakness—through YOU, dear Nancy—right here and now! Displayed before many. To his everlasting praise.

Dear friend: Do you see what is happening? Do you see how fully our Lord Jesus Christ IS—at this very moment—extending his victories for you and through you? Do you see how miraculous this is? 

The miracle? Your own passion for Christ in this hour has made me see my Lord and love him and desire him and give myself to him like never before. 

Yes, that’s what you’ve done—that’s what the Spirit of God has done through you—even in the midst of your great physical suffering. How can I ever sufficiently thank you, sweet sister of mine!

—————————————————–

My follow-up reflections to Nancy two days later

August 31

Hello again, Nancy!

I just read your latest post, in which you wrote: 

I just remembered this video with a wonderful testimony for my vision for the next generation. I wanted to share it with you because YOU have been so important in my life—YOU are someone who has invested in this next generation. I love you so much and am forever grateful that God brought you into my life. View my video HERE.

I’m so glad we filmed that video back in 2015. Your testimony in that single clip—your heart for Jesus that came through so powerfully six years ago—truly stands the test of time. 

And that’s mainly because YOU and your decisive devotion to the King of Glory have stood the test of time—and even more, at this hour, the “test of cancer.”

In fact, as I wrote you two days ago, the essence of the testimony revealed in that video is now actually being magnified by how you are walking out the current journey you are on.

Robyne and I are standing with you, dear one. I truly feel as if we are “there” with you in the hospice. Why? Because what you’ve been sharing with us in your prayer reports reached out and drew us and wrapped us up in the undiminished vibrancy of your trust in the Father in the thick of all that’s happening with you right now.

We, too, feel the extraordinary tension you are feeling and writing about—which Paul also experienced, as he wrote in Philippians 1:

I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Look at Paul’s own struggle in the face of possible death. Scheduled for execution, he greatly desired freedom from prison in order to press on with his mission. Therefore, he wanted everyone to join him in asking for such a miraculous “deliverance” (his term). Paul felt so confident God would grant that request because there was still much more mission to fulfill. 

But at the same time—notice in the very next sentence—he also confesses that whatever lies ahead for him, whichever way things turn, it is his assurance that he will have no reason to be ashamed or disappointed. Thus, with boldness, he declares that “now as always Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” Whether by life or by death.

Just as you have done, he comes at his threatening circumstances with a dynamic, triumphant faith because what he was most confident about was this: that whatever the outcome—life or death—HE WOULD NOT BE ASHAMED!

In other words, he was certain that God would work in such a way—in spite of the life-defying challenges he faced—that everyone who knew him and followed his “journey,” however it turned out, would have only one reaction. They would PRAISE GOD for Paul because of:

his undying passion for the glory of Jesus;
his faithfulness to God’s calling on his life;
how he spread the gospel (even in prison);
his focus on the promises of all that eternity holds for us.

In addition, they would praise God for Paul’s unwavering and certain hold on the manifest VICTORY IN JESUS—a victory that would be obvious to all when his journey was finally all done and said, no matter how it was all finally done and said.

As Proverbs 4 puts it—so beautifully fulfilled in Paul’s ministry for Christ: 

The path of the righteous is like the dawning of the morning sun,
shining ever brighter and brighter until it becomes the full light of day (vs. 18).

Look carefully at that verse. That’s you, Nancy. That’s YOU! 

More accurately, that’s Christ shining through you. That’s the ultimate victory over cancer and every other force arrayed against us.

Christ shining in you and through you more and more with each passing day—shining on everyone from every corner of the globe who knows you. 

Shining on us here as we send you all our love in Jesus.

David and Robyne

=====================

Would you like to spend more time with this amazing woman of God? You can! “Being dead, yet still she speaks.” I encourage you to read her latest book:

The author of life-changing books and seminars, Nancy based her latest work on interactions with Jesus followers in many countries. She brings all she learned from them to help you deepen your own life in Christ.

My endorsement inside the book says

For years, I’ve defined Christian discipleship as “intimacy with Christ in his supremacy filling us with expectancy” (based on Colossians 1:27). There is no Christian leader I’ve met anywhere on planet earth who understands what biblical “intimacy” with King Jesus looks like the way Nancy Wilson does. She lives it. She teaches it. She inflames it in others. Now she digs into it with us in this powerful but practical, life-giving, Christ-exalting book. Let Nancy show you the way into a deeper love relationship with your living, Reigning Redeemer that will change you forever. David Bryant

Is this book right for YOU? 

Take one minute to read her dedication page. It’s unlike any you’ve ever read before. Then, decide for yourself. You can order the book here.

Read Nancy’s unusual dedication page here.


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.


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We Need to Put On Our King Jesus Glasses! (Part Two) https://christnow.com/part-2-putting-king-jesus-glasses/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=part-2-putting-king-jesus-glasses https://christnow.com/part-2-putting-king-jesus-glasses/#comments Mon, 20 Sep 2021 02:00:21 +0000 http://christnow.com/part-1-putting-king-jesus-glasses-copy/ Editor’s Note: In Part 1, David Bryant concluded: “Christians believe in Jesus Christ not only because we see him ascended and active as Lord of all, but because we see everything else in the universe as it really is through the lens of his spectacular supremacy.” Now in Part 2, he explores the extraordinary spiritual riches this perspective on Jesus brings to everyone who belongs to Jesus.

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We Need to Put On
Our King Jesus Glasses!

(Part Two)

[Editor’s Note: In Part 1, David Bryant concluded: “Christians believe in Jesus Christ not only because we see him ascended and active as Lord of all, but because we see everything else in the universe as it really is through the lens of his spectacular supremacy.” Now in Part 2, he explores the extraordinary spiritual riches this perspective on Jesus brings to everyone who belongs to Jesus.]

It appears that Google Corporation believes in the value of giving people dual vision. I’m referring to their recent pioneering technology labeled “Google Glass.”

This groundbreaking device offers customers an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that provides them with what Google calls a “ubiquitous computer.” That’s because these glasses can display the same data one can retrieve with a smartphone, but now in a hands-free format.

Using voice commands, wearers have instant access to billions of pieces of information from anywhere in the world, displayed right before their eyes. On the other hand, at the very same time, a person can continue looking through the glasses at whatever is going on directly in front of them.

The Preeminent Blessing of Dual Vision

In a parallel sense, “King Jesus Glasses” (which we introduced in Part 1) allow us Christians to look at immediate experiences surrounding our everyday lives while at the same time interpreting all of that within the broader themes of the current reign of Christ. They help us discern more accurately what he’s up to globally and how we fit into it locally.

In other words, wearing King Jesus Glasses should inspire us to interact with everything we do daily—conversing, shopping, commuting, eating, playing, praying—by simultaneously putting all such actions into the larger context of what Scripture teaches about Christ’s kingdom strategy currently unfolding throughout nations and across generations—a continual advance in which each believer has a part.

This approach requires us to enter into every hour of every day—planning family schedules, meeting friends for coffee, making job decisions, supporting political candidates—with Christ’s redemptive purposes shaping our priorities.

Our current walk with Christ remains inseparably interconnected with his reconciling activities among all of earth’s people—with his routing of evil powers and setting captives free everywhere; with his building and deploying of the Church for the evangelization of the world; with his interaction with people and situations right where we live.

Have you noticed how practical all of this dual-vision stuff is? Implementing a dual-vision approach is how we join Jesus every moment in maximizing our role in the unmatchable drama of his kingly endeavors.

Bottom line: The more clearly we see God’s Son for all he is—ascending to new vistas of Jesus as Lord and then beholding everything else through what we discover about Jesus as Lord—the more we will rest in him and trust in him and follow him, as well as serve him wholeheartedly in our current situations, moment by moment.

From the instant he invites a believer to follow him, Jesus intends to weave each of us into his own continuing story more and more and more—to involve us in its enthralling, flourishing, ever-amazing, ever-expanding plotline.

At the end of the day, he intends for his story to become our story too.

Simply put, as God’s Reborn, we should view all of our existence, as well as everyone around us, from Christ’s perspective. Even more biblically, we should view all of it through Christ himself—gazing in all directions through his enthronement and triumphs.

That is precisely the request of ancient Celtic Christians when they prayed (what we now sing):

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art . . .
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Healing Our Impaired Eyesight Once and For All

Not long ago, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics jointly expressed growing concern about children living in poverty in the United States. Unlike offspring of the wealthy, these impoverished little ones often don’t receive comprehensive vision screening, which should be administered for the first time around the age of three.

Consequently, across America, there are millions of underachieving children in our schools who are tired and irritable, often holding back in embarrassed silence, frequently disheartened by the ridicule of their peers—simply because they can’t see the chalkboard or projection screen, or for that matter, the words in their textbooks.

The grievous fallout is that many won’t graduate. That means many will remain trapped in a cycle of poverty for the rest of their lives, leaving some with irreparable cornea damage after further years of neglect.

This tragedy happens because no one took the time to uncover their marginal vision and then provide them with a pair of inexpensive, corrective glasses—glasses readily available and frequently free to the poor through philanthropic grants, if only they knew.

With that grim reality as a backdrop, consider a similar tragedy—Jesus’ diagnosis of the infamous Laodicean church in Revelation 3:

You don’t realize how pitiful and miserable you have become. You are poor, blind and naked. So here’s my advice . . . Buy from me healing lotion to put on your eyes. Then you will be able to see. I warn and correct those I love . . . (Revelation 3, NIRV, emphasis added).

How his heart broke over this soulfully impoverished, visually impaired congregation! Listen to his aching appeal to one little group of believers (and through them to all of us) to let him heal their vision so they might realize how desperately they needed Christ in his fullness to be manifested among them once again.

I wonder: What would be his diagnosis of the eyesight of your church?

How would he critique the sharpness of your view of his royal majesty?

Would he recommend the immediate application of restorative eye salve for you?

If we believers would be honest with each other, how many millions of us today would confess we are sick and tired of living with this persistently debilitating Christological myopia? How many of us would admit we find ourselves growing increasingly desperate for a drastic change?

How many of us across the Body of Christ have finally reached the point where we are determined to do whatever it takes to search for and start wearing our King Jesus Glasses? To start enjoying the manifold blessings that come from faithfully looking at Jesus for all he is as well as looking through Jesus at all that life is?

If you’re ready to be healed, then the tools and resources that www.ChristNow.com offers may be just what the doctor ordered! Explore the expansiveness of insights into the person of Christ that this one site opens up to us through its host of icons.

Begin today to put on your King Jesus Glasses so you can get a sharper and stronger vision of who Jesus is right now!

NOTE: This blog originally posted on August 17, 2016. But its focus and content are more relevant now than when it was first published.

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.


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We Need to Put On Our King Jesus Glasses! (Part One) https://christnow.com/part-1-putting-king-jesus-glasses/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=part-1-putting-king-jesus-glasses https://christnow.com/part-1-putting-king-jesus-glasses/#respond Sun, 12 Sep 2021 02:00:31 +0000 http://christnow.com/?p=7970 Editor’s note: One chief reason www.ChristNow.com exists is to reshape and sharpen how God’s people see the full extent of Christ’s supremacy at this very moment so as to seek and serve all we have in him.

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We Need to Put On
Our King Jesus Glasses!

(Part One)

[Editor’s Note: One chief reason www.ChristNow.com exists is to reshape and sharpen how God’s people see the full extent of Christ’s supremacy at this very moment so as to seek and serve all we have in him. Having spread a grand vision of God’s Son across the globe for decades, David Bryant presents in the next two blog posts his prescription for revolutionizing your life in Jesus by how you look at Jesus. These principles are equally valid for every congregation.]

You don’t realize how pitiful and miserable you have become.
You are poor, blind, and naked. So here’s my advice . . .
buy from me healing lotion to put on your eyes. Then you will be able to see. I warn and correct those I love . . . (Revelation 3, NIRV, emphasis added).

Let’s talk about vision.

The time is long overdue for the Church to set itself about the task of recovering a thoroughgoing King Jesus-sized vision.

It’s time we get ourselves refitted with the eyewear many of us have misplaced, often inadvertently. Or maybe no one ever gave us the right pair of glasses in the first place.

I’m talking about our very own “King Jesus Glasses”—spiritual spectacles to correct the all-too-prevalent shortsightedness that keeps many believers from seeing more clearly our Royal Redeemer as he really is: high and lifted up; seated at the helm of the universe; ruling triumphantly at this very moment from the center of God’s throne; Head of the Church; Lord and Master of every believer.

Are you interested in claiming your personal set of King Jesus Glasses?

Because once you get hold of a pair, they will change the way you look at everything!

Talking Optics with Chinese Christian Leaders

Let me tell you when and why I started using this metaphor to expose the troubling “vision affliction” I’ve uncovered in the past three decades while traveling and interacting with the Church around the world.

The story involves my foundational book titled Christ Is ALL! Join the Joyful Awakening to the Spectacular Supremacy of God’s Son (CIA). Recently, a request came to print 500,000 copies of CIA translated into Mandarin Chinese for use by a major seminary-by-extension program inside China, which currently trains tens of thousands of pastors within the nationwide house church movement.

Before signing the contract, however, the Singaporean publishers pressed me with one precondition: that I write a supplementary introduction for them. They wanted an interpretive essay designed specifically to convince their students of the one goal the faculty deemed essential for pastors and lay leaders to grasp.

That goal? For CIA’s “take” on the greatness and glory of God’s Son to become the prime lens, the principal filter, through which seminarians would process and reflect on all of their other studies, allowing CIA’s expansive Christology to inform and infuse every other theological topic and textbook that the students tackled.

The governing board was convinced that if during seminary days their students were sufficiently captivated by CIA’s kind of perspective on Jesus—by its unrelenting focus on the spectacular nature of his person and the decisive dynamics of his life-giving sovereignty—this prerequisite point of view would continue to dominate all the ways they minister for Christ for the rest of their lives.

In other words, the seminary envisions graduates who will go forth determined to give the Lord Jesus unmitigated preeminence in everything and consequently end up infusing the Christians they serve with the very same persuasion.

The truths of Christ’s supremacy, they concluded, must become the start-and-end points for how future pastors plan to equip believers to study and apply Scripture, practice the discipline of prayer, or walk out daily obedience to the Master.

A Perspective Worthy of Any Spiritual Optometrist

So, with that desired outcome in mind, I titled my additional introductory chapter, “We Need King Jesus Glasses.”

In it, I described for church shepherds (whether in China or anywhere else) a unique pair of invisible bifocals designed to equip Christ followers to view reality (including ministry) in two essential directions at the same time.

First, these sacred lenses would provide them with an uncommonly dynamic view of our Lord Jesus himself, helping them survey more clearly all he embodies as the unrivaled King of kings.

But, I pointed out, concurrently as bifocals, they would equip them to see all the rest of life through the wonders of the lordship of Jesus—interpreting the world around them, and more specifically, the entire Christian life, based on how the ascended Son of God is manifesting himself daily as the mediatory monarch over every aspect of who we are and what we’re about.

By constantly focusing their congregations on the all-prevailing sovereignty and sufficiency and saving power of the Christ, I wrote to my readers, pastors would ensure that their members consistently defined everyday existence by his kingdom’s eternal agenda.

Then with these glasses in position (so to speak), I asked my readers to join me in a dream—to attempt a mental exercise that for years I’ve encouraged Christian leaders everywhere to try.

Dream Along With Me

Here’s the dream: How rejuvenated might believers become if they were enabled to view everything in direct relationship to Christ himself, for all he is?

In other words, what if all things—from the weekly activities of congregations, to marching orders in discipleship, to securing moral victories in daily relationships, to pursuing a kingdom agenda in the marketplace, to our mission to the nations, to our efforts at healing our cities, to our redemptive responses to world events, to our determined defenses in spiritual warfare—were viewed as directly and continuously engaged with the forever alive, fully active, fiercely advocating, forwardly advancing, fervently adored Son of God?

How much more exciting—how much more fulfilling—could any walk with Christ become for those who tackle life like this, day after day?

To encapsulate the dream another way:

Imagine a church whose members join hands to pursue total involvement with God’s Son in every way possible as the sovereign, salvaging, shepherding, sending Savior of heaven and earth. How much more alive would such a fellowship of visionaries become if they have hearts that burn together for Christ and his kingdom?

Biblically speaking, what this “dreaming exercise” represents is precisely the approach to life God places before all of his people and what he desires our experience to be all of the time.

Colossians 3 puts it like this:

If you are then “risen” with Christ, reach out for the highest gifts of Heaven, where your master reigns in power. Give your heart to the heavenly things, not to the passing things of earth. For, as far as this world is concerned, you are already dead, and your true life is a hidden one in Christ (Phillips, emphasis added).

As I noted in the Mandarin introduction to CIA, the transformative repercussions of this radically renovated perspective regarding the exaltedness of Jesus are incalculable—whether for worshiping on Sunday, or building community, or promoting Christian unity among churches, or deepening individual spiritual vitality, or accelerating the witness of the gospel among the unreached. Of course, this paradigm isn’t just for Chinese Christians; it belongs to Christ followers of every tongue, in every place, of every age.

In Mere Christianity, for example, C. S. Lewis describes the very same bifocal experience this way:

I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen,
not just because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.

Actually, a major rationale for finding and putting on our King Jesus Glasses can be summed up by simply paraphrasing and applying Lewis’ observation to read like this:

Christians believe in Jesus Christ
not only because we see him ascended and active as Lord of all,
but because we see everything else in the universe as it really is
through the lens of his spectacular supremacy.

In my next blog post, I want to share with you more of the blessings of this “dual vision” we have in Christ.

NOTE: This blog originally posted on August 10, 2016. But its focus and content are more relevant now than when it was first published.

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.


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My Message About Christ Last Week to the Thousands in Times Square https://christnow.com/my-message-about-christ-last-week-to-the-thousands-in-times-square/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=my-message-about-christ-last-week-to-the-thousands-in-times-square https://christnow.com/my-message-about-christ-last-week-to-the-thousands-in-times-square/#comments Wed, 08 Sep 2021 02:00:12 +0000 https://christnow.com/?p=18836 My Message About Christ Last Week to the Thousands in Times Square David Bryant Imagine this: You’re standing on a stage erected on the plaza in Times Square in the heart of New York City. Evening is falling. Lights dazzle from all directions. Thousands of people, many from other nations, have come to investigate one of the most famous spots […]

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My Message About Christ Last Week
to the Thousands in Times Square

David Bryant

Imagine this: You’re standing on a stage erected on the plaza in Times Square in the heart of New York City. Evening is falling. Lights dazzle from all directions. Thousands of people, many from other nations, have come to investigate one of the most famous spots on planet earth. Their minds are processing all the sights and sounds when suddenly…

There you are! You’re at a microphone with a sound system that will carry your voice three blocks in all directions. Multitudes will be “forced” to hear what you have to say. This is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to proclaim the “glories of Christ” to a host of unbelievers, all at one time.

What would you say?

That’s precisely the position I found myself in last week. Here’s what I decided to share.

“Did you know the Bible is focused on cities?”

Those were my opening words. But first, here is a little background:

The rally last weekend was the culmination of several weeks during which churches worked together to spread the gospel throughout NYC, utilizing many initiatives that made up what we called “Jesus Summer.”

In other words, hundreds of us already had been focused on a single city for many days. But then, this choice should not seem a strange thing! This is what Christians are called to do, whatever community they are part of.

The fact is, Scripture may open with a garden in Genesis, but it closes sixty-six books later in the final chapter of the book of Revelation with a city.

There we’re shown a metropolis descending from heaven—a city constructed by God; a city where he intends to dwell forever; a city that will be the home of all the saints of all the ages; a city that will dominate a whole new heaven and earth. It’s a community God has prepared for you—and for all of us. He wants us to share it with him forever. In fact, he inhabits it before we do.

Before that unveiling, however, many earthly cities have become God’s immediate concern. We see this all through the Bible. Sometimes it entails his judgments upon the citizens, sometimes his deliverance of them.

But according to Jeremiah 33, God’s desire for any city—including New York City—is that the dwelling becomes “a joy and praise and renown for my glory in all the earth” (vs. 9).

So, what does God want for New York City right now—and for every one of us who lives here?

More importantly, what does he want for your city or community and for you and those who live around you?

Here’s what I told my audience next:

“Over the decades, I’ve shared about Christ and his great work of salvation in some of the major cities of the world—like Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Cape Town, Lagos, Amsterdam, San Palau—as well as cities across our nation. But I’ve concluded that there’s no city quite like NYC in terms of dynamics and diversity and drama—and in terms of its impact on the globe by media, education, healthcare, the arts, finances, and innovations.”

Then I announced to people walking around Times Square that I’d come that night to share with them how the risen, reigning Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, sees our city and, even more, what he wants for our city at this very moment.

Moreover, I declared to every ear that his concerns for New York don’t even begin to compare to his love and concern for each person who could hear me!

“Did you know Jesus once wept over a city?
Why was that?”

Next, I led with that curious question. I went on to observe:

“People worldwide know about Palm Sunday and Jesus’ ‘triumphal entry.’ Muslims do. Hindus do. Buddhists do. Most of you do, as well.

“It was the moment when Jesus offered himself to the most important city in the Bible—the city of Jerusalem—to become their Savior, their Redeemer, the fulfillment of all the promises God had made to them over the generations. He had come to be their King, to bring them victory over sin and death and judgment. He wanted to transform Jerusalem into “a joy and praise and renown for God’s glory in all the earth.

“At first, they enthusiastically welcomed him as he rode into the city on a humble donkey, shouting to him, ‘Hosanna! Hosanna!’ That is Hebrew for ‘Lord, save us now!’ Clearly, they wanted him to take charge.”

Then, looking out over a sea of faces, I said to the crowds: “Why don’t we all try that right here and now. Join me! Let’s say three times together: Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” Many actually joined in.

So, I remarked: “Look what WE just did: Together, we invited God’s Son to become our Deliverer!”

I paused to let that thought sink in. After the silence, I continued:

“But what most people don’t know is that a few hours after his ‘triumphal entry,’ the polar opposite happened. We might call it his ‘tragic agony.’ Standing on Olivet Mountain just outside the city walls, Jesus was weeping over the bustling scene before him.

“Weeping! How could that be? Why was that?” Another pause. Then I brought it down to my audience: “Could it be that the same risen, reigning Jesus is weeping over our city—as well as over each one of us who calls it home?

“Jesus did not hold back. As the tears fell, he groaned these words out loud (see Matthew 23:37-39):

Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . .
how often I have longed to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
and you were not willing.
Look, your house is left to you desolate.
For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say,
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

What do YOU think? Why did he end up so broken-hearted such a short time after the glorious, celebratory parade he had led—shedding tears over the same crowd?

(1) Jesus knew that deep down in their hearts, they did not really want him to be anything more for them than their “rescue plan” for getting out from underneath the Roman Empire’s thumb (the way Afghanis are desperate for deliverance from the Taliban today). He knew they would never allow him to gather them to himself, under his redeeming reign and into his kingdom purposes—and above all, into the fullness of eternal life with God that he had come to bring them.

(2) Also, he knew that as a result of their rejection of him, their city and their very lives would end up in “desolation” (that’s the word he used). Physically speaking, that happened literally 40 years later when the Roman army sacked Zion and sent all its citizens into captivity.

Jesus knew there were only two options for the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants: (a) Come to him as God’s Messiah and allow him to gather them into all of his saving power and life-giving miracles, or (b) end up with nothing but desolation—both physical and spiritual desolation. There was no middle ground. There were no other roads for them to take.

“Guess what? Right now, Jesus is weeping over our city
and each one of us in it for the very same reason.”

When I declared those words, I’m sure there were more than a few listeners who were initially taken aback. But that’s precisely what I told my hearers. I said: “For cities, for people, for you—for the whole creation—there are only two options ultimately: desolation or transformation.” Next, I expanded on that claim for them.

“Here in New York City, we know a little bit about desolation due to our intense battle with the COVID-19 pandemic for the past 19 months. This community was so overwhelmed by the impact of the disease that many predicted NYC would never recover from it—that the “desolation” of our health, our businesses, our lifestyles, and our friendships would remain a permanent curse upon us.

“But the desolation Jesus was talking about—that caused him to grieve so profoundly as he looked over the city—went much deeper. Consider some of the synonyms for desolate:

Bleak
Barren
Empty
Abandoned
Ravaged
Devastated

“In fact, one of the terms the dictionary suggests is ‘godforsaken.’

“Have you ever felt “desolate” the way these words picture it—even forsaken by God? Are you feeling that way right now?

“You know, there is a far more deadly virus—an everlasting pandemic—that Jesus was talking about when he predicted their city and their lives would be ‘left to you desolate.’”

Then, I really got down to business with the crowd: “The Bible calls it sin—which, at its core, is a refusal to enter into the relationship with the living God for which he created us. Fundamentally, however, it comes down to a refusal to come to Jesus Christ himself because, as he so plainly said in so many different ways, he and he alone is the way, the truth and the life, and ‘no one can come to the Father except through me.’”

Then, with all my strength, I lifted my voice for people blocks away to hear and said: “We are doomed to desolation unless we come to Christ. Christ alone—by his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—can change a life that has become ‘God-forsaken’ into a life that is ‘God-retaken.’”

As the shadows fell, I proclaimed: “Christ wants to bring every one of us—and even our cities and communities with us—out of desolation into transformation.”

From desolation to transformation:
for cities and for sinners!

The fact is, as I spelled out that night, if we do allow God’s Son to “gather us” to himself, the way a “hen gathers chicks under her wings,” what does this transformation entail? Consider these antonyms of “desolate”:

Become alive
Flourish
Prosper
Thrive
Grow
Expand

And we might add this to the list: It means to be overflowing with the fruits of the Spirit, including love, joy, peace; to be abounding in hope in God’s promises.

We’re told that all the promises of God are “YES” to us in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1). This means that with hundreds of promises regarding God’s purposes for your life and for all creation waiting to be fulfilled for you in Christ Jesus, there will never be a moment of “desolation” for all who belong to him—for all ages to come!

“Therefore,” I concluded from the stage, “this means that for you and for me, the true opposite of desolation comes down to a person. It comes down to CHRIST HIMSELF! All the transformation we will ever need or want, beginning with our being reconciled to the living God, waits for us—for YOU!—if we will come to Christ.

“The Bible claims a principle in Romans 6 that has equal application to individuals or to whole societies:

The wages of sin is death!
[That is, sin leads to permanent desolation.]
But the free gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord!
[Christ brings us into everlasting transformation.]”

Then, I waited a moment before asking the final question:

“How much does Jesus love you? Enough to weep over you! The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. He wept over a city 2000 years ago. He weeps again over this city of New York. But really, in the end, he is weeping over YOU. That’s how much he loves you. That’s how strongly he desires for you to come to him. That’s how desperate he is to deliver you from desolation! That’s how deeply he longs to bring you into his life-giving transformation.

“He came for you. He died for you. He rose again for you. He reigns for you. He also weeps for you.”

I ended my talk with this glorious truth:

“The Lamb is the Lamp of the city.”

“In Revelation 21, describing the city I mentioned earlier—descending out of heaven, glowing with the glory of God, more dazzling than a million Times Squares—the writer makes an interesting observation.

“John writes that this transformed Jerusalem would never need the light of the sun by day or the reflection of the moon by night because—as John puts it—‘the Lamb is the lamp of the city.’ What does he mean by that phrase?”

And I pointed out to them:

“Just like Times Square tonight is flooded with light that penetrates every corner and crevice—all at the same time, everywhere at once, engulfing everyone standing here—even so throughout eternity, those who belong to Christ will be living in the manifest presence of God’s Son. Countless millions of us. From every tongue and tribe and race and nation and ethnicity. Redeemed out of eternal desolation. Brought into the everlasting transformation of such a great salvation.

“And all of us who belong to Christ and take up residence in that majestic city will be ‘saturated’ by the power and love and reign of our Savior, the way lights all around us encompass us here tonight.”

What I said to everyone at that moment, I now share with all of you who are reading this report:

“But you do not need to wait for that heavenly dwelling to come forth upon the earth to experience this. The Lamb of God, who has taken away the sin—the desolation—of the world, can do so for your own heart and life. He has conquered and is ready right now to become the ‘lamp’ in your life—filling you with his life.

“As the Bible promises you in the opening of John’s account of Jesus:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…. Out of his fullness, we have all received grace upon grace.

“Paris, France, may be the ‘City of Lights.’ But our city could become the ‘City of THE Light.’ And it could begin with you, here and now. Come! Gather to Christ today, without delay.”

I sat down, exhausted but also thrilled. I could see the thousands who had heard, many for the very first time, about the greatness and glory and supremacy and love—and tears—of God’s Son! I knew there was no limit on where the Holy Spirit could take it from there.

Let David share this vision more fully with you on his podcast episode 263,
“Wonder of Wonders: How Christ Delivers From Desolation.” Listen here.

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The Hope at Hand: The Ultimate Answer to Our Prayers Is Drawing Near Part 2 of 2 Parts https://christnow.com/the-hope-at-hand-the-ultimate-answer-to-our-prayers-is-drawing-near-part-2-of-2-parts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-hope-at-hand-the-ultimate-answer-to-our-prayers-is-drawing-near-part-2-of-2-parts https://christnow.com/the-hope-at-hand-the-ultimate-answer-to-our-prayers-is-drawing-near-part-2-of-2-parts/#respond Tue, 10 Aug 2021 02:00:53 +0000 https://christnow.com/?p=13910 In this second installment, I want to show you the way out of the nightmare scenario we explored in Part 1—the way to reverse the “crisis of Christology” and prepare God’s people to not only survive but also THRIVE for the glory of Jesus in the midst of “The Coming Great Shaking.”

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The Hope at Hand:

The Ultimate Answer to Our Prayers Is Drawing Near

Part 2 of 2 Parts

Note: In this second installment, I want to show you the way out of the nightmare scenario we explored in Part 1. The good news is that there is a way to reverse the “crisis of Christology” and prepare God’s people to not only survive but also THRIVE for the glory of Jesus in the midst of “The Coming Great Shaking.” Most of all, I want to help you understand, anticipate, and get ready for the nationwide Christ Awakening movement just ahead of us.

If you want to read Part 1, you can find it here.

 

Clearly, in light of “The Coming Great Shaking”
much more of the wonders of Christ must FILL our hearts.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that a multitude of Christians literally cannot last three minutes talking about who Jesus IS—not about what he’s done for them but about who he actually is at this very moment, reigning at the Father’s right hand.

We know far too little about him. We know him far too little.

Consequently, twenty years ago, I began developing a whole new way to help believers lay hold of what I call a “consequential Christology”—a vision of the greatness and glory of Christ so thrilling it carries life-altering consequences that can prepare Christians not only to survive but also to thrive in the midst of the looming battles in the 2020s.

I’ve hammered out this schema in more than 600 pages of my latest book, Christ Is NOW!, and also in a credit-bearing Master of Arts course in ministry leadership for Pillar College in Newark, New Jersey.

I believe the wonders of who Christ is today can be distilled into seven little prepositions: who Christ is TO us, FOR us, OVER us, BEFORE us, WITHIN us, THROUGH us, and UPON us.

In my class at Pillar, we spend four hours on each one of these seven facets of a “consequential Christology.” For now, let me simply highlight each. As I do, ask yourself: In any sense, does this overview represent the kind of vision most of God’s people are feasting upon on any regular basis?

  1. Who Christ is TO us—that is, his personhood, his deity, his intimacy with the Trinity, the claims of his names, and as our identity and destiny
  2. Who Christ is FOR us—summed up in his four-fold, irreversible revolution: the invasion of his incarnation, the mission of his crucifixion, the re-creation of his resurrection, and the coronation of his ascension
  3. Who Christ is OVER us—as he reigns over creation, world history, global rulers, earth’s peoples, the dark powers, and the building of the Church
  4. Who Christ is BEFORE us—as right now, he goes ahead of us in four ways simultaneously: into the future, into the heavens, into God’s promises, and into the world
  5. Who Christ is WITHIN us—as he lives out his risen, ascended life in us, both individually, and even more so, corporately
  6. Who Christ is THROUGH us—as he extends his reign and ministry from here to the ends of the earth, reaching out through us individually and, even more so, corporately
  7. Who Christ is UPON us—as he comes upon his people now to revive, intensify, deepen, and accelerate all we already are experiencing of him, and then in the day when he comes upon the entire cosmos in his glorious, victorious, and visible return

So, let me ask you again: How many Jesus followers do you know who are living daily in the reality of anything close to these exciting dimensions of the living Christ and what his supremacy means for them?

In fact, how many of us leaders in the Body of Christ are regularly, as a way of life, seeking and savoring more and more of the majestic truths about the person, purposes, and promises of the reigning Redeemer to whom we belong, heart and soul and strength?

Next, consider this: How important do we think it is for us to return to and reclaim a much more magnificent view of the Master in order to be refortified and newly empowered to triumph in the midst of the sobering, unprecedented—perilous, even volatile—trials awaiting us?

Now, dream with me: What might it look like, if despite the gathering storm, the Spirit of God reclaimed and awakened thousands and thousands of Christians in our nation who become increasingly passionate for bringing greater glory to the Lord Jesus Christ?

What might it look like if the Father concentrated all the united prayers we’ve offered for decades in the national prayer movement and brought them back down upon us right now, but doing so “exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all we ever dared to ask or think” up to this point? (Ephesians 3:16-21)

And what if, in this hour of mounting crises, for the sake of a whole generation and for his kingdom, the living God unleashed among the Body of Christ in America a coast-to-coast, wholesale awakening to the glory and greatness, to the worth and wonder, to the majesty and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ—the King who ascended on high specifically to fill God’s people, to fill our land, and ultimately fill the whole universe with his sovereignty, his glory and his activity (Ephesians 4:9-10)?

Final questions:

WHAT IF at this moment we are standing on the threshold of such a “kairos” season?

WHAT IF in America, the unparalleled grace of divine intervention and spiritual revolution in the Lord Jesus Christ is the hope that’s at hand—the hope waiting for us right now?

Just ahead: a “Great Christ Awakening” as
God’s answer to a “Great National Shaking”

Instead of being hijacked by multiple crises enveloping us in overwhelming waves of spiritual anxiety, despair, paralysis, powerlessness, fatigue, and finally, retreat, what if God were to offer us a marvelous alternative?

In other words, what if his offer were to take us into a profound recovery of wholeness as God’s people by restoring to us the whole vision of the whole Christ—by saturating us with the person and presence and power of Christ, by mobilizing us to join together to advance the purposes of Christ despite the impending “Great Shaking”?

More specifically: What if God has already set before us the gift of a Christ Awakening—if only we will welcome it?

Well, he has! And we can!

I call it “the hope at hand”—a new horizon, the sunrise of “kairos.”

His offer involves nothing less than bringing our churches and us into a fresh realization of the extraordinary transformation promised in 2 Corinthians 4:6.

In my view, this verse is the most relevant one in the entire Bible for us who are standing at the crossroads of the future. Here—in one simple sentence—is the breakthrough we’ve been seeking throughout all these decades of united prayer. It proclaims:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.

I want to show you how this one verse outlines five astounding transactions involved in what I would call a genuine, God-given “Christ Awakening” experience.

What this verse teaches is related not only to what can happen with the unconverted, but it also contains the promise of what can explode time and time again after we come to Christ—doing so in far deeper, more profound ways than when we first believed—for individual Christians, or for a congregation, or for a whole generation. We find in 2 Corinthians 4:6 that:

  1. This awakening penetrates to the heart level—that is, to the depths of our affections.
  2. This awakening unfolds with the full force of the original creation of the universe.
  3. This awakening also unfolds with the full force of the final consummation—the day when not only hearts but also the whole earth will be “covered with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
  4. This awakening is all about how God’s glory is encountered today through the person of the living Christ—the “anointed one”—raised up to reign as Lord of all.
  5. This awakening transpires as God’s Spirit engages us with God’s Son today on such richly intimate terms that it becomes for us like seeing our Lord Jesus directly, face-to-face.

Let me be clear: At this critical juncture in Church history, only the dynamic, divinely orchestrated, wide-ranging, life-changing revolution of 2 Corinthians 4:6 will do!

This hope is extended to all of God’s people throughout the nation. Our Father is ready to reignite his people with an awakening to the matchless, splendorous sovereignty of his dear Son, summoning us to pursue anew Jesus’ righteous, radiant reign streaming forth from his very being.

Therefore, I must reiterate:

Nothing less than the miracle of 2 Corinthians 4:6 will ever prove sufficient for the building and bracing of God’s people to stand firm, to stand strong, to stand bold—to stand for Christ, to stand for the gospel, to stand for his saving mission to neighbors and nations—and to stand full of faith as we confront a myriad of existential threats.

How about you? Do you believe such a Spirit-driven Christ Awakening adventure is possible?

Let me press you further: Do you believe such a transformational inbreaking is at hand? If so, are you sure you are ready for the glorious disruptions it will bring to all of us? Are you eager for it?

At hand? Remember that Jesus came preaching that the “Kingdom of God is at hand.” The Greek for “at hand” can mean “bearing down on top of you”—like the clouds of a summer thunderstorm hovering before the rains break loose.

With that backdrop, let me rephrase my last question:

Do you believe, right now, that a Christ Awakening is bearing down on top of you, your church, your city, your region, our nation—in answer to all our years of prayer for nothing less? Is our long-anticipated kairos hour finally “at hand”?

I close this blog post
by laying my prophetic vision at your feet.

At the outset, in Part 1, I told you I think this is the most important message I have ever given to God’s people since ChristNow.com began—by a blog post or in any other way. And now you see why.

It’s because, with all my heart—and with vast amounts of hard evidence to back me up, as you’ve seen—I DO believe this wonderous Christ Awakening IS “at hand”—to fulfill our years of seeking it together all across the Body of Christ. God has not forgotten a single one of those prayers.

All that remains, all that is needed right now, is for every Christian leader and every believer to couple the enormous treasury of intercession we’ve laid at the Throne with an unwavering commitment to saturate ourselves and those we love and serve with more of who Jesus is to us, for us, over us, before us, within us, through us, and upon us—with more of the matchless, magnificent majesty of the reigning Son of God.

If you are in any position of spiritual influence—such as a pastor, worship leader, Bible study teacher, campus worker, mission facilitator, and especially if you are a parent—you and I must make this commitment to saturation with the supremacy of Christ the top priority for ourselves and those we teach and lead.

We can do so with confidence, relying on this principle:

Scripture teaches that “Faith comes by hearing when what is heard is the message about the Christ” (Romans 10:17). In turn, we know it is by faith and faith alone that any past Heaven-sent Christ Awakening movement has come to the Church.

Therefore, the most strategic ministry any of us could have today is this: to pour into our fellow believers more and more and more of the Lord Jesus Christ.

That, incidentally, is why ChristNow.com and ChristNowOnLine were raised up by God—to thoroughly equip you with an extraordinary array of free resources and social media ministry.

One alert, however: The flipside of this marvelous hope carries a warning. As I said in Part 1, in the next ten years, I predict there will be either more of Christ exalted among our people OR far fewer people in Christ among us. This should sober all of us.

Sensing the urgency of our times, therefore, I close this post urging all of us to carefully heed this admonition.

May our churches never have to hear the heartbreaking pronouncement of Jesus over a previous, indifferent, unrevived generation of God’s people when he cried out: “How often I would have gathered you to myself, but you refused. So now your house is left to you desolate” (Luke 13).

Desolate!

To conclude: What is Jesus saying to US? In the two parts of this blog post, I’ve set before you a “prophetic vision” that can be summed up in a paraphrase of Jesus’ core preaching—a four-point outline distilled from Mark 1:15. Personally, this is what I hear him saying to us right now:

The time for you to experience
a mighty awakening to my supremacy is fulfilled.
Kairos!

The inbreaking of this God-given revolution for my glory
is bearing down upon you.
Kairos!

So, turn from anything that will keep you from fully entering into it—
and come into more of me.
Kairos!

I invite you to believe and proclaim this extraordinary hope
to fellow believers throughout the Church
because it is—because I am—drawing near.
Kairos!


If you would like to download an edition of “The Hope at Hand” blog post that combines Parts 1 and 2 into one document in order to share David’s entire message with friends as well as people in your Christian fellowship, you can do so here.

NOTE: This blog originally posted on February 21, 2020. But its focus and content are more relevant now than when it was first published.

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.

 


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The Hope at Hand: The Ultimate Answer to Our Prayers Is Drawing Near Part 1 of 2 Parts https://christnow.com/the-hope-at-hand-the-ultimate-answer-to-our-prayers-is-drawing-near-part-1-of-2-parts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-hope-at-hand-the-ultimate-answer-to-our-prayers-is-drawing-near-part-1-of-2-parts https://christnow.com/the-hope-at-hand-the-ultimate-answer-to-our-prayers-is-drawing-near-part-1-of-2-parts/#comments Fri, 06 Aug 2021 02:00:29 +0000 https://christnow.com/?p=13903 This blog post is adapted from a message I gave in late January to 300 leaders at the 30th annual, 48-hour Pastors’
Prayer Summit in New York City.

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The Hope at Hand:

The Ultimate Answer to Our Prayers Is Drawing Near

Part 1 of 2 Parts

Note: This blog post is adapted from a message I gave in late January to 300 leaders at the 30th annual, 48-hour Pastors’ Prayer Summit in New York City. However, its heart cry and its hopeful projections relate not only to God’s people in metro New York but to the Body of Christ nationwide. That means what I share here is also about YOU and your immediate future, wherever you live.

I’ve divided the blog post into two parts. Part 1 is below. Part 2 will come out in a couple of days. —David Bryant


Kairos. A time of decisive action. A moment for divine intervention. This blog post is about kairos.

The backstory: Nearly thirty years ago, I moved with my family to metro New York. I came for one reason. I was convinced that the Spirit of God was raising up an urban prayer movement here that would lead to a regionwide Christ Awakening movement. I believed that God intended for this miracle to become “a joy, a praise, and a renown before the whole earth” (Jeremiah 33:9)—for the greater glory of Christ, the revitalization of his Church, and the advancement of the Kingdom. And I was determined to join in this kairos adventure.

Over the decades, I’ve shared with leaders around the world, in many streams of the Church, that the level of Christ-ward dynamics manifested among believers in metro New York represents what may be the most spiritually significant development in any major city on the globe.

This claim is based on a wealth of evidence, such as:

  • Hundreds of Concerts of Prayer events facilitated across the city and region in the past three decades
  • Hosts of unified mission initiatives that have sprung up in answer to our prayers—such as various citywide evangelistic outreaches, including two Billy Graham Crusades and two Luis Palau Festivals
  • The launching of Movement Day focused on urban renewal and mission, now being reproduced in hundreds of cities worldwide
  • The Jesus Week phenomenon, which over the past three years has been uniting hundreds of churches to work together to directly reach over three million New Yorkers with the gospel
  • Various united initiatives to serve the poor, the forgotten, the oppressed—both in the region as well as in other nations
  • A visible vitality of many existing congregations, from small storefront churches to some as large as 20,000 members
  • The acceleration of church plants in the various boroughs of New York City and across the region in northern Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut
  • A rich diversity of denominations, ethnicities, races, and languages working together in all of these efforts (and many others)—all for the cause of Christ

This list of dynamics brings me to the main focus of my blog post: The truth is that I write this post believing it is the most important one I’ve delivered since ChristNow.com began.

I would even dare to call it “prophetic.

Its message concerns what I’m convinced will be the ultimate answer and impact to come out of the annual prayer initiatives in New York City.

But far more, I’m writing about what’s impending in response to the larger, historic, thirty-year, national prayer movement—as throughout the Body of Christ, hundreds of thousands have sought God’s face together for the spiritual revolution our nation so desperately needs right now.

Thank you for allowing me to bare my heart to you in this two-part blog post.

Let me begin with two shocking statements.

Shocking Statement # 1: In the next ten years, either there will be a greater exalting of Christ among us, or there will be an increasing apostasy.

To say it another way, in the face of an unprecedented convergence of incredible onslaughts on our very way of life in this nation, our generation of Christians will experience one of two outcomes by the end of the next decade: Either there will be heightened focus in our churches on the greatness of Christ, or there will be a lot fewer churches.

Taking a cue from Jesus’ parable of the soils, if the current field of Jesus followers fails to extend their roots further and deeper into the person and purposes and power and kingdom of God’s Son and the wonders of his spectacular supremacy, then the crises facing our people will cause many to harden or wilt away or choke regarding the things of Christ. In other words, we will see apostasy.

In fact, this decline is already in full swing, as I’ll report in just a moment.

Shocking Statement # 2: Far too many Christian leaders today are currently in danger of being sued for spiritual malpractice.

What I mean is this: In view of the apocalyptic-type challenges confronting believers in the next ten years, Christian leaders must give top priority to refortifying their congregations and ministries with a fresh, bold, comprehensive vision of, engagement with, and passion for God’s Son in all his fullness, and for the fulfillment of his kingdom purposes for this generation.

Otherwise, overwhelmed by an avalanche of adversities, a grievous falling away from Christ will become inevitable. But we leaders will be held accountable most of all before the Throne of Heaven for this avoidable tragedy.

The warning to Israel’s ineffective shepherds in Ezekiel 3:16-19 might prove equally applicable to many of today’s Christian leaders in the gospel age. God said:

Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. If I warn the wicked, saying, “You are under the penalty of death,” but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. But I will hold you responsible for their deaths.

When you read that, it sounds like nothing short of spiritual malpractice, don’t you think?

Now, let me list a few unnerving developments
behind these two shocking statements.

The list below—not written in order of importance because all the points are important—is just a start. I have a much longer list on file.

But note this: These foreboding trends are currently descending upon us with a ferocity that analysts agree we’ve never seen before.

And note, too: Every one of these developments directly impinges upon the fulfillment of God’s purposes in Christ for his people, the impact of the gospel of Christ upon our nation and, above all, the vitality of advance of the Kingdom of Christ in this generation.

Therefore, the acceleration of these sobering trends should give all of us pause. Examples:

  • Intense immigration pressures from an excessive volume of desperate asylum seekers worldwide—with more to come
  • Trillions of dollars in national deficits and debt—which keep growing exponentially
  • Increasing income inequality, creating an ever-widening gap between rich and poor
  • Unrelenting, undiminished youth violence in many of our urban centers, as well as in suburban public squares and public schools from coast to coast
  • Unsustainable increased prison populations at all levels—local, state, federal
  • The opiate epidemic which annually is killing tens of thousands of Americans
  • A rise in human trafficking nationally and worldwide—such as slavery and prostitution
  • The rapid spread of online pornography, with our young people as the major target, exacerbating the mass sexualization of our culture
  • Intensifying battles over abortion reminiscent of the abolition struggle 200 years ago that led to the American Civil War
  • Ongoing, wholesale infrastructure decay, now requiring trillions of new dollars to simply restore what has been lost
  • Increase in cyberwarfare seen in the vulnerable state of evolving national cybersecurity, most immediately in our electoral process
  • Workforce unpreparedness to serve the multiplication of new technologies, leaving many critical jobs unfilled because of under-trained candidates
  • Pervasive racism causing an increase in segregated communities along with the rise of nativism and White Nationalism
  • The growing menace of worldwide pandemics in a global community, particularly as deadly antibiotic-resistant organisms flourish more and more
  • America’s unending, intractable wars that continue to drain blood and treasure, bringing loss and disabilities to thousands of American homes
  • The rise of a new nuclear arms race with the ever-present and growing potential of permanently wiping out whole civilizations

In addition, we must not overlook the prevailing, all-consuming, partisan political warfare—both local and national—that portends to tear apart irreversibly the very fabric of American society.

Nor can we ignore the rising fears based on nightmare scenarios from most in the scientific community regarding catastrophic disasters over the next ten years due to intensifying climate disruptions, much of it already unfolding in countries worldwide, with predictable economic and social upheavals.

But here’s the worst news of all: Like a tsunami, all of these plagues are converging upon our generation simultaneously.

Did you catch that? They are coming at us all at the same time. Leaving little time to react. Little time to catch our breath. With no place to hide.

Nothing of the magnitude of this developing draconian drama has previously played out before the human race. But here we are.

As a result, we may be reaching a tipping point that can become a breaking point—from which we may never recover.

Is the Church—is your church—adequately prepared
for the simultaneous impact of the growing crises just ahead?

As these ominous trends intensify, Christians must take stock of our situation.

What is the current moral and spiritual condition of the Church in America? How healthy is the Body of Christ in this nation? Are our people ready to survive such an hour—and, more to the point, are we sufficiently equipped to thrive for Christ in the midst of what we might call “The Coming Great Shaking”?

Be warned: The evidence is building that we may not be!

Here are a few of the red warning lights flashing, drawn from nationally respected observers:

  • Gallup reported last year that churches are disappearing across the land; those that remain have had a precipitous drop in church attendance, from 70% to 50% in just the past two decades.
  • Based on national surveys, we find that a significant number of people who have dropped out of the Christian orbit say the reason they did so was because of spiritual burnout—too much demanded of them in the Christian walk with too little spiritual feeding to keep them going.
  • This past November, research at Barna Associates documented that 80-90% of evangelicals confessed to their fear of initiating spiritual conversations with anyone, believer or non-believer.
  • Barna metrics also found a significant drop in engagement with Scripture among evangelicals. A full 96% today, it has been concluded, could properly be defined as “biblically illiterate.”
  • The front pages of our papers feature the unmasking of clergy sexual abuse, not only among Catholics but also increasingly within the evangelical domain.
  • Another study concluded that on any given Sunday, as many as 40% of the men sitting in our pews are struggling with addiction to pornography.
  • A major analysis by the Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination, found that around 80% of pastors today say that persistent melancholy is their hardest struggle in the ministry—that is, their sense of despair that nothing they are doing is making any lasting difference.
  • This parallels the discovery of Dr. Ray Bakke, a foremost evangelical urbanologist, after conducting 300 citywide convocations around the world, including many in the USA. He concluded that the greatest barrier to reaching our cities for Christ is the “spirit of hopelessness” inside our churches.

I could go on. However, I’m sure you get the idea.

But first, we must grapple with the GREATEST crisis of all.

After nearly four decades of traveling into every sector of the Body of Christ across our nation and in many other lands—listening to and learning from God’s people as my priority—I have concluded that the greatest crisis of all is none of the above. None of these global threats. None of these other spiritual deficiencies among God’s people.

Our greatest crisis is what I’ve come to call the “crisis of Christology.

I see it among Christians everywhere I go—and too often among their leaders, as well. The magnitude of this crisis is, I suggest, the primary reason that God raised up the concerted prayer movement nationwide. He’s been calling us to confront this crisis first of all by seeking his face.

This “crisis of Christology” is a sobering, pervasive, tragic shortfall in how God’s people today see, seek, savor, and speak of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in terms of who he is, where he’s headed, what he’s doing, and what his reign is all about.

It comes down to a failure of vision—a failure to grasp the full extent of the height, width, depth, and length of the supremacy of God’s Son today—with all of its implications for every facet of Christian discipleship and community and mission.

Consider the deadly consequences if believers fail to see Jesus for all he is. What if instead, we remain more concerned about Jesus providing us comfort, prosperity, and fulfilling our dreams than we are in living our lives for the redeeming reign of the Savior, whose saving purposes often bring his followers into hardship and persecution, forcing us out of self-satisfaction and personal security.

If we’re so preoccupied with ourselves now, how will we possibly find the will or courage to stand for Christ when facing real persecution in the future?

Thankfully, I’m not alone in sounding this alarm. Others are beginning to speak up about this most deadly of all crises. Listen to a few of them:

  • Reformed theologian Michael Horton titled his book on the evangelical movement Christless Christianity. In it, he states that our churches are overtaken with (his phrase) “therapeutic, moralistic deism” with Christ on the fringes. In essence, Horton believes that in many ways, we have become “Christless.”
  • Biblical scholar J. I. Packer illustrates it this way: In the evangelical movement today, he says, Jesus has become like Humpty Dumpty. He’s fallen off the wall and broken into a hundred pieces. Each of us has a piece of him. But very few of us are striving to put all the pieces back together.
  • Shortly before he died, Chuck Colson wrote that in the evangelical movement today, the church functions as the retail outlet, the members have become the consumers, and Jesus serves as the product.
  • In his last book before his death in 2011, world-renowned Christian statesman John Stott nailed our condition by writing in his introduction to The Radical Disciple: “We have become puny Christians because we have created a puny Christ.” Adding: “We need above all a fresh and true vision of Jesus Christ—not the least in his absolute supremacy. Where should we be but on our faces before him?”
  • Widely known Mosaic founder and effective Los Angeles church planter, Erwin McManus, writes in his book The Unstoppable Church: “The diminishing influence of the American Church on American society is not simply because fewer people are going to church. Rather, fewer people are going to church because of the diminishing influence of CHRIST on the church itself.”

Here’s one finding my own research uncovered: I’ve attended many conferences on prayer, revival, discipleship, the Christian life, and/or theological debates during which I rarely hear the name of Jesus mentioned during the main sessions of the conference, let alone in discussions at refreshment breaks—except to conclude a prayer. Too often, even the lyrics of songs used in times of worship do not lift up Jesus. This is such a regular heartbreak to me—among all streams of Christians—that I have to assume it must be virtually embedded in the evangelical DNA.

But why not do some research yourself? Circulate among the people in your church for the next three Sunday mornings, listening to what they are talking about with one another. Observe the emphasis in times of worship. Take notes during the sermon. Ask another friend or two to do the same. Next, all of you meet to compare notes. You’ll be shocked at how rarely the name of Jesus ever comes up among believers on a Sunday morning—when one would expect that Jesus would be the main topic!

Then, recall what Jesus declared in Matthew 12: The mouth reveals what already fills the heart. This should suggest that for a significant majority of God’s people, and often their leaders, the stunning truths about King Jesus simply are not FILLING our hearts—nor, therefore, our conversations.

So what can we do about this—this greatest crisis of all? How can we turn this around before it is too late—before we are overtaken by all the other crises set to envelop us in the 2020s?


This concludes Part 1 of David Bryant’s two-part blog post. In a couple of days, we’ll send you Part 2. It will supply you with lots of reasons to have hope—as it defines specifically how the answer to our prayers is drawing near and what it will look like. Be watching for Part 2.

NOTE: This blog originally posted on February 19, 2020. But its focus and content are more relevant now than when it was first published.

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.

 


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JESUS: What if We SEE Him the Way We SAY Him? https://christnow.com/jesus-what-if-we-see-himthe-way-we-say-him/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=jesus-what-if-we-see-himthe-way-we-say-him https://christnow.com/jesus-what-if-we-see-himthe-way-we-say-him/#comments Tue, 03 Aug 2021 02:00:16 +0000 https://christnow.com/?p=17013 JESUS: What if We SEE Him the Way We SAY Him? Salvatore Anthony Luiso [EDITOR’S NOTE: Words clearly matter when it comes to how we speak to others about Jesus. It shapes how they respond to him. But it also matters for you because the ways you refer to Jesus shape the ways you reverence Jesus and respond to him […]

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JESUS: What if We SEE Him
the Way We SAY Him?
Salvatore Anthony Luiso

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Words clearly matter when it comes to how we speak to others about Jesus. It shapes how they respond to him. But it also matters for you because the ways you refer to Jesus shape the ways you reverence Jesus and respond to him in your own heart. In this guest blog post, Salvatore A. Luiso gives unique insights into the impact we have – on ourselves and others – based on how we brand God’s Son as we talk about him. — David Bryant]

There are many ways in which we refer to the Son of God. It is important for us to be attentive to how we do this because it both reflects and affects our relationship with him.

How we refer to him varies not only from one person to another but from one church to another.

In some churches, he is often, if not mostly, referred to by the name his parents gave him in obedience to God: “Jesus” (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31). In other churches, he is most often referred to by title, such as “Lord,” “Savior,” “Christ,” or a combination of a title and “Jesus”—for example, “Lord Jesus” or “Jesus Christ.”

Why is this?

I have not conducted a formal study of that question. But based upon my own experiences, I believe it is because of differences in concern and emphasis with respect to him and our relationship with him.

This is what I think. Do you agree?

  1. Churches that are primarily concerned with and emphasize his humanity, approachability, and the importance of having a personal relationship or intimacy with him refer to him as “Jesus”—without a title—more often than do other churches.
  1. Churches that mainly value and emphasize his role as savior refer to him more often as “Savior” than do other churches.
  1. Churches that are very serious about and emphasize paying due reverence to the Son of God refer to him with at least one title, such as “Lord,” “Christ,” or “Lord Jesus Christ,” more often than do other churches.

Of course, there are churches that have a combination of these emphases. However, often one of the concerns is primary and thus the most influential.

If we are Jesus’ disciples, we should want to know this: How do the Scriptures refer to him?

Answer: In dozens of ways, all of which are good and all of which we may use.

Yet, as his disciples, we should be most concerned with how the apostles referred to him after his ascension.

Jesus chose them and prepared them to serve as teachers of his church. They not only knew him better than anyone, they knew him in ways we can only imagine. We can see how they referred to him in the book of Acts and the epistles.

There they refer to him sometimes as “Jesus” without a title, but, in the vast majority of cases, they refer to him either with only a title, such as “Christ,” or with at least one title plus “Jesus,” such as “Jesus Christ” and “Lord Jesus Christ.”

I recommend that we all examine and consider how we usually refer to the Son of God because, as I said, how we do so both reflects and affects our relationship with him.

If we speak of him more frequently as “Jesus” without a title rather than with one, this could well be a sign that we revere him less than the apostles did—and thus less than we ought.

Similarly, if we refer to him more frequently as “Savior” than as “Lord,” this could well be a sign that, unlike the apostles, we regard him more as Savior than as Lord.

It is vital that we regard him as both. He is not only the Savior of those who trust in him for their salvation, and he is not only the Lord of those who follow and obey him, but he reigns as Lord over everyone and everything in all creation, both now and forever.

Of course, as Jesus warned us in the Sermon on the Mount, it is possible to refer to him as “Lord” without actually knowing him and relating to him as Lord, which involves reverence and obedience (Matthew 7:21-23). Throughout history, multitudes of people have referred to him as “Lord” and “Christ” without living as if he were either.

I believe, though, that referring to him as “Lord” is conducive to thinking of him as Lord over ALL and thus to responding to him accordingly—with due reverence, humility, and obedience.

A few questions for consideration:

  1. How do you commonly refer to the Son of God?
  1. Why do you refer to him in that way or ways?
  1. Do you ever refer to him with other descriptive names, titles, or phrases that are recorded in the Scriptures, such as Son of David, Prince of Peace, Master, Rabbi (Teacher), High Priest, King, Lamb of God, Bridegroom, Holy One, or Alpha and Omega? If so, how, when, and why?
  1. How do you think the way you “say” him actually reflects and affects how you “see” him? Please leave your comments below.
NOTE: This blog originally posted on July 15, 2020. But its focus and content are more relevant now than when it was first published.

About the Author

Salvatore Anthony Luiso is a research assistant for David Bryant and the ChristNow team. He resides in Williamsburg, VA.


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