LISTEN TO EPISODE ONE
THERE ARE KEYS YOU AREN’T USING
This mini-course is a wake-up call for Christians to become wholly alive to the whole vision of the whole Christ in powerful, life-changing ways.
Dr. Steve Greene: Hello and welcome to the Christ Is Now Mini-Course, written by David Bryant. I’m Steve Greene, the Publisher and Executive VP of Charisma Media. My job is to be your host and guide through this course. I’ll be asking David lots of questions and asking him to tell us more about this great book he’s written as we proceed through this mini-course. Christ Is Now is a powerful book of over 600 pages of in-depth understanding and explanation of principles that will really cause you to experience the Lord Jesus Christ in a different way. I like what he says in his book—“Meet him again for the first time.” I read that and I about fell out of the chair. I was thinking, Do I need to meet Jesus again? I didn’t know, I didn’t understand when we begin to know him as Paul knew him and as many of his disciples did, you know him in an experiential way—it’s almost as if it is for the first time. So, it’s powerful, it’s moving and I think you’re going to pick that up from this course.
There are seven keys that David’s written about. Seven keys to help you explore and experience the spectacular supremacy of God’s Son today. Just think about that. What course can you take that will give you more for eternity than a course like this? Through seven different steps of getting closer to Jesus with every single study, David Bryant, the author of this book and our guide through these seven steps, is the founder of Concerts of Prayer International. He is the president of Proclaim Hope, he’s the designer of the Christ Institute, and he’s the author of the widely-proclaimed book that was sort of the predecessor to this book, Christ Is All.
You’re about to embark on a course to expand your relationship. Think about that—there’s your goal. There’s your course syllabus, Expand Your Relationship With Jesus. It’s based on ten years, at least ten years, of David’s research, his writing. He calls it his opus, his opus work on the life of Christ. The result is seven keys to unlocking deeper experiences with Christ. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get started.
Let’s get started, David. Welcome to this course. Thank you for allowing us to interview you and for developing this course.
David Bryant: Thank you. I sure look forward to where we’re headed in this study.
Dr. Steve Greene: Well, obviously the book is powerful. It has had a major impact on my life and I just want to make sure that everyone gets out of this book what God put in your heart when you wrote it. That’s a pretty good goal, right?
David Bryant: Yes, it is and you know there’s nothing more thrilling for an author than to be able to share the very core of your being and have people actually want it. Finally, it comes out in the form of a book and now others can step into that stream with you.
Dr. Steve Greene: So let’s start this study in this very first moment of the class with an experiment. I’d like to assign that experiment based on the three-minute experiment that you wrote about in your book. If we could just challenge our listeners and our viewers right now to think through this challenge. I want to ask you to present that challenge.
David Bryant: Well, I’ve been doing this for years and it’s really a fun experiment. You can do it in a Sunday School class or with a small-group Bible study during some session. Give everybody about five minutes to think about it, but what you’re going to do is ask each person to take three minutes, just three minutes—that goes by so rapidly—take three minutes and tell me everything you know about who Jesus is today, not tell me what he’s done for you, although that’s important too, not just tell me who he was as we read about him in the Gospels, or tell me who you expect him to be when you see him coming in glory, but rather tell me who he is today. Tell me who he is, even if you didn’t exist. Who would he be today? What I found to be almost without exception is that even Christians who have spent 30 years studying Scripture and walking with Jesus, they cannot fill three minutes. They have not gotten to know the fullness of who Jesus himself is sufficiently to have enough words or adequate vocabulary even to say what’s in their heart to say. So part of what we’re doing in this course—we’re doing two things in this course—one, we’re introducing people to a much larger vision of Jesus than they probably have ever explored before which is why it says, “Meet him again for the first time.” You’re meeting him again, but it will feel like you just met him for the first time because it will be such a much larger vision. The other thing we’re doing with this course is giving you a new vocabulary by which you can talk about Jesus to your friends and fellow believers and also to your non-Christian friends and show him to others in a new way.
Dr. Steve Greene: What if we did a pre-test and a post-test of this experiment?
David Bryant: Now there you go.
Dr. Steve Greene: Do you think people who take this course will have a different answer by the end?
David Bryant: Absolutely. In fact, I call it a reintroduction to Jesus, but then sometimes I call it a reconversion to Jesus. It sort of turns me around in my relationship with him so radically. And again, I’ve been teaching this for years. I’ve seen the results both in this country and in other parts of the world. I’ve seen it in every stream of the church, not just one stream of the church. And I know that this vision that we’re going to explore in this course can so totally transform a person’s life that, you bet, by the end of this course, have them go back with those three minutes and they’ll demand a whole lot more time.
Dr. Steve Greene: As an old college professor, quite old college professor, I started all of my classes with, “Let’s think about what will happen when you walk out of this room for the last time in 14 weeks—a full semester. How are you going to change? What’s going to happen?” Would you just allude to that just in a short sentence? What do you see is the major change you have heard about for these years that you’ve written the book? What is the change that is going to occur?
David Bryant: The course, like the subtitle of the book, says we’re going to explore and experience. So part of what we hope will happen for people both going through this course as well as going through the book, is not just that there will be new head knowledge, the exploring, the research, the digging into Scripture of what Jesus really is in Scripture, but that all along the way we will be encountering him, experiencing him, that our relationship with him will be growing. So the way I would put it is that, by the end of the course, if it’s been successful, you can say to me, “I feel like for the first time I am wholly alive to the whole vision of the whole Christ.” If that’s true, then there is no limit to where the Holy Spirit can take you as you live for the glory of God.
Dr. Steve Greene: What you’ve just said reminded me of your opening analogy with Niagara Falls. Why don’t you speak to that just a bit?
David Bryant: Well, actually I assume many of our listeners have been through Niagara Falls. It’s quite an awesome experience and then if you get on the Maid of the Mist ride, which is a boat ride, and it takes you right up to the edge of the Falls and you get to a place where you’re getting saturated with the mist coming off the Falls, plus the thundering noise is so loud that you really can’t hear anything else but the Falls. One time when I was experiencing that, I’ve been there three or four times, I got to thinking about John’s experience in Revelation Chapter 1 where he was on the island of Patmos, a martyr for his faith, and Jesus appeared to him and yet Jesus appeared to him in a way that John had never seen him before. John was with him for three years and wrote a whole gospel about him, but John said, “When I saw him, his face was like the sun shining in his fullness, his voice was…” and this is what I thought was cool, “His voice was like the thunder of a great waterfall.” So, it just drowned out everything and John said, “I fell at his feet like a dead man.” It took his breath away. He thought he knew Jesus, but now he’s being introduced to Jesus in his ascended glory and it was a Jesus he had never met before and John’s whole life was changed from that moment forward.
Dr. Steve Greene: It sure was. I thought about normally when we start at the beginning of a class, we tell the students what to bring to class with them and I think maybe the advice I’d tell the students for this course: bring bifocal glasses to the study.
David Bryant: Oh yes. Well, I talk about that in the beginning part of the book about King Jesus glasses and that’s another answer to your question, what do you hope people will have with them when they come out of this course. I hope they’ll have a whole new pair of lenses, a whole new pair of glasses. King Jesus glasses are bifocal in this sense—that when you come out of this course, that you will have a pair of glasses that helps you see Jesus for all he is at this moment of time and the fullness of who he is. In these seven prepositions that we’ll unpack, each one introduces a different dimension of who the reigning, descending Jesus is at this very hour. They’re bifocals and by that I mean, that as a result, you’ll start looking at the rest of life around you, that is life that is up closer to you, that you’ll start seeing all those lives, all of life, through the person of Jesus. Looking at yourself, how you look at your own self-image and what you think of yourself, looking at your fellow believers, looking at all the challenges and even tragedies that we face in the world today, looking at the front page of your newspaper, just everything in your life, looking in terms of how you worship the Lord, in your prayer life, even in what you discover as you get into the Scriptures on any topic, any text, that you’re looking at Jesus in a new way and then looking at the rest of life through Jesus in a whole new way.
Dr. Steve Greene: You know there’s another tool that I would like to suggest to our students that they bring to the class and that’s an open Bible. I read your book with my Bible open because it’s always a devotion to me. And the book is full of Scripture references. It’s rich with the Word—in particular, as we begin this, rich with Psalm 110 and you open with it. I believe it’s your first citation and you go deeply into it. Would you share just a tad of that with us?
David Bryant: Here’s the discovery I made a few years ago as I was going deeper and deeper into what Scripture teaches about Jesus and trying to get to understand how the New Testament church, as we see it unfolding in the book of Acts, how did they look at Christ? What I discovered was that the most frequently quoted Old Testament passage, either quoted or referenced by virtually every author of every book of the New Testament, and remember the Old Testament was the only Bible the early church had, they didn’t have a New Testament yet. It hadn’t been written so they kept going back to the 39 books that we call the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, and there is one passage they went back to more than any other. And I’ll often be in a room full of pastors, I’ll say, “What do you think it is?” and they’ll guess all kinds of things like Isaiah 53. But nobody ever guesses the true answer and that’s what you mentioned, Psalm 110. It’s the psalm that begins, “The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ The Lord will extend your scepter from Zion and you will rule in the midst of your enemies. Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn your youth will come to you…” And it goes on, “You’re a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” —and you watch, even on the day of Pentecost. With this, I’ll end. I hope this whets people’s appetite to see all places that it appears. But on the day of Pentecost when Peter climaxed his sermon, the very first sermon of the New Testament church, he climaxed it by quoting from Psalm 110 and then his concluding sentence was, “this Jesus whom you’ve crucified, God has made both Lord and Messiah.” He’s been exalted, he is at the right hand, he is supreme, he is reigning and that’s when the crowd that was listening cried out, “What must we do?” It’s when they heard what Psalm 110 is talking about. The New Testament Christians were caught up in the ascension of Jesus as much as any other facet of his redeeming work.
Dr. Steve Greene: That’s right. What a powerful statement. I’m so glad that we have a teacher of this book that’s excited about it. I know you will keep us on the edge of our seats as we go through this class. No part of this course is going to be boring. You’re not going to get any sleep listening to this class. I know a lot of my students took my class just so they could take a nap, but we’re not going to have that with you. We just have a couple of minutes left in this first session together with our students. I want you to speak a little bit about the Christology of Christ.
David Bryant: Part of the reason I wrote the book, Steve, is because I have sensed for a number of years—and I’ve spent my life traveling the body of Christ, I’ve gotten into every stream of the church and many parts of the world—and I’m seeing everywhere I go a similar crisis. It’s a real spiritual disability. I call it a Christ of Christology. It’s a crisis of our vision of who Jesus really is and it manifests itself in so many ways. For example, one of the leading evangelical churches in this nation did an in-depth survey of their congregation of 20,000 members and found that 80% of them said that the greatest fear they have in the Christian life is to grow in intimacy with Jesus. I said, how could that possibly be in a Bible-teaching, Bible-preaching church? The answer is, if you don’t know someone very well then you’re sort of afraid of getting real intimate with them. Another survey recently found that 80% of pastors in our nation say the greatest thing they struggle with in ministry is melancholy: it’s a sense of hopelessness, it’s like nothing’s going anywhere. If I don’t have a large enough vision of Jesus, it is easy to feel defeated and deflated and wonder what good is anything I’m doing, what difference does it make? Among our young people, for example, this statistic 80% of the youth coming out of our evangelical families are leaving the church when they leave home. We’re losing our young people. The questions is, why aren’t we keeping them? Those who work among the youth say because we’re not giving them a big enough vision of Jesus to make them, compel them to keep moving with him after they get out from underneath their parents. There is a crisis and this crisis is undermining our impact for the Gospel, it’s undermining our impact on our culture, it’s weakening the church significantly. And the culture is growing and it ought to sober every one of us. And the only answer to that crisis is what I call a Christ awakening: that God’s people have got to wake up by coming out of sleep early in the morning and know you’ve been unconscious and now you see what was there waiting for you all night long. You see Jesus. Paul said, Wake up and clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the great need of the hour. And, Steve, as you know, we talked about this, I have lived for a number of years with the absolute conviction that we are on the threshold of the Spirit of God of such a Christ awakening. I get up every day expecting that today might be that day where it really breaks forth in the life of this nation.
Dr. Steve Greene: What a great prayer. As we conclude this, we’re going to open up our minds just a little bit as to what’s coming and you spent over ten years to find seven keys to that awakening. Just as a course syllabus, give us an idea of what these seven keys are and maybe a little bit about your journey to find them.
David Bryant: Actually, it’s been about 40 years getting to this book. I’ve been trying to write this specific book for the last ten years, but it’s been a 40-year journey, a pilgrimage to move into a deeper relationship with Christ and a larger vision of him. After I had spent years researching—and I’ve read hundreds of books on Christ and going back to the early church fathers right up to some modern releases—and what I did was every time I discovered something somebody was saying about Jesus and I thought, that’s a new insight. I’d write it on a 3×5 card and then I’d start trying to organize them. I had maybe 12 full shoeboxes of all these cards and I said: How do I distill this down so that the average Christian who doesn’t have the time to do all the research that I had been doing, how do I distill it and make it so simple, so manageable that they can get their heads and their hearts around it and it can take them like railroad tracks to move them in a whole new direction with Jesus? That’s where I came down to these seven prepositions: who he is to us, that’s his personhood; who he is for us, that’s his full redemptive work; who he is over us, over history, over the nations, over the church, over the powers of darkness; who he is before us as he goes ahead of us into the future, into the heavens, into the world; who he is within us individually and in our life together corporately; who he is working through us in order to bring his ministry into the world; and finally, who he is upon us as he intensifies and deepens every other thing he’s doing. This is what we sometimes call revival or ultimately we will call The Second Coming of Christ as he comes upon the whole creation. So, who he is to us, for us, over us, before us, within us, through us, upon us. That’s everything the Bible teaches on who Jesus is today.
Dr. Steve Greene: My grammar teacher is going to be so happy because we’re using seven prepositions. She just didn’t want to go to heaven without teaching me seven prepositions.
David Bryant: Well, that’s great to hear.
Dr. Steve Greene: To our students, we end our first class in this great mini-course on Christ Is Now but before we go into this journey and start in our next lesson, I’d like you to consider your biggest takeaway from this introductory lesson. Who is Jesus Christ right now? Who is Jesus to you? Take that three-minute experiment and make an effort. Perhaps you might want to open up your phone and speak into a voice note, maybe you want to write it in your journal, maybe you want to tell someone in your home. Ask your children that same question. Go out as you’re cutting grass and ask your neighbor. Ask the question for yourself and this will be your homework for this first session. The main thing now is for you to prepare for the next lesson. If you don’t have this book, I recommend you find it on Amazon.com, perhaps you might want to get the Kindle version for it. I’ve read both. I’ve got the book in hardback, it’s on my nightstand. I use the digital version because I can carry it around a lot easier, it’s very portable. So you’re in a great study. This is course 1, this is lesson 1 of the mini-course with this great author, David Bryant, and the name of the book and this seminar is Christ Is Now. Thank you for being with us today. Get ready to meet Jesus for the first time. God bless you all.