LISTEN TO EPISODE TWO
KEY ONE | WHO IS CHRIST TO US TODAY?
The first key is Who He Is TO Us. This key explores Jesus, the person. It’s like a personality profile – getting to know his personhood. The first key is the beginning of understanding that Jesus is God and to bow before Jesus is to bow before God. Above everything else, we must first answer this question: Who is Jesus TO us in terms of his personhood?
Dr. Steve Greene: Hello, Welcome back to the Christ Is Now Mini-Course written by David Bryant. I’m your host, Steve Greene, your guide and facilitator to the study of this great course. We’ve just completed lesson #1. You’ve probably done your homework. I trust that you’ve done that. And as we begin our second lesson, we’re actually walking into the first key to exploring and developing that experience with Jesus. We’re going to learn more about that today with the author who is with us now.
The first key is Who Christ Is To Us Today. So what did you have in mind as you developed this first key?
David Bryant: Well, first of all, let me just say again, there are seven dimensions of how we’re looking at Jesus. Let me summarize the other ones. Who He Is For has to do with every facet of his redeeming ministry. Who He Is Over has to do with how extensive his reign is both over the nations and over our own lives. Who He Is Before is how he is a pioneer, a pace setter moving out ahead, a pathfinder. A lot of different directions we’ll explore together. Who He Is Within Us is about how he lives his ascended life within us and then through us as he ministers to the world through us. And finally as he comes upon us by the power of the Spirit to deepen and intensify everything else he’s already doing in our lives.
The first one is Who He Is To Us, which is therefore saying before we get into all those other things (which are more like how he’s taking action), who is the person himself? So it’s sort of like a personality profile—getting to know his personhood. And of course, the beginning place in that is to simply state what the great confessions of the faith have stated for 2,000 years: that Jesus is God, and to bow before Jesus is to bow before God. And that above everything else is the first answer to the question: who is Jesus to us in terms of his person?
Dr. Steve Greene: Well, I love the question you asked in your book: how would you describe him if you tried to introduce him to someone who knew very little about him? And unfortunately again, going back to your first lesson, that probably wouldn’t take most of us very long. So how do they paint that portrait? To go back to your Rembrandt analogy: how do they paint that picture of him? What do you think?
David Bryant: Well, you know, when we want to share Jesus with others, we think about the things he’s done for us. And that’s part of our testimony and that needs to be part of our witness to believers and unbelievers. But then, how do I get to help someone know him as a person? Like, if I didn’t exist, or if I just sort of said I’d like to introduce you and then let them get to know more of what he wants to do for them, where do I go with that? So in the whole section of my book, Christ Is Now, and I guess part of what we’re going to touch on in this brief podcast is a number of things that I discovered about who he is to us—like about his intimacy within the Trinity. What does that mean? He has been a part of Father, Son and Holy Spirit forever and ever and ever.
He has an intimacy with Father, Son and Holy Spirit that we can’t even begin to comprehend, but it defines who he is. What does that mean? Or, I call him the perfection of revelation. He who has seen me has seen the Father, he said. He is able to show us God in a way that no other great religious leader could even come close to.
I call him the picture of Scripture because he’s what Scripture has been writing about and pointing toward and prophesying about and promising about. And, all of those passages get summed up in the person of the Lord Jesus. Or another one, just to round it out a little bit here, is: the claims of his name. There are hundreds of names that are given to the Lord Jesus in the Old and the New Testament and every one of those names tells me a characteristic of who he is as a person as well as anything he wants to do for us.
Dr. Steve Greene: So, you’ve made the intimacy with the Trinity a great part of your chapter. Could you speak a little bit more on the intimacy with the Trinity?
David Bryant: Well, a lot of people ask the question when I give such a strong stress on let’s get to know Jesus, they say isn’t that a little too strong? I mean what about the Father? What about the Holy Spirit? You seem to be making too much of Jesus. So I started asking the question of audiences, is it possible to make too much of Christ? And then I said, how much does the Father make of him? Should we not be at least as passionate of the Son as the Father and the Spirit are? And of course, the answer to that is: of course we should!
So then I start looking at, (and we don’t have time to look at all the different passages), where the three in one are involved. Let me take you to one of the great final moments when that comes through in Scripture. In Revelation chapter 5 in that great throne room scene: You’ve got the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in that scene. You’ve got the Father and that’s the throne and we see the throne with all the lighting and thunder and so on. You’ve got Jesus who’s the Lamb that was slain at the center of the throne. And then I always ask the question: well, how does anybody see any of this? How was John able to see what was going on with the angels and the saints falling down and so on. Well he says there are seven lampstands in the room which represent the seven-fold spirit who roams throughout the whole earth. And it’s the Spirit of God throwing light on the throne of God. That’s the Spirit’s role—to take us into more of who Christ is, throwing light on the throne of God. But at the throne in the center is the Son of God, like a Lamb who had been slain and yet now standing victorious, even called the Lion of the tribe of Judah in that same passage. So I want to make as much of Christ in the Trinity as the Trinity makes of Jesus. And I think if we do that we can’t get far off.
Dr. Steve Greene: Well, you said that Christ’s ministry was and is an act of revelation when we get into John, chapter 1. Could you address that a little bit and what John was writing as he had a great revelation of who Jesus is and was at the time he visited?
David Bryant: Well his prologue in chapter 1 is really, in a sense, an introduction of what he’s going to write about in the whole rest of John. And there are a number of places in the gospel of John where Jesus states essentially that those who see me have seen the Father. What John says in the opening prologue is no one has seen God at any time. The only Son (now watch this phrase) who is from the bosom of the Father—in other words he’s coming out of the deepest possible intimacy you could ever have, like a child is born out of the womb of a mother—out of the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. And he goes on to say that we have seen him, the glory of God full of grace and truth. So Jesus, in everything he’s ever said or done, among whatever else is involved in that, what he’s trying to do (maybe preeminently) is help me to know the very person and character and ways of the living God in a way the Old Testament saints never could. And they got a lot of insights, like when they saw him in fire and thunder on the mount of Sinai, but nothing like what we see in Jesus. Even there in that manger, as a little child, we see that God is full of humility. He reveals the humility of God when he comes as a baby among us.
Dr. Steve Greene: You have a brilliant section that you call the picture of Scripture. Precisely who he should be to us. The one to whom all Scripture points, to whom all Scripture finds its real meaning. Teacher, would you expand on that a little bit? It’s so powerful.
David Bryant: Well, actually, I like the way Paul puts it in Colossians chapter 2 speaking of the Old Testament. He says these things are a shadow but the reality is Christ. And I think about if somebody is standing beside me and then sun is behind our backs I can look down on the ground and I see their shadow and that gives me a little bit of understanding of who he is. But there’s nothing like turning and looking at the person standing there beside me who is casting that shadow. Or take, for example, a sonogram. When the baby is growing in the womb you can have a lot of different sonograms. You might share those with your friends. But once the baby is born you don’t take those sonograms and put them in frames and hang them on your wall. No, you take real pictures of that baby and that’s what gets in the frame. Because you don’t want to live in the sonograms anymore. The real thing is here. So when you look at a lot of what Scripture says, particularly the Old Testament in its predictive fashion about this One who is coming, who is going to fulfill all the law and the prophets and all the promises of God, and complete all the purposes of God—all of that was just shadows. All of that was just sonograms. But now we have the reality. Now we have the real person who cast those shadows, who made those sonograms. And he’s the one we get to be engaged with right now in a way that Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 3 is like being face to face with him right now. We will be one day in a more physical sense, but our intimacy and involvement with the real living substantial Lord Jesus Christ, even now compared to anything before he even came is like being face to face with him every day.
Dr. Steve Greene: That’s so powerful. And what a promise, and a fulfilled promise for anyone who seeks him. So, we get another idea of who he is to us by what the Scripture teaches us about his names and the power in those names. Would you speak to that?
David Bryant: There’s an old gospel hymn that says “His name is wonderful….Jesus my Lord….he’s the Great Shepherd….the Rock of all ages….Almighty God is he” That’s gets three or four of the names. I have a friend who developed a devotional book after he had done some years of studying the names for Jesus. And the title of the book is I Want To Know Jesus. And he developed a one-day devotional of one name for Jesus that appeared in either the Old or New Testament. He was able to develop 365 devotionals and he said he still had a lot more names to go but he ran out of days in the year. And that really hit me. There’s an experiment I do with audiences when I’m teaching live on this. And that is, I have a handout where we have approximately 200 names for Jesus. And we do it back and forth. It’s a responsive reading. So I’ll start by saying, “Your name is the great I Am, and your name is the Shepherd of the Sheep, and your name is the King of Kings”, and on you go back and forth and back and forth. And it lasts for maybe three minutes. And when you’re done with that you just stop and let the silence reign as the people try to absorb. Wow! And I always say to the pastors, listen if you’re having trouble figuring out what your next sermon series could be, why don’t you do a 365 sermon series? In other words, you’ve got enough sermon material here to last the rest of your ministry if you just take one name each Sunday and unpack who Jesus is based on that name.
Dr. Steve Greene: Well looking at your book, the list in there is long. And you go from every book in the Bible. All 66 books have a name and you can find so much of his identity and who he is to us. But you don’t stop there. You go and take that identity and apply it to our destiny.
David Bryant: To me, this is the most exciting part of this whole discussion—Who Jesus Is To Us. I have a whole section in the book where I talk about (and I put the two together because they’re inseparable) he is our identity and our destiny. And I put it this way to put it simply. When God looks at us he sees us through Jesus. He sees us in Jesus. We are united to Jesus. God treats us as if we were Jesus. He is my total identity. When we say we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, that means that God looks at his Son who is totally and perfectly righteous. Then he sees me in his Son. Then he says you are so totally wrapped into my Son so that I see you as righteous as he is. And your sin is what he died for and is taken away. The only way I see you now from this point forward is who you are in Jesus, which then also dictates my destiny. Because I have no future but Jesus. I have no future but his future. Whatever his future is all about. And boy, when you start reading what Scripture says all about what’s coming in the ages ahead, it’s exciting. And that’s Jesus future and it all belongs to him, but I belong to him so I get to be a part of that future with him. He is my identity; he is my destiny. And that changes the way I want to walk out each day when I live in the reality of those two truths.
Dr. Steve Greene: And when you studied this first preposition (Who Christ Is To Us today), you cannot end this chapter without an overflow of passion.
David Bryant: Yes. Coming back to something I mentioned a few minutes ago. The question is: how passionate is the Father for the Son? I’ll never be as passionate as he is, but I need to strive to be as close in my passion for Jesus as he is. I often put it this way. We’ve heard for years about what’s called “the purpose-driven Christian” and that’s a wonderful concept. But the way I think of it is this: in order to be a purpose-driven Christian as a way of life, I need to first of all be a passion-driven Christian. Because if I don’t have a fire burning in my heart for the things of God, I’ll never be sustained in that purpose. But to be a passion-driven Christian, I need to be first of all a promise-driven Christian. Because my passion and my fire will not burn unless I’m convinced that the things I’m living for and the one I’m living for, that all those promises are true and substantial and permanent and utterly dependable and totally desirable. So therefore, I become passionate to be involved in the purpose that brings those promises to fulfillment. But, final statement, I cannot be a promise-driven Christian unless I’m first of all a person-driven Christian. The person of Jesus. Because like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1: all the promises of God are yes to us in Christ Jesus. All the promises of God are about him, they’re for him, they’re fulfilled in him, and they’re only mine because I’m in him. So I get person-driven. And if that happens, then I’ll be more than ever promise-driven, which will make me more than ever passion-driven, which will get me into the purposes of God and keep me there going full strength in what God has called me to do.
Dr. Steve Greene: Such a clear path and so well taught. So my challenge to all of our listeners and students of this class is to really focus on who Christ is to you today. To go back through this study. Listen to it several times. Really think about what you’ve learned. And of course, grab the book if you don’t have it. It’s available on Amazon.com. I also want to refer you right back to Christnow.com where you can find more material and lots of goodies from this author.
So this concludes our session #2 and it’s your turn to do your homework. Study this and ask yourself. Write this note—who is Christ to you now? And as you do that share that with others. Ask that question as you go through your life. It’s a great practice until you get to our next lesson and our next key. We’ll be studying until we get to the next lesson Who Christ Is For Us Today. You’ve studied today with Who Christ Is To Us. I can’t wait to hear David Bryant teach us Who Christ Is For Us Today. We’ll do that in the next lesson. It will be with you in a couple of days and God bless you for studying with us today. David Bryant, thank you so much for this book and your excellent exegesis.
David Bryant: Thank you so much.
Dr. Steve Greene: God bless you all.