An Inward Reality
Well, just this, that is so true in the other cases, it was not only something before the eyes of Peter (and the others); it was something that happened to him, and afterward came into him. True, there was the event, the happening, in time, at a certain place. But, with it, something happened in Peter. You notice the immediate context: he is speaking of his departure. "Knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle cometh swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me." "I will seek that you have these things after my departure ..." He is at the end of his life, at the end of his ministry; but something has happened that has carried him through. It is not that something has remained as the memory of an objective experience, but that something has happened in him.
This is more than a doctrine, more than a theory, more than even something in the Holy Scriptures. To see the Lord does something in us. We can get the "truth" about anything and everything; all the truth that is available about the Lord Jesus Himself - His birth, His life, His works, His words, His death, His resurrection - all that there is; we can have all the "truth" about the Church - and what a lot there is available; we can have it all, know it all - nothing fresh to know about it; and any other thing you like to mention, in the Scriptures - and yet the fact can remain that nothing has happened in us as a result. I ask you: What has all your knowledge of the Church meant, as a "happening" in you, to effect something, to put you in a new place, with an entirely new conception, revolutionizing your whole life, so that one whole order of things just falls away as empty, and another heavenly order comes in? That is how it ought to be. True spiritual apprehension ought not just to be something in front of us - it ought to be something IN us. It was so with Peter, and we can trace this in his life.
Take again his great contemporary, Paul. Here is this fact, that, on the Damascus road, Jesus appeared unto him in glory - "brightness above the brightness of the sun." It was a tremendous objective "something" that was before him; it struck him as from the outside. But as you know, when speaking of it years afterward, he says: "it pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15, 16). It was not only to him - it was something IN him. The Apostle Paul's whole life and ministry was based upon and sprang out of that double event, to and in. And the Majesty of the Lord Jesus became an "inward" thing with him, and therefore a tremendously effective thing. The answer to the critics, who say that Saul of Tarsus was in a frenzy, and therefore was overtaken by a terrible hysteria, and began to "see things," and believed that they were real, and that that is the psychological explanation of the conversion of Paul - the answer is his life of endurance, and suffering, and service, and love; and his death for his testimony. You do not go that way, like that, on a dream, on an imagination, on an hysteria. I venture to say that a very small proportion of what Paul had to meet during the thirty years of his ministry would knock hysteria out of most men. No, something happened INside; the vision did something IN him, as well as being something to him.
And so we could go on with the other people, like John, who saw the Lord in His glory. But that is enough. The thing happened to him, but it happened IN him. It was an event, true; but it was also an abiding process. For, right on through their lives, this was the thing that was growing - this marvelous greatness of the Lord Jesus. They did not get t all at once, even in the wonderful event, but throughout their lives the one mighty thing that was happening was this growing realization. Jesus, in all the greatness of His glorified Person and position, was dominating their whole horizon and the whole course of their lives.
(continued with # 11 - "The Principle of Spiritual Vision")