"He Must Reign" (continued)
Paul's Transfigured Bible
From that crisis, that encounter, that vision, that "seeing" - that transaction, shall we call it - everything else took its rise in the life of Paul the apostle. Everything from that moment was transfigured, transformed, seen in an entirely new way, in the light of Jesus as on the Throne. After that, Paul went for a little while to Damascus, and then he went away into Arabia; and he went there with his Bible, I am quite sure; there are all the evidences of it. And he spent a long time there, with the Bible in one hand, and Jesus on the Throne, so to speak, in the other. If you want to know your Bible, that is the way; that is the key; that is the door - Jesus on the Throne, and the Bible. And Paul got a new Bible, a transfigured Bible! He saw his Bible, his Old Testament, with which he was very familiar, in a new and a living light, through that great truth - Jesus on the Throne! And as he went back over the Bible that he had, he saw this inherent everywhere. "Yes, yes, that is what is here!" He saw that the Bible was really the Book of one thing - God's intention to have a Man and His kind in dominion, reigning in glory. This matter of the glory of a Man in Heaven interpreted everything, explained everything.
After all, when you come to think of it, it does open the Bible. Why these awful conditions that we see? Because that is contrary to what God intended; it declares it. We look out on the world, and see the awful conditions in the nations, and around about us in our own country - the terrible conditions of suffering, of misery, of evil and we may feel inclined to ask the question of the doubter, of the cynic: Why? Why? Why does God allow it? The answer is here: God allows that which is contrary to Him to shout at men that it is contrary - He never meant it to be like that. When something goes wrong, God does not just pass it over, smooth it over, let it go as though it did not matter: He makes it shout its own crime and its own tragedy. The world is screaming with its own tragedy, and it is the tragedy of a missed purpose of God. Interpret that to the world, and you have an effective way of bringing in the Gospel.
But the Bible sprang into life for Paul, and it is an amazing thing how, from that moment, as he took his Bible with him everywhere, the one thing he is preaching is: "Jesus is Lord; Jesus Christ is Lord!" The exalted Lord, the exalted Christ, the glorified Christ, was his theme; and Paul preached from the Bible. It had changed his Bible for him. It was responsible for, and accounted for, his whole mission and work. What was the great business to which he was committed? What was it that constituted him an apostle? Well, his mission and his work was impassioned and motivated and controlled by just this one thing - the absolute glory of the Lord Jesus; that Jesus should come into His rightful place in this world and in human hearts. That was the one motive, the one object, the one dominating thing in all his work, in all his mission. It was not this and that, and a number of other things; it was one central, but all-inclusive passion - Jesus as Lord, to be that in human lives. His work and his mission were both transfigured and controlled by this that had come into his experience.
His sufferings and his endurance were made possible by this vision. Sometimes he makes light of his sufferings. If ever a man suffered, I think that man suffered. I do not know that there were many ways in which he did not suffer; he suffered greatly, many sufferings, and heavy sufferings. But listen! "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen" (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18); and among those "things not seen", supremely and over them all, was that Exalted One in the glory, "Whom", says his fellow-apostle Peter, "having not seen ye love; on Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). But the point is - how was it tat he was able to endure and suffer triumphantly? It was just because of this basic and central consciousness - the deep, strong conviction that Jesus was on the Throne.
(continued with # 58 - "Paul's Understanding of the Church, and Concern for the Churches")