TRANSFORMING TRANSITION

BY: JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

JUNE 4, 2013

 

The Koine Greek word, "metanoia," conventionally translated as "repentance," has the meaning, most fundamentally, of a change of mind, but implying such a change as to turn one back to Yahweh as Jonathan Mitchell, points out, expanding on the meaning of  "metanoia," in several places in his translation of the New Testament. The experience of that repentance is very succinctly conveyed by Paul in 2Cor.3:14--18, as he expounds on the conversion from a mindset that relates to God legally, to relating to God by what we SEE in the face of Jesus Christ. Jonathan Mitchell translates this marvelous section of Paul's epistle thusly, with expansion, amplification, and multiple rendering: 

 

"But further, the results of their mental conceptions, intellectual workings and thought processes were petrified (made to be a stony concretion; were hardened and made callous [note: the word became a medical term for being covered with thick skin]), for until this very day the same head-covering (veil) continues remaining (dwelling; abiding) upon the reading of the old covenant (arrangement; thorough placement)--it [i.e., the reading of the old, or the old covenant itself] continues being progressively and fully unemployed and brought down to doing no work and being made useless, ineffective and nullified within Christ (or: = the old arrangement and covenant is nullified in union with [the] Anointing, and in the midst of Christ).

 

"Still furthermore, until today, whenever Moses should be repeatedly read [e.g., in the synagogue], a head-covering (veil) continues lying upon their heart (= the innermost being of the group). Yet whenever the time should be reached when it [= the heart] will twist and turn upon, so as to face toward [the] Lord [= Christ],  'the head-covering (veil) is by habit progressively taken from around [it].' [note: a quote of Ex. 34: 34 LXX, where Moses would enter in to speak with Yahweh; the same act was performed by the husband, on the bride, after the wedding ceremony]

 

"Now the Lord [= Christ or Yahweh] continuously exists being the Spirit (or: Yet the Breath-effect is the Lord), so where [the] Lord's Breath-effect (Spirit; Attitude) [blows, there is] freedom (or: and so in the place in which the Breath-effect--the Spirit---which is [the] Lord [= Christ or Yahweh] [blows], liberty [comes]).

 

"But we all, ourselves--having a face that has been uncovered and remains unveiled [note: as with Moses, before the Lord, Ex. 34:34]--being folks who by a mirror are continuously observing, as ourselves, the Lord's [=Yahweh's or Christ's] glory (or: being those who progressively reflect--from ourselves as by a mirror--the glory of [our] Owner], are presently being continuously and progressively transformed into the very same image, from glory into glory--in accord with and exactly as--from [the Lord's Breath-effect (or: from [the] Spirit and Attitude of [the] Lord (= Christ or Yahweh]). [comment: considering the context of this chapter, this may refer to the transformation from glory of Moses, into the glory of Christ, or, it may be speaking of a from time to time transfiguration from the glory of humanity into the glory of the Anointing, on an individual basis]"  

 

The conversion from relating to God according to the Law (note: the way God does NOT relate to us), to relating to God in the same way He relates to us, is a process that twists us around away from understanding God as a god who bases relationship upon law-requiring performance, to the true God who unreservedly gives us of Himself in the grace that is freely-given Love, which in turn becomes the life-dynamic of those He has redeemed by the blood of Christ.

 

In this article, I want to address a specific element within the above-described administration of God's grace in Christ. There is a transition, moved along by occasional crises, whereby we progress from hearing the Lord, to seeing Him, the former being the reason for the latter. By "seeing," I mean essentially a PERCEIVING of Him, that may, or may not, involve a visual encounter such as that experienced by Paul on the road to Damascus, or, if I may dare to testify in such company, by myself, as He appeared to me in a vision years ago to bring an end to a long period of mental, emotional and spiritual depression, and to baptize me in the Holy Spirit simultaneously. And I understand that seeing the Lord, can be understood as a metaphor for an even more perceptive, experiential knowledge of Him, "Whom to know aright, is life eternal." 

 

This blessed, presently ongoing transition, when completed, will consummate our transformation into the image of God's Son. We hear the voice of the Lord, with the intended goal, and with effective intention, that we will be turned toward Him for a face to face encounter. Do not, dear fellow believer, think that since you hear Him speak to you, that that is the end-all of knowing Him. In fact, if we were allowed to stay at just hearing His voice, the mixture that our still-legally-acculturated consciences adds to that hearing would leave us short of that liberty of the glory of the sons of God that comes from SEEING the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. More and more, our hearing ought to lead to our seeing.

 

I often pick up on the difference when brethren share in testimony, prophecy and teaching. One can sense that element within the sharing of a fellow-believer, revealing that he or she relishes more than anything else the appearing of the Presence of Him who is even now, near and at hand. Contrariwise, it can be sensed that some dear ones are mostly hooked on hearing the voice of the Lord, and their experience almost entirely revolves around being confident that they do hear from Him. There's that reverential awe-element in the words and manner of one who has been turned by the voice of the Lord, to see Him. 

 

As this truth began to dawn upon me, I was struck by how vividly this truth is set forth by John's very representative experience in the opening of the Book of Revelation exemplifying all that follows in that record. I'm referring to a how John experienced an immediate transition from hearing to seeing, and I will tracing only the essential thread within Jonathan Mitchell's translation:

 

"I came to be......within spirit......within the Day which pertains to or has the characteristics of the Lord......and I heard behind me a great voice.....

 

"And so I turned upon the Voice, to SEE WHO spoke with me." (emphasis mine.) 

 

We "turn upon the voice," by the turn-inducement of that Voice, to see Him whom our hearts desire. Jesus spoke of coming to Him. He speaks to us that we might come to Him. He said that He would drag all men to Himself. His voice, heard, has dragging power. We do need to hear His voice, but beyond that is our greater need to see Him as He is. There's a look in the eyes of Jesus that is finally and completely convincing. It's a look from eyes ablaze with the Love of God. Looking into those eyes will lead to looking through those eyes, and when we look through the eyes of love, we know all things perfectly. When we see as He sees, then love's understanding and love's communication go beyond the in-part dimension of tongues, prophecy and all knowledge that fall short of the Way love knows.

 

Trace for yourself the thread throughout the Bible of God's intention to bring us to a face-to-face encounter with Himself: Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Moses spoke with God face-to-face. Of the Word which was from the beginning, John, with a note of awe, wrote, "that which our eyes have seen." Paul, in reference to his apostleship, wrote to the Corinthians, "Have I not seen Jesus our Lord." It is very evident that by Paul hearing the Word of the Lord through Stephen, led to him seeing the Lord appear to him in a great shining light. Trace the apostolic exhortation to, above all things, look for the appearing of the Lord. Note all through the Book of Revelation that by being in the Spirit, time after time, John saw Jesus presented to him in the many forms that spoke of the fullness of His perfected Humanity. It is especially notable that he first turned to see Him in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, which were the summoned gatherings, the called-out assemblies.

 

So often, with such heart-tugging lyrics, the great devotional hymns and gospel songs sound this note. One that I often turn to in spontaneous worship (and I hope I'm remembering the words accurately) goes: "I have walked alone with Jesus in a fellowship divine. Never more can earth allure me, I am His, and He is mine. I have SEEN Him, I have known Him, for He deigns to walk with me, and the glory of His presence will be mine eternally. Oh the glory of His presence, oh the beauty of His face; I am His and His forever, He has won be by His grace."

 

Then, of course, there's that ever-enduring chorus of "Turn your eyes upon Jesus:" "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Though we might prefer some words other than "far beyond the starry sky," and "bye and bye," nevertheless, hear the love-wrought expectation in the lyrics, "Face to face with Christ my Savior; face to face what will it be? When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ, who died for me. Face to face I shall behold Him, far beyond the starry sky. Face to face in all His glory, I shall see Him bye and bye." 

 

This blessed seeing, classically referred to as "the beatific vision," comes to us from within the heart of Deity, for in the first verse of John's Gospel where---as conventionally translated---we read that the Word was with God, the deepest sense of "with" there in the Greek, can be rendered as, "....and the Word was face to face with God." I see in this, the Eternal Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, looking into the face of the Godness by which He was eternally-begotten, and thus from which He, the Son, was natured, turning to face us, and turning us to face Him, so that we might be partakers of the Divine Nature. The very content of that Word, comes from that "face-to-face with God" relationship within the Divine Nature.

 

Much could be written concerning the many ways that Christ appears to us, and we have heard from many---and rightfully so---that we need to see Him in all things, and in all people. But let this article be a reminder that it is still Him that we are to see. There a singularity of expectancy with a view to seeing the appearing of the One in Whom we see the sanctity and unity of the many. The second chapter of Hebrews makes it clear that we do not yet see man as exalted as God has made him, with all things under his feet, but in continuously (the Greek tense as per Jonathan Mitchell) seeing Jesus, we see the completed goal of humanity realized within and by His human experience, bringing In Himself, many sons into the glory.

 

Comparing Hebrews 2 with Romans 8, we see a sequence of focused seeing.  As we focus upon seeing Jesus having brought us, His brethren, into glory, all creation follows suit looking intently to see us unveiled in the glory of our sonship, by which sight, it takes from, and shares in that glory, so that it is released from its bondage to decay by being released into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. What a marvelous sequence is initiated by our looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Yes, indeed, do harken to hear His voice, by all means, but so that you may be turned to see Him, and yourself in Him, in all His glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRANSFORMING TRANSITION, The [John R. Gavazzoni] 6-4-13          3

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