Publication:Pastoral Letter,November 2017
Dear Friend in Christ:
Reality is more than we see; it is more than our five senses tell us, much more! If that is true, and I believe it is, we should want to find reality, and where it is. That is the vital issue that I want to discuss with you.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells us about another world and how it affects the world we see. The intangible affects the tangible in amazing ways. Example: ideas are intangible but have tangible results. So it is that unseen forces make an impact upon the visible world. We refer to that other world as the “spiritual world”. That world is too often ignored and we often deal with the consequences rather than the source. Is the world that is seen a reflection of the unseen? I believe it is.
To put it another way, if we fail to deal with the unseen thoughts and motives of the mind, we will be constantly dealing with the results. In the same way, if we ignore the realm of the spirit, we will continually have to deal with the results in the natural, tangible realm. A wrong diagnosis leads to a failure to cure. We must deal with that other world or it will deal with us. Our spiritual failures are leading us into all kinds of other failures: personal, family, economic, relational, and political.
When we do face the spiritual realm and seek the God of the invisible, a great impact can be made on the physical realm. One such example is an event that we call “The Transfiguration”. I want to take a close look at that event and some of the results in the lives of three men.
It is recorded in Matthew 16:28 that Jesus told His disciples, “Some of you standing here will not die until you see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” The promise: Some of you will soon see the invisible kingdom of God. This is an amazing statement and description of Jesus’ Kingdom that would be made visible to some of His disciples.
Six days later, Jesus invited Peter, James, and John to go up a mountain with Him (see Matthew 17:1-8). They had no idea about what they were to see and experience. As they gathered with Jesus, He was transfigured before their eyes: His appearance, even His clothes, became radiant. He was transformed into the Spirit, yet they could see Him.
Suddenly, they saw two others in that realm with Him: Moses and Elijah. How did they know that it was Moses and Elijah? In that realm you just know. So Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were having a conversation which could be seen and heard by these three mortals. We know that because it is recorded in Scripture.
We know that the subject of the conversation was about Jesus’ imminent death on the Cross (see Luke 9:31). We do not know how long it lasted because in that realm there is no time. We might ask, “Why Moses and Elijah?” My thoughts are conjecture but I will offer them.
Moses and Elijah represent the “Law and the Prophets,” the Old Covenant. They both had entered the eternal realm through special circumstances. They both were in a state that they knew what was happening and what would happen. And, they both were in a position to encourage Jesus. I am sure there is much more than I know about their purpose for being there, but the significance of their appearance, conversation, and impartation could not be overstated, nor could that opportunity for the three disciples be overstated. It was a high and holy moment. I wish that the conversation had continued longer and more was recorded but it was not because the scene was interrupted.
The three disciples were no doubt intoxicated and overwhelmed by what they saw, but Peter could not contain himself. “Lord, if you are willing, I could make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them and the Father spoke, “This is my Beloved Son; listen to Him.” It was a rebuke and the whole scene disappeared. We are left wondering what else might have been revealed. At the sound of the Father’s voice, the disciples fell on their faces in awe of God; they were terrified, as they should have been from the beginning of the whole experience.
Have you ever been in a holy moment where you were hearing from God only to have it interrupted? I have. I was in a great meeting where the presence of God was evident. It was a serious time for me and others as transitions were about to occur. Following the meeting, a few friends, perhaps 10 or 12, decided to go to a private room and further seek the Lord. No sooner had we begun to pray than the Lord’s presence became evident. Like the disciples, we went face down on the floor. Each of us were hearing the Holy Spirit speak.
After a while, we stood and began to sing and worship still in His presence. As we worshipped, other uninvited friends who had discovered our private room, entered and attempted to join our worship. The immediate presence left. I will never forget that moment, but, neither will I forget that moment when we experienced the Presence. The air was clear, lasting bonds were formed, guidance was given, and encouragement came for future obedience. The moment was brief, but results were lasting and affected each of us.
Let me be clear, we cannot create a transfiguring moment; it comes by invitation. However, I believe that we are invited. We can stay at the foot of the mountain or we can follow Jesus and make the climb with Him to a higher place. The apostle John reminds us of what he saw and invites us into that fellowship with the Father and the Son (see I John 1:1-3). The Holy Spirit is inviting us to “Take a break” from the visible and see what is above and beyond. Seeing will leave an eternal impact upon us and the world we see.
The Apostle Paul saw the risen Christ made visible as he traveled to Damascus. Thereafter, he was a different person. He said, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (I Timothy 1:17). When the invisible became visible, everything changed for Paul, just as it did for Peter, James, and John. One may deny the spiritual realm but the impact is undeniable!
Why did Jesus choose Peter, James, and John, or Paul? I cannot answer that, though I have given it thought. But I do know that His invitation has been extended to all of us who will to follow Him and allow Him to create the moment. We need such a moment now!
We need to step back and look at the larger picture that surrounded this Transfiguration. Israel was in more trouble than anyone knew. They were perhaps 40 years from devastation. Their leaders had decided against Jesus and were plotting to kill Him. Jesus would soon be crucified, resurrected, and many would be born of and filled with the Holy Spirit. The invisible would forcefully and decisively act upon the visible realm. Everything was about to change. The transfiguration was an eternal moment that indelibly imprinted itself upon a small group who saw the Kingdom and ultimately proclaimed a seminal world history transformation.
So what is our context? We must see how Jesus desires to reveal His invisible kingdom and affect the world we see. Our world is once again in a degree of chaos. Secularism seems in control and has rejected Jesus.
Christians are being persecuted in many places. There are those plotting to build a world without Jesus or Christians. Is this a mere conspiracy theory? Absolutely not! The invisible force of evil, that Jesus-hating spirit, remains and has made itself evident once again. It seems to me that the conditions of the first century have returned, only this time on an international scale.
What Must We Do?
Do you remember that question that the multitude asked as Peter presented the Gospel in Acts 2:37-38? If Peter was preaching today, and he was asked that question, I believe that his answer would be the same: “Save yourself from this wicked generation; Repent, believe, and be baptized for the remission of sins.” We have some repenting to do, even those of us who have believed and been baptized. And we need to get sensitive to what the Lord is saying. I urge some serious steps “up the mountain.”
The Real Picture
Remember, the real picture is not in what our natural senses perceive. It is in the eternal, invisible; it is in the Holy Spirit. That is where it all began and where it will all consummate. If you want to see reality, it is in the Holy Spirit. God is reality; what may SEEM real now to our senses will pass away. He was before creation, above creation, and when all that we see passes away, He will still be “I AM.”
Christians must not be as others are, caught up in circumstance. We need to get up on “the mountain” with Jesus and see what is and is to come. Circumstances can be useful when they drive us to follow Jesus. “The NEWS” is not the Way; Jesus is the Way that leads us to the Father – the source of eternal reality. Jesus has invited us to follow Him.
We are very encouraged about our theme for our CSM Gatlinburg 2018 Leadership Conference, which will be “Celebrating the Goodness of God”. We will feature amazing personal testimonies of how the invisible became visible; how the kingdom of God has overcome the kingdoms of this world. I pray you will plan to be with us May 8-10 for this wonderful time.
Also, would you please continue to remember us in your prayers and in your giving this month? The year-end is a very strategic time for us in planning and in offering support for other ministries. Please see the card enclosed for more information, as well as encouraging ministry resources. You can also visit us online and “like” our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook page.
Thank you so much for your friendship and for being such a key part of this ministry outreach. We praise God for you and remember you in our prayers.
Scripture references: MATTHEW 16:28; MATTHEW 17:1-8, LUKE 9:31; 1 TIMOTHY 1:17; 1 JOHN 1:1-3
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.