LISTEN TO EPISODE FIVE
KEY FOUR | WHO IS CHRIST BEFORE US TODAY?
The third key explores Jesus being on the throne, ruling now, and reigning now. What’s he ruling and reigning over and what difference does that make to you? Imagine that there were a bakery down the street that wasn’t making it and pretty soon it went out of business. Then another company took it over and they were also a bakery. The new company put a sign in the window that said, “Under New Management.” For whatever reason, maybe because they bake such great cookies, the store took off. It was under new management and when Jesus ascended into the heavens and sat at the right hand of the Father, then you could say in a sense, everything came under new management.
Dr. Steve Greene: Hello and welcome back to the Christ Is Now Mini-Course. It’s written by David Bryant. I’m Steve Greene your host and facilitator and I get to ask hard questions of this great author. But actually, I haven’t been able to find a question to stump him yet. The book is Christ Is Now—meet him again for the first time. What a concept—meeting Jesus again for the first time. Isn’t that the way we ought to approach him every day? Just coming in with that neoteny that as a child looking at Jesus as though it’s the first time to meet him and fill up with new revelations and new awareness. We’re in the chapter now about the fourth key—Christ Is Before Us. Christ Before Us is the fourth key. This is lesson five. David, you started this chapter with a story about Herman Melvin who wrote the novel, Moby Dick. Now, I had trouble trying to understand that. Of course, I’ve read it and I get it, but I didn’t expect to see that in a book about Jesus.
David Bryant: Well, you know, there’s a famous pastor who had a phrase he used and became well known for, which is that Jesus is always prior. Which is a way of saying there’s nothing that goes on in my life where Jesus isn’t out ahead of me or isn’t taking the initiative. And basically, I’m getting swept up into who he is, where he’s headed, and what he’s doing, and how he gains the victory. Well one day it struck me that in the story of Moby Dick you have captain Ahab and again this will be very summary here, but he’s a whaler and as whaling ship (this is in the 1800s) and there’s a huge white-skinned whale that is known as Moby Dick and has in previous battles with Captain Ahab taken off one of his legs. And so he is now full of determination for revenge. And there comes a point as the climax of the whole story where they finally locate Moby Dick again. Three or four or five of the sailors join Captain Ahab and the little boat that goes over the side where they can chase him with their harpoons. They finally get close enough and they’re able to harpoon him. And every harpoon as a hook on it, so it goes into that fat flesh and hooks on and hangs tight. But the thing is, Moby Dick has enough strength even with all those harpoons in him to leap up and dive down into the depths of the ocean. And unfortunately for Captain Ahab and his crew, they have to go along with him because those ropes are tied back on their little boat. So where Moby Dick goes he takes the entire crew with him. And I got to thinking about that. That’s what happened when I committed my life to the Lord Jesus. In a sense, my faith harpooned him. It attached me to him so that wherever he’s headed, we’re talking in this session about Jesus going before us in four different ways. Wherever he’s headed, I’m automatically moving in that same direction. I almost don’t have a choice in the matter. That the moment I linked my life to his life, in the day of my salvation, from that moment forward his destiny becomes my destiny and he goes before us. Like Moby Dick went before them, he goes before us in these four critical ways.
Dr. Steve Greene: Or to put it in a modern metaphor, it’s like the lead car in a stock car race.
David Bryant: Exactly! Out ahead and he’s the pace setter and therefore we fall in line behind him. When he said he’s a shepherd and the sheep know his voice, he’s also talking about how his sheep who know his voice also go where he goes. He said in John 12 “wherever I am, that’s where my servant must be also.” So yes, he’s always prior. He’s always moving ahead and he’s always setting the pace and then our faith in him draws us right in with that.
Dr. Steve Greene: So Jesus goes before us today. That’s a good way to wake up. You know, Lord, I know you’re going before me. I know you’re prior. So the question I ask you, teacher, is where is Jesus headed? How can we know that?
David Bryant: Well I have four words here to get us started. He goes before us, he’s going onward, upward, inward, outward. By that I mean he’s going onward. He’s going into the future ahead of us to bring the future back to us here and now. He’s going upward. He’s gone into the heavens but in order to take us with him and that’s where we are right now. The third one is he goes inward into the promises of God to claim them, to fulfill them, to seize them and to make them ours with him. And finally, he goes ahead of us into the world in order to open up a way for us to serve him. And then we just follow him into that mission and it might ultimately take us to the ends of the earth. So those are four directions Jesus is constantly moving and we get to be swept up in that with him.
Dr. Steve Greene: And then you speak to the places. You write throughout the rest of this chapter about the future, the heavens, the promises in the world. Could you address each one of those independently? Because I think there’s so much to learn there.
David Bryant: Well, this chapter in the book runs about 70 pages, so I’ll give you the first two pages. No, seriously, when I say he goes into the future to bring it back to us. It strikes me that the great scientist Einstein was able with his theory of relatively to show that time and space and all of that is very elastic. And he could actually demonstrate, at least in terms of his formula, that it’s possible for you to move so fast you end up in the future where everybody that you left behind is still in the past. If that’s possible with the human brain figuring out what goes on with space and time, it should not surprise us. Like when Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you”, where was that? Well part of that, I think, he’s going into the future. We’re talking about the new heaven and the new earth and he wants to bring all of that back into our lives. Hebrews 6 says today we taste of the powers of the age to come. The way I put it is, the consummation, the climax of everything, the fulfillment of God’s purposes may be chronologically quite distant. I don’t know. But Christologically, it’s right here and now. Because the whole future is already in Christ Jesus. He’s the first fruits. That’s one of the things Paul says when he talks about the resurrection. By the Holy Spirit, who is also called the down payment on everything that’s coming. The Holy Spirit is able to bring the realities of the future. I call it like preliminary installments of the future into my life right now—a foretaste of what is yet to come, approximations of what lies ahead. So that right now in Jesus because we were buried with him, we’re crucified with him, buried with him, raised with him, we’re ascended with him. Because of that we are actually right now in many ways living the reality of the future in the walk and the power of the Holy Spirit right here now today.
Dr. Steve Greene: You mentioned that Christ Before Us is amazingly revealed in the book of Hebrews. There’s so much, more than any other book in Scripture on insights on before us.
David Bryant: That’s right. It says in Hebrews 10 that he has gone ahead and taken his blood into the Holy Place. That’s he opened up a new and living way, a life giving way so that we can come (as it says in Hebrews 4) so that we can come boldly to the throne of grace. The thing is when we pray in Jesus’ name what we’re saying is my only right to be here talking to you Father at all, is because of who I am in Christ and because of what he has done for me. In other words, when I come into the throne room, it isn’t Jesus saying I’d like to welcome you, go on up and talk to the Father. No, I go to the Father in Christ. I go to the Father with Christ. But the fact of the matter is I can live in heavenly places every single moment. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that we have been seated (this is present tense) that’s why I call my book Christ Is Now. This is all stuff going on right now. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Again in Hebrews it talks about in chapter 12 it doesn’t say one day you will come into the heavenly Jerusalem. It says you have (present tense) come into the heavenly Jerusalem, into the Holy City. You have (present tense) come into a company of angels in festive celebration. You have (present tense) come into the saints who have been made perfect. You have (present tense) come to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. We are actually living in the heavenly places right now in ways that will only be expanded and deepened when the new heaven and the new earth come to being.
Dr. Steve Greene: Then you mention there’s a really strong, positive section in this unit from 2 Corinthians chapter 1 on the promises that he goes before us in fulfillment of promises made that we all hold on to. Where our memory verses come from—these sections of promises. Would you teach that?
David Bryant: Paul in more than one place calls Jesus our hope. For example, Colossians 1:27 he said that the riches of this mystery (he’s talking about the gospel) the richest part of the whole gospel is this: that Christ is in your midst, the hope of all the glorious things to come. So Jesus is all about promise. He’s all about hope. It says in 2 Corinthians 1 that all the promises of God are Yes to us in Christ Jesus, to which we say Amen! In other words, we say let it be done. That’s what Amen means. They’re all in Christ Jesus. Now we say: Great! Let it be done! He goes ahead of us into the promises. He goes into them to make them his own. He goes into them to fulfill them in himself and then he goes into them in order to share them with us. It’s been estimated by Bible scholars that there may be as many as 7,000 separate promise statements in the Bible. Now many of them are saying pretty much the same thing as another promise statement. But at least that many statements that are promise statements. And all of them are yes to us. God says yes—not maybe, but yes. They’re yours in Christ Jesus. So when the Bible talks about how the church is the fullness of him who fills all in all. Basically, what he’s saying is all the promises of God are getting poured into the life of the church in the fulfillment of those promises in Jesus. And because they’re fulfilled in Jesus and Jesus is involved in us and with us, we are coming into the fullness of God. Because the promises are becoming reality in our life in Jesus right now. It’s sort of like it says in Joshua 3:5, “Consecrate yourselves because tomorrow God will work miracles among you.” We need to live a life that is just living in constant anticipation that there’s more coming tomorrow. With Jesus there is always so much more because he has made the promises his and now he reaches back and shares them with us.
Dr. Steve Greene: You have an additional really strong exhortation about the future as it relates to him meeting us where he sends us. What a great concept.
David Bryant: I do a lot of conferences with business people and I share two principles with them that really fit here about Jesus going before us into the world to open up a way for us to serve. One is this, and it’s not original with me. Jesus meets us where he sends us. I say to men and women as they head into the marketplace every day, remember this: #1 you’re going there because that’s where Jesus is sending you, just like he sends a missionary into Africa. And if you’re not sure he’s sending you there, then you need to re-think that job a little bit. But as long as you’re convinced he’s sending you there, then you need to be convinced of something else for that reason because this is his mission for you. And because he is Lord over all, he’s already gone ahead of you. He’s already there in that office when you arrive. And he’s there to prepare a way for you to serve him that day in that place. So at one end he sends you; and at the other end, he’s waiting there to meet you. That ought to give you such a sense of excitement about every day you’re at work in the marketplace. Which leads to other phrase I often share with business people or to any other people in the secular professions (classrooms, teachers, etc.). And that is to be on your face in the marketplace. Now what do I mean by that? Well there’s a concept in the Scriptures about how we need to be on our face before the Lord in order to hear from him, to receive from him, to respond to him, to obey him. Well if Jesus is Lord of the marketplace, if he’s already gone ahead of me into the marketplace, if he’s there at work before I ever arrive, then throughout the whole day, at least in my heart, there ought to be a sense of where I’m always on my face before him. I’m always attentive. I’m always listening, and I’m always ready to respond in any way the Holy Spirit wants to lead me to minister for Christ. Because if he’s there, and he is, you can be sure he’s there to open up some kind of ways for me to serve him that only he can make possible. And therefore, he goes before me to make that happen.
Dr. Steve Greene: What you’re saying is we don’t have to kick down doors, it’s already been opened.
David Bryant: Oh he’s the door opener. And that’s a phrase we use a lot, but it really occurs a number of times in the New Testament where Paul himself talks about God opening doors for him. He makes a way. He says about the sheep in John 10, he says, “I open the gate and then I go before them”. And that’s true very day we live for him.
Dr. Steve Greene: Well as we wrap up this unit, this fourth key here in lesson #5, you make a real closing argument about anticipatory discipleship. Those are big words. Give us a good closing thought on what it means to anticipate my role as a disciple.
David Bryant: Well, it actually means that my life as disciple today is not only about being faithful today, it’s also about being prepared through that faithfulness to be ready for even more tomorrow. So I live today in anticipation that if I’m faithful to Jesus today that he’s going ahead of me and therefore tomorrow there’s going to be even more that he has for me. So I live in anticipation. I often share the image of the US Olympic team that prepared for the Russian Olympics in 1980 and then there was the boycott against the Russian Olympics so that those athletes couldn’t actually participate until 1984 with the next Olympics which was in Los Angeles. And some of them actually spent 8 years getting ready for a contest where it might last three minutes on the hope that they might win a gold medal. And they were willing to discipline themselves (that’s discipleship) day after day after day in anticipation that there was something really worth it all when it was all done and said. We have the sense that Jesus has gone before us. We don’t have to guess. There is a great reward. Paul says I will receive a crown of righteousness at the end of my race. We live every day in that sense of anticipation. It just makes the Christian life so much more exciting.
Dr. Steve Greene: Amen! Well that’s the conclusion of lesson 5 for today. Now it’s your turn to go to work and think about what doors have been opened for you. Where do you need to be going? Think about what this lesson means to you in terms of your future and where Christ is leading you into the future. The heavens, the promises and how this world has been opened to you according to the purpose of Jesus. We’d love for you to study that. We’d love for you (if you haven’t yet) purchase the book. Please prayerfully consider that. It’s available to you at Amazon.com. The book is Christ Is Now. It’s written by David Bryant. Seven groundbreaking keys to help you explore and experience the spectacular supremacy of God’s Son today. Join us in our next lesson, Who Christ Is Through Us Today. That’s lesson six. It will be coming to you in a couple of days. God bless you all and thanks again for being a part of this class.