Seeing The Unseen
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” —1 Corinthians 2:9–10
Something can be seen which the eye cannot see. This is a mighty and mysterious statement made by the Word of God. If it were a statement like this, that “the eye does not see,” it would be a different thing entirely and we would go around to arouse men to simply look; but God says the eye not only does not see, but “eye hath not seen”—an eye cannot picture it. It is something that cannot “swim into the ken” of a natural eye. It cannot come to a man’s consciousness simply through an eye view.
I know a great deal of the preaching of our day and a great deal of the exhortation of our day is simply that men might use their natural faculties, and that by using them they will see God and know God; but that is not the teaching of this Word at all. The teaching of this Word is that the natural heart of man receiveth not the things of God; the natural eye cannot see them; the natural ear cannot hear them; the natural heart cannot even imagine the things that are prepared for those that love Him.
Now if this be true (and it is), it behooves us to get alone with God until we get the vision that God wants to give us: a vision of His preparation for us which an eye cannot see. I would I had time this morning, to speak in detail about some of the wonders of the natural human eye—the way it is made and some of its spiritual significance, the way the vision falls upon the lens, and then is transferred upside down into the eye, picked up by the nerves and then righted. The vision that falls naturally upon the heart of man is a vision that is upside down, and only the wisdom of God can turn it right side up until a man’s soul sees it.
Man’s Vision Upside Down
If a man really looks at the world this morning with the natural eye, it is upside down. Man is at the top and God is at the bottom; but when God gives us a vision, God is at the top and man is at the bottom; and every man that every got a vision of God fell on his face before God and cried out, “I am undone! I am undone!” And he was undone, for things were upside down to him; but he got such a vision of the bigness of God and the place of God that life changed for him completely.
Men’s vision of God is that somehow underneath phenomena, down in the root parts of everything God hides Himself away in mystery; but that up above mystery in the intellectual atmosphere and in the delightful atmosphere of knowledge man alone walks. Now when a man really gets a vision of God mystery vanishes and man takes his place as a fallen creature trying in his pride to explain God and take away His throne by imagining himself a mighty ruler. The vision of the natural eye is filled with man, God somewhere in the background.
When a little speck of dirt falls into your house the vacuum cleaner does not automatically run out of the kitchen into the parlor and pick up the speck of dust; but if a speck of dust gets into your eye the vacuum cleaner God created in the eye gets to work automatically and will not be content until the little speck or cinder has been put away from the eye and the vision cleared. Just as truly, when the eye of the soul is restored no man can rest while sin is in the heart; and no man can have anything in the way of his vision, and the minute any dust gathers in his vision he cries out like David, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” “Don’t let my vision get marred. Don’t let me get to the place where things are upside down; but where God’s face is clear and He is all and in all.”
“Eye hath not seen.” There are things that the eye cannot see. The natural man can take the doctrines of the Bible and understand them. I don’t believe there is a single doctrine of the Bible that a carnal man cannot intellectually understand. I have never found one yet. I have found carnal men who understand the doctrines of the Bible, but as far as believing the doctrines, they are a million miles away from a spiritual understanding of the truth. They somehow understand when you go on and talk about the justice of God that was preserved in the blood and death of Jesus Christ; that God could still be just and let the penalty for sin fall upon His Son. They can get that. Any human intellect can get that. They can see that if God is just He must carry out the inevitable penalty of His law; they realize that men have broken the law of God and can see the penalty paid on Calvary; but when it comes to closing in with that payment and offer of life it is a different proposition entirely. When it comes to a personal knowledge of sins purged, they have never seen that. No eye can see it. No human intellect’s eye can possibly understand that; and remember, it is your intellect that sees and not your eye. The vision is thrown on the retina just as much in the hour of death when the eyes are open and just as much upon the optic nerve, as in life. The vision is there; but it takes the brain to transfer it. I might take the vision of Calvary and all the doctrines of sin and of God and His provisions and lay them out; but it takes something divinely put within a man to transfer these doctrines to his own heart so that he can say within his own heart, “I know.”
The Spirit Reveals
Now the work of the Spirit is to take the things of Christ and be eyes for us to see them through. They must be revealed so that the man in his own consciousness, in his own heart says, “I know I have passed from death unto life through the work of Christ.” You may read your Bible, but, my friend, when the Spirit of God, the blessed power of the Holy Ghost takes the blood of Jesus and shows you in your own consciousness what it means, you cry immediately, “Abba Father.” Why do you cry Abba Father? Why don’t you cry when you see that the blood of Jesus cleanses, “I am clean”? Why is it you don’t cry, “I am happy”? You don’t do it. Why are you happy? It is because of another consciousness that has come to you. And what is that? You realize in that moment as the truth is flashed in by the Holy Spirit, that God has come and made His abode in your heart, and you are one with Him, and you cry out, “My God—I am connected. I am connected. I have Him. I have the life. The blood of Jesus Christ, the death of Jesus Christ, the work of Jesus Christ has made me one with Him.” And your inner consciousness cries, “Abba Father,” and you are back home. You have met God and in your own life you know this thing and have an assurance in your heart.
You have a new Bible. Same old Bible, but it is all new. Why? Because it has been made yours. You have seen it. This is the assurance God wants to give to every individual. We may preach a blanket Gospel and say, “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely,” yet God says He wants you to see it and it is an individual matter, a question with every individual present whether he sees it or not, whether he has taken of the water. It all depends on whether or not you have ever had this Spirit of revelation in your life as to whether you have been born again or not.
Anybody can pass an examination who has been around a church that preaches the Gospel, and probably could pass an examination of ninety-five. I know some old reprobate sinners around this Tabernacle that could pass an examination of ninety-nine percent on whether a man preaches the Gospel or not in this pulpit, but they are not saved. I took lunch with a friend in an eastern city, who had a young man friend in the Moody Bible Institute, and he said to me, “Look here, Paul, is he getting the straight goods at the Institute or not? I want to know whether he is getting the real thing.” “What do you mean by ‘the real thing’?” I asked. “Are they straight on the blood?” he answered. And he is an old sinner: never been saved in his life; but he has a wife that is saved, and he was so anxious that that fellow should get the real thing that he came away from a convention where he had been to see whether this young fellow was getting it straight; and he knows whether it is straight too. During a convention a young man was put up to speak in the afternoon. That night I was asked to take dinner with my friend. We were talking along and he said, “That fellow wasn’t straight this morning. He wasn’t straight. He believes a fellow can be saved and lost and saved again and lost again. It is off again, on again, gone again, Flanagan with him. He isn’t straight at all.” And he is not a saved man, but he knew the doctrines and could pass an examination on them, and can size the preachers up on Gospel lines as they come his way. He knows whether they are orthodox or not.
A sinner, who knew and loved a real man of God, awoke in tears one morning, and his wife said, “What is the matter?” and he answered, “Oh girl, I dreamed that that fellow backslid. I dreamed he denied the whole business.” “Well, what are you bawling about?” the wife said. “Well, I guess I haven’t any right to bawl,” he said, “but that would be an awful thing if that fellow would go back on it. Wouldn’t it?” And yet he isn’t a saved man at all—never has opened his heart for the Spirit’s revelation.
Now Paul prays in one part of this Word of God, and says, “I have prayed for you ever since I heard of your faith, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” Oh, my friends, as I go up and down this land today my heart is made sad because of the lack of the Spirit of revelation in the hearts of so many who profess to be Christians. Oh, there is such a lack of that spiritual knowledge that they “have passed from death unto life.” Oh, this is the working of the Holy Ghost, which isn’t in the knowledge of the Word alone, but in the Spirit of revelation that causes the soul to cry out, “He is mine!” Oh, for that old time sweep of such God consciousness that men become on fire. That is what we need today. The natural eye hath not seen it; the natural ear cannot hear it; the natural heart cannot imagine it, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. Oh, that you may have that glorious incoming of His own life!
Brother, sister, this day if you are not careful you will creep into this Tabernacle and take your place with the whole thing unreal to your heart, or are you in a backslidden condition, and don’t realize it? To you it is outside of your life and somebody else has to warm you up. Today, like Peter you are backed up against a stove trying to warm yourself. You come along and say to Peter, “Do you believe that is Jesus?” and he says, “Yes”; but when you say, “Identify yourself with him,” he says, “I never knew Him.” In his mental consciousness he knew, in his brain he knew; but how backslidden he was! His heart was cold and indifferent and far from God! “Eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard it”; but oh, it is the revelation of the Spirit of God, and when it comes your Bible is a new Bible, and as you read its pages God lets the light into your heart, and it begins to speak to you as it never spoke before, and you see it as you never saw it before. “His presence disperses my gloom and makes all within me rejoice.” “Prisons would palaces prove,” says the poet, “if Jesus would dwell with me there.” It isn’t outward circumstances, it isn’t wealth, or amusement, not an intellectual vision, it isn’t culture, it isn’t refinement, it isn’t artistic ability, not emotionalism, it is not psychic—it is spiritual, it is from Heaven. It is this written Word and the living Word coming together by the Spirit’s revelation that makes the spark light up within your heart and you cry out, “Oh, now I see the crimson stream, the fountain deep and wide, Jesus my Lord, mighty to save, my Jesus the crucified.” You will see Him and all around you may be darkness, and your folks and every close friend may push you aside, but you will say, “Thank God. I see Him. I know what I am talking about.”
A Revelation Needed
My friends, this is the thing the Church of God needs today; an old-fashioned revelation by the Third Person of the Trinity, of a glorious, living, dying, resurrected and seated Saviour! Oh, the glories which the Spirit can reveal to you in Jesus. They go out and out in limitless waves as you seem to stand on the ocean’s edge with the waves rolling in at your feet. You cry, “It is all mine, the immensity of God, my Beloved, flows into my soul. I am one with Him through the precious blood of Jesus.” It is only the Holy Ghost that can give you that consciousness. It is not intellectually observed—it is spiritually known. He says He reveals these things to us by His Spirit.
Men have lost their vision because they have lost their determination to wait on God. They will read books about the Bible—why? Because they have forgotten that the Bible was given by His Spirit. They read what great intellectual minds have to say about it, and therefore the Church gets into the awful state she has gotten into today. What is the thing that is given to the young minister to read? God’s book? No. What place is given to prayer? A large place? No. What place is given to meditation, to experience meetings? You know. As a young preacher, training for the ministry, what does he study? What some man has said about God’s Book. When he gets to preaching, what does he preach? Probably what somebody has said, what he thinks is agreeable to the theological thinking of his times. Why don’t we have more messages today from God, through men? Why are the few having messages from God? Because the intellectual presumption of our times thinks that men in their own intellectual process can apprehend the teaching and the truth of God without the work of the Holy Ghost. Say! It is as impossible, as absolutely impossible for a carnal man to apprehend a spiritual thing, as it is for the dog to understand a man. Yes sir! And for the intellectual rot of our times that is dished out concerning the truth of God, I would rather have the bark of a dog. If you know your dog, his bark will tell you of danger. What does all this turning away from the simple meaning of the Bible mean to you, this turning to man’s literature and away from real spiritual Bible reading? Think it over.
I picked up a paper last night and read that last year one of our leading denominations sold over six millions of dollars worth of literature. What did they sell? I looked into their show windows and three-fourths of their books didn’t even touch on the Bible. We are getting into the age of traditionalism. Jesus said, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.” Again He said, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” You talk about the Bible and the average professing Christian talks about some man’s theory, whom he likes. Go to the average critic and put a question to him about God’s Word and he will say, “If I were close enough to my library I would look it up. I could find out what Dr. So-and-so thinks,” all of which is mighty good. It is all right to know what some other fellow may think about it, find out what a million men may think about it if you care to; but, oh, in God’s name, find out what you think! Why depend on others’ thinking when the Spirit can teach you out of the Bible? Be a faithful Berean when any man speaks, like the Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily” when Paul was speaking “to see if these things be so.”
What Do You Know?
“Ye are my witnesses.” Not a lot of men trained by men, but you who have had an experience and know your book and read your Bible. “Ye are my witnesses.” And there is peculiar power about men that have met God, and all the carnal sermonizing in the world cannot do what the man who has a testimony can do. One who says, “I know, I feel, I enjoy what God’s Book has revealed.”
Paul preached what was revealed to him and a bunch of Jews tried to down him. He had to withstand even Peter to his face and tell him things which his revelation had made very clear. I want to say to you my friends, this revelation Gospel is the Gospel for our times. Our Bible has been pulled into the intellectual field and mauled over; but it is Spirit breathed and Spirit interpreted. Put it in the natural all you want to, but the natural man will never comprehend it. It is foolishness to him. He will discard it, saying it doesn’t compare with his theory of the way the world and man are coming out. They say, “We are going to be saved by our own efforts and character.” Salvation by Jesus is absolute rot to the intellectual men and women of our times. They turn it aside and it is foolishness to them; but oh, God picks out a great big smart one of them every once in a while and breaks his proud spirit and reveals the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and oh, what God can do with him then! “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, but it has been revealed to us by the Spirit.”
In a testimony meeting not long ago, a woman arose and gave the most wonderful testimony I ever heard one of those intellectual people give. She said, “In my thirteenth year I came into the Church. In my Sophomore year at college I lost all my idea that the blood of Jesus Christ amounted to anything, and that Jesus as a real living person existed. He was just Spirit stuff. But now I have a Christ whose blood cleanses me from all sin, and His risen body is now at the right hand of God.” I want to tell you that was a long way for that woman to go. Only those who were close to her know what long stretches she had to take, and how hard it was for her faith to cross as she left her old intellectual moorings and began to take the cross and plead the blood, and see Jesus doing His work; but it was so lovely to hear her say, “Oh, now I see the crimson stream,” and that hour came into her life when she saw it. It was revealed by His Spirit.
If you are not careful, little by little you will be pushed off your moorings, and instead of spending your time in prayer and waiting before His Word and letting His Word speak to you and reveal the truth to you in your heart, if you are not careful you will be over on an intellectual basis, and the first thing you know you will get into the dark. Yes, “the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life.” He doesn’t say here anywhere that you are going to have any new dreams or have any new visions; but the Spirit promises to take the things of Jesus and make them real to you. If the devil cannot get you to go into intellectual darkness, the state into which the Church has been so largely plunged, he will take you to the other extreme and you will wait for a vision like John had, and you will go into the other extreme of emotionalism and try to get a vision and hear voices and see things and try to reach in and get out something new; but if you will stick to the revelation of the Holy Ghost, there is so much revealed here in His Word it will take all the time between now and the time Jesus comes to make real to you what has already been revealed. The job of the Church today is to be so filled with the Holy Ghost that the Holy Ghost will illuminate His whole Book and give you messages out of the truth as it is set down here. It has been revealed and sealed up and the Holy Ghost says to you, “I will open this up to you.” Jesus says you will be as a man who takes out old and new things and puts them together. He compares spiritual things with spiritual.
As Peter began to look back and see what Jesus did, and the Holy Ghost began to show him that Jesus was the Son of God, and Peter got a glimpse of who had washed his feet, can you imagine what Peter felt like? Suppose that had been you and Jesus had washed your feet and the Holy Ghost had come in and shown you that Jesus was the God of the Universe and He had washed your feet? How your soul would light up! How humble it would make you! It would cut you to your heart and you would walk softly before God all the days of your life; and every time you put your feet in the tub and washed them you would get a picture of that bent back that soon was to be beaten with stripes, and that poor face that soon was to be slapped and spit upon, down there washing your feet—and then see Him as the God of Heaven!! Oh man, let God reveal His Son to you by His Spirit and your life will be iridescent with glory! That is what we need today, not hard facts, but the facts that God has put in this book revealed to men by His Spirit showing Jesus to be real. “Eye hath not seen it. Ear hath not heard it.”
The next thing Paul prays for is, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling,” and I would to God today that we as a people understood the calling of God to the Church and to us as individuals, every one of us, the calling of God. Oh, I thank God for the hour when He called me! I took Mr. Woolley and Mr. Rodeheaver last Wednesday night in New York down to 44th Street, next door to the little theatre, and we got out of the automobile and I stood there on the street without my hat on and pointed to the second window above the door and said, “That is where I fought it out about five years ago, with Jesus.” Oh, how sweet was His voice that day when He called me out from my backslidden condition, out from hypocrisy, out from a double life, out from a damnable wobble that threw me always on both sides of the proposition. Oh, how precious to be called out of the filthy barnyard of my awful existence into the glorious light and fellowship of the Son of God, to walk and trust Him! I praise God for it this morning!
The Call Of God
Brethren, sisters, listen! Your calling has been a mighty calling. “Ear hath never heard it.” The natural ear of men has heard some marvelous songs, and today men produce songs so you can hear voices that are dead now. The songs that have been sung for ten years are still on the phonograph and you get the voices; but ear hath never heard so sweet a sound as this sound, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Your calling—it is a mystery. The angels do not understand it. It is hidden with God. How a poor, wretched, vile sinner should be called out of the filth of his sin and rebellion against God and be made something higher than an archangel, the angels do not understand it. The devil doesn’t understand it, it is far outside of his intellect—he cannot get it, the angels cannot get it, men don’t understand it. Men round-about you will say, “That fellow was so crooked he couldn’t hide behind a corkscrew. How God could exalt him above an archangel I do not understand.” But, brother, He has called us to be saints, temples of the Holy Ghost, filled with His presence, to go out into the world as witnesses, “living epistles known and read of all men,” and at last to give us a place far above every principality and power and above every name that is named, as the Bride of the Son of God.
Oh, if the Holy Ghost would sweep through this audience this morning and give you a new sense of your calling you would walk out on air. You would walk softly before Him. Just get a vision of it. Get alone with God and say to Him, “Oh Master, I have counted it so cheaply.” Oh, there isn’t anything I despise so much in my life as cheapness, that cheapness that comes over our eyes when the devil shuts out our vision and the sordidness and commonplaces of life come round-about; but Jesus is able to lead us forth. Eye hath not seen it, ear hath not heard it, but God says He “has revealed it to us by His Spirit.”
Men have kissed father and mother goodbye and gone into the dark places of the earth—why? He called them. Paul said to the people at the revival, “Goodbye.” “Where are you going?” “To Macedonia.” Nobody there was a Christian, nobody met him with a brass band. Nobody said, “We will pay your board, Paul, if you will come over, and will give you something besides.” Who called him? Nobody. When he got over there he had to hunt around to find anyone, a few women praying. Whose was the hand of the man of Macedonia? The bruised hand of Jesus, saying, “Come over into Macedonia,” and Paul came. Brethren, ears intellectually keen never hear these things. They take the easiest way, the way that will make great men out of them; but these men and women take the lowly way, the way of the cross, and they go into the dark. They have heard a voice so sweet that the music of Earth cannot hold them back. Glory to God for the voice of the siren that sings from the throne of God this morning and says, “Follow me.” “Wait little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!”
Oh, when a man gets the hope of the coming of Christ, not the mathematics, the doctrine, not simply the Bible study of it, though that is all desirable and necessary, but hope that fills his soul with joy to wait upon His coming King. Oh, when he gets the hope of it he will “purify himself even as He is pure.” “Ear hath not heard it. No heart ever imagined it.” What heart could ever imagine the government of Jesus? What man could ever have given us the second coming of Jesus Christ? Man has had every other scheme to his credit. Man has had checked up to his account all governmental schemes. God takes no credit for them. Man—man—man, man-planned, man-lived, man-fought-for and bled-for and died-for, but God isn’t looking to them for the consummation, though men are looking for it. But, oh, after man has made his “mock-millennium” as the editor of the Sun-ray [sic] School Times has called it, this thing that is coming after the war, the mock-millennium when men will say, “At last we have downed all kinds of militarism! At last the nations shall beat their swords into plowshares! At last we have universal arbitration!” I want to say to you my friends, that if peace were declared, inside of two years, before a popular audience in the cities of America, I would be inwardly hissed for preaching the second coming of Jesus Christ. They would say, “Why fool, the millennium is already here. There will never be another cannon-roar. There will never be another war. There will never be any more hatred or strife. We have put it away—put it down, buried it in the sea, and now it is universal peace.” It will look like it, and I believe the mock-millennium is coming; but it is man’s millennium. While man may seem to have cleared a place around him with his sword, where he can raise his family and his government, yet there is something else to reckon with, and that is the government of Heaven, and how all governments have treated that government!
Oh no! No man could ever have conceived of the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. When I think of that millennium that He shall bring and that heaven—that new earth and new heaven. Oh, my heart swells with joy. This morning, when I think there is coming a time when no more tears shall ever flow, I let the tears of joy flow and praise Him.
Sitting in the train coming along home yesterday I picked up one of the magazines, and there one of our most wonderful literary women of the times had written of the things that had gone on inside of her soul, after she had come back from Europe to join her three sons, and a letter came from the oldest one telling her he was going to battle. There she opens up her mother’s heart to the mothers of America and shows her suffering. But oh, my friend, there is coming a day when no more mothers’ hearts shall break. They will know where their boys are every night and where their girls are. There will be no more scaffold or guillotine. There will be no more sin nor suffering nor sorrow nor death. No eye hath not seen this; no ear hath ever heard it; no heart has ever imagined it. But above noise of battle, above the noise of men who say that a time shall come when there will be no kings, thank God, I see a time coming when the King of kings shall be Lord of lords on this old Earth of ours. Oh, what a hope! Against the smoke that rises up and the falling cathedrals and burning buildings and broken hearts and widows and orphans and disease and famine and gunshots and bombs and the firing in the air, and those torches of light that break and sputter green and yellow above the battlefield, above the broken homes—oh, thank God for the day that comes yonder, when Jesus shall be back among us!
No man ever made this. No man ever pictured it; but God hath revealed it to us. “Comfort one another with these words.” This morning while the battles rage and while the smoke goes upward, thank God for the hope that it will be cleared away some day. Above all of our sufferings and our strife and our hard conditions and our pain and our anguish, thank God the hope is bright, for “every jot and tittle of this Word shall in no wise pass until all be fulfilled.” It is the living Son of God that comes. His hand is on the knob. Get ready! Get ready! Don’t listen to the voices of carnal men for it has not been revealed to the natural man; but listen to His Spirit, for He has revealed it by His Spirit; and go forth in these hard hours with this comforting word. “Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him.”
Lord, make it all real. Oh, let the Holy Ghost do His office work, and let marvelous light divine from Glory flood our hearts. Against the awful background of darkness let there be light in Christian hearts this day. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.