For as the aged, or those whose sight is defective, when any book, however fair, is set before them, though they perceive that there is something written, are scarcely able to make out two consecutive words, but, when aided by glasses, begin to read distinctly, so Scripture, gathering together the impressions of Deity, which, till then, lay confused in our minds, dissipates the darkness, and shows us the true God clearly.
I can still replay the experience in my mind very clearly. It started with me sitting across the table from a woman who had just forced me to sit still before blowing a puff of air into my eye. Supposedly this was for my good. She then smirked as I tried in vain to read the unreadable letters and numbers off the wall from give-or-take a million miles away. I sulked back to the waiting room where my mom was waiting for me to hear the report from my eye-doctor. I was saddened by the verdict. I needed glasses. I had psyched myself up to just gut through the eye-exam unscathed. That hope was quickly dissipating as I shopped with my mom to look at the different styles of frames offered to me, trying on differing attempts to better disguise my pending transfer into dorkdom. As a pre-teen I cannot think of many things more degrading than glasses. After selecting a frame and waiting a week for their arrival, my mom presented my glasses to me as I sat in front of the T.V. playing Crash Bandicoot (aka: my childhood jam). I will never forget the moment my eyes beheld Crash through the aid of those spectacles.
I was so accustomed to the blurry world around me that the sudden rush of vibrant, full perspective I experienced was thrilling and even alarming. Everything on the screen changed. Crash and Dr. Cortex seemed more detailed than previously. I remember running around the house and going outside just to look at things through this new-found power I had. Road signs were crisp and detailed. Trees no longer looked like clumps, there were individual leaves making the clump. I had far more freckles than I did before! In those moments I wondered how I had survived without this clarity.
There are principles I want to pull away from my simple childhood experience of becoming a four-eyed ginger. The first being that nothing in the world around me changed. My perception and understanding was altered by the clarity granted by glasses. What God and man created around me was objectively beautiful, vibrant, and skillfully detailed (yes, even Crash). I was subjectively unable to enjoy it due to my hereditary inability to see well. The second principle is that improved vision immediately gave way to wonder and thanksgiving at what had been previously hidden. I was excited to behold old things in new ways! The third is that I now had greater responsibility and culpability. What I mean by that is now if I was at home working on school and my mom (aka my teacher) asked me to read something, inability to see was no longer an excuse. Only pure rebellion remained when I resisted such commands. Lastly, it would be complete insanity to want to go back to not being able to see clearly again. Once the world around you is made more clear, desiring the old misconceptions and lack of clarity is nonsensical. Life would never be the same for me now that I could see clearly.
Taking from the Calvin quote found at the top of this article, being granted spiritual eyes to see the glory of Christ through the means of the illumination of the Spirit brings about parallel experiences in the spiritual realm. Prior to salvation God’s word may seem geeky, awkward, oppressive, written only for those craving desperately for a coping mechanism, etc. When I first put glasses on the feelings of shame evaporated as the awe of what I could now see came into view. Likewise, when God’s word is read through the lens of the Spirit the cross of Christ and our sins being forgiven come in full HD. All of Scripture becomes a detailed, cohesive unit driving us towards Golgotha, the focal point of history. What was once blurry, foggy, and confusing, comes into focus as the foundation of our lives. We begin to see everything that has always been for the first time, or in new ways.
When the narrative of Scripture, the revelation of our loving Creator and Savior comes into proper perspective through eyes of faith, thanksgiving is the necessary response. Without God humanity as a whole is marked by our ungratefulness. When Paul writes the Roman church and is portraying humankind in our unregenerate state he writes, “For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude…” (Rom. 1:21a). In our pre-spiritual lasik surgery state, humanity looks upon the world around us and while suppressing the truth in unrighteousness we don’t give thanks. Only special revelation (the Bible) provides the proper lens through which the beauty of this world can be viewed and guide us to worship and thanksgiving. When speaking to the church of Ephesus Paul writes, “Obscene and foolish talking nor crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks” (Eph. 5:4). Eyes of faith guide our tongues to speak in morally wholesome, pure, doxological ways. When human eyes behold the Grand Canyon the result is oftentimes a gasped, “wow.” How much more should the tongues of those who behold the glory of the Creator of this Canyon speak humbled, grateful praises, as their hearts are overcome while attempting to take in what the eyes share with them.
Expectations increase with the transformed vision of the believer. This is why the Apostle Paul exhorts the Philippian believers, “As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27). When we are given eyes of faith and made a citizen of Christ’s kingdom, we are given the sacred and joyous task of living worthily of such a calling. To live ungrateful, immoral, apathetic lives is an irrationally blatant rebellion against our King. When we sin and disobey what God calls us to do now as his children we are not walking away in confusion, but in clarity. This is why the warnings in Hebrews 6 should be taken so seriously. If I was driving a car on a mountain pass and went off the side of the cliff when there was no advanced warning it would be looked at as a tragic accident. If I drove off the cliff despite the clear sign reading “Danger, cliff ahead,” it would be looked at as an act of stupidity. God has graciously opened our eyes to see the world rightly and in his kindness he tells us what not to do in order to protect us. This heightens our culpability whenever we turn away from God and pursue sin.
We want to be very careful as we consider warning passages such as these though. I fear we easily fall into reading these warnings viewing God as a disconnected judge, rather than a loving Father. I remember sternly being told by my parents not to go onto the busy road that was ominously close to our front yard where I would play as a child. Their goal was not to steal my joy in this warning, it was so that I could enjoy playing in the front lawn with full use of all my faculties. The sternness came from a heart of love that hated the thought of their child being injured. When God gives these warnings in Hebrews and other places in Scripture the severity of the warning is out of urgency for obedience so that we are not ruined. God is the only source of true joy and blessing and wisdom and when we go anywhere else for clarity or knowledge, we are listening to a serpent. The Scriptures must be the lens through which we view the world or we will bring ourselves to ruin. The Bible is a precious gift of clarity given by God to reveal himself to us, because apart from him we cannot make sense of this world. It is pure insanity to attempt to view the world through an atheistic worldview or through the lens of another god, because the God of the Bible has created all things to begin, continue, and end with himself. When he makes himself known to us all of life comes into proper perspective.
Knowing God truly is the most essential relational understanding we can possibly have. Contrary to the what is blasted through our radios and T.V. shows the height of human understanding is not discovering the “real you.” No, looking inside yourself to find truth is embracing the repackaged lie told to Adam and Eve. In order to rightly orient our lives and find purpose requires us to rightly understand our Creator. Thus, when we read Scripture we read to know its Author. Yes, 40 men over thousands of years wrote this wonderfully cohesive book, but none of these men wrote purely of their own accord, but as they were carried along by God’s Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21). God is revealing himself to us through his word and when the Spirit who inspired Scripture grants the lens to read the Scripture, the result is we look upon God sufficiently for salvation and transformation. Now, this vision is not perfect. Paul himself claimed to only know in part, but when Christ returned he would know fully (1 Cor. 13:12). But, by God’s grace we as Christians have the veil of unbelief removed and look upon God’s glorious revelation of Jesus Christ and are being transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18).
When I first put glasses on I did not suddenly see perfectly, I saw sufficiently to function normally. When we are granted spiritual eyes to see Christ’s glory in this life we do not see perfectly, but we see sufficiently. This is why Paul can say that the inspired Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The intention of the Bible is not to teach us everything we ever need to know about everything, but it reveals enough of what we must know for salvation and growth in godliness. As we behold God through his word and come to know him more and more we are continually made like him. This is the end for which we have been made.