Some people take things they can see for granted but the things they cannot see provoke an extraordinary fascination, way beyond the normal, because for some people unseen things are creepy, malicious, fearsome or awesome and can even be lethal depending on the circumstances. We fear the deep sea because of the unseen terrors lurking there, we proceed with caution as we trek through the impenetrable, malevolent jungle or traverse the treacherous quicksand-laden desert and we are alert and scared that as we travel we should encounter some deadly, unseen virus.
Most people do not mind dealing with things they can see, they can battle giants face to face if they have to but to deal with a simple demon in even a little child gives them the heebie jeebies. This is the measure of how the unseen can terrify us.
But there is a different take on things unseen from a biblical perspective and one that is familiar to people of faith.
Believers live their lives almost totally on the basis of things unseen, they relish them for their spiritual worth, they trust in them for their prospects, believe and obey in them for their daily comfort and joy and they rely on them with conviction and enthusiasm and poise for this is the very essence of what it means to live by faith.
We live by faith or we perish by sight and there are no other options.
If that which we see can satisfy us, fulfil our deepest longing, give us a sense of total accomplishment then we are not spiritual, not possessed with those qualities so lavishly bestowed on Adam when God said, "Let us make man in our image" and proceeded to do so and afterwards commented, "And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)
Prior to time God existed in perfect and total permanence and he created man to share such an existence but humanity had to go through probation by living in temporary circumstances. However glorious the things we see may look and dazzle they are all temporary and unworthy and unequal to the task of being permanent components to spiritual and eternal human beings. If we can catch sight of it then it is temporary and of little value and Jesus Christ pointed this out when he said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37)
Believers are left in no doubt how mightily important are things unseen and the Apostle Paul stated it quite forcefully thus, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18) I prefer the King James Version for most of my study and explanations but in this case another version puts it more clearly, "So we think about what we cannot see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:18 Easy-to-Read Version)
So what are these unseen things that are so important and why should we concentrate on them to the exclusion of all else?
Believers must understand and accept that despite what the cynics may say the unseen things are responsible for our very existence, and God, working through them, in a multitude of different ways, is able to deliver every saved soul, however fraught the obstacles and challenges to a blessed and assured eternity.
Here are some of these unseen things that are enormously important:
1. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20) Look as hard as you wish and you will not see the invisible Christ in the assembly but he is there with all believers and doing magnificent, essential work. Believers that are true and faithful can tell if Jesus Christ is present in any assembly because they can see him through their perceptive eyes of faith and they are never fooled. When Jesus Christ is present the manifestations are plentiful; and like Elijah in 1 Kings 19:12-13 the still small voice of The Saviour resonates with amazing clarity.
2. In the same way that the presence of Jesus Christ is invisible, and as God is invisible, so too is the Holy Spirit; the third member of The Trinity. And yet the Holy Spirit though unseen has such an enormous presence, and his absence is so dreadful, and alarming that we are warned, "Quench not the Spirit." (1 Thessalonians 5:19) This invisible Holy Spirit is so vital to the life and future prospects of believers that the Bible gives this unique warning, "But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." (Mark 3:29)
3. The unseen things surrounding the Christian's faith are numerous indeed and yet are as sure as yesterday's sunrise, things that believers believe in, live by and look forward to with confidence and assurance that they will all be just as stated in God's Word; things like the Second Advent, the resurrection, the millennium, the rapture, the White Thrown Judgement, Hell, Heaven and the glories embodied in the various crowns bestowed upon God's children; like the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), the crown of life (James 1:12), the crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19), etc.
4. When a child is born into this world we know it, we can see it and point to it but when a man or a woman commits to God and is born again that is entirely unseen but no less real. Jesus Christ told Nicodemus, "... Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5) We can see the water but not the Spirit and the unseen things in the process; like the burden of sin being lifted, the purging of the heart by the grace of God, the transformation of the soul through redemption, a new mindset and hence the commitment to new thinking, the adoption into God's family, the recording of our name in the Book of Life and the rejoicing of the angels as they celebrate our invisible new birth.
5. Scientists may argue whatever they like and they can put forward all the untested and unproven hypotheses imaginable; nevertheless it is still true that the world was made by God from unseen things. Even if there was any substance in the so-called Big-Bang theory then when we examine that theory at the atomic level there the atoms are not visible, being described by the dictionary as a hypothetical particle of matter so minute as to admit of no division. But God created the universe from things we cannot see and the Bible says so, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Hebrews 11:3) Even the wishy-washy, trendy scientists seem to agree with this since they tell us that at one moment there was nothing and then suddenly, whoosh, a new universe. There is no mystery about creation and even the ancient David knew it and could say, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." (Psalm 33:6)
6. And what more can we say of those unseen things of old that have guided, sustained, encouraged and strengthened the patriots and saints of old like Noah who built the ark after, "Being warned of God of things not seen as yet" (Hebrews 11:7), like Abraham who was journeying towards the unseen as the Bible puts it, " For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10), like Joseph who trusted in things unseen and in the future when as the Bible states it, "By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones." (Hebrews 11:22), like Moses who abandoned Egypt and was enthused by the unseen, "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:27)
All of these are things unseen, invisible but real and believers know that they matter greatly. Some people do not consider spiritual things, for to them spiritual things are foolishness, but when we disregard spiritual things we are less than whole and we will never know true happiness and find contentment and peace unless our soul, body and spirit have a settled relationship with things unseen.
We live by faith or we perish by sight and the world is perishing because of this obsession with material things; whereas believers see through faith the things that are unseen, the lasting, joyous things that really matter; the things of God as promised in the Bible and underpinned and promoted by Jesus Christ himself and the glorious life of perfection he lived here on earth. If we are going to see the unseen and obtain the divine promises then we must walk accordingly for it is through faith that we will conquer, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)
And what has God promised those who defy the sceptics, refused to be intimidated by the prevailing secularism, and hold fast to the sacred traditions and holy doctrines inherent in God's Word? Unimaginable, unseen delights or as so wondrously stated in the Bible, "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." (1 Corinthians 2:9)
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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