“To make all men see what is the dispensation of the Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9).
It would be impossible to adequately describe the effect that a knowledge of the Mystery has had on my life. Knowing that I cannot put my feelings into words, I shall nevertheless try to explain a bit of what the emotional and/or psychological and/or spiritual effect has been to date.
More than a quarter of a century ago I purchased a book entitled Things That Differ which was written by one Cornelius R. Stam who, as I understand, is still living at the age of 92.
In July of 1995 (a little over a year after my heart surgery), while preparing for a trip to Durango, and being somewhat hurried with last minute details, I picked this book off the shelf and stuck it in my briefcase—in anticipation of any opportunities I might have to read during this time away from my office.
One morning in Durango I opened the book (a hard cover of 279 pages) and saw that I had written my own name on the inside of the front cover—and below my name was the clearly written date: September 1972. This means that some 23 years before I had purchased and carefully read this book which had since been on my bookshelf virtually untouched for that period of time. In opening the book, I saw that I had (with my red pen) written many notes with their page numbers, inside both the front and back covers. I know I had read the book “carefully” since red and yellow highlighting and underlinings were found liberally distributed through the entire book from front to back.
At this point, I shall make no attempt to discuss in detail the Lord’s leading in my life, nor to discuss the rather extensive reading and study I had done during those intervening 23 years. However, I hasten to say here (to the glory of God and with eternal thanksgiving to God) that He had most graciously and abundantly been preparing me for the additional and wonderful surprise of 1995.
On July 19, 1995, I printed in red ink (inside the back cover) these words: “I’m beginning to see what I have never seen before like I have never seen before!” Near these words, I had also printed (perhaps on the same day) the following: “In reading Things That Differ I’m absolutely astounded!”
I’m well aware that from reading what I have just stated, some very legitimate questions can arise: Really, what was so different? What was so astounding? Did you learn some new doctrine? What did you learn that you did not already know? In answer, I would emphasize that my purpose here is not to discuss any particular Biblical doctrine nor any particular Biblical issues (per se), but, rather (as stated above) to try to give some reasonable indication or impression of what it was like to me, personally—that is, the new reading of my already-well-marked book: Things That Differ.
Let me say, further (and happily) that what I was reading was neither inconsistent with, nor in conflict with most of what I had already known and believed. In fact, for the most part, it was strongly confirming and supportive of my already-formed (over 50 years) deep doctrinal convictions concerning the Scriptures and the Christian life.
At this point, I hear someone saying, “Come on, Dave, why don’t you quit stalling and tell us plainly what it was like?” I will try to do that in just a moment, but first, I must say a word about what it was not like.
It was not like anything psychic, mystical, or supernatural. It was nothing like signs and wonders. It was not like God speaking directly to me, nor was it an “inner light” revelation. I did not hear strange voices or have dream-like inner visions.
It was more like an experience of “whereas I was blind, now I can see.” What was formerly vague and indefinite is now becoming clear—the way one would think and hope things should be. Apparently unresolvable issues and differences which have long gripped the evangelical church can be easily resolved by direct reference to the sacred page. Issues and conflicts which have long divided the denominational churches, as well as evangelical believers in general, can now be easily resolved by a proper interpretation and understanding of the Bible.
For me, it was sort of an “AH HA” experience—one pleasant surprise after another—something like “At last it all makes sense.” Something like fresh springs of living water to a parched throat. Something like scales falling off my eyes.
Someone has said: “The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
No new version—no new words—no new landscapes. The same marvellous Word of God—the same familiar passages—but somehow a thrilling new voyage of discovery.