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How to see Mt. Rainier
If a non-christian wants to know why we believe that the Bible is God’s word, there’s a lot of things that we could talk about. We could start with fulfilled prophecy; almost anybody who knows something about Jesus can recognize him in Isaiah 53, written about 700 years before his birth. That alongside Psalm 22 which poetically and vividly describes his crucifixion centuries before the practice existed make a pretty good opener. To that we can add the remarkable coherence of the Bible which gives a unified presentation of creation, fall and redemption despite being composed of 66 books written by more than 40 authors in three languages over the course of about 1500 years. What’s more the Biblical narrative and its theology have remarkable power to explain and interpret the world that we experience every day. God’s word is like a pair of glasses that, when we look through them, bring everything else into focus.
Not everyone will find this presentation convincing however, and we have to face the fact that without the work of the Holy Spirit, no one can truly see the Bible for what it is. Paul addresses this problem in 2 Corinthians 3, talking about the unbelieving Jews of his day who were unable to see how the Old Testament points to Jesus.
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:12-17
Jesus himself said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me,” (John 10:27) and “If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (John 8:46-47).
But if that’s the case, what do we say to the non-christian who doesn’t see what we see in the pages of the Bible? Is there any advice we can give to the spiritually blind about the recovery of their sight? Or are they just supposed to go on with their lives and hope that the Holy Spirit opens their eyes at some point in the future?
First of all, I would encourage somebody who wants to know if the Bible is God’s word to pray about it, and ask the God, that they’re not sure exists, to reveal himself. And then my advice would be the same advice I would give to someone who wants to see Mt. Rainier.
The first place Chelsea and I lived after getting married was Poulsbo, WA, where I was stationed on the USS Maine (Blue). One of my favorite things about living in that area was the magnificent views that can be had of the Olympic Mountains to the west, and especially of Mt. Rainier to the south-east which is so enormous and so distant that it looks more like a vision or something painted in the sky than a mountain of solid rock. One of my least favorite things however, was how cloudy and foggy it is there. For this reason the views of Mt. Rainier were a special treat, because most of the time you actually couldn’t see it in the fog.
And so, if you do want to see the glory of Mt. Rainier (and I do recommend it), there are two things that need to happen. First of all, God needs to remove the fog. And secondly, you need to be standing in a place where, if the fog is lifted, you will have a view of the mountain. To be sure, you won’t see Rainier if God doesn’t do something about the fog, but it’s just as sure that you won’t be seeing Rainier if you stay in your basement.
Likewise for those who don’t have the spiritual sight to see the glory of Christ in his revealed word, I would encourage them to stand in a spot where they would see it if they could. Read the Bible. Listen to sermons. Talk to christians. Study the person of Jesus and his Word, so that if God mercifully opens your eyes, what you will see is his incomparable glory.