Saturday, August 17, 2013

Podcast - Frank Viola

Frank Viola Podcast

There's Nothing New Under the Sun

There’s nothing new under the sun. These words were uttered by the person whom the Bible esteems as the wisest man who ever lived (that is, before Jesus of Nazareth came along). En. Ecclesiastes 1:9; 1 Kings 3:12; 4:30; Luke 11:31.
      I’m not sure about you, but I descend into silent grunts whenever I hear someone make the outlandish statement that what they have to say is brand new, completely original, and hasn’t been said before.
      I’ve yet to find this statement to be true. And I’ve yet to meet a human being who could make such a statement without lying through his or her teeth (whether with calculated deliberation or in conceited ignorance). Such over-the-top rhetoric is not only profoundly arrogant, but it has few points of contact with reality.
      Being a student of church history, I have never personally met a true spiritual or theological trailblazer. Most of the people I know who are turning the sod on various aspects of the Christian faith are exploring pathways that have been populated by others in the past. None of it is brand new or completely original. As Dr. Laurence Peter once put it, “Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear, but forgetting where you heard it.” Anyone who doesn’t admit to that is bluffing.
      Consequently, what you will read in this book has undoubtedly been said by someone else in some other place at some other time or in some other era. I have often made the following statement when invited to speak somewhere: “If you’re looking for new revelation, you’ve got the wrong guy.”
      I have no new revelation. In fact, I have never met a person who had new revelation. Nor do I possess any “heavy revy” to dish out (that’s cute shorthand for “deep and heavy revelation from God.”)
      I am a person who firmly believes what Solomon said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” In fact, all of what we have in the New Testament is found in the Old Testament—in types, images, allegories, and shadows. There is one exception, however. “The mystery” that Paul of Tarsus so passionately spoke about in his letters. That was a genuine case of “new revelation.” Unquestionably so.
      To put a finer point on it, there’s only one revelation, and there’s only one Revelator. The revelation is Jesus Christ. The Revelator is the Holy Spirit. And we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. It is only by God’s marvelous grace that we can (perhaps) see further than they did.
      While I’m banging this particular drum, let me add that I don’t believe that there are any elite Christians. And I certainly don’t believe that there are any elite Christian workers or ministers. I believe that the simplest saint who has met the Lord Jesus Christ is as holy, as valued, and as cherished in the sight of God as the apostle Paul, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Watchman Nee, C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham or any other name that you wish to insert into that sentence.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Experience of the Body of Christ

      The Experience of the Body of Christ. Every genuine Christian is a member of the Body of Christ. If Christ dwells in you, then you are membered to His Body. But there is something that I call the experience of the Body of Christ.
      The experience of the Body of Christ is the experience of Christian community. By “community,” I do not have in mind a commune or communal living. I’m rather speaking of a group of Christians who see themselves as genuine family, who are intensely involved with one another’s lives, and who are pursuing their Lord together all throughout the week. I’m speaking of a face-to-face, shared-life community.
      Ray Stedman called this experience “Body life.” Watchman Nee called it “church life.” I often refer to it as the experience of the Body of Christ, where a believer encounters in living color the interdependence, the mutual participation, the diverse-but-unified giftings, the oneness, and the shared life of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth.

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