THE HEAVENLY VISION
"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision . . ." Acts 26:19
A Man with a Vision
Paul had a heavenly vision. He received it when God knocked him off his horse and saved him, called him, and took his sight (Acts 9:1-9). Isn't this fascinating? At the same moment that the light flashed from heaven and Paul received his vision, his physical eyesight was taken from him.
The "heavenly vision" that Paul referred to when speaking to King Agrippa was that moment on the road to Damascas (Acts 26:12-19). That moment was when he received his vision. The same vision that controlled his life. The same vision that drove him to do the things he did and go to the places he went. This vision was the directing factor in his life. It's what motivated him to go on in the face of unrelenting opposition and persecution. It's what moved him to continue even after multiple beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, and harassment from the Judaizers. It wasn't human determination and persistence that drove Paul on. It was a heavenly vision of Jesus Christ!
What did the Vision Mean?
When Paul (Saul) fell to the ground, the first thing that he heard the Lord say was, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" We must at this point immediately stand up and take notice. This was Saul's first contact with the living Lord.
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
Yet Paul had never met Jesus up to this point. He did not persecute Jesus. He was persecuting the Church. Yet the Lord Himself wants to know why Paul had been persecuting Him. The very first contact Paul has with the Lord is a revelation of the oneness of Christ and the Church. By Paul persecuting the Church, he was persecuting Christ! This is because they are one in the same. (See I Cor. 12:12)
When Paul asks the questions: "Who are you, Lord?" The Lord answers with, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." There it is again! Jesus reiterates that He is one with His Church.
This is the vision that drives Paul the rest of his life. He will go on to announce this Christ to every place the Spirit sends him.
But that's not all. God wants to make sure that Paul completely understands this vision. Paul loses his eyesight for three days. But what does God do? Does He miraculously and instantly heal Paul directly? No! He sends a brother from the Church in Damascus named Ananias to pray for Paul. So when Paul opens his eyes for the first time in three days, he sees a brother standing before him. This is still part of his vision! Now he sees, standing before him, one of those whom he was coming to persecute. He now sees a member of Christ! (I Cor 6:15) Paul's eyes are opened and he sees Christ in the brothers and sisters. What a revelation! What a vision! It will take Paul the rest of his life to proclaim this vision to the Gentiles all over the world.
The Whole Christ
Paul's vision was of the whole Christ. The Head and the Body. The Bridegroom and the Bride. The Vine and the Branches. He would go on to describe this Christ in his letters as the one new man (Col. 3:10, 11), the new creation (II Cor. 5:16, 17), the New Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26), the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12), God's building (I Cor 3:9), the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16), and the great mystery (Eph. 5:32).
This mystery is composed of two parts; the mystery of God, and the Mystery of Christ.
The Mystery of God
The letter to the Colossians reveals to us the mystery of God.
"That their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the full knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ." (Col 2:2)
You could say that God has a secret. This secret has been kept hidden throughout the ages. This "Secret" was not revealed on the Ophrah Winfrey show and has nothing to do with any laws of attraction, principles, methods, or techniques. This "secret" or mystery is a living breathing Person. The person of His Son - Christ! The fullness of everything positive in this universe was pleased to dwell in this Person. (Col. 1:19) It is in Him, through Him, and unto Him, that all things were created. (Col 1:16) He is the mystery of God.
The Mystery of Christ
The second part of this great mystery is revealed to us in the letter to the Ephesians.
"By which, in reading it, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in spirit.
That in Christ Jesus the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the Body and fellow partakers of the promise through the gospel."
The second part of this great mystery is the Body of Christ, the Church. The Church is the embodiment of Christ. She is the fullness of the One who fills all in all. (Eph 1:23) She is the expression of the living Christ.
So we can see that the mystery of God is Christ. This Christ is the embodiment and full expression of the Godhead. And the mystery of Christ is the Church. The Church is the embodiment and full expression of Christ. These two parts make up the Great Mystery that Paul mentions in Eph. 5:32.
This was the heavenly vision that Paul received on the road to Damascus. Then the Lord let him be blind for three days so that he would not have any visual distractions and could focus on the revelation he had been given. It took him the rest of his life to discover the riches within this vision. And it carried him throughout the know world announcing these riches to the Gentiles.
Every believer needs to have this same heavenly vision. It should be the driving force of your life. It should be the reason why you breathe air and why you wake up in the morning. It should be your great passion and obsession. It should be why you live where you live, work where you work, and do what you do.
The Great Mystery is the reason we are here!