How would you describe something to someone who has never seen it or felt it? Some of you are acquainted, no doubt, with mathematicians or physicists who tell us that there is a fourth dimension. Some even say there is a fifth dimension. How would you describe this to someone who can only see, understand, and feel three dimensions, and cannot understand a fourth or fifth one? The best way I know to describe it is to look at history and see times when the human race saw things that they had never seen before.
Some years ago, a wonderful instrument was invented. It is called a microscope. As men started looking in the microscope, eventually they found that there were tiny creatures that people had never seen before. People did not know that these little creatures even existed. We soon
discovered that these tiny creatures could make people sick, so we developed a new theory because of what we had seen.
We had seen something in a new dimension, a micro-dimension, that we had not seen before. Because of what we had seen, we had a new experience of what reality was, and we developed a new theory about disease. We developed a theory about what made people sick, and we called it the germ theory, and these little creatures, we called germs.
In the nineteenth century, scientists, like John Harvey Kellogg and others, talked to people about germs, and this germ theory changed the practice of medicine and dentistry and all the health professions. It did not just change our theory about why people were sick; it changed our theory about the prevention of disease, preparation and preservation of food, sanitation, housekeeping, and how to manage buildings and premises.
In the nineteenth century people had to be convinced that it was really true. So the professors, who were giving lectures on health education, would take a microscope with them. They put the microscope up in front and inserted a slide. The most common little creature, a one-celled organism called an amoeba, would be on that slide. People would come up and look at it through the microscope and watch
it move about.
Some people still were not convinced. One lady looked in the microscope, saw the amoeba, and she said, “I still do not believe it!” Sometimes it is very difficult to see in a new dimension, because when you see in a new dimension, you are seeing something that is totally different, or totally foreign, to what you have always believed was reality.
Christ, An Imposter?
The Bible talks about seeing in a new dimension. You can read about a man who had an experience where he saw something in a dimension he had never seen before. He had been told that Jesus Christ was an imposter and an enemy. The Jews said that the disciples had stolen His body away while the soldiers were sleeping and that the resurrection was a myth.
He was told that these Christians were all deluded and were deceiving the world, and if he was going to save the church, he had to kill them and get them out of the way. He was in the process of doing just that. In fact, Scripture tells us that he was breathing murder against the Christians. He had letters from the High Priest and he was going to Damascus to have the Christians arrested and put in prison.
But on the way he had an experience. He saw something that he had never seen before. Scripture says a great light shone around him, and he looked, and he saw a Being that was brighter than the sun. That Being had nail prints in His hands and in His feet. It was the Being that he had been told was stolen away while the soldiers slept, and this did not look like a corpse. It was brighter than the sun and It spoke to him. (See Acts 9:3–6.)
He was so afraid. He asked the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” The Lord told him the way he was going was the hard way, and He told Paul to go down to Damascus, and it would be shown him what he was to do.
A Change in Plans
We do not know how long that experience lasted, whether it was just a few seconds or a few minutes. But from that experience, Paul was never the same again, because he had seen everything in a different dimension, in a different light. He was on his way to take the Christians as prisoners. He considered them his enemies, but after his experience, he considered them his brothers and friends.
The people whom he was going to try to kill, he was now going to try to save. The people whom he had hated, he now loved. The people whom he had scorned, he delighted to be in their company. You see, it changed everything in his life. When you see something in a new dimension, it changes everything; the way you feel, the way you think, the way you act, the way you talk, everything!
After that experience, as the apostle Paul traveled all over the world, he would tell people what it was that had changed his life. He told the Jews about it. (See Acts 22.) He told King Agrippa about it. He would repeat over and over again what had happened to him. He was an enemy, one who was going to kill and destroy the Christian Church—until he saw something in a new dimension.
The crucified One appeared to him, brighter than the sun, with the nail prints still in His hands. From that time on, everything was changed in his life. The book of Philippians describes his experience before and after he saw Christ. In this Scripture, Paul describes three things that he saw. This is what they were: “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3.
Let us examine this statement for just a moment. The Jews said, “We are the circumcision,” but Paul wrote to the Christians and said, “No, we are the real circumcision.” The Jews said, “We are the church.” The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians and said, “No, they are not. We are the church, the Christians, we are the circumcision. We are the people of God.”
“Not the circumcision made with hands, but the circumcision of Christ to the cutting away of sin from the life.” (See Colossians 2:11.) He said, “We are the true church, the circumcision that is made without hands. We worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though, I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:3–6.
I Was Blind, But Now I See
This is what happened to him after he saw the vision, after he saw in another dimension, on the Damascus road. He had all these things. He was sure that he was saved because he had the right lineage, he had the right religion, he had gone through the right rituals, he belonged to the right race, he belonged to the right group, he was an educated man and he was a wealthy man.
He had all these things, but after he had that vision on the Damascus road, everything he had, he considered worthless. “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things for loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” Philippians 3:7–11.
Paul said there was a time when he had everything. From the Jewish point of view, he did have everything. He was probably one of the youngest members of the Sanhedrin, the governing body of the Jewish nation. He says of himself, “I was a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” He belonged to the social elite; he was a Pharisee, the people that the Jews looked up to the most. He was respected and honored.
These Three Things I Desire
When Paul saw the crucified One, he said he considered all of that as rubbish. “I have lost it all and it is not worth anything. All I want to do is gain Christ. There are three things that I want.” (See Philippians 3:7–11.) After he had that vision, he was willing to lose everything else, but there were three things that he wanted.
- He wanted to have the righteousness that is of faith in Christ, not just righteousness because he had kept the law, the kind that he had when he was a Pharisee. He did not want that anymore. He wanted a new kind of righteousness, the righteousness that is of faith, the righteousness from Christ.
- He wanted to know Him and the power of His resurrection.
- He wanted to know the fellowship of His sufferings.
Three things. We will look at the third one first.
Fellowship With His Suffering
Do you know anything about the fellowship of suffering? Maybe we do not want it yet because we have never had the vision that Paul had. Maybe we have never seen in a new dimension. Until we see in a different dimension than the people of this world see, we will not want the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. But Paul did. He said “I want to know Him.”
If you are really going to know someone, you have to know how they feel. Can you know how someone feels if you have never felt it? When Jesus was here, He suffered for you and me. Are we ever going to understand that?
We will never understand it fully, but if we never have any suffering ourselves, we will not understand it at all. Paul wanted to understand; he wanted to know Him. If he was going to know Him, he knew he would need to have fellowship with His sufferings. Does that mean we must be burned at the stake, put on a rack and get stretched apart, or get thrown to the lions? No! Those things could certainly be included, but every single person that is in the kingdom of heaven will have had fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, but not all will have been martyred.
“Those who reign with Christ in His kingdom must have a fellowship in His suffering. Every defect in character condemned by the law of God, must through the grace of Christ, which is freely given to every soul who desires it, be overcome. Every hereditary and cultivated tendency to evil must be seen, subdued, and cleansed, that the soul temple may become fit for the indwelling of the Spirit of God. The divine will must be accepted, and the human will brought into harmony with God, though it cause bitter agony and tears.” The Signs of the Times, in July 18, 1895.
What is the bitter agony and tears mentioned here? It is bringing our stubborn will into harmony with the will of God. When we do that, the result is fellowship in suffering. Mrs. White says, “Traits of character that are offensive to God are often very dear to man, and are cherished as virtues. How blind is humanity unless the light of heaven is accepted and cherished!” Ibid.
Paul wanted to have fellowship with Him; he wanted to know Him and have fellowship with His sufferings. Paul knew his stubborn will must be surrendered to Christ’s will, even if it caused bitter agony and tears. If we are going to have fellowship with Him in glory, we must have fellowship with Him in suffering.
The Righteousness of Christ
But Paul also said he wanted another kind of righteousness. “I was alive without the law once.” He thought one time he was righteous because he was a Pharisee. He says, “As far as the righteousness, which is of the law, I was blameless. I was perfect.” Philippians 3:6.
But after he saw in another dimension, he realized he did not have any righteousness at all. He went from being perfect, to having no righteousness at all in just a few minutes. Have you ever had that happen to you? In fact, he wrote to the Romans, “I know that in my flesh there is no good thing.” I do not have anything. (See Romans 7:18.) So now, not only did he want to have fellowship in suffering, he wanted a different kind of righteousness.
What is this righteousness that he was talking about? “We can be fitted for heaven only through the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart; for we must have Christ’s righteousness as our credentials if we would find access to the Father. In order that we may have the righteousness of Christ, we need daily to be transformed by the influence of the Spirit, to be a partaker of the divine nature.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 374.
If you are going to have the righteousness of Christ, it must be imparted to you by the Holy Spirit so that your mind is transformed, as Paul says in Romans 12. Have you received the Holy Spirit? Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus. “Unless you receive the Holy Spirit, there is no chance that you will be saved.” (See John 3:5.) It is the Holy Spirit that makes us a partaker of the divine nature.
The apostle Paul saw that he could keep the law perfectly his whole life, but that would not save him. You see, if we could keep the law perfectly and earn our own salvation, then Jesus would not have needed to die on the cross. Paul saw that he had to have an experience. He had to receive the Holy Spirit, which he had not received.
He claimed to be absolutely perfect, yet he was going to a city to murder the saints! He saw that he was all undone and he was the one who was responsible for that. It is the same thing that happened with the Jews. Remember the Pharisees? They considered themselves to be the chosen of God and perfect, yet they murdered the Son of God.
“When we bring our lives to complete obedience to the law of God, regarding God as our supreme Guide, and clinging to Christ as our hope of righteousness, God will work in our behalf. This is a righteousness of faith, a righteousness hidden in a mystery of which the worldling knows nothing, and which he cannot understand. Sophistry and strife follow in the train of the serpent; but the commandments of God diligently studied and practiced, open to us communication with heaven, and distinguish for us the true from the false.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1118.
This is what constitutes righteousness by faith!
The Power of His Resurrection
Let us look closely at the third thing Paul wanted. In Philippians 3:10, he says, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”
The first time you read that, you may say, “Well, that means that he was hoping that after he died, he would be raised from the dead when Jesus comes again. That would be included, but he is talking about a lot more than the resurrection that will occur at Christ’s Second Coming. He is talking about something that he wants to know right now. How can you know the power of the resurrection right now?
In The Desire of Ages, 209, 210, Mrs. White quotes Philippians 3:10. Then she says, “That spirit of life in Christ Jesus, ‘the power of His resurrection,’ sets men ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ (Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:2). The dominion of evil is broken, and through faith the soul is kept from sin.”
How is the soul kept from sin? It is the power of His resurrection. The dominion of Satan, the dominion of sin is broken in the life and, through the power of the resurrection, the soul is kept from sin. That is what Paul wanted to know right then. How about you? How about me? Do we know the power of His resurrection? Have we seen it? What is it?
Let us look at something that is a most fundamental point. There could never have been a resurrection until there was a crucifixion. Does that make sense? Christ was not resurrected until He was first crucified.
Tell Them the Story
To understand the resurrection you have to understand the crucifixion. Here is a gem for the parents. Here is a story to tell to your children. Ellen White wrote this in The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889. She said to parents concerning their children, “Tell them the blessed story of the cross of Calvary. This is the great, central theme of all wisdom.” Would you like your children to become spiritually wise? Tell them the story of the cross of Calvary. After Paul had seen his vision, he wrote to a church in Corinth, “If anybody thinks he is wise, let him become a fool so that he might become wise.” Concerning the apostles, he said, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are despised.” Sometimes we get too smart for ourselves. Ellen White wrote about this. She says, “I want to say to my brethren, Shall we humble our hearts before God and be converted? Shall we put off all the self-sufficiency and the lifting up of ourselves, and come down at the foot of the cross? The lower we lie at the foot of the cross the more clear will be our view of Christ.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 57.
Where? If we get low at the foot of the cross, then we will begin to see Christ. And then she says, “For just as soon as we begin to lift ourselves up and to think that we are something, the view of Christ grows dimmer and dimmer and Satan steps in so that we cannot see Him at all.” Ibid.
If we are going to see what Paul saw, we are all going to have to be humble. We are going to have to come to the foot of the cross. We will not think of ourselves as intelligent, wise or self-sufficient. “We should take our fitting place in humble penitence at the foot of the cross. We may learn the lessons of meekness and lowliness of mind as we go up to Mount Calvary, and looking upon the cross, see our Saviour in agony, the Son of God dying, the just for the unjust. Behold Him who could summon legions of angels to His assistance with one word, a subject of jest and merriment, of reviling and hatred. He gives Himself a sacrifice for sin. When reviled, He threatened not; when falsely accused, He opened not His mouth. He prays on the cross for His murderers. He is dying for them.” That I May Know Him, 62.
The Lesson of the Cross
Have you seen the new dimension? Ellen White says this is the first lesson that we need to learn. It is good to learn Bible doctrine and something about prophecy. We also need to know what the law of God says, since Christ had to die on the cross because we broke that law. There are many other lessons that we need to learn, but the lesson of the cross is number one. This is what will enable us to see everything and everybody in a new dimension.
When Paul had this vision, when he saw this light, and the Lord spoke to him, it was just for a few minutes, but it changed everything in his life. Before, he had hatred for those Christians. After that, his hatred was gone. It changed the way he thought. It changed the way he felt. It changed the way he acted. It changed the way he spoke. It changed the expression on his face. It changed everything in his life.
Would you like to be changed like that? If you can see what he saw, you will see in a new dimension and everything will be changed. Just like he records in Philippians, “Everything that I thought was so important before, I realize now that it is rubbish compared with this.”
“Lift the cross and deny self. Control yourself. Then there will be an opportunity for Christ to let His mind be in you. Your words will be sweet and pure.” (Would you like every word that you speak to be sweet and pure? If you see this, that is what will happen.) “You will give no place to the enemy by giving way to evil thinking and evil speaking,— his most successful means of keeping the church in a weak, unconverted state.” Australian Union Conference Record, April 15, 1905. This is what will happen to us if we see in a new dimension.
When you see what Paul saw, it not only changes what you say, it changes your very thoughts, the way you think.
Who Killed Jesus?
After Paul saw this vision, he wrote to the Christians and told them there was danger. You see, the Christians all thought that it was the Jews who had crucified Christ. Paul said, “Oh, no, it is not just the Jews. We are the ones who crucified Him, by our sins.”
Do you believe that just the Jews crucified Christ, or do you believe that Christ went to the cross because of what you and I have done? The reason we do not understand is because we have not seen in a new dimension yet. If you understand from God’s point of view—you see from God’s point of view; and He understands the past, the present, and the future.
God knew all about you when Jesus was here. He took all of your sins, and all of the sins of everybody that would ever live in the world, and He laid them on Christ at Calvary. He did not go to Calvary just for the Jews, or for the people in the Old Testament, He went to Calvary for you and for me. Paul said we, as Christians, can crucify Him again. He taught this throughout the New Testament. I imagine when people first heard that doctrine they were absolutely shocked. “How could we crucify Him again? I would not crucify Him again, I am a Christian. I call Him my Lord and Master.” Yet, Paul said you can crucify Him again. He talked to the Hebrews extensively about this. The apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation, said that when Jesus would come again, He would come with clouds and every eye is going to see Him, also those that pierced Him. (See Revelation 1:7.)
Lest you think that this refers only to the Jews, although they are included in this statement, look at Zechariah 12:10. “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me Whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
Do you understand that? The people of God are going to see Him whom they have pierced and they are going to mourn and grieve over what they have done to Him. You may say to yourself, “I was not the one with the hammer.” No, but we only talk that way because we have never seen in another dimension.
The Hammer in Your Hand
We do not realize that when we sin we bring the identical, same kind of pain to the heart of God that Jesus suffered on the cross. Again in Education, 263, Mrs. White talks about how we can crucify Him.
Once you see in that dimension, it changes everything. It changes your whole outlook about sin, does it not? You realize that if you do it, you are going to hurt the One that loves you the most. “‘They also which pierced Him.’ These words apply not only to the men who pierced Christ when He hung on the cross of Calvary, but [also] to those who by evil-speaking and wrong-doing are piercing Him today.” The Signs of the Times, January 28, 1903.
Are there people piercing Him today? Yes! How are they doing it? By their evil-speaking and wrongdoing. “Daily He suffers the agonies of the crucifixion. Daily men and women are piercing Him by dishonoring Him, by refusing to do His will.” Ibid.
Do you want to see things in a different dimension so that sin will become hateful and hideous to you, so that you will never want to do it again? If you see what Paul saw, that is what will happen. When we see what he saw, instead of evil-speaking and wrongdoing, piercing Him, we will do the following: “It is our duty to help those who are downcast. Recollect what their privileges are, and do not talk of the difficulties, but go right to them and try to bind up the broken hearted.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 103.
Where are these broken hearted people you and I are supposed to bind up? “These are right in the church all around us. Never have an idea that you know more than your brethren do, but just keep humble. It was this spirit of evil surmising that brought all the weakness into the Jewish nation.” Ibid.
We have to come to the foot of the cross and we have to see things that we did not see before. When that happens, the same thing will happen to us that happened to the apostle Paul.
Friends and Enemies
Here is an amazing fact about Jesus. As you study the life of Christ, it appears that He does not know the difference between His friends and His enemies. He treats them all the same. Ellen White wrote, “Can you stand under the shadow of the cross and there talk your crosses, your darkness, your wicked feelings? Can you do it? Dare you do it? You never dare to do it when standing under the shadow of the cross.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 208.
You see, our problem is that we have somebody difficult with whom to deal. Do you know who that difficult person is? It is me! That is the person I have the most trouble with, me! “Self is the most difficult thing we have to manage. In laying off burdens, let us not forget to lay self at the feet of Christ. Hand yourself over to Jesus, to be molded and fashioned by Him, that you may be made vessels unto honor. Your temptations, your ideas, your feelings, must all be laid at the foot of the cross. Then the soul is ready to listen to words of divine instruction. Jesus will give you water to drink of the water which flows from the river of God. Under the softening and subduing influence of His spirit, your coldness, and listlessness will disappear.” The Upward Look, 218.
Oh, friends, what you and I need, what the Christian church needs, what Adventists need, what the historic Adventists need, what the revival and reformation movement needs, is to see in a different dimension. Then, all of a sudden, all of the troubles that we think we have will disappear.
What really happens to a person when they start to look at the cross of Calvary and start to think through the spiritual meaning of what they are looking at? A lot of Christians know the story. They have crosses hanging from their rear-view mirrors and in their homes, and all over the place, but they do not know the spiritual meaning of the story.
Redemption is a process by which a human soul is trained for heaven. It means a knowledge of Christ. After Paul saw that, he said in Philippians 3, “All I want is just to know Him. I want to know the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings. I just want to know Him, that is all. Everything I had before is junk.”
“It means emancipation from ideas, from habits and practices, that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness. The soul must be delivered from the feelings and practices which are opposed to loyalty to God.” Signs of the Times, January 17, 1895.
Are you being delivered day by day from wrong thoughts and feelings? If you are starting to see in a different dimension, it will happen.
Oh, what a change it would make if we could see our spouses, our children, and our fellow church members in a different dimension. “We are here to learn submission to the divine will, or we shall not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those who are corrupt in their sympathies, that have never had the divine touch, never can sing the song of the redeemed. They would be unhappy in heaven.” Ibid.
If you do not have the Divine touch, if you do not see in a different dimension, (what Paul saw), if you never come to the cross of Calvary in your mind to study its spiritual meaning, the Lord cannot take you to heaven because you would not enjoy it. You would be unhappy in heaven. “They would feel that they were inharmonious elements.” Ibid.
We must have this experience, friends. We must pray for it and say, “Lord, help me to see what Paul saw. Help me to see what the cross means, and to experience it. Not just as a story, but as a change in my life so that I see everything and everybody differently.”
Seeing with New Eyes
Steven Colby, the famous author, tells of an experience that he had on a subway in New York. One Sunday morning he was riding on the subway. People were sitting quietly; some of them reading newspapers, and some were lost in thought. Some even had their eyes closed. It was very calm and very peaceful. Then suddenly a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and so rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.
This man came in with these unruly children and sat down right next to Mr. Colby. The man just sort of hung his head, closed his eyes and he seemed totally oblivious to what his children were doing. The children were yelling and were throwing things. They were even grabbing people’s newspapers. It was very disturbing, and everybody in the subway car was getting very irritated.
Yet the man sitting next to Mr. Colby just sat there with his eyes closed, doing absolutely nothing. It was difficult not to feel irritated. It was difficult not to be angry at this man who had no control over his children who were disrupting everybody in the whole car. He could not believe this man could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all.
It was easy to see that everybody in the whole car was irritated. Just like people get in the church sometimes. Mr. Colby thought he was exercising an unusual amount of patience and restraint, but finally he thought, “I have to do something.” So he turned to this man, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you could control them a little more?”
The man raised his head a little bit and opened his eyes as if he had just come to consciousness for the first time, and he said softly, “Oh, you are right. I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I do not know what to think, and I guess they do not know how to handle it either.”
Mr. Colby said he was changed instantly. All of sudden he was not irritated any more. He felt so sad. He changed his speech, he changed his words, he changed his thoughts, and he changed his feelings instantly. Why? Because now he saw this man and his children in a different dimension.
If you and I are gong to go to heaven, we are going to have to see Jesus on the cross. We are going to have to see a vision that is going to change our dimension of thinking so that we see each other, our spouses, our children, our fellow church members in a different dimension than we have seen them before.
Do you want to see and experience reality in a different dimension so that you will be Christ-like in every situation? We have to have more than a storybook religion if we are going to go to heaven. We have to actually be converted and see each other in a different dimension. Let each one of us pray that we might have that experience today.