A Copernican-Style Revelation and Revolution (“Christ the Center” series revisited – Part 1)

With this post we are beginning a series of meditations on the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ in all things.  Because there is no single verse in the Bible we can point to which says, “Jesus Christ is the Center of all things” we must arrive at that conclusion through Scriptural inference and deduction.

In this series, we will pursue that end by taking a number of dictionary definitions for the word “center” and show how Christ fulfills each of their meanings in relation to the eternal purpose of God, the Church and the individual believer.  These definitions provide a broad perspective on the matter of centrality and so help to give a complete picture of the way in which Christ can truly be seen as the Center of all things.

We will begin, then, with the following definition from the American Heritage Dictionary (online edition):

“a point, pivot, axis, etc., around which anything rotates or revolves.”

Following this definition, a sample sentence is given to illustrate the usage of the word “center” in this regard:

“The sun is the center of our solar system.”

In this first meditation, we will use both the definition and the sample sentence as the basis for our thoughts on the centrality of Christ.

A Heavenly Parable

“The heavens declare the glory of God.  The skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech.  Night after night they display knowledge.”  (Psalms 19:1-2)

The heavens were fashioned to declare the wisdom, power and glory of God.  Our solar system, likewise, was ordered and ordained to display forth the knowledge of God in what might be called a “heavenly parable”.  At the center of the solar system stands the Sun, a fiery ball of hydrogen and helium gas, blazing in all of its glory.  Its radiance brings light and warmth to the planets and enables life on the earth.  Around the sun the planets spin in balanced orbit, drawn and held together by the sun’s massive gravitational pull.  If it were not for the sun, the solar system would not exist, neither would there be any life.

The Scriptures interpret and confirm for us what the sun represents in this parable.  The natural sun is a physical representation of the eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns central and supreme in all things.  He is “the sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2), ”the light of the world” (John 8:12;9:5), ”the radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3).  He is the anti-type of “the greater light” which governs the day (Genesis 1:16); the One who illuminates the church, the anti-type of “the lesser light” which governs the night (Genesis 1:16); “and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

The Son of God, likewise, is the One of whom Isaiah prophesied: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2)  He is the One of whom Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, sang:  “…the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death.” (Luke 1:78-79)  John said He is “the true Light, which lights every man”(John 1:9).  On the Mount of Transfiguration, the veil of His flesh was transfigured to reveal His glory, and His “face shone like the sun.” (Matthew 17:2)  When the Son’s life expired on the cross, the sun in the heavens ceased to shine (Luke 23:45).  When John saw the resurrected, glorified Son on the Isle of Patmos, he said, “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:16)  In the eternal city there will be no need of the sun to shine on it, “for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23)  The Scriptures affirm that the Son is the One of whom the physical sun is a mere representation and type.

As we consider this parable in this regard, there are two facets which stand out and deserve further attention.  These are the sun/Son-related matters of centrality and immensity.

“Centrality”

The first matter to consider is that of centrality.  The solar system is heliocentric in nature. The sun stands at the center, and all of the planets revolve around it.  Up until a mere five centuries ago, however, both the scientific world and the Church world believed that the universe was geocentric, with the earth at its center.  From a combination of earthly observation, certain Scriptural passages in which God was communicating to man according to his earthly perspective, Ptolemaic theory and Aristotelian philosophy, this is what was believed to be true.

As science developed, however, a more accurate understanding of the solar system came to be conceived of and believed in.  Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) proposed a heliocentric model of the universe which placed the sun at the center, with the earth and the other planets orbiting around it.  Initially this radical theory was scorned, rejected and opposed by both the scientific community and by the Church.  In the latter case, this new paradigm threatened the very underpinnings of the Church’s teaching and authority.  Astronomers, such as Galileo Galilei (1564 -1642), who further advanced this concept were tried and condemned as heretics for propagating such “unscriptural” theories.

Eventually, however, truth won out, and a radical reorientation of understanding came to be embraced by the world and by the Church.  This “Copernican Revolution”, as it has been called, became the philosophical and psychological catalyst for the ushering in of “the Modern Age”.  Sweeping changes in all dimensions of society followed as man’s entire concept of the universe and of the world he lived in changed.

It wasn’t until centuries later, however, with the dawning of the space age, that man was ultimately able to break free of the bounds of earthly observation and begin to view the heliocentric nature of the solar system from an entirely heavenly perspective.  How vastly different this view was from what man naturally observed from the earth!  From the perspective of the heavens, the centrality of the sun is a stunning and glorious reality.

This matter of centrality and of the vastly different perspectives that exist between the earthly and the heavenly points of view speak powerfully of man’s diverse perspectives concerning the spiritual universe.  When we view the world and life from our natural, earthly perspective, we gravitate towards seeing ourselves at the center of everything that exists in the visible order.  Even if our eyes have been opened spiritually to see beyond that, and we have seen the Son, we still often think and act as if He revolves around us.  We relate to Him as if He is there solely to bless us, to give us life, to meet our needs and to daily shine upon us.  For all intents and purposes, even as believers, we can tend to live in a “me-o-centric” universe, with ourselves in the center and all other things, including Jesus, revolving around us.

The Church, also, collectively tends to gravitate towards this paradigm of things. When a group of individuals, each with inbred “me-o-centrism”, comes together and forms a church assembly, the tendency is for a corporate “me-o-centrism” to develop.  The activities of the church, and even of Christ’s relationship to the church, tend to center around the collective “self” of the assembly.  The Son is often related to as though He is primarily there to bless the church, to give it life, to meet its needs, and to daily (weekly?) shine upon it.  It develops with its corporate “me” at the center, and with all other things, including Jesus, revolving around its own self-propagation, -preservation and -prosperity.  When an expression of the church lacks a clear and consuming heavenly vision of the centrality of Christ in all things, this is what naturally, yet tragically develops.

Both individual believers and the corporate assemblies of the Lord, therefore, are in deep need of a “spiritual Copernican Revolution”.  Through the Word of God and the Spirit of revelation, the Church must be broken free of the bonds of the faulty and failing earthly view, and grasp the infinitely glorious reality of the universal centrality of Christ in all things.  The Father’s universe revolves around His Son and so must the Church. How differently our lives will be, and the expressions of the Church will be when Christ is fully restored to His central and supreme place in all things. (Colossians 1:18)

“Immensity”

This brings us now to the second matter to consider from this “heavenly parable”, that of immensity.  In the created solar system, the sun is immense in its dimensions and mass, while the earth is minute. Scientists have calculated that the volume of the sun is 1,300,000 times larger than that of the earth.  That is to say, that if you melted down 1.3 million earths, you could pour them into the capacity of the sun.  That is a staggering reality.

The sun’s mass, likewise, is so great that, in and of itself, it comprises 99.86% of the mass of everything that exists in the entire solar system.  The solar system, therefore, is comprised of a sun, lots of space and .14% of trace materials (i.e. planets, moons, meteors and cosmic debris.)  The earth barely weighs in on the scales in this cosmic system. (Isaiah 40:15)  It is this immensity of mass in the sun which provides the necessary gravitational pull to hold the solar system together and keep it moving in balanced orbit.  Were the earth at the center, as once believed, all would disintegrate and fly apart.

As in the matter of centrality, so in this matter of immensity, the earthly perspective is utterly faulty and failing.  From the vantage point of the earth, the world looks large and the sun small.  One can block out the sun’s view by holding up a mere golf ball.  One might even reason from its appearance that you could fit 1.3 million or more suns into the earth.  How utterly misleading and contrary to reality the earthly view can be!

This facet of immensity, as in the case of centrality, is pointing to a sublime spiritual reality.  Paul said, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.  Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)  Paul had once viewed Christ as a man, a Jew, a false prophet, a rabble-rouser.  After the resurrection, however, he met the glorified Son as a brilliant light shining from heaven and his spiritual eyes were opened.  Later he was caught up into the third heavens and was given surpassing revelations of the greatness of the Son in the eternal mysteries and purpose of God. (2 Corinthians 12:1-7)

How vastly different was this heavenly view of Christ than what he had seen before.  How gloriously immense was this revelation of the Son from the eternal, heavenly perspective.  Paul’s life became consumed with the “dispensation of the mystery” through the preaching of “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8-9).  Even to the end of his life and ministry he was consumed with the singular passion “…to know Christ”! (Philippians 3:10)

As he established local expressions of the churches, He labored to center them in Christ alone, knowing that only He had the sufficient “gravitational pull” to draw and hold the churches together through whatever may seek to divide and disperse them.  Any other center he knew would utterly fail. Only a heavenly revelation of the immensity of Christ will center the Church where it needs to be centered.  Only when the Church is centered in Christ will all things be held together and oriented properly in balanced unity and function.

~ ~ ~

God has written a parable in the very heavens to declare the unrivaled centrality and surpassing greatness of His Son.  The Church is called now to be the instrumentality through which the manifold wisdom of God is embodied and made known to the entirety of creation, “according to His eternal purpose.” (Ephesians 3:10-11)  Only as the Church embraces the Lord Jesus Christ in His centrality, supremacy, all-sufficiency and immensity can it fulfill its high and holy calling to this end.

May God open our eyes to behold this glorious Son in all that He is in the Father’s eyes.

Amen.

About David Bolton

Following Him who is the Way; Learning of Him who is the Truth; Living in Him who is the Life. - John 14:6
This entry was posted in Christ-Centered Christianity - Foundations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A Copernican-Style Revelation and Revolution (“Christ the Center” series revisited – Part 1)

  1. Sandor says:

    Reblogged this on keskeny út – narrow way and commented:
    I suggest to read this series for all kind my visitor. Sandor

    Like

  2. janloyd says:

    Magnificent! What a vision of our Lord! Thank you, David.

    Like

  3. Jeannette Palma says:

    Excellent teaching David! So true how most of us don’t fully comprehend the awesomeness of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We oftentimes are so consumed with our own little universe – to think that the One and Only All-Powerful Living God cares for even the small details of our lives that concern us – given the perspective you have painted – is human mind blowing. So deep it is to meditate on this teaching. “Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, with wisdom, power and love Our God is an awesome God!” Thank you David for sharing this vision with us. Be blessed today! Shalom

    Like

  4. errollmulder says:

    Thanks David for this profound parable, and for its profound application to the Church of Jesus Christ. Looking forward to what’s coming.

    Like

  5. Geno says:

    You wrote… “It (the church) develops with its corporate “me” at the center, and with all other things, including Jesus, revolving around its own self-propagation, -preservation and -prosperity. When an expression of the church lacks a clear and consuming heavenly vision of the centrality of Christ in all things, this is what naturally, yet tragically develops.”

    Naturally, yet tragically, yet all too obviously true.

    You also wrote… “The Church is called now to be the instrumentality through which the manifold wisdom of God is embodied and made known to the entirety of creation, “according to His eternal purpose.” (Ephesians 3:10-11) Only as the Church embraces the Lord Jesus Christ in His centrality, supremacy, all-sufficiency and immensity can it fulfill its high and holy calling to this end.”

    Clearly and obviously, the church, to a very large degree, is nowhere near (and hasn’t been for a very long time) being the instrumentality through which the manifold wisdom of God is embodied and made known to the entirety of creation.

    The word of God reveals there will be great apostasy and falling away, and that the Lord will shake everything that can be shaken, so that only those things that can’t be shaken will remain.

    So-called “faith” will be tried in the fire, and I fear that the Lord’s people, including myself, are just not “getting it”.

    Sadly, I believe only great tribulation and intense pressure will burn off the massive amount of dross, mixture and compromise that is present in the “church”, and purify/strengthen the body of Christ to be and do what it has always been called to be and do.

    I also am convinced this tribulation and pressure is coming soon and fast.

    Like

  6. David Bolton says:

    Thank you, Geno. Yes, I agree with you on that. Some think that the Word of God alone is sufficient to bring the church into obedience, some think the Word and the Spirit are sufficient, but, a third thing is also needed, and that is the Cross. Unless we are willing to allow the cross to do its purifying work within us, we will ever be overcome by the power of the flesh, the world and the devil. If we do not embrace the cross internally, God orchestrates the circumstances of our lives to press us into it externally. Persecution is one of those pressures He allows. It drives us to the Word, the Spirit and the Cross so that we truly become overcomers!

    Persecution is coming world-wide and we best prepare for it. I recommend the Principles Book, which I know you are familiar with, as an excellent resource for it draws much from the persecuted Church in China, North Korea and Iran, as well as the early Church! (https://christcenteredchristianity.com/resources/principles-book-gospel-fellowships/) May we prepare our hearts, families and fellowships for this now!

    Thanks for your comment, Geno!

    Like

  7. john morris says:

    What a grand and majestic picture of our Lord you painted. Thanks for sharing this, I look forward to more in the future. I am with you and Geno on the coming persecution, and as I have shared before the Principles Book, is a real eye opener and life changer. As difficult as it is read, it would benefit every follower of Christ in the West to read it. Thanks again. JM.

    Like

  8. David Bolton says:

    Thank you, John. I appreciate your comments and affirmation of the Prinicples book. It is a time for us to be alert to the hour we are living in and not be seduced by the spirit of the age which has enveloped much of slumbering Christendom. I’m grateful for the unity of spirit that we share in Him!
    All blessings!

    Like

  9. dhaggaboy says:

    Hi David
    Reading this again (or again/again) I appreciate our Lords’ wisdom given to us thru brothers and sisters being led by our Lord Holy Spirit : so refreshing!
    ï

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s