Seeing the Invisible-Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul
November 9th, 1969 @ 10:50 AM
SEEING WITH THE EYES OF THE SOUL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-9-69 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul. It is an exposition of two verses in the first chapter of Ephesians; Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Then follows the first prayer in the Book of Ephesians and some of the most beautifully meaningful of all prayers of all literature are in this Book of Ephesians; and this is the first one:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of His glory…
…what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the mighty power,
Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies.
Now the passage I shall expound:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened
“The eyes of your understanding” [Ephesians 1:18]. Dianoia, translated here “understanding.” The Revised Version translates it “heart,” but “heart” only in the sense of dianoia, which refers to the whole thinking man. Whatever you are, consciously, sensitively, understandingly, responsibly, intelligently, the eyes of your dianoia, the eyes of the soul, “That the eyes of your soul may be enlightened, photizō, illuminated, filled with light” [Ephesians 1:18]. Now you won’t find that expression anywhere in the Bible except right there, “The eyes of your understanding, the eyes of your soul” [Ephesians 1:18]. But you will find it in classical Greek literature many times. Plato will use the exact phrase, “the eyes of the soul.” And Ovid describing Pythagoras said this, and I copied the sentence exactly, speaking of Pythagoras, Ovid said, “With his mind he approached the gods, though far removed in heaven; and what nature denied to human sight, he drew forth with the eyes of his dianoia, with the eyes of his heart, with the eyes of his soul.” And one of our great English poets wrote, “The seeing eyes see best by the light in the heart that lies,” seeing with the eyes of the soul.
And this is the intuitive insight that God has confirmed upon the man that He made, which is the highest of God’s exalted and heavenly gifts. To see with the eyes of the soul, that’s what the painter does. A photograph is of a thing exactly as it is. The difference between a photograph and a painting is that a photograph will register it just as it is, factually. But a painter will see and paint with the eyes of his soul. And that’s what a great painting is. He is painting what his soul feels and sees. The great English painter Turner was famed throughout the world for his gorgeous sunsets. And a woman came up to him one time and said, “Turner, I never saw a sunset like that.” And the artist replied, “Oh, but don’t you wish you could?” To see with the eyes of the soul.
That’s what the architect does. I have been in some of the great cathedrals such as St. Isaac’s in Leningrad. Oh, those incomparable expressions of the exaltation of the human spirit, the uplift, the God-wardness of human life. And it happened to be there that day the model that the architect had made of that very cathedral. The architect saw it first with the eyes of his soul before it became a reality. Like an engineer, when I was down in Panama, the man who built that bridge across the great canal, the Pan-American bridge, took me to his office and showed me a little model of it. And before a span was swung, that great engineer had seen it with the eyes of his soul. For you see, facts and things are meaningless in themselves. It is the purpose, it is the relation, the correlation, it is the principle of meaning and purpose that is all pervasive and significant. The fact, the thing itself is nothing, absolutely nothing.
When I was a boy, in our little town, we had a print shop, and they put the type together by hands and published once a week the little paper. And I used to go in there as a boy and look at all those little bins. All the “A”s were here, and the “B”s were there, and the “C”s were there, and all the alphabetical conglomeration was stuck around. Just individual facts, all those are facts, this is a fact, that’s a fact, a piece of type is a fact, it’s a reality; and I’d just look at it there.
And when I was a boy, I would go to the lumber yard; we used to play in the lumber yard. And it was full of stacks. There was a stack of bricks, and here was a stack of lumber, and there was some cement, and here two-by-fours, and there was one-by-twelves just all around.
And I remember one time when I was a youngster, I went to a medical college, and I went through the dissecting room. And there was a leg, here was an arm, there was a head. I remember stacked over there in a corner, leaning against a wall, was a backbone. And all of those are facts. A leg is a fact, and a head is a fact, and a backbone is a fact. But, they are meaningless, and they’re without purpose until back of them there is a great intelligence that puts them together and uses them.
A man with intelligence would go into the little print shop, and there he would put all of that together, and we would read his thoughts. They were printed there on the page, what that man was thinking; as he used those materialities to convey his thought. And a builder could take all of those bricks and all that lumber and make a beautiful home out of it, and did. And God could take all of those limbs and pieces of anatomy and make a living soul—you—personality and human life. I’m just pointing out to you what the Bible is teaching us: that the fact in itself is almost irrelevant and insignificant and has no meaning, but the great truth of life is what lies back—which is invisible and which you can’t see—the principle, the idea that gives it meaning and purpose. And in the pursuit of truth, that’s what you seek to find.
The fact, the materiality is nothing. But in the pursuit of truth, we seek to find the idea and the principle and the purpose, and that you see with the eyes of the soul [Ephesians 1:18]. Whoever saw a principle, whoever saw a purpose? These are seen only and recognized only with the eyes of the soul. That’s why I had you read the passage that the apostle who wrote the Book of Hebrews spoke of Moses “as enduring, seeing the invisible,” looking with the inward spirit [Hebrews 11:27].
Now, the apostle prays that the eyes of our understanding may be illuminated, may be enlightened, that we can see, and hear, and comprehend, and apprehend, and understand [Ephesians 1:18]. The eyes of our souls being illuminated, being filled with light. As the apostle writes in 2 Corinthians 4:6:
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God—
has illuminated our hearts, has opened the eyes of our souls—
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God—
and we learn it through Jesus Christ—
in the face of Jesus Christ.
For this is the great assignment of the Holy Spirit: to enlighten our inward souls, to open the eyes of our souls. It is only the Holy Spirit who understands the things of God, and He takes the things of God, and He reveals them unto us [1 Corinthians 2:10]. A natural man cannot understand, he cannot see. The apostle wrote in 1 Corinthians [chapter] 2 and verse 14, “For the natural man,” the unconverted man, the unsaved man, “cannot receive the things of God; neither can he know them because they are foolishness unto him” [1 Corinthians 2:14]. A man has to be illuminated, he has to be enlightened before he can see and apprehend the things of God. But the Holy Spirit can take them, for He knows God, and He understands God; He is God [1 Corinthians 2:11]. And He orders the things of God, and He shows us their meaning and purpose [1 Corinthians 2:12]. And He fits together all of the things of the Lord. He knows the mind of God, and He illuminates us, and He places them before us, and we can see purpose and reason. We can see the building fitly put together in the revelation, in the illumination of the Holy Spirit, like the building of the great temple under Solomon [1 Kings 5:5]. An architect, Solomon—Hiram Abiff, his workmen [1 Kings 7:13-14]—the great architect fitted every piece. And when the building was put together, there was not the sound of a hammer nor the ringing of a ponderous axe [1 Kings 6:7]. So it is with the Holy Spirit: He takes the things of God, and He puts them together; they fit. And He reveals to us the tremendous purpose, the principle, the reason [1 Corinthians 2:12].
And what a tragedy that there are so many whose eyes are closed, and whose ears are stopped, and they can’t see, and they can’t understand. Ah, what a tragedy! The Lord said in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew:
Because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, nor do they understand.
And it is fulfilled in them the prophecy of Isaiah which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
For this people’s hearts waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
This is a gift of the Spirit of God. For a man can see and see and see and see, and never see! And he can hear and hear and hear and hear, and he can never hear! He must be enlightened, illuminated by the Holy Spirit of God. And when He does, he sees and sees, then suddenly he sees! And he hears and hears, then suddenly he hears! For God has enlightened his soul; he has found the glory of God that shines in the face of Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 4:6].
That’s why the psalmist prayed in the hundred-nineteenth Psalm, and verse 18: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy book,” the book of God’s law in the world around me, and the Book of God’s revelation that I hold in my hands [Psalm 119:18].
Open my eyes that I may see,
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hand the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
[“Open My Eyes That I May See,” Clara H. Scott, 1895]
That the eyes of your soul may be enlightened [Ephesians 1:18].
Now, the Holy Spirit does this for us when He illuminates us, when He opens our eyes, and we can see. He gives us the spirit of sophia, sophia. Nor was there ever a word in the Greek language or in Greek literature that the Greeks ever used so much or so meaningful as they did that word sophia. When you go to Istanbul, when you go to ancient Constantinople you will see there the church that was converted into a mosque that is now a museum, you will see there the greatest church that’s ever been built in all time. Built by Justinian in 500 AD and they named it “St. Sophia,” St. Sophia. Sophia, that God will give you the spirit of sophia. And in the twelfth chapter of the 1 Corinthian letter, the first gift of the Spirit of the nine named in that Corinthian letter is the gift of sophia, the gift of wisdom, sophia, wisdom [1 Corinthians 12:8]. For you see, logic and reason can go somewhat, can go somewhere, can reach out a space, a piece. But, ah! Of itself, it falls so miserably and dismally; it fails! For a man to shut himself up to reason or to logic is to block out of his life the great spectacular, stupendous meaningful revelations of Almighty God.
The Greeks played around with logic and with metaphysics. They loved to do it. Zeller, an author named Zeller wrote a book called Outlines of Greek Philosophy; and in that book he presents a Greek sophist by the name of Gorgias. And by metaphysics, metaphysically, Gorgias proves that a thing cannot exist, and what does exist, you can’t know. And what you do know, you can’t impart to others. He does that metaphysically, logically. For example, one of those sophists proved that motion is impossible—motion is impossible logically, reasonably, deductively, motion is impossible—and he did it very simply: number one: a thing can’t move from where it is because if it does, it isn’t there. Second: a thing can’t move from where it is not. Third: where it is and where it is not are all the places that there are, therefore a thing can’t move.
Now you can think about that forever; that’s logic! That’s reason, that’s deduction, and it’s incontrovertible. Logic, deduction, reason in themselves take you nowhere, nowhere, nowhere. There are people who want to live by logic; they are illogical. There are people who want to live by reason; they are unreasonable. They reduce the world to an illogical and irrelevant fact.
What God has done for us is to give us another—an inward and intuitive faculty—and that faculty is what exalts and raises up a man in the likeness of God. Reason, I say, can take you so far; it can go just somewhere, but it can’t soar, it can’t rise! Like a chicken who’s hatching eggs, like a hen sitting on a nest. What do you call what a hen sits on? A nest, well, there’s another word for it. So she sits on the nest, and she sits and sits. And they hatch out, but she doesn’t know they’re ducklings. So she takes her little brood to the water’s edge, and she stops. And to her amazement the little ducklings just go right on. That’s logic: it can go so far, it can reach out just here. But faith, the eyes of the soul, the intuitive inward faculty that God has given a man can rise and fly and soar! That’s why the Book of Hebrews in the eleventh chapter will say, “By faith we understand” [Hebrews 11:3]. And you don’t understand any other way; that God may give us the gift of Sophia [1 Corinthians 12:8], of inward intuitive wisdom, of understanding; seeing with the eyes of the soul [Ephesians 1:18].
And that God will give us the spirit of revelation, apokalupsis [Ephesians 1:17]; that’s the first word when you turn to the last book of the Bible; it starts off with apokalupsis, “apocalypse,” the “unveiling,” the “uncovering” [Revelation 1:1]. For you see, everything of God is a musteriōn, it is a mystery [1 Corinthians 1:26]. The signature of God is mystery, the footprints of God are mystery [Romans 11:33]. Wherever God is or wherever God has been, there is mystery: you don’t explain anything about God, you can’t! You just see and observe. Now the Holy Spirit unveils God for us, and unveils the handiwork of the Lord for us, and unveils the purpose and meaning of God for us. He does it. He uncovers it, He unveils it [1 Corinthians 2:10-12], and we see it with our eyes, and feel it with our souls, and hear it with our ears, and understand it with our inward, intuitive gift from heaven. The Holy Spirit does it. And if the Holy Spirit doesn’t do it, you don’t see it, and you don’t hear it, and you don’t understand it, and you don’t comprehend it. Paul, for example, will say about a people that they “have a veil over their hearts” [2 Corinthians 3:15]. And even when the gospel is preached to them, they don’t understand it for there’s a veil over their hearts [2 Corinthians 3:14].
The Lord said in the sixth chapter of John, “No man can come unto Me, except the Spirit of God draw him,” woo him, reveal Me to him [John 6:44]. You don’t be a Christian by logic, and you don’t do it by reason; you don’t get to heaven because you’re shrewd, or erudite, or academic, or smart. You just don’t go that way. Because it limps; it’s like a wagon with three wheels a-dragging: you can’t move with it. But the great vehicle and the great instrument by which God reveals the truths of heaven to us is in the enlightenment of our inward souls, and we see it with the eyes of the inside of us. And, oh! How wonderful it is when God uncovers Himself, because you can’t know Him any other way.
A man can walk out under the firmament of the sky and look at that glory forever, and ever, and ever, and all he could ever know was wherever it came from, it must have been done by an omnipotent hand; that’s all he could ever know. Or he could look at a glorious sunset or a beautiful rainbow, and he could deduct whoever did it and however it came to pass, it must have been someone who loved things beautiful. What good is there in the gorgeous autumnal colors of a sunset? And just what utilitarian purpose does a rainbow serve? Who ever did it must have loved things beautiful and pretty. But you’d never know who He was unless He unveils Himself and reveals Himself. You could look on the inside of you—and we do—and we find ourselves highly moral; we are very sensitively moral creatures. And you can deduct that whoever made us and from whose hands we came, must have been somebody who had a keen sensitivity to what’s right and what’s wrong. But what is His name? And who is He like? You could never ever know except God discloses Himself, except God reveals Himself. And that’s what you call the apokalupsis, the unveiling of the Lord, and it’s the work of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 2:10]. He presents God, He uncovers the Lord, He shows you what His name is, and what He is like, and who He is, and all about Him. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit illuminating the natural man [1 Corinthians 2:13-14].
And there are great truths that cannot be intellectually substantiated because the intellect, the reason, the logical part of a man can’t grasp it, can’t enter into it. There are many things that we receive by faith, by inward intuition that we cannot intellectually defend. For example, Plato said, “A man can salute the truth by force of instinct as something akin to himself before he can give intellectual account for it.” You can take it and receive it and believe it because it’s something like you. And yet as Plato says, you can’t give an intellectual account for it. I don’t know of a better illustration of that than something that happened in the life of a deacon in a church where I pastored in a college town. He taught psychology. And upon a day, he brought to me a book of science, and at the end of that book the author had said something about himself personally. And here’s briefly what the author said, this great scientist, he said, “I have been an unbeliever. I have not believed in immortality, and I have not believed in the resurrection.” But he said, “Since I began writing this book, my father died, and my mother died.” And he said, “Though I cannot explain it, nor can I intellectually defend it, I cannot believe that my father has ceased to be and that my mother is all together gone. I believe my father is somewhere, and my mother is somewhere.” And he said, “Though yesterday, I denied both immortality and resurrection, today, after the death of my father and my mother, I believe in both of them.” Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that amazing? God had intuitively enlightened his inward soul, and he began to see with the eyes of his soul, looking at the invisible. This is the work of the Spirit of God. We must hasten.
One other he says here, that God will give us the spirit of sophia, wisdom, intuitive understanding, and apokalupsis, the unveiling of the Lord that we can see the unveiled Christ, the unveiling of God. And then another one, epignōsis; gnōsis, our word “know” comes from that, know, know, gnōsis; epignōsis is to know experientially, that the Holy Spirit will lead us into an experiential knowledge [Ephesians 1:17-20]. It isn’t philosophical, it isn’t metaphysical, nor is it second hand, nor is it repeated by somebody else. But we know it ourselves, we have seen and tasted and drunk, we’ve felt and experienced; an epignōsis, an experiential knowledge of God. And that’s the only kind that matters. You don’t know what you don’t experience; you just take it for granted from somebody else, maybe somebody else said that and somebody else said that about somebody else. But our faith and our religion is not something that somebody else said somebody else said somebody else still further said; our faith, if it is real, is something that we have experienced. It’s an epignōsis; it’s an experiential fact in our lives.
Look at this just for a moment. Whatever sound is, sound, whatever noise, sound, whatever sound is, you can mathematically write it out. In fact, I have seen pictures of it. You can put it on a screen and picture sound. There are all kinds of scientific formulae by which sound is presented. These wavelengths and the overtones and oh, there’s so many, many mathematical formulae that can present sound. But you could read those formulae forever, and you could learn those mathematical equations forever; but the way to know sound is sit there and listen to a glorious oratory or great anthem of praise, and you’ll know what it’s like. And you’ll never know any other way; you’ve got to sit there and listen to it. You’ve got to experience it; an epignōsis.
Same thing about color: you can describe color mathematically. It has certain wavelengths also, and it has certain absorptions and rejections, and it has a whole lot of things that you can spell out decimally, mathematically, scientifically. But you will never know color really until you look at a glorious sunset or at a beautiful rainbow or look at it in a marvelous painting. You have to experience it; an epignōsis.
Same way about taste; taste can be anatomically demonstrated. They can take these taste buds, and they can see how many they are and how they function, and they can take all kinds of chemical analysis and describe whatever it is, but you will never in the earth know what an orange is until you eat it! And you can just study it scientifically and mathematically and equationally world without end; but you’ve got to eat it to know what an orange is.
Logic can’t demonstrate to us a sunset, and logic can’t demonstrate to us a noble character; you’ve got to see somebody noble and say, “That’s it.” It’s the same way about God. Logic can’t demonstrate God. Reason can’t demonstrate God. You have to experience Him. You’ve got to know Him in your soul and in your heart. You’ve got to drink, you’ve got to taste, you have got to eat. That’s what the psalmist said when he said, “O taste and see that the Lord is good” [Psalm 34:8]. You’ve got to try Him yourself. It’s like the first chapter of John, those first apostles, “Come and see” [John 1:46]. Like the woman at the well, when she went into Sychar and said to her fellow townsmen, “Come and see, try and taste and see that the Lord is good” [John 4:29].
Yesterday afternoon, late yesterday evening, there was a sweet family in my study. And one of them was, the man in this family was an engineer. Ah, as I listened to that man, I couldn’t keep from weeping. For some time ago, brilliant as he is, his mind was disintegrating—he was losing his mind—he was verging upon a nervous collapse. A brilliant man; he was married; he’s married to a glorious Christian girl. And she brought him to the Lord. She laid him at the feet of Jesus. And he said to me, “I was dreading those long interminable sessions from psychiatrist, to psychiatrist, to psychiatrist. And my dear wife brought me to Jesus. And I found the Lord.” And he said, “My mind is healed. And I am sharper today than I’ve ever been and doing better work today than I ever have.” And I said to him, “In the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus, the Lord says, ‘My name is the Lord who healeth thee’” [Exodus 15:26]. It’s a trust. It’s a faith. It’s a commitment. It’s a coming to God. And if we have that faith and that commitment and that coming to God, He heals us. He heals our hearts. He heals our souls. He heals our minds. And He heals our bodies. But we must come, we must trust, we must epignōsis, we must experience it for ourselves.
Oh, do it! Do it! Do it; bring yourself to Jesus and lay yourself at His dear feet. Do it; look in faith upward and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 4:6]. Let the Holy Spirit illuminate your soul, fill you with light that you can see with the eyes of your heart. Let God lead you to that holy place of trust and rest and salvation in Jesus. He will do it. He will take the veil away from your heart. He will take the scales over your eyes. He will raise the sensitivity, those auditory nerves. And you’ll see, and you’ll hear, and you’ll feel, and you’ll find that holy rest and peace in Jesus. Come, try, taste, drink, see. Do it now. Make it now.
We’re going to stand and sing our song in a moment, in a moment. And while we sing the song, a family you, will you come? A couple you, will you come? A one somebody you, will you come? Make the decision now in your heart. Open my eyes, Lord, and let me see. Touch my heart, Lord, and let me feel. Take my hand, Lord, and lead me through. And trust Him for it. Try God, try Him, and see if God is not good. Make the decision now, and on the first note of the first stanza, come. Down one of these stairwells, into the aisle, down to the pastor, “Here I am, here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.
WITH THE EYES OF THE SOUL
A. Dianoia –
mind, understanding, the thinking man
B. Photizo –
illuminated, filled with light
“The eyes of your understanding” – phrase used nowhere else in Bible(Ephesians 1:18)
D. Intuitive insight a
heavenly gift of God
1. Facts alone
2. In pursuit of
truth, we seek the idea, principle, purpose(Hebrews
II. The enlightening work of the Holy
Spirit(Ephesians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 4:6)
only Holy Spirit can fathom the things of God, only He can illuminate our minds(1 Corinthians 2:14)
The tragedy of the darkened mind, unopened eyes (Matthew
The prayer of the psalmist (Psalm 119:18)
Hymn, “Open My Eyes that I May See”
III. The enlightened mind seen in the Spirit
A. Sophia – wisdom
(1 Corinthians 12:8)
intellectual reasoning, reason can only take you so far
2. With wisdom
and faith a man can soar(Hebrews 11:3)
B. Apokalupsis –
revelation, unveiling, uncovering
to see and hear, and not see and hear (2
Corinthians 3:13-18, John 6:44, Matthew 13:10-17)
Holy Spirit must reveal God to us
Mysteries of God can be revealed, when intellectually inexplicable
C. Epignosis – experiential
knowledge (Ephesians 1:17-20)
1. Mathematics of
sound cannot give understanding of music
of color, texture cannot give understanding of a glorious sunset, or beautiful
color, texture, chemical analysis of an orange can’t describe what it tastes
have to experience for yourself(Psalm 34:8, John
1:46, 4:29, Exodus 15:26)