Are Christians to Visualize Jesus?

If you have read Grave Influence, you will remember my pointing out that Helen Schucman wrote A Course in Miracles starting in 1965 while associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University in New York. Her book was based in large measure on her experiences channeling “a New Age Jesus” whom she believed would teach mankind how to live in these difficult times. Her Jesus taught a “new gospel,” and he dictated the contents of the course over a seven-year period.

Schucman took shorthand as “the voice” spoke. Then she read the messages to William Thetford, a colleague at Columbia University, who typed the daily notes from Schucman. As in the case of Alice Bailey, I contend Schucman was hearing from a demon (or demons). The book was released in 1976, and this 600-plus page transcription of these teachings is described by some as the “Bible” of the New Age Movement.

At the risk of shocking some folks: I believe many who think they are encountering God are, like Schucman, actually hearing from a demon. Remember that even contemplative Richard Foster warned in one of his books of this possibility and cautioned his readers to be careful as they entered the spiritual world.

Occult expert Dave Hunt warns that this attempt to visualize Jesus is clearly occultism:

In visualizing “God” or “Jesus” or the thing being prayed for, the average Christian is not aware that he is following the same procedure that shamans insist opens a “magic doorway” in the mind that leads to the sorcerer’s world. This simple but powerful technique (long used by shamans for entering the spirit realm in order to contact and bargain with spirit entities) has gained acceptance in today’s medicine, psychology, success/motivation, and education. It is also being promoted and taught by an alarming and increasing number of Christian leaders, who urge us to visualize our concept of “Jesus” and promise that the image we create in our minds will become the real Jesus, who will then make genuine contact with us.

Nowhere in the Word of God are we called to visualize Jesus Christ. After His resurrection, when Jesus appeared to people, it was not because they were involved in visualization. Saul, who became Paul, encountered the risen Lord while walking on the road to Damascus.

Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Lord at the empty tomb and did not even know Who it was until He told her. Martha certainly was not in a peaceful state and seeking to enter into the silence when she encountered the resurrected Christ. In fact, Martha was walking around in a state of panic at the thought that the body of Jesus was missing. The real story is recorded in John 20:11-16:

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

When Jesus appeared to the disciples—minus Thomas—in the evening of the day of His resurrection, they were not in a calm state of meditation. Scripture makes it clear they were worried about being attacked or arrested by the Jewish leaders who had crucified Jesus. John 20:19-20 recounts:

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Each time we see the risen Lord appearing to individuals or groups, they are not meditating or seeking to visualize Jesus. Jesus appears on His own without their help.

It was after the ascension of Jesus Christ, on the day of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit came to dwell in those who become His children through faith and repentance. After His ascension, there is never again a mention of Jesus Christ appearing to anyone, except to Paul on the Damascus road. In Acts 1:9-11, the disciples were told by two angels that Jesus would come again the same way they saw Him leave:

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

The two angels did not tell the disciples, “Hey, guys, if you want to see Jesus again, just find a quiet place, close your eyes, quote a mantra over and over, enter into the silence, and Jesus will appear to you.” No! The disciples were told to stop gazing up into the heaven. He is gone, but He will return someday in the same manner as described in Daniel 7:13, Matthew 24:30, Matthew 26:64, and Revelation 1:7; 14:14. The return is the Second Coming when Jesus Christ sets up His Kingdom on earth. And, by the way, do not confuse the rapture of the Church with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Second Coming is described in these verses and is when Jesus Christ will literally put His foot on the earth again.

First Peter 1:8 does not say, “whom we see whenever we want through visualization” but rather: “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

In 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Paul also gives us more biblical proof that while on this earth in our temporal bodies, we do not see the Lord but walk by faith:

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

In Philippians 1:22-24, Paul again talks about not seeing the Lord in his fleshly body while here on earth:

But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

After His ascension into heaven, Scripture tells us over and over that the only way a Christian will see the Lord is either upon his death or if he is alive at the time of the rapture or Second Coming.


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