One Sunday, many years ago, a Polish woman was invited to give a brief testimony of faith at our church. I have not forgotten it. It was not brief but ended up practically displacing the sermon, becoming the sermon. The woman, whose name was Christina, I believe, told how she was part of Solidarity, Lech Walesa's Polish labor union. When the danger for her in Poland increased, she escaped to Austria where, in a refugee camp, she heard the Gospel. As exciting as her story was, full of excitement and danger, the memorable part of her testimony was this line: "When I heard the Gospel, I knew that this is what I had always believed." Not ever having heard the Gospel, what did she mean?
One of the things that C.S. Lewis addresses in his book, Reflections on the Psalms, is what he calls "second meanings." What he suggests by the word is the answer to the question of how we view the Psalms in light of the fuller revelation of Christ that we now know, in a way that the Old Testament writer could not have known. Lewis says that when the fuller truth is found it doesn't undercut the truth intended by the writer of the time but is, rather, a mere "prolonging of the meaning in a direction congenial to it." He says "[t]he basic reality behind his words and behind the full truth is one and the same." As an example, he cites Plato who, as a pagan, was able to see the possibility of a Christ figure, and had he known the reality, it would not have surprised him, as it was an extension of the same truth.
So, that's what Christina meant when she said "I knew this is what I had always believed." She knew the necessity for a Creation to presuppose a Creator, the reality of the Fall in the broken society around her, and the need for someone like Christ, a deliverer from beyond to come in and repair a world gone wrong.
What is even more interesting is this: Given that there are "second meanings," can we not say that there will be third, fourth, and fifth meanings? What understandings of Word and World will we have 100 years from now, whether in the faithful generations that live on beyond us or in our glorified state? Scripture does say that "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Cor. 13:12). It suggests that revelation is progressive, that the depths of who God is and who we are are not fully plumbed.
So when I read a verse like "God is love," I realize that beneath that three-dimensional phrase lies an incalculable depth of meaning. Just as when I marvel at a full moon in the pre-dawn morning, I realize that the moon I see is not the light I may see in a glorified state, where grass will be greener and blue sky bluer, in a place where you can inexplicably run and not grow weary.
Even in Heaven, when we see Him face to face and know Him, as we still are most definitely not Him, surely there are ever increasing meanings. And as we read back on these ancient texts, written as they will be on our hearts, we'll meet fuller meanings everyday --- all extensions of the same truth, the one Truth, the Gospel truth. Like those children in Narnia after the last battle, we'll walk on, "further up and further in."
So, walk on.