A symbol is not a sign. It is like it. But it is also not like it in a fundamental way, or it would have the same name.
A symbol is a creed. Or a confession. I mean that technically. It is not an explanation. It is a statement of belief. Which is something you know without knowing. Or know without seeing. Or believe without seeing. Or believe without explanation. A symbol is known by the soul, not the mind. Seen by the heart, not the eyes.
A sign is seen by the eyes and clear to the mind. It is experienced reality. However, when a symbol is falsely converted into a sign…when you say, “I know what this symbol is, I see this invisible thing with my eyes, I know it with my knowledge, my mind; it is _______.”
Or vice versa: when a sign is falsely obscured as a symbol. When you say. “I don't know what this sign is, I can not see this visible thing with my eyes, I can not know it."
Then you lie.
Jesus must be seen with the heart. Not the eyes. He must be heard with the heart. Not the ears. If he is only seen with the eyes, then He will never be a sufficient explanation. More signs will be required. More and more and more. More and more and more simplified explanations (or definitions) for the deaf and blind like sanctification and justification.
A symbol is understood by the heart. That is reality. A sign is understood by the mind. That is also reality. A sign that is not understood by the mind will be replaced by other signs, by other explanations.
It is to erroneously force a real thing into further and further abstractions and concepts, into further unreality, but under the guise of reality, under the guise of a creed or a symbol.
A symbol is fast. A sign is slow.
A symbol is a thing believed in before it is explained. (Apostles Creed; “All men are created equal...”
A sign is explaining a thing to be understood (or not believed? Or unnecessary?) you will know that you are in danger because the sign says “DANGER: CLIFF AHEAD!” rather than knowing you are in danger because a cliff is ahead.
You will know that you are saved because the sign says, “Good News: Salvation AHEAD!” rather than knowing you are saved because you are truly and utterly alive.
Sanctification is _______. Equality is _______.
Explaining what doesn’t need to be explained, only explains it away. It gets in the way. It is a progressive blinding to the reality around you. We have explained ourselves into complete unreality. Into the symbolic. But the symbolism of man’s abstraction, not the symbol of God’s reality.
A sign draws your attention to something but only by drawing attention to itself first and away from the thing itself. "Did you see the sign! It said, 'The Grand Canyon.'"
A symbol can not call itself a symbol. A symbol that does, is a sign. And a bad kind of sign. Like a tourist sign. Like a disproportionate sign.