Sunday, March 12, 2017

Grace, Faith, and Glory, Part 3

This is the third part of our guest posts from Robert on "Grace, Faith, and Glory". We are thankful again for Robert's sharing these with us!

2 Corinthians 3:18 ‘But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit’.

Paul reveals to the Corinthians his two-fold ministry — the ministry of the new covenant (3:6) and the ministry of reconciliation (5:18). Transformation and reconciliation! No wonder he felt his need of mercy in order not to faint.

This is a chapter of contrasts:

Ministration of death with Ministration of the Spirit

The law demanded death as the ultimate penalty for failure. The man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath day is a sad example of this. But although the law made demands, it could not empower people to meet them. The ministry of the Spirit however brings the believer into a sphere of life and liberty. The law said, ‘thou shalt not steal’. The gospel says, ‘Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth’ Ephesians 4:28

Ministration of condemnation with Ministration of righteousness
The law also demanded righteousness from men. Many people started have their day with good intentions to do all that the law required, only to discover that they had failed again and were condemned in the sight of God. No wonder the Hebrew writer describes the system of law as ‘weak and unprofitable’. The ministry of righteousness however provides men with the righteousness of God obtained at Calvary and points them to the Lord in glory as their guarantee that He and His work are accepted. In Christ I am not condemned: I am accepted!

Vanishing glory with Abiding glory
In the original account of Moses veiling his face, the reason is given that, ‘they were afraid to come nigh him’ Exodus 34: 30. Sinful men could not even bear to look on the glory of God reflected in Moses’ face. Paul gives a further insight: the purpose of the veil was to conceal from the people the fact that the glory was fading from Moses’ face (v.13). In contrast, the new covenant subsists in glory (v.8), surpasses in glory (v.10), abounds in glory (v.10) and abides in glory (v.11). And the great reason for this is that the glory of God is now seen in the face of Jesus Christ (4:6).

Veiled glory with Unveiled glory
This is not an easy verse to understand but it helped me greatly when I discovered that we do not need the mirror! 

κατοπτριζόμενοι means neither "reflecting," nor "seeing in a mirror." though this last be etymologically the source, but "beholding," without reference to the mirror, as in so many words which thus cast their primitive shell.  
(William Kelly, Notes and Translation of Second Corinthians).

We now look to the Lord in glory and as we behold him, and become more settled as to our position in Christ, we move from the glory of the old covenant to the glory of the new. A life that is settled in the righteousness of God can enjoy the life and liberty of the Spirit and be free from the death and condemnation of the law. But unknown to us, yet seen by others, the more we look at the Lord in glory, the more we will reflect Him. We will reflect what we look upon.

Psalm 63:1, 2 ‘My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh languisheth for thee, in a dry and weary land without water: To see thy power and thy glory, as I have beheld thee in the sanctuary.’

21 comments:

HandWrittenWord said...

"Transformation and reconciliation! No wonder he felt his need of mercy in order not to faint." Indeed! Thank you for freely sharing your ministry, Robert. I am truly blessed in reading it.

But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face... (Deuteronomy 34:10)

Moses: Reflected glory, glory that faded.

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light. (Matthew 17:1-2)

Jesus: Glory from within, as bright as the sun -- Himself the very source of light.

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:24-27)

Those of us privileged to be His saints, members of His body: Not merely reflected glory, but glory from within -- CHRIST IN US! The hope of glory! The hope not only to see His glory, which we will, but to show forth His glory from within ourselves. Which we do, though imperfectly, and will do more and more as we are being transformed.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1)

You are quite right about the mirror, Robert. And when we do look into a mirror with Spiritual eyes (with unveiled face), reflected back is His glory which is
within us! And in which we are continually being transformed.

Susan said...

Yes, Robert, your ministry is greatly appreciated.
The veil is gone!
Beholding the Lord Jesus in glory we are changed into the same image from glory to glory!
Glory be to God!

Robert said...

Thank you both. I have enjoyed these 3 weeks and I hope that Mark is benefiting from the break.

Handwritten -
'Those of us privileged to be His saints, members of His body: Not merely reflected glory, but glory from within -- CHRIST IN US! The hope of glory! The hope not only to see His glory, which we will, but to show forth His glory from within ourselves. Which we do, though imperfectly, and will do more and more as we are being transformed'. This is wonderful!

Susan - the veil is gone but how easily I am distracted.

Oh Lord, Thy love's unbounded,
So sweet, so full so free,
My soul is all transported when e'er I think of Thee.
Yet Lord, alas what weakness within myself I find;
No infant's changing pleasure is like my wandering mind.

JND

Susan said...

Yes there are many distractions in this world! Beholding and being transformed into His image from glory to glory is a gradual process. Until we are with the Lord face to face it will only be partial - then it will be perfect!

clumsy ox said...

I definitely have been benefiting from the break!

Thank you!

Rodger Goertzen said...

"There is a marked distinction between God's actings in old times and since the day of Pentecost. He had revealed Himself to man in man's circumstances till that day; since then He has been requiring man to come into His circumstances. The whole testimony of God now is to what Christ is in heaven; and we see the most amazing crowd of blessed things connected with Him there."

“There are a quantity of circumstances around me to distract my heart, but they are only the means of driving my heart in on Christ.”

Yes, so easily distracted...

(http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/wigram/MEM1422.html)

clumsy ox said...

Thanks for sharing the GVW quote.

Several years ago a brother told me that the big problem today is people wanting to know Christ "after the flesh".

I think this quote really gets to the heart of it.

Robert said...

"If I look at Christ here on the earth, I see Him in weakness and shame and rejection, but in the deepest grace withal, and nowhere so much as on the cross; we cannot do without it, we would not if we could (indeed Christ everywhere is unspeakably precious and absolutely necessary for us); yet for the Christian the place of strength is to look at Christ risen and glorified. No doubt this thought of Christ as one down here in this world is what draws out the affections, even as the cross meets the need of the conscience; but neither gives strength in itself, neither is intended of God to give all that we want. Hence while those who know Christ at all will surely find in Him life and blessing, yet they are never strong where His earthly path is all that occupies their hearts. What then supplies our need as to this? Such should weigh what is said in 2 Corinthians 3: 'We all with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory.' This gives practical power. So here the question of power connects itself with His glory".

Wm Kelly The Epistle to the Colossians

Susan said...

Our characters will show what we are looking at...

Susan said...

J.N. Darby

When my heart is filled with Christ, I have no heart or eye for the trash of the world.

If Christ is dwelling in your heart by faith, the question will not be, “What harm is there in this or that?” Rather, “Am I doing this for Christ? Can Christ go along with me in this?

If you are in communion with Him, you will readily detect what is not of him.

Do not let the world come in, and distract your thoughts.

I speak especially to you young ones; we, who are older, have had more experience of what the world is; we know more what it is worth, but it all lies shining before you, endeavoring to attract you.

What else does it fill its shop windows for?

Its smiles are all deceitful; still it is smiling upon you.

It makes many promises it cannot fulfill: still it promises.

The fact is your hearts are too big for the world, it cannot fill them; they are too little for Christ, for He fills heaven, yet will He fill you to overflowing.

Rodger Goertzen said...

Your comment brought this back to mind, Mark:

"The only question is, in what condition of His manhood is He the pattern-man? Now, the foolishness of God is wiser than man; and He teaches us that it is by the revelation of a heavenly glory in the pattern-man, that His image is formed in us — whatever the means; that it is in making us heavenly that we cease to be earthly and carnal. The life of Christ here is the pattern of our walk; but it is by abiding in Him on high, that we are like Him below. He was what He was by always abiding on high. "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and no man receiveth our testimony. And no man has ascended up to heaven but He who came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, who is in heaven." It was the life of a heavenly Man."

"Christ in love draws our affections by grace.
The knowledge of and union with Him in heaven forms us into the walk and spirit in which that heavenly Man, that blessed One, walked upon the earth; of Him to whom our souls are knit in love, to whom we are united by the Spirit. One is the practical reflex down here of the other."

Not to multiply commentary, but there are some profitable remarks made here around pages 272-74: http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/DOCTRINE/15016E.html

Susan said...

Thanks for that, Rodger - " He teaches us that it is by the revelation of a heavenly glory in the pattern-man, that His image is formed in us — whatever the means; that it is in making us heavenly that we cease to be earthly and carnal."
"whatever the means"

"As one of old has said, "He often dims the brightness of this scene that we may behold the glory above", and the source of that glory is in the face of the Lord Jesus." Edward Dennett

Robert said...

"The soul at perfect liberty with God looks peacefully and happily at the glory of God as seen in the face of Jesus Christ; and because it sees that glory and knows its expression, it walks before God in holy confidence. Instead of being happy and at liberty with Satan in Satan's world, the Christian dreads Satan because he knows himself. At ease in the presence of God, he there drinks into the spirit of that which befits the presence of God, and becomes the "epistle of Christ" to the world, shewing out to all that he has been there."

http://www.stempublishing.com/magazines/cf/1877/Glory-of-the-Lord.html



Susan said...

Robert said "This is not an easy verse to understand but it helped me greatly when I discovered that we do not need the mirror!" Thank you for helping me see that too.

2 Corinthians 3:18.

Etymology, while it may sometimes assist, is worse than useless when relied upon for the interpretation of the word of God. It forgets that it has to do with the formation of a word, rather than its use or application after it is formed. For example, the above passage is given, and no doubt correctly according to the etymology of the word, in the Authorized Translation: "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," etc. A twofold error has been the result. First, it has been contended by some that we "mirror" the glory of the Lord; and by others, secondly, that we "reflect" it. In both cases our gradual transformation from glory to glory is lost sight of; and, worse even than that, it makes the believer to "mirror" or to reflect the glory before he is "changed into the same image." The truth is, the words "as in a glass" must be omitted if we would apprehend the Lord's mind. Then it is at once seen that we have two things: the glory of the Lord, "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6. Compare John 13:31, 32); and then that we, by beholding it (for it is unveiled), are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord (or, by the Lord the Spirit). It is doubtless in the Word that this glory is displayed before our gaze; and the effect of our contemplation of it, in the power of the Holy Ghost, is to bring us into a growing moral correspondence with Him on whom we look.
Edward Dennett

HandWrittenWord said...

In support of the many insightful comments here, I can only humbly reiterate what was stated above:

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
(Colossians 1:24-27)

For those of us privileged to be His saints, members of His body, His glory is not merely reflected, but emanates from within -- CHRIST IN US! The hope of glory! The hope not only to see His glory, which we will, but to show forth His glory from within ourselves. Which we do, though imperfectly, and will do more and more as we are being transformed. May each of us be more and more conscious, each day, of that which the Word of God declares is TRUE of us!

Rodger Goertzen said...

Thank you for that helpful extract, Susan. I think we have something of similar kind in Colossians 3:10: "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." (Cp. 1:15).

Robert said...

We should not forget to consider the phrase, 'even as by the Lord, the Spirit'. If we submit to the Spirit's leading we will be automatically kept from the seductive and harmful influences in the world and be directed to Christ in glory. It was because they did not listen to the voice of the Spirit that the 7 churches in Asia had so many difficulties.

Susan said...

What a transformation takes place when we submit to the Spirit's leading.

Rodger Goertzen said...

"The Holy Ghost is the power that acts in me: the power and presence of the Holy Ghost is everything to me, assuming that I have life. I am led by Him, the love of God is shed abroad in my heart by Him, He is the earnest of the inheritance: the consciousness and power of all our relationships is by the Holy Ghost; so that our bodies are His temples. Life is equally important; for if we had it not we could not have the Spirit. He could not put His seal and dwell in us on the mere ground of life; but we being sprinkled with blood, He comes as the witness that we are whiter than snow, and dwells in us. The new life has a capacity to enjoy the things of Christ, but no power of revelation; and we need the power of the Holy Ghost to bring these things to us. They are spiritually discerned. We cannot even use the Word without the Spirit; it is the sword of the Spirit. It is not the life that unites me to Christ, but the Holy Ghost - "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." It is the Holy Ghost that is the power, and it may take me clean out of all relationships with this world (the Lord says to Paul, "I have delivered thee from the people and the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee"), and yet in the fullest way He owns the relationships."
http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/MISCELLA/34038E.html

The Lord be praised for raising up brethren who could so clearly state these things for the edification of His assembly. May we pray to walk in the reality of what has been given to us by His grace.

Susan said...

Yes,Rodger, so thankful!

Christ alone answers to the thoughts of God, and the more constantly we are found delighting in Him, in occupation with all that He Himself is, as revealed in the Word, the more we shall silently grow, under the blessed activities of the Holy Spirit, in His likeness. Such, moreover, is the grace of our God, that He will help us to this end in every possible way. He will cause everything to work together for our good — always having, in His dealings with us, His own perfect goal before His eyes — conformity to the image of His Son. If our steps become uncertain and feeble, in following on toward the mark for the prize of our calling on high of God in Christ Jesus, He will bring us more completely under the attractions of Christ, and so draw us onward with more zeal and purpose of heart; or, should it be necessary, He will for our profit use chastisements that we might be partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:10.) His purpose and His desire are that we should be holy; and He would have us ardently in communion with His own mind. Let us then challenge our hearts as to whether it is so with us, whether we keep God's object for us steadfastly in view, and whether, having His own perfect standard, Christ glorified, before us, it is our daily desire to purify ourselves as He is pure. We might also enquire whether we have yielded ourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, whether we have presented our bodies a living sacrifice holy, acceptable unto God, our reasonable service. We belong wholly to Christ as Lord, and we should look unceasingly to Him for grace and strength to hold ourselves, in the power of the Holy Ghost, as absolutely at His disposal. Then, governed by His will alone, we should learn, as perhaps never before, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and that the path of holiness on which we have entered will conduct us into an ever-increasing intimacy with Himself, and thus be the means of our ever-increasing growth in sanctification.
http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/dennett/holiness.html

HandWrittenWord said...

Excellent excerpt, Susan. Thank you.