But 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, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corinthians 3:18
In the old dispensation there was an occasion when Israel saw the glory of the Lord, but only as it shone on the face of Moses.
Moses was with God on the mount and asked to see God’s face. He was eager to see the one who was speaking to him. But he was assured that this was impossible, for God is the Spirit of infinite perfections. The glory that radiates from His face is brighter than ‘a million suns, No man can see God and live. Even now we cannot see God, nor shall we see Him in eternity, except in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the revelation of the Father.
Jehovah did allow Moses to stand in the shelter of a rock while He held His hand on him as He passed by. This servant of God was privileged to see the trail of glory where God had been. As a result, his face still shone with that glory even when he returned to the camp of Israel.
That light that shone from the face of Moses was so dazzling that the people could not, and many would not, look at him. They begged him to cover his face in their presence, so that he stood with covered face before them, and only uncovered it when he was in the presence of the Lord in the tabernacle.
This revelation of God’s great glory is the figure that the apostle Paul presents to us in this third chapter of II Corinthians.
At the same time the apostle emphasizes how much richer we are than Israel in the wilderness, or even than the entire church of the old dispensation.
For now we all with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord!
Blessed church of the new dispensation!
The promises given to the fathers in the days of the shadows are fulfilled. The types that pointed to the coming of the Savior have been realized. Our Lord Jesus Christ has come, has paid the ransom for our sins, and merited for us the right to eternal life. He has gone through death and the grave, arose, and is exalted in glory to carry out His work of salvation before the throne. On the day of Pentecost Christ returned to us in the Spirit to dwell in the church, even in our hearts, and to abide with us forever. God is now not merely with us, but He makes His dwelling place in us.
Moreover, the Scriptures are now complete. We have the full revelation of the God of our salvation in His holy Word. To the church is entrusted the official ministry of the Word, the expounding of the Scriptures, whereby Christ speaks through the Word and by His Spirit in the hearts of His people.
We all with open faces see the glory of the Lord! The veil of sin and death has been lifted from our faces. We are born again as new creatures in Christ Jesus. We all are filled with the power of the Spirit that was poured out on Pentecost. That includes all the elect—men, women, and children, bond and free. We need no one to teach us, since we know the Scriptures through the Spirit. We are enabled to devote ourselves with all that we have in love to God. And we are kings who reign with Christ over the powers of Satan, sin, and death, even now and forever. We can and will, we may and must live to the glory of our God.
When the Word is expounded we see Jesus, the revelation of the Father in the mirror of the Scriptures, by Christ’s Spirit in our hearts.
O yes, we see more. We also see ourselves. And what we see of ourselves is by no means appealing. Our sins testify against us, condemning us. The guilt of our sins presses heavily on our souls. The finger of God pointing at us, accusing us, “Thou art the man!” We realize that we are bound in the bondage of sin and death, slaves to sin, incapable of any good and inclined to all evil, even prone to hate God and the neighbor. We hang our heads in shame and cry out, “O wretched man that I am!”
The wonder of grace is that on the mirror we see written: “The truth will make you free.” In that same mirror we see Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, who declares to us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In Him is all our salvation.
Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God.
It is with the eye of faith that we see Jesus on every page of the infallible Word of our God.
In the Old Testament we read the repeated promises of His coming. Immediately after the Fall in paradise God speaks of the Seed of the woman, who will crush the head of Satan. To Noah comes the promise that all creation will be included in the salvation brought by the promised Seed. Abraham is assured that God will establish His covenant with him and with his seed after him in their generations. This promise and all that follow can be summed up in the glorious promise, “I will be thy God and the God of thy seed after thee.”
True Israel clung to the promise, and in the line of generations of believers the Christ was born. In the fullness of time God sent His Son. The New Testament speaks of the fulfillment of all God’s promises in Christ Jesus, fully realized on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of Christ was poured out in the church. God reveals to us all the things that have been, that are, and that still must be realized through our exalted Lord in heaven.
Through the exposition of the Scriptures in the preaching of the Word we see Jesus, our Savior, our Lord. And in Him we see God as the God of our salvation.
By the power of the Word and by Christ’s Spirit in our hearts we are transformed from glory to glory!
Such as eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and never entered into the heart of man.
For this transformation is spiritual, heavenly. We, who are by nature dead in trespasses and sin, are made alive in Christ Jesus. The life of the resurrected Lord is implanted in our hearts.
Our Lord gave us a picture of this spiritual awakening in the raising of His friend Lazarus. Although Lazarus had been dead already for four days, Jesus commanded with a powerful voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” The voice of Jesus penetrated into the depths of Lazarus’ being and awakened him from his death. Only then did he hear the call, and he stirred, wiped away the napkin that covered his face, sat up, looked around, and actually walked out of the tomb.
This serves as a picture of our spiritual awakening. When the voice of Jesus penetrates into the depths of our souls we are awakened to a new, heavenly life, the resurrection life of our living Savior.
It is then, and only then, that we hear the voice of Jesus calling us out of the darkness and bondage of our sins into the marvelous light of His salvation. We are transformed into the image and likeness of Christ as sons and daughters of the living God. We are brought into true knowledge of God, to know Him as the only ever blessed and adorable God, our God and our Father. From mere babes in the truth we grow into the full manhood of grace and knowledge in Christ Jesus through the power of the preaching of, the Word and the work of the Spirit of Christ in us.
We are righteous in Christ. The Spirit of the risen Lord assures us that although we have grossly transgressed all God’s commandments and have kept none of them, nor are able to keep them, yet we are righteous in Christ, as if we never had any sin.
We are daily renewed, gradually but surely transformed into the likeness of Christ in meekness, godliness, and fear. We grow in grace as we crucify the flesh and strive to live a new and godly life. We experience peace, the peace that passes all understanding. We learn contentment. We taste the beginning of the eternal joy, a joy unspeakable and full of glory. We are kept by the power of God unto the salvation that is prepared for us to be revealed in the last day.
We long in an ever-increasing measure to be with our Elder Brother, the Christ, in His glory. We realize, as the apostle Paul did, that to be with Christ is far better than anything this present life can offer. We know what it means when Scripture speaks of being “full of days,” to have seen all God’s promises realized, and to long to enter our eternal Home.
Changed from glory to glory by Christ’s Spirit! And that in a real, mortal body, where sin still wars within us. We poor sinners never attain to more than a small beginning of the new obedience. We are saved by grace alone. We long for the day when we shall awaken to sin no more.
But that is only the beginning. We have the assurance, “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” We shall see God in the face of Jesus Christ. And the glory that radiates from that face will fill us with a glory beyond description, that will radiate from us in an ever-increasing measure to the glory of the Father, world without end. That God may be all in all!
Moreover, we have the blessed promise that our Lord is coming again to change our mortal bodies into the likeness of His glorious body by that power whereby He can and will subdue all things unto Himself.
And all this to the praise of the glory of God’s grace, world without end!