“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed in to the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Two ministrations there are!
The one is the ministration of death and condemnation. The other, the ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness. The first is the ministration of the law, written and. engraven in stones. The second, the ministration of the Spirit, is written upon the fleshy tables of the heart. The first was spoken by Moses, the mediator of the Old Testament. The second was spoken by Christ, the perfect Mediator; and after Him, by His servants. The first was done away with the coming of the gospel age. The second remains unto the end of the ages, yea, unto the glorious appearance of Christ in the last day.
Both ministrations were glorious!
The ministration of death and condemnation was so glorious that, when its mediator spoke, he was required to cover his face with a veil. And the reason,—when he received that ministration from the hand of God and written by His finger, the glory of God shone on his face; and not only as he stood in God’s presence, but also for some time later after he had descended that mount and delivered that ministration to the people.
And the glory of the other ministration is the glory of the Spirit of the Lord, Who, having suffered and died as penalty of the ministration of death, was exalted in the highest heavens, and filled with the glory of God in human nature.
But the glory of the latter far exceeds the glory of the former!
The glory that shone on Moses’ face was temporary, and only skin deep. The time came when that glory which reflected in his face faded and disappeared. No longer was it required that he cover his face with a veil, though it was true that the veil unto this day, that is, unto the glorification of Christ, remained upon the hearts of them that read the law.
The glory of the Spirit of the Lord, on the other hand, is everlasting. It is the glory that remaineth, because that of which it is the reflection abides forevermore.
Fact of the matter is, that the apostle in our text informs us,—that with unveiled faces we, beholding as in a mirror, are transformed into the image of the glorious Lord.
Not merely a reflection!
Mark well, the apostle does not say that we actually see the Lord! That would be quite impossible so long as we remain on the earth, and, He remains in the glory of heaven.
No! We do not see the Lord Who is hidden in the heavens, but we behold His likeness, His image. To see the Lord, we must wait for the day of His coming. But when He left us to return unto the Father, whence He came when He made His first appearance, He did not leave us comfortless. He left us a likeness of Himself as it is reflected in the mirror of His Word. It is a perfect likeness. All the lines of His glorious face appear in this image. Our cameras produce images of ourselves and our dear ones almost flawlessly, and we count these images precious. Yet, because they are human inventions, they are always subject to imperfections,—the light is not just right, or the object moved as the picture was taken, or the film was not of the proper constituency. Not so, however, is the image of Christ as portrayed in the Word. It is a perfect, flawless reflection of the very Christ Himself. And the only place where we can behold His image is in that Word, the Holy Scriptures. And the whole image is not simply what you see of it in the gospels, or perhaps as He is beautifully set forth in the book of the Revelation, but it must be seen in the entire Bible, that infallibly inspired portrait of the Christ.
Understand well, and that, too, emphatically, that that image of the glorious Lord does not depend upon the description which men may give concerning Him before you can see the perfection of it. That is precisely the trouble, and especially today! Men would not have you see that glorious image except through their eyes, and their evaluation of it. Then, rest assured, you are bound to see only a horribly disfigured, corrupted image. Man always seeks to rob Him of His glory. They tell lies about Him. As once they disrobed Him, emaciated Him by beating Him with their fists, and causing the sweet lines of His face to be obliterated with their spittle, and tore His flesh with the nails of His cross; so now, as they describe His glorious image in the Scriptures, they give a presentation that in no way even begins to resemble Him.
Indeed, the perspicuity of the Scriptures must be maintained. In lucid lines the Word of God draws for you and me in indelible etchings the portrait of His glorious image. In words so clear that a child can understand them, it defines the delicate lights and shadows that show forth the features of His face. Beautiful Saviour!
Indeed, glorious image!
Glorious it is, first of all, because He is the image of the invisible and glorious God! Of God, the all glorious One! The impressed image of the Father is He, and the brightness of His glory. But, secondly, glorious image is He as the Son of God in the flesh, raised from the dead, and glorified in human nature. So the apostle speaks of Him in our text.
In His Word we see Him in all the glory of His mediatorship. Understand well, as the Scriptures state it, no one can see God and live. But when He reveals Himself through His Son in the flesh, then we can say with the apostle John: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life . . .” And when He disappeared from the scope of our vision to return into the heavens, He continues to be seen; a glorious image He leaves us in His Word.
This image we behold as in a mirror!
And beholding it, we are transformed!
As the moon reflects the light of the sun, and we are comforted with the assurance that in the darkness of our night the sun which seemed to disappear in the West has not disappeared forever, but will rise again in the morning in its splendor; so is the Word the reflection of the Sun of Righteousness, Who will appear again in the day of His glory as the glorious Lord from heaven.
This glory of the Lord we behold now as in a mirror. The text suggests that this is a present reality, and a constant activity. If we look in the mirror and straightway walk away, forgetting what we saw, nothing avails in all our beholding. The apostle suggests two things as far as that beholding is concerned: that we do this in this present time, while our glorious Lord is hidden in the heavens; and that we make this a constant activity, never ceasing to look in the mirror of God’s Word.
Added to the activity of beholding is the thought that we do this with unveiled face. This undoubtedly in contrast to the children of Israel who could not look on the glory reflected in the face of Moses, and they therefore insisted that he cover his face with a veil. Not so must the Christian of the new day allow anything to bedim the glory of Christ’s image portrayed in the Word. Always he must bask in the light of Christ so that not only his face is enlightened, but he is transformed, beginning in his heart and in the completion of the transforming process he is transformed in body and soul.
Transformed in the; image of Christ!
The transformation is entire and permanent!
Though it remains, imperfect so long as we do not see Him face to face. Therefore the apostle, speaking of this transformation, declares that it is from glory to glory.
We are changed from glory to glory as we constantly look upon the glory of the Lord with unveiled face. Little by little, slowly but surely, we are changed. From glory to glory the glory of the Lord is seen in us. And the glory of the Lord is always the radiation of His perfections which are communicated to us as we behold with unveiled face His glorious image. Indeed, it is not yet revealed in us what we shall be, for we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. But until then, we are changed from glory to glory.
Indeed, wonderful transformation!
However, not by our own power are we changed!
Nor is it so that we only allow the glory of the Lord, reflected in His Word, to fall on us, and so we gradually transform ourselves into His image.
How could that ever be? Surely the power of transformation does not reside in us, but in the Lord of glory Himself!
Even as by the Spirit of the Lord!
It is the Spirit of God which is given unto Christ in His exultation without measure; which He in turn gives unto the church, and thus becomes the Spirit of Christ Whom He sends unto us from the Father. He is the Comforter which Christ promised, Who would abide with us forever, and lead us into all the truth. That Spirit which searches out the deep things of God and of Christ, and reveals them unto us. That Spirit Who is at the same time the Author of the Holy Scriptures, and Who has seen to it that Christ, the God of our salvation is fully revealed therein. He it is that from glory unto glory transforms us into the glory of the Lord as He portrays to our deepest spiritual consciousness the image of our glorious Lord and Redeemer.
The effects of His power, operating in us as well as in the Word, will be that more and more spiritually we will become Christ-like. More and more of His virtues will be reflected in us. So that when He shall appear in His glory, we then shall be like Him. Now we see Him in His glory revealed in His Word. Then He shall see us as perfect reflectors of His glory.
But we all. . .!
Not just the apostles and ministers who delve into the Word, and whose calling it is to present the Christ of God unto all to whom they are sent!
But the entire church, and every living member thereof!
We all shall be transformed into His image!
By the Spirit of the Lord!