Notes of an address by J. A. Trench, 1913.
In 2 Cor. 4:4, the "glorious Gospel" does not merely express the quality of the Gospel, but it describes the source of the Gospel as the Glory of Christ in the exalted position in which He now is, and from whence the testimony issues. God has found such glory in the work of righteousness accomplished by the Lord that He has exalted Him above all heavens. In 2 Cor. 3, the Law had promised life on the condition of doing, but to be able to do required life, and so it was necessary for the Spirit to give life and that was a contrast to the letter of the Law which could only kill or condemn. It is evident that the glory of Christ concealed under the letter of the O.T. had been in the mind of God. Now in this dispensation, the Spirit reveals Him to faith and so gives life alone in Christ. As we have seen the Law required righteousness, but the Law could not bring it, and there was no righteouness in man. Therefore the Law became a ministry of condemnation and death. On the other hand, the Gospel is a ministry of righteousness from the glory where Christ is; the righteousness of God was so perfectly adapted to His glory that it took Christ there as man from the bottom of the judgment where love had taken him on our account. "God made Him sin for us that we might become God's righteousness in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). To those who have received Christ as life and righteousness, the Holy Spirit has come as the power to enjoy the wonderful revelation. The end of 2 Cor. 3. brings to the point of contrast between the position of the Christian and that of Israel, where we read "we all beholding the glory of the Lord with unveiled face are transformed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Lord the Spirit." The glory of the Lord in our face is unveiled. Moses had to put a veil on his face for Israel. The Lord does not do so for us. But there is a great difference. It was only the reflection of a partial glory in the face of Moses; but the whole glory of God streams from the face of the Lord Jesus. What would have destroyed Moses is the liberty of the Christian in the power of the Holy Spirit, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17). The glory conveys the intelligence of peace made by the blood of His cross. In all the perfect character of that work we are identified with Him in life and righteousness. His love leads our hearts to be occupied with the radiant glory shining in His face. By faith, we wait for the glory of God which is the hope of righteousness. That hope becomes so real as to be the support of overflowing joy in our lives. The Apostle unfolds the contrast between the glory of the era in which Moses lived which was to be done away and the excellent glory brought in by Christ. The contrast is also between the powerlessness of the Law and the power of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ, forming the Assembly as a letter commending the virtues of Christ to the attention of all. The ministry was through the Apostle by means of which the Spirit of the living God wrote Christ on the affections. The realisation of the wonderful responsible place is dependent on the response of the hearts of individuals to the ministry. The formative power is:- (1) by the object presented to our hearts, (2) by the indwelling Spirit. Viewing the glory of the Lord, we are transformed into the same image by the Lord the Spirit. The Spirit dwelling in us is the power both for the objective presentation and the subjective result. The affections take the impression of the object; the glory of Christ is reflected in the lives of those who belong to Him. Moses bore the effects of the partial glory he had witnessed. So with so much greater force should the glory in the face of Jesus result in the features of His glory and lowly life be reproduced in us. While here it will only be in measure! Perfection will only be reached when we are with Him. That will be the consequence of seeing Him as He is. Growth in His likeness will depend on our continually being occupied with Him. We shall not be occupied with the results. Moses did not know that his face shone, but Israel saw the glory in his face! So the people around us will take knowledge that we have been with Jesus. We shall then answer increasingly to the description of being the epistles of Christ known and read of all men!