The Glory of the Lord

2 Corinthians 3.

J. N. Darby.

The first principle of Christianity, whilst recognising in the most solemn manner man's responsibility to answer for himself, puts the Christian on other and entirely different ground. This is the first principle and basis of all Christian truth, that there is a Mediator - a third person, between man and God. Another has implicated Himself, and, because man could not come to God, has taken up the cause of man, and worked out an acceptance for him.

Two things (already noticed) are brought out here, as the result of this. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," the liberty of grace. And we become the "epistles of Christ" blotted ones, no doubt, in ourselves, but we are not epistles of ourselves), transcripts of Christ "written with the Spirit of the living God." This we "are," not merely we ought to be. Though in ourselves most imperfect and failing, the definition given by the Spirit of God of a Christian is that he is a transcript of Christ.

Now the natural thought of many a soul is this, 'Well, if that be true, I do not know what to think of myself; I do not see this transcript in myself!' No, and you ought not to see it. Moses did not see his own face shine. Moses saw God's face shine, and others saw Moses' face shine. The glory of the Lord, as seen in Moses' face, alarmed the people. They could not bear that glory. But we see it now with "open," unveiled "face" in Christ (v. 18), and yet are not in the least afraid; we find liberty, comfort, and joy in looking at it; we gaze on it, and, instead of fearing, rejoice. How comes this immense difference? It is "the ministration of the Spirit," (v. 8), and "of righteousness" (v. 9).

337 It is Christ alive in the glory that I see; not Christ down here (sweet as that was), but Christ at the right hand of God. Yet though that glory is in the heavens, I can stedfastly behold it. All that glory (and He is in the midst of the glory and majesty of the throne of God itself) does not affright me, because this wonderful truth comes in, that that glory of God is in the face of a man who has put away my sins, and who is there in proof of it; Heb. 1:3. I should have been afraid to hear His voice, and have said with the children of Israel (Ex. 20:19), "Let not God speak with us"; or, like Adam with a guilty conscience, have sought to hide myself away; Gen. 3:8. But I do not say so now; no, let me hear His voice. I cannot see the glory of Christ now without knowing that I am saved. How comes He there? He is a man who has been down here mixing with publicans and sinners, the friend of such, choosing such as His companions. He is a man who has borne the wrath of God on account of sin; He is a man who has borne my sins in His own body on the tree (I speak the language of faith); He is there, as having been down here amidst the circumstances, and under the imputation of sin; and yet it is in His face I see the glory of God. I see Him there consequent upon the putting away of my sin, because He has accomplished my redemption. I could not see Christ in the glory if there was one spot or stain of sin not put away. The more I see of the glory, the more I see the perfectness of the work that Christ has wrought, and of the righteousness wherein I am accepted. Every ray of that glory is seen in the face of One who has confessed my sins as His own, and died for them on the cross; of One who has glorified God in the earth, and finished the work that the Father had given Him to do. The glory that I see is the glory of redemption. Having glorified God about the sin - "I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" - God has glorified Him with Himself there; John 17.

When I see Him in that glory, instead of seeing my sins, I see that they are gone. I have seen my sins laid on the Mediator. I have seen my sins confessed on the head of the scapegoat, and they have been borne away; Lev. 16. So much has God been glorified about my sins (that is, in respect of what Christ has done on account of my sins), that this is the title of Christ to be there, at the right hand of God. I am not afraid to look at Christ there. Where are my sins now? where are they to be found in heaven or on earth? I see Christ in the glory. Once they were found upon the head of that blessed One; but they are gone, never more to be found. Were it a dead Christ, so to speak, that I saw, I might fear that my sins would be found again; but with Christ alive in the glory the search is in vain. He who bore them all has been received up to the throne of God, and no sin can be there.

338 As a practical consequence of this I am changed into His likeness - " We all, with open face beholding, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." It is the Holy Ghost taking of the things of Christ, and revealing them to the soul, that is the power of present practical conformity to Christ. I delight in Christ, I feast upon Christ, I love Christ. It is the very model and forming of my soul according to Christ, by the Holy Ghost - this His revelation of Christ. I not only get to love the glory, it is Christ Himself that I love; Christ, that I admire; Christ, that I care for; Christ, whose flesh I eat, and whose blood I drink - what wonder if I am like Christ? The Christian thus becomes the epistle of Christ; he speaks for Christ, owns Christ, acts for Christ. He does not want to be rich, he has riches in Christ - unsearchable riches. He does not want the pleasures of the world, he has pleasures at God's right hand for evermore.

Does the heart still say, Oh, but I do not, and cannot see this transcript in myself? No, but you see Christ; and is not that better? It is not my looking at myself, but it is my looking at Christ, that is God's appointed means for my growing in the likeness of Christ. If I would copy the work of some great artist, is it by fixing my eyes on the imitation, and being taken up with regrets about my failing attempt, that I shall be likely to succeed? No, but by looking at my model, by fixing my eyes there, tracing the various points and getting into the spirit of the thing. Mark the comfort of this! The Holy Ghost having revealed to my soul Christ in the glory as the assurance of my acceptance, I can look without fear, and therefore stedfastly, full at that glory, and rejoice at the measure of its brightness. Stephen (Acts 7), full of the Holy Ghost, could look up stedfastly into heaven (doubtless in his case it was with more than ordinary power), and see the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and His face shone as the face of an angel. And look at his death. Just like his Master, he prays for his very murderers. Stephen died saying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge"; Christ had died saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." In him there was the expression of Christ's love for his enemies. By the Holy Ghost he was changed, and that in a very blessed way too, into the same image.

339 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.

Well, what a difference! May we more and more make our boast in Him, in whose face all this glory is displayed - the Lamb, who has died for us, and cleansed away our sins by His own most precious blood.