THE GLORY OF GOD
For this reason all of creation came into being, that it may be a mirror of God. And eyes were made that they may behold Him in the mirror, and rejoice in the vision wrote a scholar a century or two ago.
As the Scripture declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Ever wonder why the universe is so incredibly vast? . . . Ever marvel at the intricate beauty of a little flower? . . . Ever been touched by the sweet purity of an infant’s smile? . . . Ever gazed at the wonder of a tropical sky? . . .
Ever been moved by the force of torrential downpour, thunder and lightning, or delighted in the colours of a rainbow? Ever thrilled at the obvious transformation of a reprobate who has found salvation in the Lord Jesus? One could also mention an outstanding sunset, a flake of snow, magnificent snow-capped mountains, the fragrance of a sacrificially laid-down life that gains a martyr’s crown . . . and so much more. All of creation exists to reveal the glory of God! It takes a huge mirror to give even a slight reflection of His majesty!
God’s glory is the revelation – uncovering, showing, making known – of His intrinsic, eternal, wonderful Being. He intends that His glory be obvious to all, here and now, especially in the new creation that is His family on earth! To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout [this and] all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
TO BE LIKE JESUS!
Consider with me, the first nine verses of 1 Peter chapter 2. Notice first of all in verse 9, “You are . . . that you may. We exist for a purpose. We are a chosen, holy people, belonging to God, for this reason: That we may irradiate out [declare] the excellencies, virtues, praises of Christ our Saviour.
We come to the Living Stone . . . to be made living stones. Verse 7 states, “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.” Wuest captures a more literal translation: “To you who are believers is [the honour and] the preciousness [of the Living Stone]. “ His sweet preciousness is imparted to believers. How amazing is the grace of God to provide such inner transformation for those who love Him that living stones may be like the Chief Corner Stone! This is so that He may be reflected in His people, and be glorified thereby.
This thought is in accord with Romans 8:28-30. Wuest: . . .those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be conformed to the derived image of His Son. Can you imagine the divine Potter selecting a lump of shapeless, and apparently valueless clay, and putting a tag on it, To be made to look like, be like, my Son. He has even put your name on it! And so with us all. This is so that our precious Lord Jesus may be the first born among many brothers – who are intended to bear the family likeness, so that those with an eye to see may understand what Father is like!
Looking back at 1 Peter 1 again, verse 2 may well be translated, “As newborn infants do, crave pure spiritual nourishment that you may make progress in your salvation, in view of the fact that you tasted that the Lord is kind, loving, benevolent.” Surely it is by a continual ingesting of His life that we grow in Him and become like Him.
EVER INCREASING GLORY
Let’s briefly focus our attention on 2 Corinthians 3. Verse 18 states, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” The word ‘transformed’ here refers to an inner change being wrought by the Holy Spirit. It is the picture of a caterpillar that has progressed into the chrysalis stage. Amazing inner changes are taking place, from which will emerge the monarch butterfly. The Holy Spirit wants to bring about inner change in us that results in an ever increasing display of Christlike beauty and behaviour. I love to think of how that butterfly can display beauty and fullness, as well as effortlessly fly to quite surprising heights, all of which were absolutely impossible to the caterpillar. Did you know that in the U.S.A. tagged monarch butterflies have been recorded as flying distances up to 1800 miles! How much can the Holy Spirit accomplish in a yielded life?
GLORY – FADING OR INCREASING?
In 2 Corinthians chapter 3 there is a contrast between fading and increasing glory. That is, between the magnificence of God’s very nature and Being becoming less or more evident in His creation. There well may be many factors that make a difference in believers in this regard. In this paper I simply want to focus on two of them.
The first of these involves a RENEWING OF THE MIND as referred to in Romans 12, verses 1 and 2. Here again we have the caterpillar-chrysalis-butterfly picture of transformation. Surely a picture like that, which involves radical change to every cell of the caterpillar?s being, indicates a dramatic change for us from the thought patterns of the worldly, natural man, to coming to where “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” [2 Corinthians 10:5]
Since Paul testified, “We have the mind of Christ” let us not dare to consider this mind set impossible. Indeed, Paul states in Romans 8, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”
An unrenewed mind considers it reasonable to want what I want and to proceed to obtain it. A renewed mind, rather, recognises the wisdom and higher value of choosing what Christ chooses, whether one understands it or not, finds it naturally appealing or not, and even whether others agree with it or not. Self crucified living is an essential aspect of true godliness, and this requires a Christ-like mind set! Paul stated it like this, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Please ponder that!
The Bible Society’s catalogue of software includes this tremendously challenging and significant statement: ‘If Thou Wilt Be Perfect’ Oswald Chambers shows that reason has usurped the place of Christ’s Spirit through many centuries. The quotations made by Oswald Chambers are themselves of great value, and the expository words that follow are full of luminous and practical teaching for us today.?
Oswald Chambers died in 1917. If in his lifetime he saw that in the preceding centuries the church had been marred by the exaltation of reason above revelation, and natural thought above the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance, how much more is that true of the church since then! There is no glory in a church that is controlled by human wisdom, no matter how logical and right it may seem, even when it is applied to the interpretation of Scripture. Is it not sadly true, that many churches, and individual believers, claim to be ‘Bible based’ and living on biblical principles – and yet do not reflect the sweet, humble, pure and redemptive nature of Christ? May God have mercy on us! And may He lead us to such a renewing of the mind that He is as glorified in His church today as He deserves to be!
EARS TO HEAR
The second area I wish to address involves the challenge of coming to where we each live in a place of consistently hearing and responding to the Shepherd’s voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow Me.” Wuest: “The sheep who are mine are in the habit of listening to my voice, and I know them by experience, and they take the same road that I take with Me, and I give to them eternal life.” [John 10:27] God will be wonderfully glorified in His church when we live by revelation hearing and responding to the inner promptings of the gracious, lovely Holy Spirit. This is the purpose of God!
Perhaps as an aside, let me mention that in Matthew 11:25-28 the deep, sweet inner rest that God gives is preceded by revelation – “At that time Jesus said, I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children [i.e. the untaught]. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
Now please notice that in John 16:12-15 Jesus talks of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, saying, “He will guide you” . . . He will speak . . . He will tell you . . . He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” Why did the Holy Spirit come? One reason is obviously that He may continually be making known to each of us exactly what step to take next, thus enabling us to be walking in what we are hearing.
Let us question ourselves then. Are our lives governed day by day by the revelation of God rather than by habit, custom and natural reason? Are we confident in knowing the voice of the Shepherd, and responding to Him? Are we living in an awareness of a sense of Spirit given ‘rightness’ so that we are perpetually bathed and refreshed in the river of the peace of God? Grace, Lord!
An Englishman decided to revisit an area in India where his forebears had been pioneer missionaries. He walked long, weary dusty roads which they had walked, saw primitive housing like they had initially dwelt in, took note of the kind of food they had eaten and observed the squalor and disease of people his forbears had loved. Initially I was irked by his description of those pioneers as Holy fools. But they had left behind good homes, comfortable living, and beloved family relatives and friends. So, to the natural eye they were indeed very foolish. But that kind of supposed folly is ever so precious to God!
He finds pleasure in having children who gladly and freely respond to Him day by day, in matters both minor or major. Love is like that! Dare I ask how you measure up to this? Since you want to see God glorified in your life and in His church you will no doubt be sensitive to Him as you ponder these things. Let me add, that a while ago I read through the Book of Acts a number of times. One of the things I particularly watched for was in the realm of revelation and response. I am quite certain that Paul and others lived out the kind of things I seek to share in this paper.
Let’s go back to 2 Corinthians chapter 3. In verse 17 we read, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Ever sing, “Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free?” There is wonderful, transforming freedom when we allow the Holy Spirit to be the Lord within us, guiding, leading, and enabling us to walk in all the will of God for our lives. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul is speaking of freedom from the Law so that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ with ever increasing glory.
LET GOD BE GOD
God will never restrict His leading to the boundaries of either the Law given through Moses, or the laws made by man in today’s churchdom. You can be sure of that! Restricting obedience to that which is acceptable to human religious systems means that reason reigns, God is dethroned, and glory fades. This results in veil-covered hearts which cannot maintain at attitude of pure and loving devotion to our precious Lord Jesus. It also results in dull, hardened minds, and in efforts to veil [cover and hide] the fading glory. Activities, routine meetings, religiosity and fads such as the Toronto Blessing, the Pensacola Blessing, supposed gold dust appearance and the like may well be in place as an endeavour to cover the tragically sad fact that the glory has faded, if not totally departed [yet]. Fading glory is an inevitable part of men-controlled church life.
At times someone or other will question or challenge me as to which church I attend, or whether I ‘go to church’ at all. To me the issue is rather whether I will submit to laws and boundaries and authority tiers set by men, or not. I dare not yield to such things. I love Jesus too much for that! I treasure the sweet, intimate, on-going love relation that I have with Him through the full salvation He provides. I yearn very deeply for His church to be as He intends. How very much He deserves to be marvellously and supernaturally glorified in each of us individually, and in all of us as His body. So my heart is set – I must obey God rather than men. By His grace alone, as over many years now, so the rest of my days are wholly committed to walking by faith, not by sight, and to following wherever the Spirit leads. This way glory!
One time I heard that a pastor in the United States of America was complaining that some of his members had left as a result of my ministry in his church. When I contacted him to ask about it he stated that it wasn’t that I had ever deliberately told folk to leave. But my teaching on the privilege of walking in a sweet intimate love relationship with Jesus, combined with my teaching about the need to hear God for oneself and to respond to every prompting of the Holy Spirit set the basis for their departure. Doesn’t that say an enormous amount about sub-standard man made church life? I was not surprised at this episode because several years prior to that the Lord had told me that if I shared on those things, and lived them out as a testimony to God?s grace, He would use them as a kind of Trojan Horse to get among His people and set them free. Glory!
Surely, surely we have been brought into freedom ONLY THAT we may wholly follow the Lord Jesus, so that He may prepare for Himself a glorious church without blemish, malfunction or sign of ageing. We are SO favoured, and SO VERY privileged to be given eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to comprehend and hearts to follow Him in these strategic days, so that the Christ may finally settle down and feel completely at home in our hearts through faith . Hallelujah. It is all so amazing!