The Glory of God in the Face of Christ
Our guest speaker this morning is Professor Jay Wegter from Southern California. In 2010 I went to Bible College and I was able to take his Introductory to Christian Theology Course and it was a highlight for me. He, as you will see, gifted in teaching, or is gifted greatly in that. I’m just privileged to have him come up this last weekend at the Men’s Retreat and to be able to give us the word and remind us of the preciousness of the Gospel. It’s been such a great time at the Men’s Retreat. We have him here this morning to again open up God’s word and to allow God to use Him to illuminate us to God’s truth, so I want to welcome Professor Wegter up one last time. Thank you, brother.
Thank you, Jared. It’s been such a blessing to see how God has used this faithful ragged, resilient bivocational pastors in this part of Utah. I met a number of just excellent servants of God this last three days upon the hill there. It’s wonderful to see how my former student, Jared, has been excelling in serving the Lord. What a gift.
Well, when I was in high school, we took a camper van to Panguitch Creek. Drove all night and parked the van sometime after midnight. Early in the morning, there was a knock on the door of the camper before sunrise. A Utah Fish and Game gentleman saw five fishing poles leaning against the camper and he saw the California plates, and I’m sure in his back pocket he was getting out a citation right then. To his amazement, we all had current Utah fishing licenses, and so this gentleman said, “Well done, guys. Follow me. I’m going to show you where we stock the creek yesterday.” Wow.
We followed him and there was a curve in the creek there and a deep pool, and that’s where they had poured all the Trout and we just made a killing that day. It’s hard to stop at our limit, but we did.
I have fun memories of camping in Utah as a high school student, coming here a number of summers. You live in a very beautiful state, if you know where to go, right? Well, it’s just been wonderful to be here the last four days. It’s such delight for me to open up the scriptures in this very vital text on how the power of God has exerted in our effectual call, in our new birth.
The scriptures have a number of metaphors, a number of types of imagery used to depict the new birth. Some of those would be a new creation. Another would be a spiritual resurrection. Another would be a surgical heart transplant. Another, a kingdom transfer but our text describes this effectual call of God as the Lord sovereignly shining light into a darkened heart to give the knowledge of God’s glory through Christ. Of course, that’s a sovereign shining light. We don’t trigger it. It’s not like we got some prerogatives, say, “Well, I think Saturday night I’ll get right with God maybe 10:00 or 10:30.” No. God is the sovereign one who, through the Gospel, calls us to Himself and shows us the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Sometimes in Church history that’s not always been remembered as Churches and teachers have drifted from scripture and they have forgotten that true religion is beyond the natural powers of man. It requires a miracle known as the new birth.
In our second slide here, true religion is above and beyond the natural powers of man. One of the things the Holy Spirit does when he convicts you of sin, not only does he convict you of how serious your sin is that it exposes you to eternal condemnation, it also convicts you that you are unable to offset even one of your sins. There I go down on a limb here, but I believe it’s biblical. If you live 1,000 lifetimes of Mother Theresa, you could not offset one of your sins. We’re basically ignorant of the righteousness of God. We imagine he grades on a curve.
God is actually saying, because I made you in my moral image and likeness, in order for you to be righteous, you must absolutely equal me in holiness; but then, when we’re convicted of sin we discover even more. Our sin is not simply the deeds we performed in violation of his commandments. Our sin is also stemming from our nature, the nature with which we’re warned. We need a whole new nature in order to connect with God, and that’s really what our text is about.
Now, 250 years ago, that’s quite a long time ago, one of our top theologians in America, Christian theologians, Jonathan Edwards, wrote a very important book called The Religious Affections. At the time of his ministry, a huge revival was happening in Eastern America and it was called The First Great Awakening. During that revival, a lot of people were getting on board with this call to follow Christ due diligently. Edwards felt that a lot of people were getting on the bandwagon who weren’t really converted, not really Born Again, and so he wrote this book to document biblically what are the marks of a truly converted person. What are some of the marks of a truly converted person? He wrote in his book that one of the key marks of a converted person is a love and delight and savor for the things of God, a love and delight and savor for the glory of God as it’s revealed in Christ.
We could say it this say it this way, that a genuine religion is characterized by the sight and savor, the hunger and delight, for the precious things of God that are revealed in Christ. Now, just to make this more concrete I’m going to read to you Romans 8:3. It says in Romans 8:3 “For what the law could not do weak as it was to the flesh, God did sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh.”
Now think about that. The very heart of the gospel is Christ’s work as substitute in bearing the sins of all who would ever believe in him. Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you love the fact he was willing to be that sacrifice? Do you love the way God saves people through Christ bearing the penalty of all who would ever believe? Do you love that? That’s a mark of having seen the glory of God in the face of Christ. That’s one of the evidence. That’s one of the proofs.
The natural man, and that’s someone who’s not Born Again, has never seen that glory. As a result, he trusts other things for his standing with God. He trusts his sincerity. He trusts his ability to maybe turn over a new leaf or his efforts of personal reaffirmation or moral reform. He trust his devotion to religious absolutes. He is trusting everything but a complete and sole reliance on Christ alone. When God burst into our heart with light through the truth of the gospel only then is that person entrusting their soul to Christ alone for salvation. That’s the miracle that this text is really opening up for us today.
What is this glory that our Texas men cannot see because they’re naturally blinded to the glory of God? What is this glory? This glory is the outshining of the character and attributes of God that are only made sensible to us or discernable to us in Christ himself. Now, I dare say if you went out here in Lehi on a July day without a cloud and you try to look up at the sun at noon for a half an hour, you’d go blind. That sun would be focused by your lens onto your retina and it would start burning, the whole optic nerve area would be burned because of that sun but if you looked at reflected light, even at a full moon you could look at that moon for hours and it would do no damage to your eyes. That moon is reflecting light you cannot look at directly.
God is awesome. He dwells an unapproachable light. It says in 1 Timothy 6 no man had seen Him or no man can see Him. “Would anybody dare approach me and risk his life?” God is a consuming fire and yet these attributes which terrify us rightly are downloaded and reflected in the face of Christ for we cannot really know who God is or even begin considering His glory unless we’re hidden safely in the one God sent to be our sacrifice, our refuge, our hiding place. That’s really the theme of our text today, that God’s glory so blinding, so bright.
God’s glory is described in Daniel Chapter 7 as a huge river of white hot lava that never stops flowing from the base of his throne while the throne is covered with lightning bolts. That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? We can’t even begin to understand that glory, and as we look into the face of Christ and see what he did as our suffering substitute.
Well, in our text, in the first section here in verses three and four, it indicates that this glory … this glory that saves, this glory that gives us a saving knowledge of God and scripture does tell us that eternal life is the knowledge of God. To know Him is life eternal, John 17:3. This glory is hidden from the unbeliever. It says on our text here in verses three and four “and even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing and whose case the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God,” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. The gospel of the glory of God is hidden. It’s concealed from those who are yet outside of Christ and unbelievers cannot appreciate, they cannot perceive or rejoice in the splendor of the gospel.
Now, the Apostle Paul brings this out in the most unique way in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 where he says that both Jews and gentiles who weren’t Born Again look at the gospel and the Jews go weak. We don’t like it. We reject it. See, what are the Jews used to historically in the Old Testament? Massive displays and power every time God reveals himself; on Mount Sinai, parting of Red Sea, stones falling on Canaanites. There is the power display. Messiah, dying, and weakness and ignominy and shame, rejected, would spittle on flies and dusts and dried blood on him. That’s not a power display. We reject it.
How about gentiles? When you think of gentiles, you think of the Greco-Roman world. They really admired their philosophers. They admired human wisdom, so the whole idea of God becoming a man to be murdered by His creatures doesn’t compute. They don’t like that. That’s foolishness. The gospel of God sending His only begotten Son to be our suffering substitute, dying in the place of sinners, doesn’t meet the criterion of Jewish wisdom or gentile wisdom and yet, to those who are being saved, it is the wisdom of God.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, “The weakness of God is stronger than men and the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” In other words, it may fail the test above, but this is true wisdom. God in the flesh sacrificed on our behalf.
I think of another text in 1 Peter 2 where it says that the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, the very foundation of what God is building. When it says the builders rejected Christ the chief cornerstone, it means after careful consideration, after handling that stone and looking at all the facets they finally said “Is this worthy to build upon?” No, discard it.
Brethren, the gospel does not compute with natural reasoning. There must be a revelation of God because the powers of darkness have not only been hiding that truth every generation but our natures also don’t understand the gospel. According to Ephesians chapter 2 we are born dead in sin, born dead to God, unable to connect with God.
You see, the scriptures trace this all the way back to the garden. Man’s fall in the Garden of Eden was actually a forfeiture of the glory of God. You could say it was a threefold forfeiture. In Adam’s sin we lost our ability to reflect God’s glory. God created us in his image that we might reflect His moral majesty in our love for Him and one another. God created us to be reflectors of His beauty, but because we’re falling in sin and every aspect of our faculties are depraved we were unable to reflect what God is like. That’s the first way we lost glory.
There’s a second way also. We lost the spiritual side of God’s glory, and as a result of that our hunger for excellence always terminates on finite things. Our hunger to enthusiastically praise excellence terminates on countless created things and doesn’t terminate on God. We lost the ability to behold His glory. Also in the fall in the Garden of Eden, we lost our ability to hunger for His glory and to live passionately for His glory. We can’t reflect, we can’t see, we can’t be passionate for His glory until this change happens called the new birth and then something amazing happens. Every single person in this room is born again through the gospel, now has Christ’s cause as their cause. You are living for the glory of God. You love to see God’s glory advanced. You praise His name and you sacrifice time, talent, and affections to see His glory go forward. That’s a mark of the new birth.
Satan is the destroyer. He’s the blinder. He was a murderer from the beginning. Jesus said in John 8:44, he blinds the minds of the unbeliever. This is his full time business. He is the god of this world. He is the default God of every unbeliever because they follow his world view. People tend to hunger for autonomy. They want to live a life of complete independence.
I think about my time of evangelism on public university campuses as I’m sharing the gospel with students in secular universities. When they hear that I’m a Born Again Christian they automatically have been trained to think of bible believing Christians as enemies of freedom. That’s Satan’s lie in address of university students. We know that Christ sets us free, free from the bondage of sin, free from the manmade religion that fills the earth. Christ has set us free, but these university students who are following their own lesson passions, imagine that Christianity will somehow put a chain on them. Well, Christ said the opposite. “My yolk is easy, my burden is light. If you have a heavy, heavy harness on you, the guilt of sin and your addiction to sin, I’ll set you free. Come on to me you’ll find rest for your souls.”
This spiritual darkness began in the Garden of Eden when Satan lied about the word of God, said it was fallible, said it was unreliable. He lied about God himself saying God makes idle threats, God is actually threatened by your potential therefore He sets up this boogiemen to try to scare you into obedience. I mean, this is really an attack upon God’s wonderful nature, isn’t it? Our first parents, when they ate that fruit, they formalized the lie and darkness entered their souls. They lost their relational knowledge of God. They fell from glory.
We could summarize Satan’s lie under three major points. First of all, Satan lied about God’s character; God is not good or loving, He’s withholding something from you and if you would just partake of that fruit, you’d realize your full potential. You’d even be a higher being if you partake of that fruit, you’d even be a God.
Second part of the lie is God is not truthful. He says things that aren’t really ironclad. He says things just to try to get you to do certain things; you shall not die. That lie cast doubt upon God’s authority, upon the truthfulness of His word and this basically gave humans an excuse to think suspiciously of God; not sure I can trust him.
Third was always a lie about God’s justice and righteousness. If God is not going to comprehensively punish sin and you can decide right and wrong for yourself without risking death and damnation then God is not righteous and just. This whole thing set up all the excuses for self-determination, all the excuses to live a self-directed life. That lie is still attached to every person’s soul that is born into this world. We’re not born into this world spiritually neutral. We’re not born into this world as unbiased truth seekers. We’re born into this world with axe to grind because that lie still controls our thinking.
I was scheduled to preach in San Luis Obispo which is in central California, home of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, wonderful school. As I was sitting there Saturday waiting to do more work on my sermon I saw a professor from San Luis Obispo Cal Poly studying a textbook and I said, “Hey, can we share a coffee together?” “Sure, come on over.” I said, “I’m a professor too. Let’s chat.”
As I share the gospel with this professor, he begin to scrunch up his face and about 10 minutes into my discussion with him he said, “Well, what you Christians call the holy trinity is actually the three chakras of the body.” In other words, he was throwing back at me a Hindu concept of the soul. I immediately thought to myself, our natural state is we hate the light, we love darkness, we won’t come to the light. This verse came to mind in 1 Corinthians 1:21, “For sins in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God. God was well pleased to the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
See, no man reasons his way to God. Our minds are not neutral. Our minds, according to Jesus in John 3:19 through 21, love darkness and repel light. How we need a miracle from the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and to have our souls flooded with light that we might see the beauty of God’s glory in the face of Christ displayed in the gospel.
Our text tells us in verses 5 and 6 that God’s glory can only be known by Christ Jesus as He is revealed in the gospel. There’s no other way to know God’s glory. Not a single person in the last 2,000 years has been saved apart from seeing the glory of God in the face of Christ through the gospel. Great is that darkness in which we’re born. It require a sovereign creative act of God shining into the heart in order to perceive the radiance of God’s glory.
We might think that contemplating God’s glory is something that we could do if we really put our minds to it but that’s not the case. We thought we had a pretty good idea of how big the universe was and what it contained until Hubble got a new set of lenses. Remember when they first put Hubble up there so we have a better lens. They set a satellite up there and they had a better lens installed and then they did a test. They said, “Okay, let’s pick a part of the universe that would be the size of a grain of sand held out at arm’s length. We’ll just examine that grain size part of the universe.” What did they find? It was jam-packed with galaxies. They said, “Oh no, we really miscalculated here. Our cosmos is bigger than we thought, it has more stars than we thought, it has more galaxies and star systems than we ever could have imagined.”
Sometimes I turn to astronomy just to begin contemplating the works of God. There’s a structure called the Sombrero Galaxy. This particular galaxy has 50 billion suns in it, 50 billion fusion sites. It’s 50,000 light years in diameter. That’s one-third of the diameter of the Milky Way, our own galaxy. How great a task would it be to wrap your mind around something that immense? According to Psalm 8 those galaxies are just the finger work of God. If we can barely contemplate a cosmos, and that’s just one part of it, how can we contemplate accurately the glory of its maker?
Brethren, this requires viewing Christ and seeing how He gives us the knowledge of God. For scripture tells us in places like Hebrews 1:1-3 that in His last days, God had spoken through his Son and that Christ Jesus is the very imprint, the very stamp of God’s character. Christ is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of his character. If you want to know who God is, look at Christ. Just as Jesus said to his disciples in John 14, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. Everything you know need to know about the father, I am communicating for I have been in the bosom of the Father from eternity past and I’ve come to Earth to exegete him. I’ve come to Earth to declare who God is. You cannot know God except through me.”
Let’s look at verse six, 2 Corinthians 4 verse 6, For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness” is the one who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
How dark our hearts really are apart from this light shining in it? How dark our hearts really are? When I was elementary school child my father took me to Carlsbad Caverns. How many have been there? Just curiously. Carlsbad Caverns? Oh, a few of you. It’s one of America’s most amazing caves. After we walked about a quarter mile into the bowels of this cave, there’s little streams running and so on and big drop offs. The ranger said, “I’m going to turn off all the lights. Do not venture from the path. Stand where you’re standing there are drop offs.” He turned off all the lights and I had never stood in absolute complete pitch black darkness. My dad said to me, “Hold my hand, don’t let go”.
You see, the darkness in our hearts could not be improved to light. There was nothing in our hearts that could be fanned. No little spark that could be fanned into a flame. Nothing that could be made into light. The light necessary for us to see who God was in the face of Christ must come externally by a sovereign merciful act of God.
Brethren, and those of you who know Christ in this room, when the Holy Spirit begin to convict you of sin and bankrupt you of any hope in your merit and take away all the hope that you could offset any of your sins, he was working with complete darkness. Through the gospel he had shown into your heart to show you that Christ is friends of sinners; that Christ receive sinners, even the worst. Come as you are. You can’t improve yourself for Me. I will receive you as you are. You are a sin sick individual and I’m the great physician, friend of every sinner. Come on to me.
See, God shows us this. When that light shines into the heart, He reveals this; but this shining in the heart is not some sort of celestial light, some sort of divine mystical light, some sort of abstract light that shines into the heart. It’s not an experience, a strong compelling emotion. It’s not some warming of internal organs. The shining into the heart is directly connected with the historic events of the gospel. When God shines into the heart to bring salvation it’s because that person has heard the news that God sent Christ to lay his life down for helpless sinners and that crucifixion was an actual guilt exchange and the resurrection was God’s reception and full acceptance to that sacrifice on behalf of helpless sinners.
That light shining in is in connection with the gospel. That’s why Paul says in Romans 1:16 and 17 that the gospel is the power of God. It takes a mighty act of God. If someone came to me, I don’t care if they spoke in tongues or not or believe that God could do some special event like healing someone who is terminal, and they said to me what’s the most incredible miracle you think God is doing in the 21st century? You know what the answer would be? Providing the new birth, the effectual call. Shining into the hearts of spiritually dead sinners, giving a light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ. This message of Christ crucified for sinners is recorded in the gospels along with God’s testimony of what was accomplished at the cross.
When Peter preached the sermon at Pentecost, he wasn’t just saying, you Jews crucified your Messiah, repent. He was saying, when Christ was crucified not only was He put to death by the hands of wicked man but it was a real sacrifice planned by God, accepted by God though carried out by wicked men. What a mystery that is.
When Christ died and rose from the dead he loosed the birth pangs of sin and death. He changed death for believers to merely a stepping stone to eternal life. He took the stinger out of death, 1 Corinthians 15. He took the pains and agony and terror out of death, Hebrews 2, and changed the new steppingstone to eternity with him.
This is God’s testimony of what he accomplished at the cross. Through the Apostle Peter, God says this about the cross, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable. That is, to the living and enduring word of God and He Himself bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might die a sin and live to righteousness for by His wounds you were healed.”
God’s testimony about the cross is central to the Gospel. What did Christ accomplish? Well, the site of this glory requires a sovereign revelation of God. You who proclaim the Gospel faithfully, your pastors, your shepherds, your elders, Christian ministries you know, the faithful believers you know, when we proclaim the Gospel, we understand this. No one can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:3.
In other words, the recognition that Christ is creator, redeemer, and judge, first born from the dead, the recognition that Christ is God, very God, all things are made by Him and for Him, the recognition of that requires a revelation of the Holy Spirit to understand that and embrace that.
The glory of God on the face of Christ is spiritually discerned according to 1 Corinthians chapter 2. God shines into the heart when the Gospel is heard and believed and we suddenly are faced with who God really is. It doesn’t require a shining in the heart to appreciate natural glory.
I worked with Dr. Peter Jones of Westminster Seminary for a few years. His wife is just a godly woman, she teaches theological writing, but her sister is unsaved. She and her sister went to the Grand Canyon together. One sister saved, one sister unsaved. They both saw the Grand Canyon at sunset for the first time and they both cried. The unsaved sister cried because it was so beautiful. The saved sister cried because it was so beautiful and God made it beautiful. Both responded a grandeur but only one responded to the glory of God.
It doesn’t take a work of God for you to appreciate natural beauty; a thunderstorm, a rainbow, a baby’s laughter. Anybody can appreciate natural glory but to really perceive the glory of God, it takes a miracle of God working in the heart. The scripture said it’s the flooding of the soul with light.
Our text is asserting that spiritual eyes must be opened. Spiritual blindness must be replaced with spiritual sight, and this is summarized in the phrase, “Let there be light.” You see, just as God commanded light out of darkness during creation week when our planet, yet without its full features, sat there in absolute black darkness. No moon, no stars, no sun have been created yet and God commands, “Let there be light.” Before there’s a single luminary to make the light, God says let there be light.
Paul is telling us in verse six here, that’s a picture of God shining in the heart of the sinner at the moment he sees the beauty of Jesus as savior, “Let there be light,” at that instant. When God said let there be light during creation week, He also says let there be light when He saves any individual. Wow! That’s incredible.
Paul’s testimony of how you got saved points to this miracle. Listen to this from Galatians 1:15, “But when it pleased Him who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace to reveal His son in me in order that I might preach His Gospel among the gentiles.” Paul credits his salvation, of course, to the light shining on him during the road to Damascus but also the light that shone on his heart when God revealed the Son to him.
Our text is asserting that the spiritual eyes are necessary to understand the truth of God’s glory. This is why Jesus took his disciples aside and said, “Blessed are you that you have eyes to see and ears to hear. You’ve been blessed by God, by work of grace, that you have these spiritual faculties to perceive the wonderful grace of God in me in Christ.” The conviction of sin is vital in understanding this.
Thomas Boston, one of the most articulate of the Puritan, says this, “That man or woman called of God cries out in his soul, ‘give me Christ or I die.’ I’m willing to sell all to have Him.” Once you have Him as your savior, you are completely convinced of your union with Him. You are completely persuaded that His righteousness now is wrapped around you and clothes you, and that is your right standing and status before God. This is what happens in the new birth, you are persuaded by the Holy Spirit, by his inward illumination that what Christ did belongs to you.
I think a lot of you in this room can attest to that, that at the moment of salvation what you once regarded as a general call to the human race, “Come into me all ye who are labored and are heavy laden, cometh into me all ye ends of the earth and be saved,” what you once regarded as a general call, at the moment of your salvation, you said, “Oh my goodness, if I was the only lost sinner on earth, I believe Christ would have come for me. I read the scriptures and God is talking to me directly about the promise of my sin washed by His blood.” It’s no longer a general invitation. It is to you directly.
Brethren, that’s how faith speaks. When God creates a new creature, He gives you spiritual lungs with which to breathe the promises of God as a daily habit. That’s a work of grace. That’s a miracle. That’s sovereign mercy. The fact that God is telling us that this is all of sovereign grace is meant to dash to the ground all of our false optimism that we can do what’s necessary to connect with God. You see, God conceals himself beneath the scandal of the cross, and the cross is a scandal. It is scandalous. It conflicts our understanding. How could the Holy Son of God, the perfect creator who dwells in unimaginable glory, how could he allow himself to be spit upon, whipped, die, be carried to a stone tomb by sinners? How could the eternal son of God take on human flesh and allow himself to become a human cadaver?
Brethren, that’s the cost of resurrecting His dead bride from her spiritual sleep. That was the cost of winning his bride. This is a love story like no other. He takes on his bride’s punishment. He takes on his bride’s death. He takes all these things upon himself to win and woo her to himself.
This message of the Gospel, when it is first illuminated by the spirit … I’m way behind here, sorry. When this Gospel is illuminated by the Holy Spirit, we understand that this is a guilt exchange, a guilt transfer. That our guilt was heaped upon the son of God that we might be cleansed, as clean as new driven snow and made acceptable to God.
I do prison work. I teach in the largest jail in America, and sometimes when prisoners are hearing a Gospel message they will come forward and say, “Thank you, pastor, that was so good. I’m never going to abuse my family again. I’m tired of the revolving door of recidivism. I’m not going to come back to this jail. I’m not going to do drugs. I’m not going to carry a firearm. I’m not going to commit any petty theft. I’m done with crime. I’ll do better.” It’s only rare when a prisoner comes up afterwards and says, “I owe all to Christ. He had mercy on one such as I.”
See, we’re all like Peter was when Christ came to wash the disciple’s feet. Oh no, no, no, no. The Holy Son of God is not going to sit down and stoop and wash my dirty feet. That’s insulting to our pride. There’s even pride in this jail where I teach. How could the eternal, holy, pure Son of God sit down in the gutter and wash me from head to toe? I’ll do better. I’ll try harder. I’ll fix myself up for Him. I just can’t handle the idea that He would come down and condescend in such humiliation to cleanse one such as I.
Dear friends, God conceals himself behind the scandal of the cross. He will not let you find Him through your own sincerity, through your own moral effort, through your own religious devotion. You cannot find Him until you discover that your evil thoughts put that crown of thorns into Christ’s head. Your proud looks, your resentful looks, your covetous looks and your lustful looks cost Christ’s face to be blindfold, His beard to be plucked, Him to be spit upon and nails driven through His hands and feet, a spear on His side until his life blood drained out on that dusty, Judean soil.
When the Holy Spirit shows you that you put Him there by your wickedness and yet He did it as His food and drink to fulfill His Father’s will, when the Holy Spirit shows you that and that burst upon your understanding, you know for a fact you have life in the Son. You know for a fact He’s cleansed you down to the deepest parts of your conscience. From the dead works you used to do to try to feel good about yourself, he not only cleansed you from your sins, he cleansed you from your moral efforts which could do nothing to commend you to God. When the Holy Spirit shows you that in a moment in time, you are saved. You are saved. To see the glory of God in the face of Christ is to be a saved man or woman for Jesus tells us in Matthew 11, “Salvation is a matter of revelation.” No one knows the Father but the Son and no one knows the Son but the Father and to whomever the Father wills to reveal the Son.
Our final point this is morning is that the sight of His glory not only saves the sinner, it fits us for service, it fits us for worship. It ultimately fits us for life in God’s presence. God saved you if you know Him by showing you His glory. He transforms you into the likeness of Christ as you continue to behold that glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18. When you finally see that glory face to face, you will be like Him in holiness without spot or wrinkle, 1 John 3:3. He saved you by the sight of His glory, He transforms you as you continue to behold it. When we see Him, we’ll be like Him for we will see Him as He is. His glory is pretty important isn’t it, but we can’t see it apart from being revealed in the face of Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth fully equipped to be that perfect savior. Everything necessary, to reverse the ruin we inherited in Adam, everything necessary to reverse that ruin, He accomplished in our salvation. Now, wonder of wonders, what is the central way God has chosen to glorify Himself? Is it us looking around to creation? Is it the story of how He founded the nation Israel and all His providence in bringing him out of Egypt? Well, that does glorify Him but the ultimate way God has chosen to bring glory to Himself is by the rescue of sinners. Oh, what a glorious truth that is.
When Christ hung on that cross and He was bent over in that awful position with His knees up and his hands pinned out just like a prism that bends white light. Once that light is bent by a prism, we see that the rainbow of spectrum goes all the way from violet to yellow, we see colors that we don’t normally see. They’re all there in that white light but we couldn’t see them until the prism bent them.
Also, when Christ was bent over on that cross, it showed all the attributes of God for the first time in human history, everything from wrath to mercy, everything from justice to love, everything from wisdom to beauty. All the attributes and character of God were revealed in that cruel cross but no unsaved, unregenerate soul sees the beauty of God’s glory in that cross until the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ shines into their soul.
The Lord Jesus has become our city of refuge. He’s our hiding place, He’s our place of safety but He’s also our observatory for from our safe place of being in Christ, we can look at God’s glory and be safe and protected. For God’s glory is a thing of awe. It says in Hebrews chapter 12 that God is a consuming fire. That means He’s like a furnace. He will consume everything that is not holy like He is like a furnace in a massive display of holiness.
Thank the Lord for safety that we have in Jesus. If there’s some in this little sanctuary this morning who are not sure where you stand with God, you’re not sure of your status before God, you’re not sure what would happen if you suddenly die tonight, may I suggest a prayer, not a prayer of salvation but a prayer of seeking this new birth. Let me suggest a prayer.
God, show me how serious my sin is in your sight. Lord, make me know that I cannot accept that sin, I cannot pay for a single one of them or present to You an improved life that You would accept. Lord, show me how serious my sin is in your sight. Oh God, show me how wonderfully fit Christ is, the one you sent as friend of sinners. Show me His willingness to save me in a moment of time. Lord, show me that You sent Christ as all sufficient savior. Nothing can be added to that, nothing should be added to that. Christ alone has the power to save to the outer most for He ever lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through Him. He is perfect savior. He’s accomplished a full sufficient work on behalf of all those who believe.
We close with this question, have you seen the glory of God in the face of Christ? If you have, you know Him. If you haven’t yet, call upon Him for that is your need. Amen? Amen.